Goodness Me!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
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Trip End Nov 07, 2009


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Where I stayed
MS Nordkapp

Flag of Norway  , North Norway,
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It is a glorious morning as the reliable MS Nordkapp chugs along into the region of Ytre Helgeland. The name resonates with me since Helgeland is the surname of my dear Mother. So, Mom: "Hi". I know that my forebearers came from the Nedstrandfjord region just north of Stavanger but somehow the name must have started around here and travelled south. Or, perhaps, this was not the case. It seems that my ancestors moved about in the southwestern portion on Norway leading up to the 19th century and, as the family story goes,  acquired the name of Helgeland when they settled on the farm that had belonged to someone by that name. Apparently, this was a common practice in Norway, which is certainly not unique to Scandinavia. 

Beyond indulging myself in speculating what may of happened, when and how, I was looking forward to seeing what this island area promised for scenery and unique features.

The Nordkapp is scheduled to dock right in the city centre. As we approached Sandnessjoen, one was immediately struck by the sheer beauty of the surrounding vista. To the west of Sandnessjoen, the Donnamannen Mountain rises some 858 metres above sea level. To the east is the picturesque Helgeland Bridge which measures more than 1,100 metres in length and has a main span of 395 metres. It spans Leir Fjord which flows into Vefsn Fjord. The literature claims that the bridge cost in excess of 395 million NOK to build. It is quite an imposing structure and is certainly the life line in terms of carrying traffic to the mainland in order to intersect with the E6 highway. The E6 is the highway that will take a keen and very patient motorist all the way up to the North Cape.

As with most places along this coast, there is a bit of history to entertain the visitor. It seems that a Viking chieftain of the Saga era, Torolv Kvedulvsson, lived in Sandnessjoen. One of his tasks was to collect taxes from the Sami people on behalf of Harald Harfagre. Over time, Torolv was perceived to have become too powerful, too effective and too much of a threat to the king. Dear Torolv was taken to task and paid for his diligence with his life. Now, some people view tax collection in a less than positive fashion but not too many of us lose our lives in this fashion. However, Torolv Kvedulvsson is still remembered by a few, if not fondly.

Strategically located, Sandnessjoen is the commercial and communications centre for this entire region. It is home to over 7,500 folks and has a wide variety of light industries. There is employment in the fishing, agriculture, banking, trade and administration sectors. North Sea oil and natural gas finds in the off-shore fields of Norne and Svale seems to promise continued prosperity in decades to come.

Glancing about as I descend from the gang plank, Sandnessjoen seems to be a picturesque, tightly woven town with well kept shops and houses. It is too bad that our stay is only going to be for one-hour. It is time to unleash the camera and enjoy this part of Norway.

Not surprisingly, the hour visit passes quickly. Sandnessjoen is a place that is worth a return visti and must be a true delight during the summer months. Not too hot, great climate, friendly people, varied landscape, plentiful seafood and suitable accommodation. As with anywhere in Norway, this place is not for the budget conscious traveller.

When we get back on board, the MS Nordkapp is going to chug along in a south southwestern direction at visit the ports of Bronnoysund and Rorvik. Within one-half hour after departing Bronnoysund we are introduced to Torghatten Mountain and its popular tourist attraction, the hole in the mountain. Plenty of pictures are taken from the seventh deck of the Nordkapp. At around 2030 hours we should meet up with one of the Nordkapp's sister ships, the MS Kong Harald, in Rorvik harbour. A modern culture museum has been advertised for Rorvik. As I discover this museum is quite a gem - very nouveau Nordic in its architecture with some unique displays of Nordic clothing and features portraying life over the last several hundred years. I love the building and the very friendly staff. Fortunately, the cultural museum is only a few hundred metres from the Nordkapp's docking area since the Rorvik stop in only 60 minutes. It is time well spent with a member of the museum searching me out to point out that I should not miss the departure of the Nordkapp. Very considerate!

Reflections:
-When Hurtigruten line provides a passenger schedule stating that your ship will be in port for one-hour, there is no fooling around. One hour means that the ship's horn will blow loudly after about 55 minutes. Scamper for the ship. Either you get on board within the next few minutes or else your gear will be heading off out to sea without you; I suppose that you can catch the next ship coming by the next day but I have no idea as to the drill. Anyway, do not dawdle!!!! Bring along a watch that works and one that may even have an alarm.
-Reliable footwear is a must since weather conditions during October vary from rain to sun to snow - all within a short time period.
-The staff of the MS Nordkapp have been remarkably friendly, focussed and helpful. Since I must appear to be in a fog at times, there are always very good at reminding me (as I am set to shoot out the door to photograph and lurch about town) that "ship will be in port for ??? minutes or hours only".
-The food on board remains just wonderful!
-My fellow passengers are quite enjoyable in terms of being helpful and conversational. My dinner partners each evening at Swedish, French and Swiss which makes for a lively dialogue in parts of four different languages.
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