Articles tagged with: Norway
With the budget less than a fortnight away the travel trade is boosting its attack on how high APD is and how damaging it could be for jobs and the economy if it stays at its high level. They have been boosted in that one of the few countries in Western Europe to retain such a tax has got rid of it. Ireland has removed it because it was seeing reduced tourism coming into Ireland and fewer air passengers both of which meant the tax was not raising net money but costing the economy instead. Will George Osborne, the Chancellor, take heed?
There was no call last night. But we shouldn’t be greedy. Seeing the lights over 4 nights – particularly the wonderful display of the night before last – is more than many tourists get. One Norwegian, a regular traveler on the ferry, said that he hadn’t seen such a display on some many evenings for a good while.
Today we reach Bergen at about 2.30pm and the journey will be over.
The last but one day of our journey.
When this saga (a good Scandinavian word) began eleven days ago, it was with the hope of seeing the northern lights. To have seen them for 4 nights in a row when so many see nothing of them is great. That we have cameras inadequate to the task of capturing pictures of them is annoying. But then, the colours that the camera show isn’t what the eye sees.
There are fewer than 200 passengers on board now and even the crew has become a bit depleted. After this voyage ends, the ferry sails to Denmark, I am told, for its annual service. Many of the people who have been here from the beginning have become nodding acquaintances as have the crew. For some we know of their families and jobs, ailments and holiday history. They borrow camera chargers from each other and notices go up seeking this or that item. More got off when we reached Bodo in the wee small hours.
People have read their camera manuals. Lots more people were happier with the photographs last night. During the day there had been even more conversations between the camera elite and some had exposure settings down to as little as 4 seconds. But there were moans about those who used automatic cameras and who couldn’t disable the flash. It was claimed that the onset of the flash ruined the shoots being taken by those with the more sophisticated cameras. All this was way over my head so I left them to it.
After the excitement of last night, there weren’t that many people having an early breakfast. When they did drift in the conversation was largely about what had been seen. Or photographed. Hardly anyone has managed to get decent pictures. Those that were the most knowledgeable; those with tripods, were unsuccessful as well as us more amateur ones. Why? Because the motion of the ship meant that they couldn’t get a long enough exposure or steady exposure
There was no call overnight so most of us just slept. As we are reaching the turning point of the journey I am beginning to think we won’t see the northern lights on this trip. At breakfast there was still optimistic talk of how this is the best year to be able to see them; the solar activity is just right and so-and-so knows a man who knows a man who says… You know how the story goes.
An early start as we reach Hammerfest at 5.15 in the morning. Thank goodness we dock here in daylight on the return journey. My “12 Days” tells me that this was a German naval base during the war. In October 1944, all the inhabitants were removed and the town was razed to the ground. If I could only see in the dark it is probably only modern buildings that are out there. Few people were up to see us dock or leave. I wasn’t there. When I went up we had another snowy squall and you couldn’t see far at all.
After the excitement of seeing the glimmer of the northern lights last night, we are better prepared in case we get called in the night. Clothes are left out, fireman style, so all you have to do is jump into them and you’re off. Yes, they are yesterday’s and yes, they are creased and untidy but who cares. The important thing is to get to the open decks to get a good view as soon as possible. But there are no calls during the night and we reach the port of Harstad at 6.45am.
At 7.19am we crossed the Arctic Circle. All of a sudden hardy souls were out on deck with all manner of cameras, tripods and professional kit that made me feel just an amateur. But what was there to see? A light. And if someone moved it 100 yards as a joke none of us would have known the difference.
Into Trondheim at 6am but not a lot of people were on deck to see us enter. The first excursions weren’t leaving for 2 hours. Breakfast doesn’t start till 7am and was full as soon as it opened to cater for those eager to eat before leaving on their trip. Not willing to part with the equivalent of £25 to just walk around the town, albeit with a guide, (who we were told later didn’t turn up anyway) we sauntered off to the centre at about 9am.
We sailed and the first panic has set in. The wifi doesn’t work. But yes it does, but only on one deck and you need a password. So you will be able to read these scribbling after all. People stayed up to watch the sailing and celebrate the voyage with expensively purchased beer, wine or coffee. There is a deal on board. For 209 Norwegian krone, (NKr) about £21, you can have as much coffee as you can drink over the voyage. Considering that coffee and tea are NKr 25 each in the café, it’s not surprising that you see dozens of people carrying around their plastic mugs.
For many years, my wife has wanted to see the northern lights, that sparkling shower of light that you see in the night sky up above the Arctic Circle. In just about the only holiday that we have ever planned and paid for months ahead – ours are mostly decided at the last minute – here we were in Bergen in Southern Norway waiting to catch the ferry that would take us to the northernmost tip of the country. In 11 days there should be a fighting chance of seeing the lights, we thought.