Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 5: Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp Norwegian Coastal Voyage Northbound (Trondheim and Rørvik).
On the second full day of the northbound Hurtigruten voyage, the ship only stops in two ports: Trondheim (06:00-12:00) and Rørvik (20:30-21:15). Having six hours in Trondheim allowed us to spend some time to see the city. Our first stop was at Nidaros Cathedral. The exterior of the cathedral is a target rich environment for religious statues and gargoyles. But it was cold outside. The last time I was here in 2007 I said I would love to go back with a perspective control lens to record all sides of the exterior of the cathedral. Well, I didn’t bring that lens along, so had to do with a Nikon 1 V2 camera and an older 180 mm f/2.8 lens. It was cloudy and still relatively dark in the morning, so the images are noisy. The statues can be identified here. After leaving Trondheim, we passed the Kjeungskjær Lighthouse.
Individual images from the slide show can be viewed here.
Gone to See Norway 2013 Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 4: Hurtigruten MS Nordkapp Norwegian Coastal Voyage Northbound (Florø to Kristandsund).
In addition to transporting passengers, the Hurtigruten ships carry freight, mail, automobiles, and fresh food between several ports along the Norwegian coast. Many of these stops occur during the night, and only last for short (15 minutes to 1 hour) periods of time. The schedule for the first full day of the northbound voyage stops at the following ports: Florø (04:30-04:45); Maløy (06:45-07:30); Torvik (10:20-10:45); Ålesund (12:00-15:00); Molde (17:30-18:30); Kristandsund (22:00-23:00).
We were able to spend a bit of time for a walkabout in Ålesund. It was snowing so I didn’t have a chance to climb Mount Aksla for a view of the harbor like I did in 2007. We did hear the drone in the sky that the German TV crew was using follow us as we walked through the city. I was surprised that they would fly it with limited visibility.
Individual images in the slide shows can be viewed here.
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.
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.
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).
Gone to See Norway 2013. Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 14: Tromsø.
Wintertime walkabout in Tromsø, Norway. Part 2: Ships and boats. With its long coastline, Norway is a nautical seafaring nation. I arrived in Tromsø on the MS Nordkapp, a Hurtigruten line ship three days earlier and would leave on a different Hurtigruten ship. On this day there were fishing trawlers, combination passenger ferry/Ro-Ro (roll on, roll off) cargo ships, and a fire/rescue boat named the Wanny Woldstad. Later in the day, the Hurtigruten MS Kong Harald stopped in Tromsø. I had been on that ship the winter of 2007. On the way back to the hotel, we watched a combination passenger ferry/Ro-Ro cargo ship be winched out of the water to into a dry dock shipyard.
Gone to See Norway 2013. Chasing the Northern Lights. Day 9: North then Southbound Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage.
On the seventh and final day of the northbound Hurtigruten coastal voyage, the MS Nordkapp stops in four ports: Båtsfjord (00:30-01:00); Vardø (04:00-04:15); Vadsø (07:30-08:00); and Kirkenes (09:45-12:45). After spending 3 hours in Kirkenes, the ship turns around and begins the southbound voyage stopping at three ports: Vardø (16:00-17:00); Båtsfjord (20:00-20:30); and Berlevåg (22:15-22:30).
Just before midnight there were some faint northern lights. I had to increase the ISO to 6400 to get this image. You can clearly see some red in addition to the green color.