“Wonderful good morning ladies and genflemen. In about ten minutes we will be crossing the Arctic Circle,” the ships’ crew announces over the loud speaker in four languages: norwegian, english, german and french.
Half asleep we roll out of our beds, not hard to do since they are rather narrow. Struggling to put our layers of clothing on, we stumble out the door, down the narrow hallway, up some steps and more steps, until we step out into the chilly morning air.
Guess I’ll have to ask you to use your imaginations. There’s a rock there somewhere.
It’s after 7am, but still dark so the captain shines a spot light sending a bright shaft of light onto a rock. The wind is blowing. Our noses are red, glasses fogged, as we huddle down in our coats. This is it, tadah! A big, grey barren rock welcoming us to the frigid north. Thank you rock.
It’s the coldest that we have been. Surprisingly, Norway’s west coast is warmed by the Gulf Stream creating a more temperate coast. We have just reached an area where there is some snow on the ground near the water. Mostly the temperatures have been in the 30 to 20 degrees farenheight, not much different than what we are used to in the winter back in the states.
After a day or two on board, Kevin and I looked at each other and asked, “So what is a fjord anyway?” Laughing at ourselves we had to Google fjord, because we wouldn’t know one if we saw one. I thought it was the rocky cliffs on either side of the waterways. Kevin thought it was the waterways between the cliffs. We were both right.
According to Wikipedia a fjord is a “long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier…” It’s nice when we are both right, and now when someone is brave enough to ask us, because I know we all like to think we know the definition to a word we’ve heard all of our lives, but don’t always really know, we’ll be able to tell them what Google told us.
As we’re cruising along the fjords (nice word) our ship makes several ports of call to drop off mail, pick up passengers, and deliver goods and machinery. Most stops are less than half an hour. If we wanted to hop off and on, we could do that, but by the time we bundled up it would be time to go. It’s fun to watch the school children on shore waving to the big boat instead.
Usually around breakfast or lunch; we think the cruise company does this to save on meal costs, we get a longer stop over. We stopped at one town for five hours, 6am to noon. Note, nothing opens until 10am and it’s a bit dark early in the morning to be wandering on icy cobblestone streets.
We get in line with everyone else to stuff our faces as quickly as possible to jump ship. We try to squeeze in as much activity as we can in those few hours: getting lost in the old towns with their crooked streets and crooked houses, climbing to the highest points to take in gorgeous views, taking in a museum or riding the most northern tram car.
The tram car was a bit bumpy.
Our pace quickens as our minutes wind down. The ship will blare it’s horn at ten minutes to departure time. “We’ll leave without you,” we’ve been warned, so our hearts beat faster as we anxiously look for our ship. We wish we had a beeper like we do for the car, didn’t know you could lose a parked ship. “Beep, beep.” There it is, exactly where we parked it.
Luckily, it’s not the one pulling away. Ours is hiding on the other side of the buildings.
Sailing across the Arctic Circle isn’t something we do everyday, so we join the other passengers for a celebration. After appeasing the Norde god, we, of our own free will, with the cold wind already sending shivers down our spines, have ice poured down our backs. “Ahhhh!” Freezing, we hurry back to cabin 326 to strip out of our wet layers, leaving an ice cube trail behind us.
So, we saw a rock and got cold. Was it worth it? Sure, I’d do it again. We got to see some amazing sights along the way.