Tuesday 16th September
This morning at 03:30 a.m. we left the ship for a coach journey of some 3 hours across the taiga and later the tundra to the North Cape. As dawn broke we saw the magnificent colours of the the tundra ground cover and the scattered lakes reflecting the night and early morning skies. The North Cape is the last rocky precipice of Europe overlooking the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean at 71.10.21. At the seaward end of the cliff is a steel globe marking the exact line of latitude. It is a remote, exposed and barren location but a popular tourist spot so facilities have been built on and under ground to service the visitors.
The journey to the Cape twisted over mountains, flat tundra summits, along fjord edges and through mountains and even under the sea by tunnels, one of which was 7 km in length. As it was very early morning traffic was light, in fact in 250 km we counted only 15 vehicles! As a result the groundwater dripping into the tunnels had formed slush on the roadway. After the Cape we made our journey across the mountains and tundra to Hammerfest to rendezvous with the ship across Sami territory.
Our journey onboard takes us southwards to Tromso where we will arrive around midnight. As we write the sun has set and we are passing solid, black, mountainous outlines with the occasional small settlement and small ships brightly illuminated.
These were the only polar bears we saw on our trip!
Around 10:00 p.m. we had the first sightings of the Northern Lights. These were faint at first but developed as night progressed. Our ship continued its journey to the Lofoten Islands.