Hurtigruten, short about my 4:th trip - Travel tips from Konditori 100

Under construction - photos will come, sometime...

Well, yes, I did it again. Made another trip with Hurtiguten.

During my last trip, in April 2001, I got an answer to a question I often had during my first long trip - 'how the landscape looks early in the year, with more snow'.

During that trip I also was reminded that the remaining two old ships were to be taken out of traffic in spring 2002... Those ships I've seen so many times as a child, but never had travelled with... So, when planning my main vacation for 2001, I thought: 'London and Paris will remain out there, and also the rivers in southern Germany and other places I want to visit. But, these two ships won't...'

In autumn of 2001 I made the trip Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen again. However, this wasn't a copy of earlier trips. Besides making trips with among others both the old ships, I also got some answers to the second question I frequently had during my first long trip: 'how is the view from up there?'.

Addicted by Hurtigruten? No, I'm not. I guess. But, I won't know until later. This trip I met two persons who made their 5:th full trips. One of them made the 5:th trip with the same ship. So, it's easy to...

(By the way - early during the trip I booked my next trip from Bergen with a Hurtigruten ship. But, that will also be something different. It's the maiden voyage of the new M/S Finnmarken. That trip will fulfil another of my travel wishes - visiting among others the Orkney Islands.)

Here you find some short hastily written notes from my trip. (More info and Hurtigruten photos will be added during the spring.)

Sept 15
In the early afternoon I arrived to Bergen, which is often mentioned as the rainiest town in Norway. This time, my fourth visit to Bergen, I once again was met by beautiful weather.

I took the bus to the center of town, and began walking towards the quay Hurtigruten uses. On the way I asked a girl in the mid 30s (I think) to be sure I was going the right direction. She told me I was going completely wrong, and pointed to where I've come from. A friend of her giggled and said I only asked her since she was so good-looking. No, I didn't. A bit puzzled I stopped at the nearest street corner to take a look at the map. Obviously I had been on the right way. I continued that way, and after some 10 minutes stood beside the ship. Lesson: don't blindly trust the native population. I don't think she tried to mislead me, but she wasn't up to date.

Having put my luggage in the cabin, I enjoyed the nice weather and ate a meal before we sailed from Bergen with M/S Nordnorge.

I ate dinner in the restaurant, and had company with a German couple who made their first trip with Hurtigruten. They looked a bit puzzled when I told them that this was my third longer trip.

Sept 16
The long trip in to and out from the Geiranger fjord was as beautiful as earlier times.

After having made another stop in Ålesund, to pick up the tourists who took the bus from Geiranger, we set course northwards again. Sailing into the darkening evening, the landscape was illuminated with various nuances.

At one place I saw an odd string of lights near the shore. Took a while until I found out that it was the headlamps from a number of cars that had left a ferry shortly before...

This trip was the first I could stand on the foredeck when we sailed towards Molde, in my heart my 'second childhood town'. I clearly recognised the towns lights in the dark. But, something made me feel like we came from the wrong direction. From across the fjord instead of into it from the sea. What a difference a series of new street lights can make. Yes, that town is growing. And changing. But, the soft ice was as good as usual.

In Molde we met the old M/S Harald Jarl, which I would travel with later. Leaving Molde we could see some northern light in the distance.

Sept 17
Another visit to Trondheim, 'as usual' with nice weather. The first thing this Monday morning was to book a trip with the next Hurtigruten ship in spring of 2002. The maiden voyage I mentioned above.

Then I bought a set of envelopes, for the letters I were going to send (but, as usual during my trips I didn't write all - so many wonderful sights to enjoy during the trip).

Back on the ship I relaxed in a sun deck chair, most of the way out the long Trondheimsfjorden.

From Trondheim we sailed almost nine hours without visiting any ports, passing among others small fishing villages and narrow straits. I spent most of the time out on deck, enjoying the sound and smell of the sea. And now and then a smell from land - mostly when passing near agricultural areas, where fertilizer is used...

In the evening we saw another 'northern light' in Rørvik - the M/S Nordlys (which is Norwegian for 'northern light'), another Hurtigruten ship.

Sept 18
One more day with good weather. We passed the Arctic Circle in the morning, and met the boat that brought a number of tourists to the glacier Svartisen and further on to Bodø.

I sailed on with MS Nordnorge. When we came nearer Bodø the German woman said that she now could understand why I made the trip more than once.

In Bodø I quickly checked inte a hotel, and took a bus to Saltstraumen. On an earlier trip I went on the bus excursion, and we made a short stop at this strait. But then I left my video camera in the bus, which was locked. Now I wanted to se more of it. Fascinating!

