MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH - DEPARTURE BERGEN
The participants at this tour were; Unni LA6RHA, Ingrid LA8FOA, Anita SM6FXW, Arne SE-SWL, Solveig SM6KAT, Bengt SM6GDU, Gertrud DK8LQ, Horst DJ9FC, Ann-Marie SA6YLQ, Irene VK2VAN, Sallie AB5YL, Eva HB9FPM, Andreas HB9JOE, Anne LA-SWL.
We all met at the Hurtigruten terminal in Bergen, where Ingrid handed out the Boarding cards before boarding the ship. We had reserved table for dinner every evening, but for breakfast and lunch there were free seating.
MS Trollfjord left Bergen at half past ten on Monday and would be in Kirkenes on the Sunday after.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH – ÅLESUND – HJØRUNDFJORDEN – ÅLESUND
The Hjørundfjord is said to be one of the most untouched, idyllic and beautiful fjords in Norway. It is a 35-kilometre long arm of the larger Storfjorden in the district of Sunnmøre in Western Norway. The Hjørundfjord is surrounded by the Sunnmøre Alps, with peaks that reach up to 1 700 metres straight up from the fjord.
The steep mountains plunging right down in the fjord have made it impossible to cultivate the land area. Most of the natural vegetation is still intact. Although there is not much space for settlements here, a few obstinate tiny farms cling to the mountain sides and there are some small villages along the fjord such as Urke with a population of 1060. When in Hjørundfjord, you can explore the region further during the "A Taste of Norway" excursion. You will be departing by bus from Urke, drive through one of the wildest and narrowest valleys of the country, see the remains of an ancient settlement that was lost as the result of a huge landslide more than a hundred years ago, and visit the historic and charming Union Hotel Øye.
The name of the fjord probably derives from the Old Norse word for "sword" (hjorr), because the shape of the fjord can be compared with that of a sword. Another theory is that is named after the stone formation "Hjørungane" situated at the mouth of the fjord.
Ålesund is mostly known for its unique Art Nouveau architecture, which was in fact the result of a disaster. In 1904, the larger part of Ålesund was destroyed in a devastating fire. In an act of excellent foresight, it was decided to rebuild the town entirely in Art Nouveau, the fashionable style of the time. Most of this beauty has been preserved. If you look up as you explore the town, you will be enchanted by the rounded towers, sinuous lines and foliate forms typical of Art Nouveau.
By the picturesque harbour you find the landmark Holmbua. This warehouse, built in 1861, escaped the great fire and now holds the fisheries exhibitions of Ålesund Museum. Experience the exciting displays and learn more about the town's production of dried cod and other fish produce. A trip to Aksla Mountain in the middle of the town is a must. Walk the 418 steps to the top and you will be rewarded by unforgettable panoramic views. The Art Nouveau Centre in Ålesund documents the town's unique architectural history. Enjoy the fascinating history that brings you back to the fire in 1904. Take a stroll through the many rooms in the building known as "The Swan Pharmacy" and be mesmerized by the beauty of the authentic décor.
The Borgund market town from the Viking era is a part of the Sunnmøre Museum, in the area known as Borgundgavlen. The Museum is about 10 minutes by car east of the town centre. It is a unique open-air museum with 55 old and distinct houses. Just a few minutes away you find Ålesund Aquarium, one of the largest saltwater aquariums in northern Europe. Enjoy close encounters with the rich marine life that can be found in and around the coastal waters of Norway.
As you walk around exploring the city, you can enjoy a good selection of restaurants, pubs and cafés, whether you are looking for a gourmet meal, a good patisserie or a delicious coffee.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11TH – TRONDHEIM
A large city by Norwegian standards, Trondheim has still managed to preserve the charm and intimacy of a small town. After a catastrophic fire destroyed most of the city houses in 1681, the new streets were made wide to prevent fires from spreading. Some of the narrow alleys and streets, many originating in the Middle Ages, still exist, contrasting the wide boulevards from the 1600s. Even today Trondheim is known as one of the typical wooden cities of Europe, and the city centre has many special wooden buildings, some built as far back as the 1700s.
Trondheim has a strong position as the centre of trade for central Norway. NTNU (the Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Trondheim's internationally renowned university, and the city's many research communities ensure that it is a city of innovation and development of science, business and industry ventures. The students add a youthful exuberance to this thousand-year old city. While not a large metropolis, Trondheim's location and opportunities put it on an equal footing with the major cities of Europe.
Trondheim has a rich cultural life with an international flavour and is a popular destination for pilgrimages. This historic city has a lot to offer. Take a stroll to see for yourself. Start at the Old Town Bridge and follow the path that heads south through the park next to the river Nid. The cathedral is on your right with the Archbishop's Palace that contains one of the best museums in Norway. The path brings you to Hadrian's place and the legendary St Olav's spring.
