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Tromsø to Bergen aboard M/S Polarlys 14-18 Nov 2002
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The Trip

Day One cont:- We walked up the gangway with our bags into the reception area on deck 3. Here we had to queue for our cabin key; just a matter of handing over one's paper ticket and being given an envelope containing the 2 card-keys, so it didn't take long. Cabins aren't allocated until arrival on board. Cabin 503, so off we went to deck 5. Dave took the lift with the suitcase and I walked up. He walked out the lift as I arrived.

Cabin 503
Cabin 503

The cabin was small, even though classified as a 'large' outside cabin, but well appointed, light in colour with plenty of storage space, even if you were on a 2 week or longer trip. We only had 4 nights, so hardly filled one of the cupboards. One berth & a sofa bed, both of which were very comfortable.

The bathroom was a decent size, with heated floor, shampoo/shower gel and soap was in dispensers. There was an hairdryer of the not very powerful type, but will do. The shower was big enough not to have to fight with the curtain & good water pressure.

By the time we had unpacked and got settled, which took all of 10 minutes, it was past 12.30am. We weren't due to sail until 1.30 am and after such a long day we were both tired. Dave went to bed & I stayed up just long enough to watch our departure from Tromsø which was delayed until 2am. Had I stayed up longer on the stern I would have seen the Northern Lights.

The Prom
The Prom

Toppsund Sound
Toppsund Sound

Day 2 - 15th Nov 2002 Overnight we had stopped in Finnsnes but we had been dead to the world. We arrived in Harstad just after 8am & departed 8.45. I only managed to see a glimpse as we left & of the Trondenes church - dating back to Viking times.

After breakfast we set about reading the daily program of the places we would be visiting, and wandering around deck or sitting in the Panorama Lounge viewing the scenery.

Just before arrival at Risøyhamn at 10.45 we sailed through Toppsund Sound & then the narrow & shallow Risøyrenna Channel: a 3 mile-long man-made channel opened in 1922 by King Haakon VII. You are supposed to be able to see the sandy bottom through 'Crystal Clear Emerald Water!' but it seemed a bit murky to me.

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Only a 15 min stop in Risøyhamn & then on south towards Sortland. Arrived in Sortland, the Capital of Vesterålen, at 12.15pm for ¾ hour. Mainly a fishing village, with a large fleet and processing industry. Then we sailed on through the Sortlandssund Sound with the 1,262 - metre high Møysalen Mountain on the port side & the change in landscape to the jagged peaks of Lofoten ahead.

M/S Finnmarken & Dave
M/S Finnmarken & Dave

View my Photographs of M/S Finnmarken

We arrived in Stokmarknes at 14.15, a trading post since 1776 & the birthplace of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage. This is where Richard With founded the Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab AS operating company in 1881. On Sunday July 2, 1893, at 8am, D/S Vesteraalen left Trondheim as the first ship in Hurtigruten traffic, with 11 ports to visit. Capt. Richard With was at the helm.

At the Hurtigruten Museum M/S Finnmarken [1956-1993] is in dry-dock. Unfortunately they were having some problems with the electricity supply at the time and we were unable to go aboard. The normal fee for admittance to the museum is NOK 70, but reduced to NOK 50, with no access to Finnmarken. We didn't go as that was the main attraction. However one could see the ship from the exterior and you can view my photographs here.

Hurtigruten Museum Logo

We had an hour in port, so wandered up the main [only] shopping street, buying a few trinkets & some soft drinks in a supermarket. It was beginning to get dark by the time we departed at 15.15, and it was by 15.30. One felt nearly ready for bed by 6pm as it had already been dark for so long.

From Stokmarknes we sailed through narrow Raftsund Sound [past Trollfjord] arriving in Svolvær, the capital of The Lofoten Islands at 18.30. A fishing village & very pretty - by night anyway:) It is identified by the towering Svolværgeita Mountain which we couldn't see much of. We wandered along the quays and found a shop that was open!

We departed at 19.30 whilst having dinner and shortly afterwards were able to wave, albeit it unseen, to another Hurtigruten ship, Midnatsol, going northbound.

Passing M/S Midnatsol
Passing M/S Midnatsol

Svolvær by night
Svolvær by Night

We stopped at Stamsund, one of the largest fishing stations in Lofoten, built into the rock, at 21.00. It then took 3 hours to cross Vestfjord to Bodø arriving at 1.30am. I just viewed from the cabin window. We departed at 4.00am for Ørnes where we arrived at 7am, but only for a 15min stop before travelling down Helgeland the rest of the day.

