Friday, October 11, 2019

Soon arriving back to Bergen

As they say, all good things must come to an end and so it is with this cruise of coastal Norway. We needed to “check out” (that is vacate) our rooms by 10 AM and were directed to place luggage we wanted held in the Hurtigruten terminal by the elevators.

After breakfast, we went up to the Explorer Lounge for a concert of Norwegian music and viewing the scenery while we wait until it’s time to disembark.

We will take a taxi to the AirBnB we have reserved for tonight, walk around Bergen in what promises to be a rainy afternoon, possibly get one last gelato and then it’s off to the airport early tomorrow morning for our flight to Copenhagen, then Dulles and finally Columbus.

Robin Narrates a Saga

Many evenings, there is some sort of entertainment - singing sea shanties, a Northern Lights video, etc. Last night, one of the Expedition members, Robin, treated us to a rendition of a Norwegian saga featuring Thor, Freya, Loki and other somewhat familiar Nordic characters. Robin came dressed for his presentation in a monk’s garb.

He read with great enthusiasm even though I’m sure some of the English words were most likely words he does not use every day. He was right when he said during his afternoon preview of the event that it would be very funny.

Salmon Filleting part 2

Finished products with plates and small wooden forks available to taste test.

The first picture below shows salmon prepared with soy sauce and other spices.

This dish shows the grated horseradish and dill.


Salmon Filleting

Mid-afternoon outside on Deck 7, the head chef treated us to a lesson in salmon filleting and preparation.

First he displayed the salmon, and kindly posed to allow for numerous camera clicks as we all snapped away. 

Next he described the filleting process. He made a slice at one end of the fish to give him a more secure edge to hold onto as he removed the skin. Soon he produced a tweezers (suggesting the crowd could borrow their wife’s eyebrow tweezers if they didn’t have one) which he used to pull out many tiny bones,

Then came the seasoning. He used a microplane to grate horseradish over one platter and sprinkled  other spices over the other.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bronnoysund Part 2

As we were walking down the quay in Bronnoysund, I spied a spider, so here it is just for fun. Also some views of the harbor and the mall, including a hardware store.

TV Map

The tv screen in our cabins has a number of Norwegian channels, but also some interesting extras. One is a forward camera which is fun to look at to see what we’re approaching.

There are also three different views of where the ship is on the map. Last night, the first version was the zoomed-in version which made it appear as though the ship was all alone in the middle of the ocean. Thankfully, the zoomed-out version showed it quite close to shore.

Farewell dinner

Quite a few passengers were leaving in Trondheim, so they served us a special farewell dinner a night early. Glasses of champagne were available as we entered the dining room. Some of the staff - officers and the expedition crew - were available for a picture.

Dessert was the Norwegian version of baked Alaska.


We got off at Bronnoysund to walk around the town which was actually quite small. We soon encountered a grocery store in a mall. I like exploring foreign groceries stores as the inventory is a peek at the life in that town. The mall was also interesting to walk through - another taste of everyday life in Norway.

Back on deck, we were treated to a dramatic sunset as Rune described another point of interest - Torghatten. Torghatten is known for its distinctive hole or natural tunnel in its center. Folklore states that the hole was caused by the Horseman’s arrow (Hestmannen is the Norwegian name for the mountain). But geologists believe ice erosion carved out the impressive hole during the Ice Age. It is 160 meters long, 35 meters high and 20 meters wide.

Point of Interest - Munkholmen

We have one more day until we embark at Bergen on Friday, October 11, so I spent some time this morning organizing my suitcase and generally packing up.

It didn’t take as long as I thought and soon it was time to go up on deck to listen to Rune (pronounced Roon-a) to discuss a point of interest. Today’s topic was Munkholmen, an island we would soon be passing.

During the Viking Age, public executions were held there. In fact Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway from 995-000, put Kark’s and Hakon Earl’s (former king of Norway) heads on poles following a battle for the kingdom and Christianity in 995.

Later, this island was the site of a Benedictine monastery which is where it get its name. Eventually, it was reconstructed into a fort.

Rune explaining the history of Munkholmen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Another Arctic Circle Tradition

An announcement came over the intercom for us to gather on Deck 7 for an Arctic Circle tradition. Bjorn, a member of the expedition team, said it would feature something from our childhood and - if we participated - we would receive a special souvenir. Immediately our curiosity was piqued, and up we went.

First we saw the champagne bottles and glasses arranged on a counter. Hmmm. From our childhood?

Next Bjorn explained that the captain had some cod liver oil for us to taste, and as a reward, we could keep the spoon which we had used for the taste test!

At first I thought “Yeech,” but that quickly changed to, “Yeech, but fine, I’ll do it.”

As you can see by the photographs (kindly taken by other passengers for me), there is at first fear and then perhaps triumph. 

And I have the spoon to prove it! (Soon to be placed in the the same top secret purse that holds my Polar Certificate.)

Sea Eagles

The excitement began almost immediately with the deckhands tossing bread into the water which quickly attracted gulls and then sea eagles. I took a lot of photos but then sat back and enjoyed the scene. I saw quite a few gull vs gull food fights as well as a few eagle vs eagle. Not so much gull vs eagle maybe because the gulls may have realized such a fight was sure to be a losing proposition.

In the middle of our “safari,” the  MS Orca motored into a very narrow fjord, Trollenfjord, before turning around and continuing the journey towards Solevar, our eventual docking point.

The deck hands wore insulated suits and heavy gloves to handle the food for the birds. This was very similar to what deckhands wore in Alaska while on the water. The gulls and the eagles both have long legs with dexterous toes enabling them to quickly grab the bread/fish from the water.

The fish they used was frozen and appeared to be the length of their hands. It took considerable strength to cut through the fish or at least make an indentation allowing them to crack it in half before hurling it far into the water. A handy table was attached to the railing giving them the perfect platform to prepare and serve this bird buffet.

Sea Eagle Safari

In the late afternoon, we assembled on Deck 3 to board a smaller ship which was coming to pick us up for the sea eagle safari.

The smaller ship extended a metal gangway, and we climbed aboard. I was very happy I had bundled up in many layers including long underwear, top base layer with hood, scarf, ski parka, and three layers on my head. Unfortunately, I did not change into my toasty winter sneakers which I brought along for conditions exactly like what I found on the deck of this small ship - FREEZING!

Two hoods and hat not called into use at beginning of voyage!