Bakklandet is Trondheim’s old quarter and lies on the eastern side of the Nidelva. It is most easily reached by crossing Gamle Bybru from the town centre. The old wooden buildings, originally workers' houses, have now been restored and converted into flats, shops and restaurants.
Nidaros Cathedral is the world’s northernmost cathedral, and Norway’s national sanctuary. Construction began in 1070 over the shrine of Saint Olav. Nidaros was an important Christian pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. Norway’s coronation regalia are displayed in the Archbishop's Palace.
Trondheim is reputed to be the town in Norway with the most restaurants and cafes per person. You can find something for every taste and wallet. Local food is popular, and local farmers supply the town restaurants with fresh ingredients.
If Trondheim is your last stop, you can make a little detour from Trondheim on your way to Oslo and enjoy 2 nights in a traditional hotel at the World Heritage Site Røros.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12TH – BODØ – CROSSING POLAR CIRCLE
Surrounded by sea and fjord, the light in Bodø constantly shifts with the wind and weather. And then there’s the exotic fact that both the midnight sun and northern lights can be seen from here. Bodø is the capital of Nordland county and lies just north of the Arctic Circle where the midnight sun is visible from 2 June to 10 July. Due to atmospheric refraction, there is no true polar night in Bodø, but because of the mountains south of Bodø, the sun is not visible from the city from early December to early January. Monthly average number of sun hours in Bodø peaks in June with 221 hours.
Another unique feature is the closeness to the countryside and the sea. Combine an urban espresso with salty sea rafting and mountain walking. Choose between concerts and exhibitions and then jump right into your kayak or onto your off-road bike. The city is well known for its hospitality and hosts one of Norway’s most lively student communities.
The strongest tidal current in the world, Saltstraumen, with water speeds reaching 22 knots, is situated just southeast of Bodø. Kjerringøy is a well-preserved old trading village on the coast just north of Bodø. With its scenic setting and authentic buildings, several movies have been shot at this little port.
In connection with crossing the Arctic circle the crew on MS Trollfjord had a ceremony on deck 9 for all passengers. The ceremony consisted of being baptized by receiving a scoop of ice water down the neck with a blessing.
This was also a special day for Gertrud DK8LQ. It was her birthday. Gertrud and Horst invited our group for a glass of champagne before the ceremony. The group sang the Birthday song in English and in Norwegian.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH – TROMSØ
Tromsø’s numerous attractions include wildlife and impressive vistas, as well as history, culture and daring architecture. Often described as the Paris of the north, Tromsø offers a lively nightlife, friendly locals and a range of restaurants specializing in the fresh produce of the region. The city centre offers great shopping - from locally made specialties to Nordic and international brands.
When it comes to attractions and activities, Tromsø is something out of the ordinary. The city’s most recognizable landmark is the Arctic Cathedral. It was built in 1965, featuring a huge original stained-glass mosaic. Take the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of the Fløyfjellet Mountain (420 m) and enjoy breath-taking views of the city, mountains and fjords. The experience centre Polaria lies five minutes from the city centre. Here you’ll find an Arctic aquarium, interesting knowledge-based exhibits, a panoramic cinema and a gift and souvenir shop. If you like plants and flowers you should visit the world’s northernmost Botanical Garden, run by the University of Tromsø, where you also find the University museum of Tromsø. It shows the depth of North Norwegian nature and culture, focusing on the indigenous Sami culture, as well as archaeology, religious arts, geology and the northern lights, all in a family-friendly manner.
Tromsø was the starting point for several Arctic expeditions back in the day, when sealers and hunters roamed the streets. In a traditional wharf house from the 1830s, you’ll find the Polar Museum where you can learn more about Tromsø’s polar history. You can also visit the world’s northernmost brewery, Mack, and have a taste of the products they make at Ølhallen.
Tromsø is situated almost 400km north of the Arctic Circle, but its climate is pleasantly moderated by the Gulf Stream. The long winter darkness, with loads of snow and skies lit up by the northern lights, is perfect for winter activities like dogsledding and skiing. While the midnight sun and endless summer nights are excellent for hiking or kayaking.
If you are planning to stay a while in Tromsø, we recommend our pre and post programme to Sommarøy Island for a nature experience out of the ordinary. Or if you want some more action, how about an overnight stay in a Sami Lavvo with reindeer sledding.
The dinner this day was special. The group was having a 3 courses extra good dinner in the ala carte restaurant on the ship. This was really appreciated.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH – HONNINGSVÅG – NORDKAPP
Honningsvåg with 2800 inhabitants is the capital of the North Cape. Walking through Honningsvåg you’ll find excellent shops, Arctic dining experiences and other exciting activities. Check out the Perleporten Kulturhus (the local cultural centre), the Once Upon A Dream art gallery, and the Artico Ice Bar. A visit to the church is highly recommended: it was the only building left standing in Honningsvåg at the end of World War II.
