Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Bronnoysund to Svolvaer including Bodo

Monday 24th September - Day 4

We wake this morning to an announcement that we will be crossing the Arctic Circle. It is almost 7 am and we quickly throw on some clothes and head on deck. We are two of only a few people who have come to mark the occasion with a photograph or two, most preferring to say in the warmth of their beds or the ship. A globe on a small island marks the spot and it suddenly feels like we are in new territory. The weather is misty, but has it’s own beauty. The mist hangs over the mountains and the light reminds me of an episode of Wallender.

As we progress further North today, we travel past the dark jagged wall of mountains that mark the Loften Islands. This continues for 100 km and seems impenetrable as the pointed caps rise up on either side of us. It’s a dramatic part of the trip with a stop over in Bodo (pronounced Buddha – which I like) during the afternoon.

We disembark for a walk around Bodo. There’s not much to see here. It has a modern town centre and pre-war architecture particularly reflected in the church and clock tower. However, we do find a shop selling traditional hand-crafted goods from Norway and are torn between gorgeous weighty blankets, brightly coloured scarves or hand-knitted cable socks. We remember that we have a luggage limit on our return flight and so decide on a hand-cut Christmas decoration depicting reindeer in the snow. I tell the shop assistant that we shall proudly display it this Christmas and will think back warmly on our trip to Bodo. And we do.

The shops here tell you a lot about the town and the weather. There are several craft shops, a couple of wool shops, a bookshop and two shops selling musical instruments. I can only assume that during cold, dark winter nights people gather for craft evenings, knitting circles and to play music together. That may be quite a romantic view of life, but it’s the one I choose to take away with me.

Back on board, I head to the library. It seems a regular crowd is forming here. Three highly competitive American women are playing a game that looks and sounds a lot like dominoes, a German man sits writing at a table while his wife, secretly snoozing, pretends to read a magazine and an American gentleman who reminds me a little of the crazy Professor from Back to the Future (sorry Tom) is trying to send emails. There is a little excitement when one of the women makes some sort of illegal move in the game, but this is soon forgotten when a Dutch man interrupts and invites them to play cards with him. Once again, I feel tired and so I return to my cabin for a sleep. 

My husband wakes me a little later to tell me that I will be sorry to miss the sunset going down over the mountains and he is right. It is magnificent. After more photo-taking we once again jump in the hot tub and it is noticeable colder on our cheeks and noses. But then again we are in the Arctic Circle now!
After dinner, we retire to the panoramic lounge, luckily securing a front seat and I think that perhaps we are set here for the night, but we don’t realise that Hurtigruten has more in store for us this evening. At 11 pm we enter the Trollfjord, which is a very narrow piece of water with mountains rising up to 1000 metres high on either side. The gap through is at times only 100 metres wide and with the spotlights from the ship illuminating our way, it looks like you could reach overboard and touch the surface of the mountains. We keep an eye out for Trolls, but they must be sleeping and we make up jokes about trolls to keep us entertained. There is a real camaraderie on deck as passengers mill about in padded jackets and hats drinking troll soup to keep warm. As the fjord is a dead end, the Captain has to turn the ship round. I’m glad he’s doing it and not me. Eventually, everyone disappears off to bed, apart from Andy and I. We look up at the sky filled with hope of seeing the Northern Lights, but it seems tonight will not be the night as we can make out only a few stars in the otherwise cloudy sky. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow night.

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