Eleven-Years Ago (01-February-2007) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2007 Family Winter Vacation. Day 12: Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald Norwegian Coastal Voyage Southbound (Bodø to Rørvik).

On the fourth day of the southbound Hurtigruten voyage the ship made six stops: Bodø (02:30-04:15); Ørnes (07:00-07:15); Nesna (11:00-11:15); Sandnessjøen (12:30-13:00); Brønnøysund (15:45-17:00); and Rørvik (20:30-21:30). None of the daytime stops were long enough to get off the ship. For half of the day we were still above the Arctic circle.

Winter dawn colors north of the arctic circle from the deck of the Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 28-70 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 400, 70 mm, f/4.5, 1/80 sec). (David J Mathre)
Winter dawn colors north of the arctic circle from the deck of the Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 28-70 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 400, 70 mm, f/4.5, 1/80 sec). (David J Mathre)
Arctic Circle marker from the deck of the Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 80-400 mm VR lens (ISO 200, 80 mm, f/4.5, 1/30 sec). (David J Mathre)
Arctic Circle marker from the deck of the Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 80-400 mm VR lens (ISO 200, 80 mm, f/4.5, 1/30 sec). (David J Mathre)

Five-Years Ago (31-January-2013) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 3: Bergen then Embarkation on the MS Nordkapp for the Hurtigruten Northbound  Norwegian Coastal Voyage.

I rode the Fløibanen Funicular  a cable driven train that provides a ride to the top of Mount Fløyen. During the winter season, the ride is free with the Bergen card. I missed the first ride at 07:30, but was able to catch the 2nd ride at 08:00. This got me to the top of the mountain before sunrise. Even though the ticket office wasn’t open (needed to get the ticket) the Funicular operator let me in and got me the front seat. While waiting for the train about 20-30 pre-school/kindergarten age children were dropped off by their parents to ride to the top of the mountain. The kids were all wearing heavy winter coats and had backpacks. When the kids and their 3 adult guides got to the top they stopped to sing a song, and then went for a hike. It was cold at the top of the mountain, and I put on another layer before taking a panorama of Bergen at dawn. On the right side you can see the unique pink color (Belt of Venus) and the earth shadow blue underneath. The kids seemed to have disappeared into the woods. You could hear them yelling and having fun — It surprised me that they were running around in the still dark woods.

Dawn panoramic view of Bergen from Mount Fløyen. Composite of nine images taken with a Leica X2 camera (ISO 400, 24 mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite created using AutoPano Giga Pro. (David J Mathre)
Dawn panorama view of Bergen from Mount Fløyen. Composite of nine images taken with a Leica X2 camera (ISO 400, 24 mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec). Raw images processed with Capture One Pro and the composite created using AutoPano Giga Pro. (David J Mathre)

After the sun rose, I returned to Bergen and walked to the Akvariet i Bergen (Bergen Aquarium). Again free entrance with the Bergen card. There were some interesting displays of northern and arctic fish, a room with tropical reptiles and snakes, and a hands-on display of sea creatures that would be found in tidal pools. Outside there was a pool for seals, and a display with Penguins. There were at least 3 groups of pre-school/kindergarten age kids at the Akvariet.


When I walked back to the hotel to check out, I saw why I didn’t find the fish market earlier in the morning. They moved the fish market (and a flower market) indoors under the Bergen Tourist Information center. The same place I went yesterday to buy the Bergen Visitor card. I had a fresh salmon sandwich and Coke for lunch (120 NOK). I passed on the Fisk Soup (200 NOK) although it smelled good. The folks working at the fish market said they moved into the new location last year. They still do have the tents up in the summer when more tourists are in Bergen.



While walking around Torgallmenningen, the main square in Bergen I came across a Monument to Norwegian Sailors (Sjømannsmonumentet). On each side is a bronze representation of different time periods (Vikings times to the 20th century) . The side for the 1800’s (as best I can translate) includes a crucifixion, a ship with icebergs around it, someone fighting off a polar bear, and the lower section shows a ship being attacked by a sea dragon.

Seaman's Monument. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10-110 mm lens. (David J Mathre)
Seaman’s Monument. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10-110 mm lens. (David J Mathre)
Seaman's Monument (1800's). Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10-110 mm lens. (David J Mathre)
Seaman’s Monument (1800’s). Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10-110 mm lens. (David J Mathre)

One thing I noticed during this visit to Bergen were a number of folks sitting out at corners with cups begging for change. They did not look local, and the locals did not appear to be giving out any change. I checked out of the hotel and continued to walk around Bergen. I found the Japanese Photography shop where I went to look for some lens cleaner. They didn’t have any in stock – but went to the backroom and gave me an opened bottle for free.

Later in the afternoon, I went back to the top of Fløyen mountain to watch for the arrival of the Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp. I wondered how many of the folks watching the MS Nordkapp arrive would be riding on the Northbound voyage that evening. There were also a number runners doing a race up the mountain that afternoon. I think some were making it up the mountain faster than the Funicular (which does have several stops).


