The North Cape
August 15, 2015
So I leave my hotel and take a walk around the empty streets of Kirkenes, the embarkation point for my cruise down the coast of Norway.
Weather is still mild in this Arctic town. A lovely church. Flower boxes adorn the homes and businesses. Boats in the harbor. A War Memorial. The Second World War was particularly harsh here.
Kirkenes is only 225km (140 mi) from Murmansk, Russia. Signs here in Cyrillic.
I find my way to the Siciliana Pizza Restaurant (pizza and kebab). The young girl behind the counter is Polish. The pizza is tasty but needs a bit of spice. On the shelf is a bottle of chili sauce from Thailand!
The owner is a man of color. “What part of the world are you from?” “Kurdistan” is the answer. On the back of a paper placemat he draws a map of the Middle East. I get a lesson in geography, history, and religion. Seems the Kurds predate the Arabs and Islam by at least a thousand years.
Afternoon boarding and departure for the sail across the northern capes of Norway.
Across the Varangerfjorden sits the town of Vardø – population 1898.
Vardø is the easternmost town in Norway (and in all the Nordic countries), located at 31°E, which is east of Saint Petersburg, Kiev and Istanbul.
Vardøhus Fortress (est. 1306) is a worthy stroll.
August 17, 2015
Breakfast at the North Cape
Huge Buffet Breakfast. Herring in about a dozen different sauces and who knows how many varieties of smoked salmon? (Lachs or Lox – take your pick.)
At 70°N latitude, the North Cape (Nordkapp) points due north and protrudes into the Barents Sea. The wind never stops blowing.
Along the way we spot reindeer. Lovely coves protect the homes and boats of the cod fisherman. We stop on the shore to build a cairn.
The scenery is quite lovely as the afternoon advances. Time to relax, stare out the window of the bus, and enjoy.
Our irrepressible tour guide is rightly proud of her country and knowledgeable of the history of the cod fisheries and cod processing. So, we get a lecture.
In place of that well-earned quiet ride back to our ship, we must endure the interminable story of cod.
Like the North Wind at the North Cape ....