Thursday, June 21, 2018

Silver Spirit Norway, Day 7 - Nobody died: in fact, the opposite


With thanks to Silversea for this Norway cruise
More photos to follow when the wifi is faster
Antelope Canyon, Santorini, Torres del Paine and the Lofoten Islands: what do they have in common? That's right: a huge Instagram presence. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that cluster of colourful wooden houses tucked under a bare rocky peak, beside a turquoise sea. I had never heard of them before IG and now they’ve become pretty much a part of my daily life. So it was a bit of a thrill to wake up this morning as we came in to dock at Svolvaer, the islands’ busy port town.

Only a bit, that is, because it was raining, and the tops of the peaks were hidden in low cloud, the sea was grey and a big swell made getting off the ship into the tenders a dodgy undertaking. I dithered over what I should do with the day, not having booked anything – which, given the weather, was just as well. But then two Aussie angels arrived at my elbow, said they’d hired a car and would I like to share it with them for a drive around the islands? Perfect!

It was slightly less perfect when we went to pick up the nice new Mazda SUV and they found, to their consternation and embarrassment, that they’d both left their driving licences back in their suite safe. So I ended up having to drive. Regular readers 😄 will know that my last experience of driving on the right (wrong) side of the road was in Louisiana, with no sat-nav, and that it involved sweating, many U-turns and a constant chorus of ‘Keep right!’ It wasn’t fun.

But driving through these rocky Norwegian islands, linked by soaring bridges, was a much less fraught affair. The roads are narrow and winding, but well maintained with lots of passing bays, and people drive more slowly here. The Aussies sat in the back directing me and being encouraging, and forgiving about the odd hiccup – which occasioned nothing more aggressive than headlight flashes from the locals – and it was possible to almost relax after a while.

There were glacier-scraped rocks, pointy peaks with Indian snow coming clear of dramatically-swirling dark cloud, fresh foliage and wildflowers, orange kelp draped over the rocks (and over a clothes hanger outside one house). The houses were mostly brown, yellow and white, with a couple of blue ones to disprove our theory of why we hadn’t seen any, and a few with traditional grass roofs. The fields were neat, there were a few sheep, and lots and lots of fishing boats moored in little harbours. Not the super-picturesque ones of IG fame, but still pretty. We saw a reconstructed Viking longhouse from 700 AD, and long wooden drying frames hung with thousands of gutted cod (fortunately downwind).

It was a very pleasant day out and off the ship and, if disappointing weather-wise, it could have been much worse and was at least typical of what the doughty people here have to live with.

The Trivial Pursuit score today was a heartening 21/25, making us first equal again – plus, there was a NZ question (about the Rainbow Warrior. No French in the room).

Highlight of the day would have been the relief at getting the hire car back to the agency unscathed – but that was trounced by our unmarried 37 year-old Prime Minister back home giving birth today to a baby girl for whom her partner will be the primary care-giver. Sharing our current space with so many citizens of the US, it’s particularly gratifying to be able to be proud of our head of government.

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