While wandering around on top of the mountain, I did find where all of the kids went running earlier that morning. There is a path going through the woods that has a number of large wooden trolls. Ultimately, the trail ends at a day school. By the time I got back to the top of the Funicular there was a long line of kids, runners, and tourists waiting to take the trip down. I was glad that they doubled the frequency of runs to handle the rush.


By the time I got back to the hotel, it was time to get to the Hurtigruten terminal. The taxi ride cost 175 NOK. I could have walked the distance, if I didn’t have the luggage to carry. Check-in at the Hurtigruten terminal was fast. No passport or credit card required. They took my heavy bag and delivered it to my cabin. Before boarding the ship, there was a mandatory safety program. One notable difference between the Hurtigruten ships and the Semester at Sea MV Explorer is that the life vests (and all-weather suits) for the Hurtigruten ships are kept on deck 5 with the lifeboats. On the MV Explorer, the life vests are in the cabins.

My cabin on deck 3 had a set of bunk beds and a couch that could be folded open for a 3rd bed. The desk was very small and barely held my laptop computer and various battery chargers. Unlike my previous Northbound Hurtigruten voyage out of Bergen, there was an open seating buffet dinner before we departed. Once on board, we were told that there was a German TV crew that was going to be filming the Northbound voyage. Included with the TV crew were a couple of radio controlled helicopters (drones) to do some of the filming. The ship departed on time at 22:30. Once I downloaded the GPS track for my Bergen walkabout, I realized why my feet were so sore. During the day I walked over 14 miles (not counting the two trips up and down the Funicular).

Mirror selfie in my cabin on the Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10 mm lens. (David J Mathre)
Mirror selfie in my cabin on the Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp. Image taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and 10 mm lens. (David J Mathre)

Eleven-Years Ago (31-January-2007) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2007 Family Winter Vacation. Day 11: Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald Norwegian Coastal Voyage Southbound (Tromsø to Stamsund).

On the third day of the southbound Hurtigruten voyage, the ship departed Tromsø (01:30) and made seven stops: Finnsnes (04:15-04:45); Harstad (07:45-08:30); Risøyhamm (10:45-11:00); Sortland (12:30-13:00); Stokmarkenes (14:15-15:15); Svolvær (18:30-20:30); and Stamsund (22:00-22:30).

We got off the ship in Harstad and took a bus tour stopping at the Trondenes Church (northernmost medieval stone church in Norway) and the Trondenes Museum & Historical center. We then drove to Sortland where we rejoined the ship after passing over it while we crossed the Sortland bridge.

Painting at the Trondenes Museum & Historical center in Harstad. Composite of two images taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 50 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 200, 50 mm, f/1.4, 1/100 sec) (David J Mathre)
Painting at the Trondenes Museum & Historical center in Harstad. Composite of two images taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 50 mm f/1.4 lens (ISO 200, 50 mm, f/1.4, 1/100 sec) (David J Mathre)



Individual images in this slide-show can be viewed here.



Individual images in this slide-show can be viewed here.



Individual images in this slide-show can be viewed here.



Individual images in this slide-show can be viewed here.

Svolvær Church at night. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 35 mm f/2 lens (ISO 400, 35 mm, f/2, 1/15 sec) (David J Mathre)
Svolvær Church at night. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 35 mm f/2 lens (ISO 400, 35 mm, f/2, 1/15 sec) (David J Mathre)
Trollfjord docked in Svolvær. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 12-24 mm f/4 lens (ISO 200, 12 mm, f/4, 1/45 sec) (David J Mathre)
Trollfjord docked in Svolvær. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 12-24 mm f/4 lens (ISO 200, 12 mm, f/4, 1/45 sec) (David J Mathre)

Eleven-Years Ago (30-January-2007) — Norway

Gone to See Norway 2007 Family Winter Vacation. Day 10: Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald Norwegian Coastal Voyage Southbound (Mehamn to Tromsø).

On the second day of the southbound Hurtigruten voyage, the ship stopped in eight ports: Mehamn (01:00-01:15); Kjøllefjord (03:15-03:30); Honningsvåg (06:00-06:15); Havøsund (08:15-08:30); Hammerfest (11:15-12:45); Øksfjord (15:30-15:45); Skjervøy (19:00-19:45); and Tromsø (23:45-01:30).

At about 01:00 the captain made an announcement that Northern Lights were visible. I put some warm clothes on and went out. It was cold (minus 10 degrees) and windy. But the northern lights were brighter than I ever remember seeing before when growing up in Minnesota. It was hard to stand still for 10 seconds on a moving ship in the cold and heavy wind to take a selfie. I did hear that some of the folks that got off in Kirkenes also saw the Northern Lights that night (but didn’t wake the others up…). It was because of the view that night that I decided to go back to Norway in the middle of the winter six years later — and saw even more impressive displays in Tromsø.

Northern Lights Self Portrait. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 10.5 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 400, 10.5 mm, f/2.8, 10 sec). (David J Mathre)
Northern Lights Self Portrait. Image taken with a Nikon D2xs camera and 10.5 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens (ISO 400, 10.5 mm, f/2.8, 10 sec). (David J Mathre)