Today we arrived in Kirkenes which is the point at which Hurtigruten turns back towards Oslo. Many people disembarked here and a new crowd joined us. Our new friends from Clarence Town near Newcastle (our dinner companions each night) disembarked but finished this part of their trip with a quad bike tour to the border. It was a cold bleak day so we didn’t envy them. In Kirkenes, many of the street signs are in Norwegian & Russian.
David had sat on his glasses & broken one arm off but a very helpful young lady in an optometrist here put in a new screw – no charge. We were wandering around trying to see if we could find an optometrist, peering at our map, as you do, when this elderly gentleman asked if we needed help. He then walked us to it. Very helpful. But the strange coincidence was that he was an electrical engineer worked all his life in iron mines! His wife was an opera singer who had performed in our opera house. It was lovely to chat to him & we wanted to buy him a coffee so we could keep chatting but he had an appointment.
Talking to the locals wherever we are is my favourite part of travel. That’s how you learn about their lives & culture etc. That is why I’m finding this cruise disappointing in a way, as the other passengers don’t want to chat. They stick in their little groups & getting a conversation going is like pulling teeth.
We wandered around the shops in Kirkenes but bought only coffee & cake. Kylie has always told us about the beautiful creamy Norwegian cakes, often coated in Marzipan. Well today we saw them in our coffee shop which doubled as a bakery.
Dinner last night was a highlight. A buffet with Alaskan King Crab – as much as you could eat! And there were some leftovers put out for lunch today. It was very fresh, very sweet & we really enjoyed it. There was plenty of choice but how could you go past the crab? Tonight the main course is Spicy Roasted Reindeer. We had reindeer the other night too. Seems wrong to eat reindeer somehow but it is tasty & tender.
We are anxiously awaiting 8:30 so we can go to dinner & at the moment we are in Bâtsfjord which is the Norwegian port known for the largest fish catch. Overall we call at 33 ports & a Hurtigruten ship leaves Bergen every day going north & one leaves Kirkenes every day going south so we have passed a lot of other ships going the opposite way to us. The ships run to a very tight timetable & seem to be on time or very close to it. Since they are picking up & dropping off people & freight all the way, that is important. By 10:45 tomorrow we will be in Hammerfest. We have been amazed to see how Norway is made up of so many islands. The charts must be excellent as there are thousands of small rocky outcrops.only a very small percentage of our travel is in the open sea which is great. It’s mostly very calm & flat.