Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Marco Polo in Stornoway

Calmac and Marco Polo 3/4
MV Isle of Lewis leaves MS Marco Polo in Stornoway

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Ny Alesund, Svalbard

We arrived at the tiny town of Ny Alesund and, although the ship didn't actually fit on the pier, the Captain skillfully docked us alongside.

Pirates!  Here in Ny Alesund?  perhaps not,  this raft looked like it was built for fun.
The hotel looked kind of quiet...
This amazing place had all sorts of buildings,  the Kafe...
the research buildings...
and the small wooden houses and huts...
not to forget the furthest north post office.
they all sat on the edge of the Arctic tundra

but the train didn't seem to be running today.  (okay, I had to take a photo of the train, everyone takes a photo of the train ! )

Magdalenafjord, Svalbard

An early morning arrival in Magdalenafjord was signalled by a change in the engine tone on Marco Polo.
Glaciers again, a very big glacier
there were strange patterns in the ice
and Rudolf Nureyev danced on the deck.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Longyearbyen (3)

The cotton grass grew,  bigger than it does it home
We visited the museum,  in the same building as the university and learned about life high in the arctic.  We also learned about the explorers and how Longyearbyen had been an international coal mining town.
the museum has beautiful wooden floors so you have to take off your shoes before entering
I saw the Svalbard seed vault where they're storing crop seeds for the future from around the world in case of disaster.
I watched the glaciers again as we departed.
while some brave passengers sat in the jacuzzi-  I didn't think you were allowed to feed the dolphins?

Longyearbyen (2)

We got on the shuttle bus to town...   this is Longyearbyen high street,  it includes shops, post office, hotels, stores, tourist ships, sports hire and a pub.
The church sits on the hill overlooking the town
the snowmobiles are parked in front of the houses,  stored, waiting, until the snow returns.
there were multicoloured houses and multicoloured flats
and a strange structure that looked as though it had come straight out of 'War of the Worlds'

Longyearbyen, Svalbard

More glaciers,  I hadn't realised that there were any at Longyearbyen.  More photographs,  aren't you glad I'm not posting them all here?
the light shone through the clouds and hit the edge of the ice.
the rock structure was unusual-  but I was soon going to realise that this is a feature of Svalbard and the arctic.
we sailed past the... campsite ?..
and moored at the quayside.  ''Beware the polar bears'' we were warned.  ''Don't go outside the town,  don't go past the notices without a guide'' 

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Bjornoya, birds and the whales

Bjornoya or Bear Island,  I'd understood it would be covered in snow but there were only a few white patches to be seen.
We start seeing whales,  not just one or two but lots,  in all directions.
Sometimes we could only see the spouts,  more often we could only photograph the spouts-  and sometimes we just watched in amazement.  There were families, there were loners,  there were different types,  all around us,  for hours.
and the birds followed the whales,  and the ship.  The entertainment and lecture schedules were changed,  we weren't going to leave this wildlife spectacle to go inside.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Nordkapp

This is the North Cape.  This is where you can see the midnight sun in summer and perhaps the northern lights in winter.  It's well north of the arctic circle.
We continue to sail towards Honningsvåg
where Marco Polo is moored at the pier
Last time we visited,  it was blowing a blizzard and you could hardly stand upright.  This time it is still windy and the sun is shining.  Many passengers went off on excursions to the North Cape but we decided to stroll around town and also find ourselves a king crab salad... you can't visit Honningsvåg and not eat king crab, or so I'm told.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Norwegian sea day

As we sailed north the rain fell... but the skies were wonderful and there were plenty places on deck with shelter so the camera and I went out...
...out and watched the rain drops splashing on the deck of Marco Polo while other passengers enjoyed the entertainment, crafts and food

Monday, 19 July 2010

Svartisen glacier

I'd never seen a glacier-  not in real life.
It is immense and I love the blue colour that I can't really reproduce here in the photos
but I just keep taking photos,  trying to understand where the ice was going ?  looking at what it has done to the surrounding landscape when it abandoned it.
the ice just seems to be crawling down the mountainside and rock

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Geirangerfjord

the Norwegian fjords fascinate me...  as we sailed towards Storfjorden the skies, light and scenery were constantly changing.
The mountains towered above Marco Polo
as she twisted and turned her way through the narrow waterway
towards Geiranger.  Some passengers went on the excursions,  others stayed in town
and all too soon it was time to weave our way back out to the open sea past Solevåg...   but, for me, sailing in the fjords is the whole reason to visit Geiranger.