Saturday, 26 May 2012


24th - 25th May 2012

Lots more fjords and other remarkably narrow bits of water were passed through on Day 3 when we went from Finnsnes to Stamsund via another five harbours. I'm not absolutely sure how to spell 'fjord', it may be 'fiord', perhaps it could be either. The weather was a bit murky but the sea remained dead calm.
Got off the ship for a wander at a couple of the stops with unpronounceable names, but nowt much of interest to see or do.

There is a Hurtigruten museum at the town of Stokmarknes which I popped into. Quite interesting. There is a mock-up of a ship's galley over which was slumped an unconscious looking chef! Not sure what that was meant to represent, but not a good advert for the culinary standards. There was also a ship, coincidently called MS Finnmarken, propped up on blocks outside ( right ). Looks as if she has seen better days.

In the afternoon I was booked onto what was termed a 'sea-eagle safari'. Actually it turned out to be a rather jolly excursion and the weather improved for the occasion.

We were transferred mid-fjord via a gangplank from the car deck to a small boat ( left ). Nobody fell in. This boat then sped away from the mother ship. There was hot coffee and biscuits on board which were welcome later on. It was still quite chilly.

Up another increasingly narrow fjord ( right ) we went and were joined by a flock of seagulls. The two girl crew on deck were there to attract them, but more importantly the eagles, by dispensing bread for the seagulls and fish for the eagles. One of the girls could make strange whistling noises which might have helped.

The seagulls, being greedy, took the bread from the girls' hands. I presume they get this feast every day at the same time. There was a constant formation of them flying alongside.

The sea-eagles ( white-tailed eagles, not condors; I asked ) were not slow to appear either.  They are accustomed to their regular tea meal as well.  They circled the boat and waited for a fish to be thrown.

They were pretty quick at diving down to get it. It is not easy to photograph this. Most of my shots were 'aeroplanes out of sight', so to speak.
I suppose we attracted about ten of these eagles over a period of an hour and a half. I snapped a few of them so you can view the rather poor results. I don't think I would make a good wild-life photographer.

Once or twice they even caught the fish mid-air.

One more boring eagle pic. I expect the people wielding cameras with mega-lenses on them got some excellent shots.

Right: The scenery up these little waterways with big vertical cliffs above is most attractive. There are even some small houses up there.

Left: ...and some waterfalls.
While taking these shots I turned around and, would you believe it......

Right: ......the goddamn mother-ship was following us down this narrow channel! It is a big ship and really didn't have much room to spare either side.

Left: It came into a narrow inlet which was a dead-end.

Right: Then had to do a three-point turn to get out. Quite skilful handling. We were sitting watching and waiting for it to get it's paintwork scratched.
It got away unscathed. I expect this is a well practised manoeuvre.

On our way to re-join the Finnmarken at the town of Svolvaer we came across a pod of orca whales. There were four of them. We all saw them but you try photographing them! When the shutter goes click they are back under water. Left: This is all I got; a snap of an orca dorsal fin. They were, believe me, an impressive sight.

Right:  A final shot of a sea-eagle perching on a marker pole. It didn't budge; probably too full up from the recent feast.

Left: On approaching the harbour at Svolvaer we passed some smart little houses behind which were extensive frames on which were strung drying cod for 'stock fish' or 'klippfisk', I think its called. These frames are in all the fishing ports and the production of this dried fish is an important money earner. By crikey it stank! Presumably the locals get used to it, but to a passing tourist it fair took the breath away. Essence de Poisson, by Givenchy.
Back on board I had supper alone because my table-mates had gone on a separate bus tour around some of the islands here; the Lofoten Islands. Apparently they are very beautiful and much used by artists for the quality of the light, or something. I could still smell those stinking cod.
Woke up a bit late the next morning, Day 4, and had missed the 9.00am ceremony on the top observation deck for passing back south through the Arctic Circle. I'd forgotten that this was due to happen. Apparently it involved taking photos of the globe type monument on the shore which marks the latitude, being presented with a spoon out of which you had to drink some cod-liver oil and also a certificate. I had a leisurely breakfast instead. Today we were travelling between Bodo and Rorvik.

A stop at Sandnessjoen where we were told over the PA by our ever attentive 'Tour Manager' ( he loves doing his PAs, in several languages too, and specialises in bad jokes ) that there is a statue of a famous 'turkey man' in the main street. It was a good opportunity to stretch the legs with the others and we wandered past a statue of a famous local 'clergyman' ( right ). Name escapes me.

Left: The table 16 gang posing around the statue of a gallant Norwegian admiral who, amongst other victories over German shipping, took part in the sinking of the Scharnhorst. From left to right: Chris and Pamela, Viseadmiral Skule V Storheill, Helen, Bill and Ian.

Right: At some point in the afternoon we passed this mountain with a hole in the middle. Quite well known, but I have forgotten it's name.

That evening it was the Captain's Farewell Dinner. We were not leaving for  another two days but many of the pax were getting off at Trondheim the next morning; so the Dinner was to include them. It involved a speech by Captain Anders ( "..anders juss like to say, hic, whataluvvly bunch of pashhenzers yooos been, you're the BESHT lossof passss, hic, engagers aysseverad...."etc. ). Plus a parade of the Mess Staff ( left ) and even some indoor fireworks before bringing on the pudding.

We adjourned to the Piano Bar afterwards where we ( or at least I ) got caught, much against ship's rules, pouring out our illicit smuggled drink. They go to considerable lengths to protect the sales of their grossly overpriced drinks. We were getting a bit blasé  I must admit. The stroppy barman gave me a bollocking and even threatened to confiscate our illicit alcohol if he saw any in future and maybe make us walk the plank afterwards. It will not deter us. Nobody can afford to drink much of their stuff at the prices they charge. It shouldn't be kept behind a bar, it should be put in a safe!
Two more days on board and it all seems to be going well so far.

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