After an hour I went back to Bodø, and bought a new small binocular during a tour in the town centre. (Had left my telescope at home when tried to get everything into just one bag...)

I spent the evening sitting outdoors in the harbour, eating a sandwich and drinking Solo. Then I strolled along the quay in the wonderful mid september weather.

Sept 19
After an early breakfast I walked towards some heights. Thought I'd get up on a top to enjoy the view, but was hindered by fences here and there. Found a place to get up a bit at least.

A nice little walk which ended with me back at the hotel, where I fetched my bags and went to the harbour to meet the next ship. When I had eaten a soft ice MS Richard With came sailing in. The ship I made my first long trip with.

The ships stay in Bodø for 2,5 hours. After checking in I spent the remaining time in sunshine on a rear deck.

Crossing Vestfjorden I was able to shoot a sea eagle. Yes, with my video camera.

Between Stamsund and Svolvær we met MS Vesterålen, the first Hurtigruten-ship I sailed with.

The evening after leaving Svolvær ended once again on the foredeck, enjoying the route through Raftsundet. Among others I had company with a British couple, who told me about reading the various light signals. Above us a northern light was shining. A wonderful evening, indeed.

One of the last things I did that evening was taking some photos of the old MS Finnmarken, this time on land in Stokmarknes.

Sept 20
I woke up in Harstad, covered in nice morning sunshine. Shortly after having left Harstad, we met the King among the Hurtigruten ships - MS Kong Harald. (Kong is Norwegian for King.) Then we sailed inte the fog, but it wasn't so high since we had a blue sky above us.

In Finnsnes I met a Kalmar truck, made in Sweden. I've seen several of them along the coast. This one had among others been used off-shore, as I understood it.

At half past two we came to the quay in Tromsø, beside the former Hurtigruten ship MS Nordstjernen. (Later I was told that she will make a revisit in the trade again, replacing MS Harald Jarl from November to early May. Then both the two remaining old ships will be replaced with two brand new ships.)

I left MS Richard With, and took a short detour on the way to the hotel... Leaving my bags, I went to the fascinating exhibition hall Polaria where I among others watched a real-wide-screen film about Svalbard and their aquarium.

After a city walk, among others shopping Norwegian chocolate, I went down to the quay and saw the ship leaving. By now it was raining.

The evening was spent in my room, with a very nice view towards the long bridge and the church Ishavskatedralen.

Sept 21
A rather busy morning. Getting a box, packing it and visiting the post office.

Then I slowed down, and visited Polarmuseet with exhibitions about the North Pole and various exhibitions and work in the arctic area.

In the afternoon Harald Jarl came to take me on the next part of my trip. She is (was then) the oldest ship in Hurtigruten traffic, built in 1960.

At last I was going to make a trip with one of the ships I saw so many times as a child! What a feeling! The nostalgia and memories came on me like waves.

When we had left Tromsø I went to the cafeteria for lunch, and was served by a Swedish girl. Satisfied after a tasty meal, as usual on the ships, I walked around taking photos and took delight in the ship and the ever-changing view.

I wonered a bit about how my night would be, in the cabin low at the rear. There is a difference between elder and newer ships when it comes to comfort like sound levels...

Sept 22
The night was spent entirely in deep sleep. I woke up to another day with good weather.

Arriving to Havøysund we met MS Nordnorge, sailing southwards with some of the passengers I met some days ago.

While many passengers took the bus trip from Honningsvåg to North Cape, I took a walk upwards to enjoy the view. There were lots of stones after several slides, so I didn't go to the top. (It takes time to go down through these, and I didn't want to miss the ship.) Instead I walk alongside the mountain, strengthened by blueberries on the way up and down.

Coming back to the cabin I glanced out - on the view under the quay...

A bit of side info: Yes, North Cape is far to the north, but still the distance to the North Pole is some 2.500 kilometres...

In the early evening we came to Kjøllefjord, where zillions of seabirds met us. I instantly came to think about the movie "The Birds", and looked down on the 'Alfred Hitchkock' T-shirt I was wearing...

For a while we were sailing in a bit rough sea, with waves splashing on the windows in the panorama saloon now and then. To the delight for some, but not for others.

On a bulletin board I read that each Hurtigruten trip Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen is 4.887 kilometres long. A results is that each of the eleven ships sails equivalent 2,5 times around the planet at the equator - every year.

Sept 23
This morning began in Vadsø, where I visited a small museum with traditional fishing boats and items from the airship expeditions to the North Pole. Here they were equipped for the trip over the sea.

In Kirkenes many passengers leave, after having made 'a half trip' from Bergen, and others begin their trip.

