Crossing the Arctic Circle
Trip Start Jul 15, 2007
197Trip End Jul 16, 2008
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Yesterday at 7:23 a.m. we crossed the Arctic Circle. This morning King Neptune came onto our ship to baptise us all into the fellowship of the Arctic Circle. This involves waiting in line, kneeling and having a large ladle of water and ice poured down your back. Katharine liked it so much she did it twice.
Last night at 11:15 p.m. we went into the Trollfjord, after which our ship is named. This is a narrow fjord, two miles long and very deep, but with walls only 100 meters apart. We crept in at walking pace in a driving drizzle with high winds. Powerful searchlights illuminated the rock walls, 1000 feet high, only metres from each side of the ship. At the dead end of the fjord is a slightly larger space, in which the Trollfjord turned around
As we turned, the searchlight illuminated a building. It took a minute to gain perspective, because the walls are so high. It was a house, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, at the dead end of a two-mile-deep fjord. Why was it here? Then a greater surprise -- as we continued to turn and the searchlight moved on, we could see lights on in the house -- someone was at home.
Amy and I have a tradition when we visit places we like. Recalling the end of the movie Groundhog Day, we'll stand arm-in-arm, look around, and one will say to the other, "Let's live here!" To which the other replies, "We'll rent to start."
At the end of the Trollfjord in the cold and rain, we both looked at other and said, "Let's not live here."
Moments like this help me to understand the enduring themes of Norwegian literature -- precipitation, violence, and herring.
But seriously, we have been very much struck by the unique nature of the Norwegian landscape, and how it relates to our hugely favorable experience with the Norwegian crew and passengers on this ship. One of our impressions is that the conditions experienced by a nation many of whose inhabitants live north of the Arctic Circle create a people uniformly tough, hard-working, and competent. Our kids commented today that the Hurtigruten and related visits to Norwegian cities are their favorite part of the trip to date.