MS Nordkapp to the Lofoten islands

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
Trip End Dec 20, 2006

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The 4 day boat trip from Bergen to the Lofoten islands was a bit of a disappointment. I'd really been looking forward to it. Even though I couldn't afford a cabin (prices started about 600 aud a night I think) I really wanted to take the trip, so decided to sleep on deck, which I'd heard lots of people do.
Though the scenery was nice, the trip ended up being quite dull for me. Firstly, there weren't really any other backpackers on the boat. The average age of the passengers would have been approaching 80, quite a few of them in wheelchairs, and I guess it was an ideal holiday for them, as there wasn't much to do except sit and watch the scenery go by.
Our ship was the MS Nordkapp, one of the newer ones of the Hurtigruten fleet. The Hurtigruten boats run daily from Bergen up to Kirkenes on the Russian border and back over 11 days. Many of the passengers had booked for the full 11 day tour.
At first it was quite exciting checking out the ship. There were 5 floors, and a sauna and jaccuzzi on deck. But you could walk around it all in about 10 minutes, and then there was little left to do except look out the window. The scenery was nice, passing through the fjords, and some very isolated farms, but after a while it was much the same. I passed my time reading, playing chess with an old Norwegian sailor, wandering around the decks and reading some more. I realised I was truly bored when i looked forward to the prospect of doing my washing in the coin laundry because it would give me something to do.
Sometimes we would stop off at towns along the way, but these stops were often short, only 30 minutes or so. As the food on board was so expensive (a plain hamburger- a bread roll with a hamburger patty and no salad or anything- cost $15 aud, or $20 if it had salad) I usually spent this time stocking up on supplies. A couple of the prettier towns we stopped off at for longer. Alesund and Trondheim were both nice. We crossed the Arctic circle on our third day.
At night I slept on the coach, and usually slept like a log. The only time I didn't was when I was woken up at about 4am by a mentally unwell Norwegian man who had decided to sit next to me. He was talking to himself so loudly that it woke me up. When he saw that I was awake he started talking to me in Norwegian, and when I said I didn't understand he starting saying something in English about 'carpet' and I eventually worked out he wanted to know where to get the blankets from. Later, when I had fallen asleep again he woke me up again with his loud talking, this time wanting to know if he could borrow a cigaretter lighter.
On a positive note, with all this spare time on my hands I managed to work out what most of the buttons on my fancy new camera do (the instructions are in Norwegian), and had fun playing around with it.
It was definitely worth doing the trip as the Lofoten islands (see next entry) are spectacular, but if I had my time again I would either catch the train from Bergen, or fly.
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