The ship stays here three hours, so I took a bus to the Grenseland museum where you can learn about the local history. Naturally a large part is about the World War II.

Since it was such a wonderful weather, I walked back to the ship. I should follow it southwards for a while, and could enjoy my favourite places on board more. That was standing midships on the lowest open deck, from where I could see well around and hear the drizzle-like sound of the breaking waves mixed with the distant sound of the engine.

Later that day I met a younger Norwegian couple. They made their third trip with MS Harald Jarl, and had made shorter trips with other ships too. I also met a younger German girl, who made her fifth long trip with Hurtigruten - all of the trips with MS Harald Jarl. I felt more relaxed. I'm not the only one maikng several trips with Hurtigruten.

For a while we could enjoy another northern light. I didn't think I should be lucky to see a single one during the trip this early in the autumn, so I felt very lucky.

Since MS Harald Jarl is an old ship, she hasn't the steering abilities the newer ships have. But, she has skilled crew. When closing to the quay, the anchor is used to change the direction. In Berlevåg, where the pier-shaped quay has a rounded edge, the ship was first moored at the close end of one side - and then backed round the quays end so that it ended on the opposite side, with the stem pointing out from the harbour. That manouvre was fascinating to see.

Just after us arrived MS Midnatsol, now northbound.

Sept 24
Along the Magerøy Strait I saw some reindeers, but just a couple of dozens. Far from the thousands crossing here on the way to and from their summer pastures.

At midday I said farwell to MS Harald Jarl, and took a short walk to the hotel by the seafront. Once again a wonderful view from the room, so I decided to wait a while and take photos of the ship when she were passing. Meanwhile I had time to take a short walk in Hammerfest, and to buy more film...

When she had passed the hotel, I got up. First up to the view point above the town centre, and then I made a loop 'backwards' before deciding which way to go. A Norwegian boy gave me a tip about a nice trip to an antenna building, but that was unfortunately too far to go to and back from in one afternoon. But, I went in that direction and strolled around before returning. A nice trip with a fantastic view. Oh yes, I had Kvikklunsj and Solo with me.

I spent the evening in the two-room hotel room, repacking and planning what to do in the following cities I'll stay in.

Sept 25
As a bit of a Hurtigruten 'fanatic', I got up in time to take photos of northbound MS Nordkapp when she passed the hotel.

After another good hotel breakfast I took a short walk to a nearby museum, between the rain showers. But, it would open too late for me to visit it. So, I spent some time by the window in the room watching ships come and go.

In good time I went down to the quay, to meet my next Hurtigruten ship - MS Midnatsol. Among the rain showers passing while I waited, at least one contained some wet snow.

The ship arrived, and I went into its warmth. As usual I put the luggage in the cabin, and walked around...

Across the open sea we had some hours over a bit rough sea, with some splashing waves. Nice.

In the evening we met the other old ship in traffic, MS Lofoten.

Sept 26
On the way to Harstad we followed a Norwegian navy ship, one of more ships apparently having some exercise going on.

At the hotel I left one bag in the luggage room. Then I went to take a bus to Trondenes Kirke and the historical centre nearby. I missed the bus, that had its stop a bit away from the bus central. The buses had one hour interval. But, the weather was very good so I took a walk. A slight detour always gives you some more to look at, right??

I began looking at the old church Trondenes Kirke, the largest stone church north of Trondheim. It was erected after the local chieftains had lost the battle against christianity, which the King of the growing Norwegian nation fought for. A church from the end of the Viking age. Around the church are still large parts of the protecting wall, that also served as a bastion against the russian empire long ago.

The historical centre exhibit objects from around year 270 to 1945. It is interesting. A large part tells the story about and 'around' the church.

Leaving the museum, I noticed that the weather was getting even better. I went further along the road, to see the large 'Adolf gun' that German troops mounted to protect the occupied Norway against the allied troops. Unfortunately i found out that it is situated inside military area, so... Some info I saw in the museum, though: a 20 metre long barrel that could, with 350 kilo 'gunpowder', shoot a 600 kilo heavy Adolf-grenade 56 kilometres...

Just when I began walking back to Harstad, a bus came. After checking in I took a city walk, and then the rains came. After some time in the room, I went out for another walk. Not so often I am in Harstad, I thought.

Another evening in a hotel room with a splendid view, over a part of the centre, a large portion of the harbour and over the fjord.

Sept 27
After breakfast I took my bags to the quay and got aboard MS Nordlys, the ship I travelled with in early April. Here I fooled myself a bit. I expected to meet the guide again, and there she was - but she wasn't. It was her sister, working for her sister who were sick. She was a nice guide too.

