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(Re-)Crossing the Arctic Circle.

I’ve called this a Celebratory Gallery because … we went, and it was wonderful.  Mani had driven to the Nordkapp – the northernmost point of mainland Europe – many years back on a boys’ roadtrip with son Daniel and nephew Christian.  Some 7000k’s from Switzerland and back. Somehow the idea of driving it again felt a bit extreme – so a visit by ship seemed the answer. It was. We went on the Hurtigruten Kong Harald – in and out of 34 port towns, some just for half an hour in the middle of the night because the job of supplying all those towns must go on, and some for long enough to make an excursion – like to Nordkapp.  And with an expedition team on board to satisfy my inner info-junky. Ideal.

And celebratory because … I’ve just finished turning some of the photos into a couple of DVDs.   It’s one of those cool-day jobs with lots of small pleasures along the way – self-congratulation on how some of the photos turned out, and joy in finding the music which works, editing it to fit, and seeing how it all comes together.  Of course I had to use some Greig, but new, for me, were two of Norwegian Sami composer-singer-musicians, Mari Boine  and Frode Fjellheim.  Mari Boine’s work I’d heard on the voyage, and Frode Fjellheim I found thanks to Wikipedia and iTunes and he’s now firmly in my firmament of stars.

So lots of causes for celebration.  Share a bit of the pleasure.  Let’s focus on the Spring, and look at other themes later (promise!)

Bergen in early May was showing a haze of green buds over bare-branched trees, and as we sailed out past farms, there was greening under the snow-yellowed top grass.

By Alesund, daffodils and hyacinths are bright in civic gardens.




Northwards — now the trees show no green, the mountains are snowy with the stark structure of their rocky ribs showing, and now patches of snow on the shaded parts of fields. 

Across open seas to Lofoten Islands, and ice still on the lakes, thawing now around the some edges.  The fields are sodden with melt.

North again through sounds and fjords to Honnigsvag – and by bus through snow-ploughed roads to Nordkapp. The reindeer are back on the island now they can get through the snow to feed. They’ve been shipped over, or brought by truck through the undersea tunnel.  After a summer of fattening up, they get to swim back.

The quick shot out a bus window – otherwise we saw only tracks!

Guide’s joke, pointing out a snow barrier “see that fence? The herders make the reindeer jump over it, and raise it every week, until by Christmas they can fly.”

Obligatory “I was there” photo. My ruddy cheeks tell the temperature!  BTW – as at Cape Reinga, there’s actually a slightly northerner point – but this is where history has set the mark.

Around the top to Kirkenes on the Russian border, and snow is still a metre deep in back gardens, melted back from the sun-gathering warmth of wooden fences and bare-branched bushes.

Sailing southwards again…

Did I just catch an avalanche?

… and we’re fast-forwarding spring.  Lichens and mosses are greening, and people relaxing…

Spot the stars and stripes onesie!

By Bronnysund, the exact half-way point along the length of Norway, the buds are bursting on the trees, and an otter is sunning itself in the stream.


Trondheim was in glory.

Nidaros Cathedral – only Spring could make it more beautiful

A fortnight after we left, spring has fully sprung.

Is there a ‘best time’ to do this trip?   Early May was pretty good!   More snow, and the drama of the rocky ridges would be hidden. High summer, and the sudden transitions of a northern spring would be lost. Northern lights season, and the sea-landscapes would pass in twilight.  I celebrate Spring!