At around 9am we dock at Kirkenes. This town marks the turning point of the Norwegian coastal voyage. We've sailed north and now we turn south. Kirkenes has a population of around 5,000 and is situated only 10kms from the Russian border. The ship stays here for around three hours and there are a number of activities we can enjoy. Some guests walk into town, find a café and have a conversation with some Russians. Apparently there is an agreement allowing local Norwegians to travel 30 kms into Russia without a visa and local Russians can do the same in the opposite direction. Norwegians apparently shop for petrol and vodka. Russians visit Kirkenes to buy prawns, coffee and disposable nappies! There you go.
Some of our guests visit the Russian Border, some visit a Snow Hotel, some go snowmobiling, and some go Husky Dog Sledding. Richard and Dawn go along to help at the Husky Adventure. Participants get dressed up in a massive one-piece babygro suit to keep warm. You sit two to a sled and basically hold on tight. The local mushers drive the sled. The route takes you over a frozen lake and the lovely sunny weather today adds to the fantastic experience.
In addition to the dogs running the sleds, there are numerous dogs sitting and waiting eagerly to be signed up. They are very friendly and Richard and Dawn make certain to say hello to as many as possible. While helping one of our guests Dawn notices one dog peeing up Richard’s right leg. Fortunately he is wearing waterproof trousers (that is Richard, not the dog). Dawn and various other guests naturally think this is highly entertaining. Sometime later Richard helps another guest out of a sled. The same dog pees up Richard’s left leg. Needless to say Richard’s waterproof trousers are now in the wash.
Returning to Kirkenes quayside there is further excitement. A military rescue helicopter is on the car park. It goes through some pre-flight checks before taking off. All quite dramatic. During the procedure we are prevented from embarking our ship so the captain is keen to get underway as soon as the coast is clear. As a result we are late arriving at Vardo our next stop, but we still manage to escort a quick walk to the Vardohus Fortress. Vardo is Norway’s easternmost town and the suggested location for a quick swim in the freezing cold Arctic Ocean. On this occasion we must report no Furlongs representative was available for comment.