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The major stop for the day was Tromsø, also known as the Arctic capital. I know I keep saying it and will continue to about most places, but this city was so beautiful. MrsDaver6 and I did different trips today. MrsDaver6 wanted to visit the husky farm and I opted for another hike which involved a short bus ride to the base of the cable car station, a ride to the top station and then a hike up the mountain. Due to conditions we took both spikes and snow shoes. No need for the spikes, it was a snow shoes kind of day. We were also provided with head lamps as it would be dark for our descent.
It was only a short 10 minute drive, but we want past the famed Arctic Cathedral which has a midnight concert.
View from the bottom station
And view from the top station which is only part way up the mountain.
If you ever see a random tourist going up to a dog to say hello, that's likely to be MrsDaver6. So it was a no brainer that she was off to visit the huskies. It was a little out of town and about a 25 minute drive there. The people who run it are apparently world famous dog sledders. Turns out a husky is not actually a specific breed of dog. They live in the boxes and are very social. Apparently the like sitting on the top of their box to see what's going on. MrsDaver6 returned happy and covered in dog hair and kisses.
After that hiking...a beer was in order. It was good, but beers on the ship were not cheap. It is Norway after all, but the "ship tax" was present too.
The major stop for the day was Honningsvåg. This is where you can tour the tour to the North Cape, the northern most point on mainland Europe. We were undecided if we were going to do this or not, but in the end decided against it. Turns out the tour was cancelled due to poor weather. There was also an organised hike with the expedition team, but also decided against this. The weather looked like poor visibility. This turned out to be a good decision as I spoke to some who went on the hike and the weather hampered it. We decided to just walk around the town and make our own hike to a higher point for a bit of a view.
Day 7 saw as reaching the turnaround city of Kirkenes which is rather close to the Russian border. Many signs included Russian and overheard lots of Russian spoken. It was overcast and lightly snowing at times. We decided to just go for a walk around town and have a hot chocolate. It was both hot and very chocolaty. Additionally we purchased some pull on snow spikes for our shoes. An excellent investment meaning we could walk with speed and confidence.
Always time for some plane spotting. Inbound Wideroe flight
Many passengers only do the one way voyage. So we lost a fair few at this point but also picked up some new ones. We also picked up some special guests. Red king crabs. These things are huge! They're actually Alaskan king crabs that the Russians let free in their northern waters in the 1970s. Now they're a large industry. The meat that you eat is all in the legs. It's really sweet, a bit like crayfish. One of these guys would easily feed two to three people. As they're caught a QR tag is attached. Scanning this will tell you when and where your crab was caught.
Next stop was Vardø in complete darkness well before 4pm. The days were short and so was the stop here. Just 30 minutes. There was a fort about 500 metres from the terminal, so with spikes on it was an easy and brisk walk. Well worth it.
When we got back to the ship and while still docked in town there was a faint aurora. We actually saw a really faint aurora the previous night at sea, but to be honest, it was pretty unimpressive. Tonight would be different...
Day 8 and we had clear skies. Major stop for the day was Hammerfest, which was yet another stunning town. The town has lots of polar bear related statues as well as the The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society Interesting that there are now actual polar bears on mainland Norway. Also Hvladimir calls Hammerfest home. You might recall early last year a male beluga whale turned up wearing a camera harness belonging to the Russians and thought to possibly be a spy, hence the same. Sadly we did not spot him.
We decided a hike to the top of the lookout behind the town was in order. We were advised that the most direct route via the zig zag path was closed due to avalanche risk, so we took a longer route through town which turned out to be really beautiful and scenic.
We had a short pre-dinner stop in Skjervoy where we stretched our legs.
Then there was a late night stop back in with the famed midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. This didn't hold much interest so we just went for a walk around town, hoping to see the aurora with the city as a back drop. Sadly, no aurora but still a beautiful walk.