I would travel with this ship just over the day, and took my bags up to the panorama saloon and a chair with a good view. Here I planned to spend the day, looking out and looking in the John Le Carré book I had bought in Bergen.

On the way from Harstad we sailed in good weather, with good views over the snowclad mountains. Sometimes we sailed on wide waters, sometimes in more narrow passages. Sometimes in sunshine, sometimes in rain with or without wet snow in it.

When we got closer to the narrow Risøyrenna the sun shone over us, but the rain came back before we left Risøyhamn.

A few short times I had gone out on deck to take photos, but in Stokmarknes I really went out. When I saw the new Hurtigruten museum, I just had to visit it. And here I also could take some shots aboard the old MS Finnmarken. She is now a part of the museum.

When we arrived to Raftsundet I took my bags with me out, watching it from deck. Unfortunately it was cloudy and a chilly wind, but it got good enough just in time for the captain to take us on the extra trip into Trollfjorden. Fantastic in this weather too.

Afterwards I went to the cafeteria for dinner, and had finished this in time for my next stop - Svolvær. Slowly I walked to the hotel on a small island in the harbour. Very slowly. The wooden quay was dressed with thin ice, and my feet going in all directions.

Stepping into the hotel room, I just said "Wow!!".

Then I took a slow walk back to the ship to take some photos of her leaving, but after a short while I went back to the room. From there I had the best view!

Sitting at the window, enjoying the view with boats passing, I planned for the following day. Later the northbound MS Polarlys came, and sailed. And I went to bed, and read a bit more about the constant gardener.

Sept 28
What a difference a night made, for the weather. After breakfast I went out under the cleat blue sky. It was icy, so I decided not to try making it upwards. It.s pretty steep around Svolvær, and I supposed also rather wet, and I didn't have that kind of shoes with me.

Instead I took a walk to Kabelvåg to visit the Lofotmuseum. On the way I almost fell on the icy road a couple of times. I passed through the centre of Kabelvåg, where I bought a bottle of Solo, and went on to the museum. A nice place to visit.

On the way back through the wonderful landscape, I once again stopped to look at the church. Then I passed a car that had slid off the road, and lay on the roof beside the road. An ambulance was there. Hope no one was seriously hurt. It was near more accidents as cars were brakeing, but luckily they managed to stop in time. A driver gave me a warning sign, which I placed when I came to a suitable place.

Back in Svolvær I made the town, ate lunch, and went to the harbour. Sitting in the sunshine on the quay for more than an hour, I just thought that life is gorgeous now and then.

Well, time to break up again. I packed and went to the Hurtigruten quay well in time to see MS Nordkapp approaching. A rain tried to annoy me, but it was like a car with an empty battery - it just didn't start.

On board the ship it was about the usual routine. Bags in cabin, photos, end enjoying the view. Not bad at all!

Sept 29
When I woke up we were sailing along the mainland again, having left the northern Lofoten during the night. A bit cloudy, but otherwise good weather.

Among the now a bit familiar objects, for me at least, we passad were the boat that once took me to the glacier Svartisen, the northbound MS Nordnorge and the statue where we pass the Arctic Circle.This time I shot it from the panorama saloon.

In Nesna I once again were fascinated in the way the newer ships can leave the quay. And in Sandnessjøen, where the ship stay a while, I went to a superstore and bought some healthy things - and some less healthy.

Approaching the mountain Torghatten I saw the hole in it, and when we had passed it the ship made a horisontal loop so all tourists could have a good view of it from the south side.

In the evening I enjoyed listening to some more blues. This season various artists had concerts on the ships, and on MS Nordkapp I heard Dockery Dawgs. Two guys and one guitar, giving us nice blues. One of them answered me that there might be a record out around April 2002. I hope it will.

Also I could enjoy another nordic light, and a full moon. There were just so much beautiful and lovely to look at!

I wished I could take some of it with me home, to enjoy for the rest of my life - not just in some 'not-so-good video clips' and in my memory.

Sept 30
We arrived to Trondheim the wrong way. It took some time before I noticed it. The ship had the wrong side to the quay. After a while we began backing out, and turning. When we had the right side to the quay, I understood what was going on. It was a ship-wash. Now I saw the crewmen on the quay with the hose.

In Trondheim the ships stay for several hours. I left MS Nordkapp rather early in the morning, went to the town centre and made a detour before checking in at the hotel. After some time strolling around, I went back to the quay to look at MS Harald Jarl arriving. She was now northbound, and should only do this round and one more before being retired from Hurtigruten.

