Sun on the seventieth

I have just had breakfast and in a couple hours we will dock at Honningsvåg. Honningsvåg is slightly further north than Vardø, which I visited in 2002, yet not as north as Mehamn, which lies just north of the 71st parallel. Mehamn is a village we will see later on today. Yesterday we spent the day walking around Tromsø, a major town of 70.000 situated on an island. My first stop in Tromsø was the public library, where I was pleasantly surprised to see signs in both Norwegian and Northern Sami. Northern Sami, also known as Tunturi Sami (in Finland) or Fell Sami, is in the minority here yet I have not been able to find any Sami books except for Norwegian-Sami and Sami-Norwegian dictionaries.

The sun is out again and before I came to the ship’s small Internet station I walked outside on the uppermost outside deck with only a T-shirt, yet I am still wearing long pants and haven’t put shorts on the entire time since we left Bergen. It is a cloudless day, quite unlike the start of this voyage when it was rainy, grey and cloudy all day and all night long. Tromsø had a very long bridge connecting it to the mainland where the Ishavskatedralen is located. The crossing of the bridge reminded me of the frigid windy time I had while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge: even though I crossed both bridges in the middle of the summer, the wind by the time you reach the central high arch of the bridge–high enough to allow cruise ships to pass through–whips you into numbness.

The polar museum Polaria resembles the Ishavskatedralen in its stylized iceberg shape. I did not visit this museum but did spend a lot of time and money in its gift shop, where one can buy countless books on the Norwegian Arctic polar regions. I came out with a new English guide to Svalbard as well as a large-scale map of the archipelago. While talking with Mark about making a return visit to the Norwegian Arctic, I mentioned that Svalbard (as well as Jan Mayen, an island you need permission to visit from the coast guard) was on my list. Mark did not seem put off by this suggestion, so who knows. We might be in Longyearbyen sometime soon.

Time to prepare for Honningsvåg, then tomorrow very early in the morning I make a return visit, this time in the summer, to Vardø and Vadsø. I can’t wait to see those towns again.

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