Light show in the Lofoten

Added 28 Feb 2014

Somehow we are up early this morning. Not easy following a late night with Northern Lights!

We arrive at Harstad around 8am and are soon on board a coach for a tour of the Vesteralen region. Our first stop is a white medieval church on the Trondenes Peninsula. Stone masons from Scotland and England helped construct this church and the adjacent Historical Centre tells the local story from the Viking and Middle Ages up to the present day.

We are also treated to an added extra with a private visit to Trondenes Fort. Nowadays a camp for the Norwegian military, the fort was originally part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall defences in WWII and it housed four of the largest land-based guns in the world. All four bunkers are still there and one of the guns has been fully restored. Our visit includes the gun bunker and museum. Thankfully the guns were never fired in anger.

The coach tour then takes us across Hinnoya Island. The weather is sunny and we enjoy the views of beautiful fjords, mountains and fertile agricultural land. We take a short ferry across Gullesfjord. During the crossing we are served tea or coffee and a snack of local waffle and cheese and freshly baked cake. Once back on our coach Richard and Dawn hand out Norwegian version of Kit Kats. We don't want guests going hungry! The final part of the journey takes us alongside Sigerfjord and across the bridge to the town of Sortland. Our ship, Midnatsol, has been sailing all morning and is at the dockside waiting for us. A brilliant day and a wonderful excursion!

After lunch we dock at Stokmarknes where the Hurtigruten Museum is located. The exhibition is well worth visiting as it traces the history of the coastal voyage service from its very beginnings. They are also models and photographs of all the early Hurtigruten ships. Connected to the museum building via a permanent walkway you may visit Finnmarken, one of the early Hurtigruten vessels. Compared to our modern day MS Midnatsol, the original Finnmarken is somewhat smaller and less luxurious! It is great to have a look around although some of our guests nearly get lost inside.

Late afternoon we arrive in Svolvaer. Between dinner sittings our guests come ashore and visit an ice carving exhibition or take a stroll along to the pretty harbour. Before departing we begin to notice the Northern Lights are coming out to play. And they entertain us for a couple of hours! To start there is a bright arc in a rainbow shape directly across our ship from port to starboard and way beyond in both directions. As we sail out of town the lights develop producing all sorts of shapes. We see the typical “curtain” effect, swirles and streaks and it is certainly worth being out on deck. By late evening the lights begin to fade and we all come inside for a well-deserved cup of hot tea or coffee.