Day 38. Thursday 20 June.
Our ship doesn’t leave until 10 PM – boarding at 9 – and our kind host has extended our check out time to midday, but T still has a restless night in anticipation of the move. But its an easy pack up, tidy and clean – the hard bit is what to do with the day?
It is an opportunity to see Svolvaer, as we’d planned, with galleries and museums open, unlike when we arrived a week ago. First stop is the Krigminnemuseum, which is a privately owned and curated exhibition of Norway in WW II, and in particular the German occupation. It has ‘old fashioned’ displays but the artifacts are excellent. The owner was present later in our visit and talking to a woman from America, whose father had served in ‘Little Norway’ in the US where Norwegian pilots were trained. She had some items that she wanted to donate: the owner said that this was the source of many of his unique items. Another item of mention was a painting attributed to Hitler, plus four Disney cartoon drawings that he is reputed to have done. The owner bought the painting at an auction for a pittance and was unaware of its provenance or the four sketches hidden behind it until it was opened on his return.
There was a lot to see and a lot to absorb: like most of those sorts of displays, several visits are needed to ration the impact. T wandered off to do some gallery viewing; D wandered without a target.
Meeting up again, checking watches: still 6 hours to wait! T suggested a walk, so we ventured on an ‘easy’ walk around some fresh water lakes just out of Svolvaer. We have become used to maps and diagrams bearing only some connection t reality, and the display board showing the 11 km, 4-5 hour trek was no different. There was a shorter internal loop and we decided to do that, estimating it to be about 4 km. Off we went in the direction of the arrow, onto what seemed to be the path, and took the first left as the map indicated. We passed a hint of where the Vikings who bequeathed D’s Duyputren’s Contracture might have come from.
We came to a ski hut which had the same map with a ‘you are here’ marker: we weren’t on the track at all, but only at the start of the loop. Never mind! The track branched, so we went left; then the track branched, so we went left again; then the track branched, but the left track was so boggy we couldn’t walk, so we went right. The lake was accessible, T was tempted to pause (and even take a dip) but D was pressing on ahead, probably focused on the ship schedule?
Eventually we arrived at the top of a hill to see another lovely lake below us, and a line of light poles along a track. This we followed, on and on, until we eventually hit a gravel road that took us back to the start point. Not sure how far we walked, but it was longer than the estimate!
At 5 PM D could hold off no longer and drove to the Hertz depot, adjacent to the Hurtigruten boarding wharf. T pushed the seat back & snoozed in the car: D watched the arrival of coach after coach, taxis, people movers, a queue of cars formed and he just HAD to know what was going on: simple – the south bound ship was due in at 7 PM. It duly arrived and D watched in amazement and bemusement as it disgorged hundreds and hundreds of passengers heading for a one hour excursion in Svolvaer. He went on board to ask the crew what the procedure was: they eyed him suspiciously but obliged. T’s knitting advanced. D did some writing.
Dinner was pizza in town – ‘the big one is just right for two’ we were advised. It could have fed a family of five. T remarked to the waiter, who was a Palestinian by birth, via the UK, that she thought Norwegian food was bland to our taste, as we prefer big, spicy flavours. Yes, he agreed, but you should have told me and I could have added more flavours!
Our ship came in without fanfare: one minute it was not there, the next, it was gliding into docking position.
Only a few passengers got off, and far fewer got on. Into our telephone box cabin, working out how to pull down the two single beds we’ll be in for the next three nights. ‘Out of harm’s way’, Timmy would have said.
Then, again without fanfare, we were off.
D did his good deed for the day helping an old lady negotiate the rolling deck.
And some very good news: we take a detour up the Trollfjord, the one we missed by road a few days ago, and fortuitously decided not to visit on a (expensive) paid excursion. Yes, it was spectacular, and narrow – a delicate operation at the end to turn the ship on a circle to head out.
Some happy campers were enjoying the peace and quiet until we arrived– it looked heavenly. The glorious evening demands lens-clicking.
We want to book a couple of excursions over the next few days. D is asked by the lady on the Help desk, with whom he’d got on famously previously because he’d thanked her in Indonesian, whether she can be of assistance. D answers that he doesn’t know, because he hasn’t asked for anything yet. She is not at all amused, but her colleague alongside is: D hastily backtracks from smart-alec mode. Doesn’t help – he is huffily redirected to another desk. The young man grumpily asks how long have we been on board, implying that we should have done this much earlier. D answers, just a shade grumpily: ‘about 30 minutes!’ The young man retreats, but isn’t beaten: the system is down – come back tomorrow morning after 9 AM.
On the way out the Indonesian lady relents and registers D’s credit card against his room key card. Terima kasi!
Now, as it’s approaching midnight (but noone has told the sun), bed calls, the throbbing of the engines lulling us to sleep – once passengers in the adjoining cabins cease throwing their heaviest pieces of luggage against the walls!