Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 1 - Kirkenes

I did not sleep well and about 1:30 am I got up and looked out and it seemed to be quite light. It is so far north that the sun never sets at the height of summer. I did not go outside to see if I could see the sun but even if it was not up in the sky it had to be pretty close.

The same view from our window as the day before but with sun.

Our host drove us through Kirkenes to the wharf and we passed this brightly coloured building.

Marianne looking pleased to walk the gang plank.

It turned out that we had been given an upgrade and this was our cabin. We were supposed to be down lower in the boat with a much smaller room with possibly a porthole.

It even has a shower so we don't have to walk down the hall to the communal showers. The ship was built in 1965 and has fewer amenities than modern ships. Interestingly, this makes the ship preferable to the more modern ships from Hurtigruten that do this voyage. The Lofoten has its devoted followers who have done the voyage several times and would never consider sailing on a larger more modern boat.

Our own private en-suite.

Naturally I lazed back and wallowed in the unforeseen luxury. I am going to have to put up with this for five more days. I took some Dramamine and ginger in case I get sea-sick.

It is a small ship that is 87 meters long with a tonnage of 2621.

The temperature was close to freezing so we were in our cold weather gear.

Kirkenes is an important port.

Since we had over an hour before the ship was due to leave, we walked into downtown Kirkenes.

It means Speed Bumps.

First we headed into a residential section. There is still a lot of snow hanging about.

Years ago the Russian introduced King Crabs from the eastern part of Russia to the western part. They have become a pest in this region destroying the native fish habitats so crabbing is big business here.

Not everybody builds an extension for their rubbish bin.

During WWII, the Germans occupied Kirkenes which is very close to Murmansk in Russia. Consequently, the Russians bombed the town over 300 times. The local Norwegian moved inland and mostly lived in old mines for protection. When the Germans left, they burned what was left so virtually every building was built after the war, including this church.

More about this history here.

The church was built in the mid 50's.

Where you go to 'rage on' if that is still the correct terminology.

There are not many hotels and they are very expensive. This is one of them.

Offices in containers.

Crab traps and spools of new rope.

We toddled back to the boat.

The back deck. Nobody was lingering out here because it was very cold.

The usual life boats and this is our assembly point if something goes wrong.

The lounge at the front of the ship. Most passengers are doing the Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen full voyage so quite a few were content to just sit inside and chat.

Our German friend from last night in Kirkenes took us down to the 1st level where she has her cabin which is apparently very small. This is the communal shower. No, it is one person at a time.

The ship sailed off on time at 12:30 and about 1 pm we had lunch at a buffet. What I ate was excellent including some cod. No herring however.

We were asked to attend an introductory meeting at 2 pm where the Captain introduced some of his staff and then the bloke in charge of organizing trips etc gave us some more information. He started off in Norwegian, repeated the same information in English and then in German.

Most of the time, I relaxed and watched the coastline off in the distance. Yes, the water is very blue.

The wake of the ship.

Occasionally you pass close to a cape. This one had a lighthouse.

Then I went and had a well deserved nap.

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