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Day 3 - 17th Nov 2002 Around 8.15am we passed M/S Nordlys going northbound and at 9.20am we crossed the Arctic Circle, marked by the globe. We were given a certificate to mark the occasion. Saw the Hestermannen Mountain on the island of Hestermanna & the archipelago of Træna. [People 1st settled here 5,000 yrs ago.] Onto Nesna, where we arrived at 11.00am. An old trading post on the island of Tomma.

Only 15mins there before sailing on to Sandnessjøen on the larger island of Dønna. To the west of here is the Dønnamannen Mountain, 858metres above sea level, & to the east Helgelandsbrua Bridge, which has a span of some 400m. We berthed right in the centre of town at about 12.30pm and went for a walk through the centre of town & back along the quay. There were 3 Norwegian Navy small patrol/missile [Penguin] craft, a couple of type 207 Class Diesel Subs & a Coastal Mine Layer further along the quay. Some passengers from Polarlys went aboard the subs, but not sure if they went inside or not.

Crossing the Arctic Circle
Crossing the Arctic Circle

View my Photographs of Sandnessjøen

S304 & S305 Submarines
S304 & S305 Submarines

There was a demonstration in the city concerning the cuts made in education, with everyone congregating around the statue of the poet/priest Petter Dass. Who? I don't know. Had a look around a supermarket & bought some cheeses & sweets for the children! Nothing else to buy as presents.

We walked back along the waterfront. Lots of boats of all types. After departure at 13.30 the Capt. announced we would be doing some emergency test manoeuvres, slowing, going fast & turning. But if he hadn't told us I don't think I would have noticed anyway.

The picturesque Skerries continued. We past the Seven Sisters & Torghatten Mountain. The story about how they came to be such unusual shapes is:-
"The beautiful sisters ran away from their father, Suliskongen, and danced naked in the waters of the fjord. Vågakallen, who lived in Lofoten and was in search of womenfolk, rode through the night to reach the 7 girls. Unfortunately, the sisters forgot that when the sun rose they would all be turned to stone. Now they stand there all in a row, as captivating & lovely as never before."

Panorama of The Seven Sisters
Panorama of The Seven Sisters

At 3pm we had a visit to the bridge, that was very interesting [See The Ship for further details]. We arrived in Brønnøysund at 16.15 for ¾ hr. A narrow harbour and then headed south again past the 500m yr old red mountains of the island of Leka. In 1932 here a 3yr old girl was taken by an eagle to its eyrie .in the mountains, but was fortunately rescued.

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Moon in Brønnøysund
Brønnøysund

We arrived in Rørvik at 20.30 for an hour where M/S Nordkapp was also berthed on her way northwards. We departed under the bridge, which was lovely at night - but yet to see the Northern Lights:( Kept popping out but it was snowing in patches. Some people stayed out until nearly midnight but didn't see anything.

M/S Nordkapp in Rørvik
M/S Nordkapp in Rørvik

View my Photographs of the Trip from Tromsø to Trondheim

Gamle Bybro (Old Citybridge)
Gamle Bybro (Old Citybridge)

The Archbishop's residence & the Nidaros Cathedral (the oldest Gothic building in Scandinavia) where we were given a tour of nearly an hour. A very good guide, who managed to make the place interesting. Vigleland did some work here too; carved the Baptismal font. Visit the Cathedral's official website. There are two organs the first being built by Joachim Wagner and was completed in 1741. But it didn't work until 1930 when it was returned to Germany for restoration. It is said that Johann Sebastian Bach played on it when it was being built.

We returned to Polarlys at 10am, a little late and as soon as we were aboard the gangway was raised. Northbound Hurtigrute M/S Vesterålen was berthed astern of us. We passed by 'Monk's Island' to starboard shortly after departure. This was Trondheim's execution ground in ancient times. Benedictine monks built a monastery on the island very early in the 11th century, probably one of the first two monasteries in Scandinavia. In 1658 it was converted into a prison fort, later becoming a customs house. Today this is a popular recreational resort, with good bathing and a restaurant.

Day 4 - 17th Nov 2002 We arrived in Trondheim not long after 6am. At 8am we set off for a 2hr sightseeing tour of the City, and a lovely one it is. Just about everyone came on the tour. 200NOK each.

We were taken around most of the city. The new Sports Complex with its 8/9 pools! The old narrow streets. The new broad ones. The River Nidelv, up to look over the City, the old folk-museum with state church & miners & engineers houses dating back 200yrs, made of wood. The Palace with its architecture & 140 rooms. 150,000 people live here, of which 1:6 is a student. The largest scientific/architecture University in Norway is here and we drove through the main campus. The old quays-now modernised & expensive appartments. Stiftsgården, Gamle Bybro (Old Citybridge), bicycle lift - the first and only? one in the world. 2 Burger Kings & 1 McDonalds.