After one more walk around town I returned to the quay again, to watch first MS Nordkapp leave, and later MS Harald Jarl. Probably the last time I saw her. I did feel a bit sad. Guess I wasn't the only one. There were lots of people on the quay.

After visits in the military museum and the fascinating cathedral, I walked around for several hours. Yes, the weather was very fine.

Oct 1
After a good night and breakfast, I once again walked to the quay. This time in company with my two bags. Time for my last part of Hurtigruten for this holiday.

I greeted MS Midnatsol as I passed her on the way to MS Lofoten, the other old ship in Hurtigruten.

MS Lofoten were planned for work in Hurtigruten until springtime, and then cruise around Lofoten during the summer of 2002. That winter she will come back in traffic for a time, while MS Nordnorge cruise in South America. In May 2001 the Norwegian Central Board of National Antiquities decided that MS Lofoten was a ship worth to preserve.

A letter from March 2000, that sat on a bulletin board, noted among others that MS Lofoten since her first Hurtigruten trip in March 1964 had been in service 315.360 hours, had sailed 2.589.408 nautical miles and visited ports 68.861 times. I guess that is rather much. In the letter it also said that by then MS Lofoten had begun her '120th trip around the planet at the equator' - or her '7th trip to the Moon and back'.

On MS Lofoten I got a very pleasant cabin, but still I spent most of the day outdoors. Mostly on the lowest open deck.

In Kristiansund I hurried around to some shops, but also had time to take some photos of a special ship. I got a little wet. (No, I did not fall into the water - it came a little rain.)

In the evening we arrived to Molde, but this time it was too late for a soft ice. They cleaned the machine for the winter at the end of September.

Just before we left, MS Nordlys arrived to Molde. Unfortunately it was too short time to pay her a visit to annoy the guide.

Leaving Molde, my 'second childhood town', I once again felt a bit sad. I wondered when I would come there again.

I fell asleep with a slight feeling of 'something new going on'. It was the first time I should travel from Molde to Bergen by ship. During my first long trip I left Hurtigruten in Molde. (As a tourist that have visited many places, it is just good to be able to find pleasure also in small news and changes.)

Oct 2
After another good night I woke up in time to see Florø in the morning light - a cloudy day. More of a communication centre than I had imagined, I thought as we were leaving - and four fast passengers boats approached the town from different directions.

The long trip to Bergen was pleasant, but the nature was not so 'dramatic' as further north. Unfortunately it was cloudy.

When I arrived in Bergen, I took farewell of MS Lofoten for now - 'maybe we'll meet again' - and took a fast walk to the hotel. Came there just in time to get away from the rain. Bergen is 'famous' for its many rainy days, but my first four visits had taken place in sunny weather.

But, rain is no problem for a tourist - is it?! No. Especially not when you are in a town, and have an umbrella and a hotel room to come back to. This time I walked through parts of Bergen I haven't een in earlier. It was nice there too.

In the early evening I got into a discussion with myself - which ended with me winning over my lazier part. So, I took my video and walked to the quay to take a video of MS Lofoten leaving Bergen on her next trip. After departure time the minutes went by, but not the ship. I asked one in the crew when she were leaving, thinking that maybe the departure were later after September, but he answered that they should sail at seven in the morning - to a dock for service. So, I didn't get a video of her leaving. But, it was nice to see her again...

In the evening I packed and read. And thought about the wonderful trip I had with Hurtigruten.

Oct 3
I had some alternative ways to leave the rainy Bergen, but decided to use the one that definitely would give me most trouble in the rain. Especially since one bag isn't waterproof.

After lunch I walked to the quay again, intending to see MS Vesterålen arriving and then take the airport bus from the quay. MS Vesterålen was the first Hurtigruten ship I traveled with, so I wanted to... Well, if you have read this far you know how I am about things like this.

The rain poured down, with short stops. The ship arrived about a hour late, which made it a bit hectic with the bus to the airport. I found one, and put my bags and me in it. Then came an elder British gentleman - and the bus took off and went to the airport in a hurry so he would make the plane in time. So, it was a special transport i got into. But, it was ok.

I thought I recognised the gentleman, so I asked him if he had travelled with Hurtigruten earlier. We discovered that both of us were on the same ship in the spring of 2001. So, I wasn't the only tourist making two trips during the same year!

He also said that this was his 5th long trip. He had travelled with various ships. So, we seem to be a number of tourists that in a way get a Hurtigruten addiction...

My trip with Hurtigruten was over for this time, but my holiday was not finished. But the rest of that is a different story.

Will I make more trips with Hurtigruten? Yes, I guess I will. Maybe we'll meet then?

2001-10-20. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss ©. Prod: AG Informice