Saturday, 31 March 2012

Bergen sunshine


We're in Bergen, the sun is shining and the city is busy with people enjoying themselves. The NATO ships that we kept meeting last week are in town and moored in the harbour.

We bought our Bergen cards (always worthwhile) for 48 hours and just enjoyed the sunshine.





Tomorrow looks like snow and I'd really like to travel on the Light Railway, it wasn't finished the last time we spent long enough in Bergen to use it.

Sailing to Bergen


Well, perhaps you can't call travelling at this speed sailing, even if it is on water.
The sun shone and fresh snow had fallen when we went down to breakfast this morning. The journey to Bergen was going to be good.
I was surprised as just how smooth running the fast ferry was and it was great fun to go between the little islands and stop at the small ports on the way. We really couldn't have asked for a better day with the clear light.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Fast ferry

We watched the fast ferry arrive and leave again a few minutes later. This boat is to be our transport back to Bergen in the
morning.

Evening in Lavik

As the sun started to set the skies began to clear and we had an interesting evening sitting and dining in the Lavik Fjord Hotel
watching the world go by.

The evening meal was excellent with lots of real food including proper portions of vegetables and salad. I actually started to
wish we'd booked 2 nights in Lavik and only one in Bergen.

Lavik

I'm not sure how I'd describe Lavik. It is a ferry port, bus terminal, tourist destination and local community.

We rather surprised our host when we arrived at the Lavik Fjord Hotel mid-morning. With a friendly welcome, he found us our room
and provided us with information about activities in the area.

The bedroom is modern and comfortable but it's not necessary to stay in the room with the good public areas in the hotel. I'm
heading downstairs soon to sit in the lounge and watch the activity in the small harbour.

Of course it is raining, the fjord and surrounding mountains being misty and rather intriguing.

Pix: Lavik Fjord Hotel, Spring daffodils, The stone bridge (one slab of stone) and the Church.

Mo to Lavik


I'd hoped to get lots of photographs and video on this bus trip. The bus was busy, although not full, but it was impossible to get a window seat. Do you know? it was actually nice to just sit and enjoy the scenery as we passed through the mountains and across the fjords to reach Lavik.
We caught the bus where we had been dropped off 2 days earlier, at Romarheim on the E39.

The buses are very comfortable and the speed limits allow for a comfortable journey. There were many students among the sleeping passengers on this NOR-WAY Bussekspress from Bergen to Ålesund. The Fjordeskpressen had left Bergen at 08:00 and would arrive in Ålesund at 17:15.
We reached Oppedal at where we joined the Fjord1 ferry to Lavik, our destination. (photograph of ferries in Lavik)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Shopping trip to Mo

We went into the village of Mo this morning for some shopping. It was interesting to see the local shop had very similar stock to
small rural shops at home, only the language on the packaging and prices were different.

It was raining, and it was almost impossible to keep the camera lens clear, even with the lens hood.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fjord Lodge and Modalen

We caught an earlier bus from Bergen than we had expected. Despite a misty start to the day, the bus journey allowed us to see
the spectacular scenery. The photographs are of the hills above Fjord Lodge and the eagle that appeared to welcome us.

We're still experiencing problems with email that I've not yet been able to solve so we're fast running out of pre-paid data
allowance. There must be an easy way of fixing it and I'll keep looking, particularly if I manage to get some free internet time.

Departing Ålesund

Ålesund was brightly lit as we sailed yesterday evening.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ålesund


We made the port of Alesund this afternoon. Great work Captain !

Our friends on the 'Elizabeth G' were in port and we met for coffee in one of the local hotels. Elizabeth G is a Scottish registered ex-Norwegian boat offering skiing, diving and wildlife cruises in Norway this season. Look at their website pointsnorthcharters.com for more information on dates and cruises.

Ålesund

The good news, now that the seas have calmed, is that Marco Polo has made up time and we're making a port call at Ålesund this afternoon and early evening.
Time to try and catch up with our hosts in our next destination. We're going to try and get reception on the mobile later and telephone Fjord Lodge to check arrangements. See you soon!

Another sea day, another storm day

We were warned that the forecast wasn't good. Sure enough, we soon started to feel the wind and waves. The Marco Polo handles
the conditions well although some of the passengers don't.

We see little out of the windows apart from the crashing waves and seabirds. An occasional boat appears on the horizon. The sea
day on Marco Polo continues with interesting lectures and other activities. The cruise director and his team provide
entertainment, sometimes unintended, as they try to keep their balance while singing or leading quizzes and other games.

This morning the sea is much kinder to us and we wait to see what the day brings.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Departing Alta... perhaps?

Yesterday afternoon brought our departure from Alta. A local fishing boat acting as tug, the wind proved too strong and kept
blowing us back against the dock. Very sensibly, they decided that the risk to both the crew on the fishing boat and to the Marco
Polo itself were too great and we should wait for a tug to arrive.

While waiting, the wind dropped and with all passengers aboard, we were able to depart under our own power, all the passengers
taking an oar each.