Nidaros Cathedral
Nidaros Cathedral

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Passing through the Trondheim Fjord along Trondheimsleia Channel was very picturesque even though the weather was very misty. The large islands of Hitra & Frøya are linked to the mainland by sub sea tunnels. We passed a couple of lighthouses: Agdenes which was manned until 1984 before being automated & Terningen. Also saw a third on Grip where only 135 people live. A holiday destination now for people from the mainland - famed for its fishing. Smøla a large flat island (starboard) is surrounded by thousands of smaller islands. Prime agricultural land.

Agdenes Lighthouse
Agdenes Lighthouse

At 3.45pm, Oddbjørn, the tour guide on the ship who is very knowledgeable, speaking 4 languages, Norwegian, English, German & French, gave us a lecture on The Northern Lights: Aurora Borealis, which shouldn't be the name as Aurora was the Goddess of the morning & the Lights are only ever seen at night.

We also passed Fosen Mek Shipyard, where the newest Hurtigruten ship being built could be seen; M/S Midnatsol, who will replace the current Mid-Generation ship of the same name in April 2003. The World of Residensea was also built at this yard.

We arrived in Kristiansund for a short stop at 16.30. The harbour is at least 8000 yrs old; the home of dried fish production. About 17,000 people live here & the town is spread over 3 islands around the harbour, which has been there since before the late Stone Age. We only had a 30min stop & it was a fair walk to any of the shops which although looked as though they may have been open, probably weren't, seeing as though it was a Sunday. So rather than rush about we stayed on board & took a load of photos of the lights on the water. Exceedingly pretty!

Kristiansund
Kristiansund

M/S Polarlys in Molde
M/S Polarlys in Molde

After Kristiansund we crossed Hustadvika. Actually felt some movement of the ship here. Some had asked to see a video of the full Hurtigruten trip, which 'Odd' had, so we watched that on departure. Time for dinner, during which we passed by M/S Finnmarken going northbound. One of the brand-new Hurtigruten ships. Arrived in Molde at 20.30 for an hour. The quay was very icy & one newspaper shop open. We had a quick look around and did notice the main (largest) hotel was a Quality. Also espied a Comfort Inn.

Determined to see the Northern Lights we all stood out on the stern most of the night. Quite a party. The skies were clear most of the time, and when a few wispy ones appeared the moon shone through with a strange red glow around it. We arrived in Ålesund at 23.34, when the majority of us went to bed. The next morning we discovered, those who had stayed on deck to see our departure from Ålesund at 00.45 got to see the Lights at 1am. Nothing dancing or spectacular, just some green stripes: but they saw them. They stayed on deck until 2am but nothing further appeared. After midnight the Lights are supposed to be 'wishy-washy', not strong colours.

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We crossed the Stadhavet which takes about 2 hours, from 3 am onwards, didn't see anything of it. Nor of Torvik or Måløy, and only a little bit of Florø where we stopped for a short while, leaving at 8.15am. We then sailed through the Skerries and the narrow Steinsundet Sound at the mouth of Sognefjord [down which we went on Braemar last year]. If we wanted our cases to be taken ashore for us, we had to leave them near a lift by 10am. Cabins had to be vacated and key cards handed in by midday. We then sat in one of the lounges just watching the passing scenery.

Past the island of Fedje, Norway's most westerly point and then west to the oil refinery at Mongstad. Past Askøy [starboard] and Radøy [port], and under the Salhusbrua pontoon bridge [Nordhordland Floating Bridge] which spans 1246 metres, with abutments 180m high. Soon after passing under the bridge the fog came down and then we didn't see a lot, but prior to that it had been a beautiful sunny day. We passed many salmon farms in the fjords.

The high level cable-stayed bridge acoss the ship channel
The high level cable-stayed bridge acoss the ship channel

Nordhordland Floating Bridge
Nordhordland Floating Bridge

In Bergen we docked to the south at 14.30, it was shrouded in mist so we didn't see too much. We disembarked almost immediately after docking just as a bunker ship was coming alongside. The cases were already ashore and the coach was waiting to take us to the airport. A few people took a small coach to a hotel in Bergen as they were staying on for a few days. The airport is quite a way out of the city, so we saw a fair amount of Bergen on the ride through.

View my Photographs of the Trip from Trondheim to Bergen

The SAS flights back were not uneventful, with one cancelled, delays and then -5 mins to catch the next in Copenhagen. Caused by a baggage handlers strike in Copenhagen earlier in the day. But arrived at Heathrow only 1½ hrs late. Straight home, arriving just after midnight to relieve the Grandparents who needed a week's rest!

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