Naturally, the most popular attraction in Honningsvåg is a visit to the North Cape. Stand at the edge of the cliff with the iconic globe monument and gaze across the ocean. Only the Svalbard Islands separate you from the North Pole. With clean, crisp air and vistas that extend to where the sea meets the horizon, North Cape feels like the end of the world. So, it's no surprise that the cliff is a major tourist attraction. In fact, the first tourist arrived here in 1664, and visitors have been coming ever since. It is known as Europe's northernmost point, making it a destination for all world travelers. Kinnarodden and Knivskjellodden are both a little farther north, but North Cape is more accessible. Due to its location, the Cape ranks among the great places to watch the northern lights. There is also a visitor centre here with modern facilities. Inside, visitors will find a museum and a restaurant that serves finger food and beverages.
In the summer, visitors might encounter the indigenous Sami people before witnessing the midnight sun. In the spring, the Norwegian Army’s landing craft transport around 3,800 reindeer across the Magerøy Strait to their summer pastures on Magerøy Island. However, during the autumn, when it is time for the reindeer to return to the snow-clad plains of Karasjok, the animals and their calves swim across the 1,800 m wide strait.
Gjesværstappan, one of the biggest bird cliffs in Norway is located due west of the North Cape and is home to an impressive variety of species. Almost 1 million puffins live there, along with numerous northern gannets, cormorants, kittiwakes, common guillemots and northern fulmar.
This was the last day on MS Trollfjord and this day the dinner consists a big buffet of every kind of seafood. This was a great way to end the tour with Hurtigruten.
After dinner we went to a meeting room, which Ingrid had booked for the group. Andreas HB9JOE has offered to do a power point presentation that explained what SOTA was. Andreas and Eva HB9FPM is very keen members of the SOTA group.
In addition to Andreas presentation a representative from the “bridge” on MS Trollfjord came and held a presentation about the communication on board. Ingrid and Unni has asked for this several times and at last they succeeded.
The group was very pleased with both presentations. The evening was no less successful by the announcement from the captain that it was now possible to see the Northern Lights if we went out on the deck.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH – KIRKENES
Kirkenes is in the extreme north-eastern part of Norway on the Bøkfjord, a branch of the Varangerfjord, near the Russian border. We're about 400 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and as far east as St. Petersburg. Most of the approximately 7,000 inhabitants are of Norwegian background, while a minority is Sami. Others originate from Finland and some 500 immigrants have recently arrived from Russia.
In Kirkenes you will notice strong bonds and cultural influences from Russia. A prominent example is the Russian Monument – a memorial for the liberation of Sør-Varanger by the Red Army in the autumn of 1944. There is a Russian market in Kirkenes once a month. Road signs are written in both Norwegian and Russian. The Russian border can be visited either by bus riverboat, or ATV/Quad. The Grenselandmuseet exhibits permanent and temporary exhibitions from the border area. The Art Museum Savio is built up around the well-known Sami artist John Andreas Savio (1902-1938), with art depicting the Sami reindeer herders, culture and nature in the north.
The nature in and around Kirkenes is different from the rest of Norway. Many eastern plant species grow here that are rare or non-existent in other parts of Norway. The forest in Pasvik originates from the Siberian taiga; the world's largest continuous forest area. Even the wildlife has many eastern elements, especially among the bird species. You will find all the major predators in the municipality. Best known is the brown bear, and the Pasvik Valley is the home of around 20 of them. Kirkenes is also the home of wolverine and lynx. Wolves are observed on rare occasions, but these are only stray animals coming from Russia. Your chances are much higher of seeing reindeer and elk. The Barents Sea is home to the huge King Crab.
In winter and spring Kirkenes is the home of a fantastic snow hotel, and activities like snowmobiling and dog sledding are popular. Activities in summer include boat trips, hiking, fishing, canoeing, climbing and diving.
If Kirkenes is your city of departure or arrival before your expedition with Hurtigruten, you can explore more of the area as part of our pre/post-voyage programmes. Spend the night outside in the Polar wilderness on our overnight snowmobile tour or husky tour. If this is too extreme, how about an Arctic experience in the Snow hotel or a traditional Sami hut called Gamme. On a King Crab Safari, you will have the chance to meet and eat this gigantic - and delicious - crab.
During the tour on Hurtigruten, LA6RHA had contact with Uno, LA4YUA, the leader of the Kirkenes group of NRRL, LA2K. He and Jens, SWL (originally from Germany), came to our hotel in Kirkenes and those who wanted followed them to their clubhouse. Horst, Gertrud, Irene, Eva and Andreas had stars in their eyes when they returned after trying out radio. The group had dinner together at the hotel this evening.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH – DEPARTURE KIRKENES
After breakfast at the hotel most of the group went to the airport to take the plane home. Irene, Eva and Andreas were staying in Kirkenes for one more day.
SYLRA meeting 2019 and optional tour were over.
LA8FOA Ingrid es LA6RHA Unni