It now looks as though Alesund has been dropped from our schedule and we're heading straight for Bergen.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

We're in the Arctic

The snow clouds were gathering as we went to bed last night and it got colder so it was no surprise to find several inches of snow
on the ground (and Marco Polo decks). Hopefully it will clear by by lunch time when we start to sail back through Alta Fjord to
begin our journey south.

Alta and arctic sunset

It was obvious the snow and ice were melting in Alta yesterday afternoon. The temperatures were definitely higher than during our
visit 3 weeks ago and some of the roads had deep puddles of water where the water couldn't drain away.

Last night looked favourable for an aurora with a spectacular, if brief, intense blue light just as the sun set. Unfortunately
the snow clouds gathered over the Marco Polo and I don't know if anyone saw the Northern Lights from the ship. There were several
excursions that returned to the ship in the early hours of this morning and I'm starting to hear good reports of the lights from the
people who braved the snow.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sorrisniva

Doing the 'tourist' think again today, we set off on the bus for the igloo hotel. It wasn't as far out of town as I'd thought.
The light inside reflected blue on to the ice sculptures and of course there was a 'blue liquid' to drink out of the ice glasses.

Destination Alta

The sun shone over the snowy hills as we sailed towards Alta. It was warmer than expected and there were ice flows in the fjord,
probably ice melt from the rivers?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tromso on Marco Polo

Tromso has been kind to us today, remarkably warm weather and only short snow showers.

We moored out of town, beyond the bridge, and used the shuttle bus into town.

We bought some shrimps from a stall and found the seller and 'himself' have mutual friends up in the wilderness of Arctic Norway.

Interesting to see the brightly coloured 'Alberquel' in port, I'm sure the last time we saw her was in Longyearbyen on Svalbard in
summer 2010.

There were two essential tasks today; visiting the Hurtigruten office to check our booking/ticket for MS Finnmarken and buying a
top-up for the Norwegian PAYG mobile. Both completed successfully.

Narvik and Northern Lights

We departed Narvik after dark last night and there were a couple of calls on to deck to view the Northern Lights. Unfortunately I
didn't manage any good photos of the Aurora but perhaps tonight if the sky clears?

The photo in this posting is Narvik just before departure.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sweden

One of today's excursions was the Ofoten Railway from Narvik to Riksgränsen in Sweden. The Norwegian/Swedish border is actually
inside the last tunnel before we reached the ski resort.

The hotel supplied us with coffee and buns before our return journey along this spectacular line that eventually leads to Stockholm.

We had a slight delay on our return to the Marco Polo due to a gas leak in the harbour area. We had just been offered a run back
into Narvik centre on one of the buses when the area was declared safe and we returned to the ship where they'd kept the Bistro open
for us.

Narvik

Early arrival at Narvik this morning with a busy day ahead.

On our approach to Narvik, just after dawn, there were 2 porpoises feeding in the fjord with the usual gulls flying overhead. I
hoped they would show interest in the ship and put in more than the brief couple of appearances that I saw. Obviously breakfast
won !

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Harstad

A change of plan was announced last night because the weather threatened to severely disrupt the tender boats in the Lofoten
Islands.

Our new destination became Harstad and we sailed in this morning, not long after dawn. It has been a fantastic alternative port
of call with the sun shining and it staying dry.

We've got to congratulate the crew and cruise staff on Marco Polo for their quick thinking in choosing such an unusual port for our
visit. They also managed to arrange an excursion for those who wished. We remain here for the afternoon and early evening,
anchored in the bright sunshine and hopefully with a good sunset over the snow covered hills.

Back to the normal schedule tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Svartisen Glacier

As Marco Polo sailed towards the glacier, the snow threatened and it got colder.

The views, as ever, were spectacular and the glacier had it's blue colour surrounded by the white of the fresh snow.

Arctic Circle and welcome from the sea eagles

We crossed the Arctic Circle this afternoon and got surprise visitors. As
if to welcome us, the sea eagles put in an appearance just as we made the
crossing. Their white tails were clearly visible as they flew overhead for
quite a few minutes before soaring away into the distance.

Many passengers were on Marco Polo's decks to see us cross the Arctic Circle
and those on the same deck as us were thrilled by the display from the sea
eagles.

On to Svartisen Glacier later today... but first to sleep.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Marco Polo in Molde


Molde has proved to be an interesting port call today after last night's storm. Apart from a some light snow at times, the weather in port has been remarkably kind to us although cold.
On our way back to the ship we had a look in a couple of very nice looking shops without spending any money.
Today's photograph is one of several we took of MS Marco Polo in Molde.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sunny Amsterdam

OK, I know it's not Norway, it's the Netherlands and we had a morning
call here yesterday in the 'spring' sunshine. Some Dutch passengers from
the last Northern Lights cruise departed and others joined us for the
current cruise.

The sunrise as we sailed in through the sea lock was spectacular as you can
see from the photograph and I'll post other photographs once home.

Those of us who embarked at Tilbury had the opportunity to participate in
several excursions. We chose the canal cruise, somehow it seemed right
to be viewing Amsterdam from the canal and we got this right. We sailed
through the canals and also sailed past Marco Polo where the refuelling
barge was alongside. (the video is edited but I can't imagine trying to
upload it from the laptop).