notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
[personal profile] notyourmonkey
I’m technically in the “Panoramic Lounge” right now, but I and my tablemates have more appropriately dubbed it The Morgue. It’s a lounge surrounded by windows in the bow of the top level, and the view is simply exquisite. The ship is half-full or less, so there’s never any danger in not getting a seat. True, there are some mirrored pillars that reflect slightly oddly, but it’s a beautiful room with copious, comfortable seating.

And I spend as little time there as possible while still maximising my scenic appreciation. It’s deadly in here. The average age is four hundred and twelve, or ten minutes from death. There are pockets that have the distinct air of a nursing home, with people hunched over staring out blankly, but instead of empty walls, they’re staring as some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. It’s a little too hot, and it’s absolutely silent. Some read; some knit; most just stare. Cameras everywhere.

Still, we crossed the Arctic Circle this morning, and my previous panoramic seventh-floor perch has gotten a tad less appealing. The aft portion of the seventh floor is a deck, and part of it is sheltered in glass. There are lounge chairs available, and if you bundle up enough, it’s really, really pleasant to stretch out on the deck and stare avidly from there. The atmosphere’s a touch less stultifying, and it’s *much* less crowded.

But it’s been spitting snow on and off all morning, and I wanted to haul out the wee little mac, so inside I stay for the moment. We’re a couple of hours out of Bodo, where we have two and a half hours or so to wander, so for the moment I’m just hanging out.

I tried going back to sleep after breakfast, but it didn’t take. I have learned that I have a hard time sleeping through dockings, and we docked four times last night between midnight and seven thirty, which is when I woke up, threw on about twelve layers, and dashed out to take pictures of the Arctic Circle crossing. Alas that I didn’t know any of my fellow nutters prancing about on deck in the frigid wind, because I really, really would have loved a picture of me with the marker (giant gold globe-y sculptural-y thing on a rock on the middle of the ocean) in the background.

Haven’t seen my compatriots at all this morning, except for a brief glimpse of William as he dashed in, then immediately out, of the the dining room. No one’s out on deck (smart people), and they’re not in any of the lounges. I can’t say I find myself too displeased, because even as I love having congenial people with whom to pass the time, the alone-and-quiet time is nice.

(Oh, much better. I just changed from the couch to a chair, and the chair is actually low enough ot the ground that I don’t have to contort my feet to keep my knees at a ninety-degree, laptop-appropriate, angle. I can feel blood rushing back to my toes! Also, it is really warm in here. My cabin runs a bit cold, and here I almost wish I had a t shirt.)

Back to the inevitable recap. When last we spoke, I’d just gotten back from Trondheim, yes? Around twelve-thirty? After that, I drifted up to lunch around one-thirty, attempted to faff about on the internet (fail), and ultimately retreated for a nap around three-thirty. Yes, there is someting new and heartbreakingly exquisite to see every moment, but this is my vacation, and I’m still egregiously tired, and there will be something exquisite to see the next moment I’m awake!

Naturally, of course, I missed something pretty spectacular - watching the ship navigate through one of the most notoriously narrow and tricky passages of the whole trip. It’s an S-curve between offshore islands (as opposed to onshore islands? really) and the mainland, and the captain had her cranking around almost at right angles. I didn’t see it, from deck, but I surely felt it, and when I peeked out my cabin window, BAM! ROCK. Right there. Looked like I could reach out and touch it.

After I stirred myself, I went up to join Ella and William on the aft deck, bundled and lounging. I knitted a bit, took pictures in the thirty seconds of beautiful light at sunset, then drifted back in to defrost before dinner.

We crossed a stretch of open sea (“to your left, if you squint, you can see North America”), which is always a bit choppier, which I love. I love how much smaller this ship is than the other ones I’ve been on, how much more you feel the water. However, I’m using the slight buck and roll of the ship as my reason for why I was a bit off my feed last night. Was deliciously tasty - cauliflower soup, sea trout that looked/tasted remarkably like salmon, mocha custard with apricot/kumquat compote (say that three times fast), but just couldn’t muster the appetite.

After dinner, we adjourned to the bar again, where Tiny Norwegian Karen Carpenter was gamely plowing through a few more generic standards. The game of the evening was Guess When We’ll Cross The Arctic Circle, down to the minutes and seconds. There was a lottery, and last trip’s winner won the ship’s flag. (I was terribly off, saying somewhere around 7:18, but I think William was almost slap-bang on at 7:33. Haven’t heard who won yet.)

We’ve also figured a way to game the system (just like, oh, most everyone else I imagine), in that you’re not supposed to have non-shipboard-purchased alcohol in public areas of the ship. However, there is the hand souvenier mug for unlimited coffee and tea, which is conveniently opaque. I finally found a corkscrew yesterday, and the others were all smarted and bought box wine, so I think we are finally passing on the twelve-dollar small glasses of house wine at dinner.

Have I mentioned that Norway’s expensive? Because it is. OMG.

[Ed. - Am un-cutting this, because it is rather crucial information for anyone thinking of Hurtigrutening themselves.]

Round about nine, we docked at Rorvik (running about twenty minutes late, thanks to complications departing Trondheim yesterday afternoon. turns out they couldn’t get the gangway closed for the longest time, then tried to just jam it shut, which has led to a new and exciting bend in the handrail), where one of the other Hurtigruten ships - southbound - was docked. M/S Nordlys (northern lights?) is a sister ship to my M/S Nordkapp (north cape), and passengers from both were permitted to do a little look-see next door.

Our dinner waitress, when queried, had no hesitation. “Nordkapp is much nicer. Much,” she said, with no hesitation. Given that I had not read any online reviews that were particularly enthusiastic about their ship (I believe the words “adequate,” “sufficient,” and “clean” were what I read the most), I was intrigued, because I rather adore Nordkapp.

It’s nothing like a Carnival ship. For one, the carpets do not visually assault you as you walk down teh corridors. The lounges are all in shades of blue and grey, and the furniture is low and curved. The walls are white, the floors a polished blonde wood, and overall the lines are clean, simple, and elegant. It feels like what it is: a classy working ship that funds its useful transportation service by carting around tourists to gawk at the scenery they pass every day anyway.

So you can imagine my surprise when we boarded the Nordlys and immediately drew up to a halt. “It’s…it’s Vegas,” Ella whispered. And it was. The essentials were the same - same layout, lowlying furniture, polished wood and brass - but the effect was entirely different. Everything was circus blue and red, with spangly chandeliers, and even the carpet was loud and distracting. On Nordkapp, everything is in service of complementing the views out the windows, directing your attention outward, whereas Nordlys is all lookatmelookatmelookatmeeeeeeee!

I know which I prefer. Greatly. Our waitress was rightly proud of her ship.

So if anyone is ever thinking of doing a Hurtigruten, I strongly recommend checking the schedule and getting on the Nordkapp. I’ve also heard that one of the original ships, the Vestersomethingorother, from 1954, is also very nice. It’s much smaller and is less modern, but it comes recommended by several people, including the Nordlys-disparaging waitress.

Not much else of interest to report from yesterday. Went back to my cabin as we pulled out of Rorvik, read some more, did a little research to get ready for today. (My tablemates have dubbed me their tour guide (as the designated “tour guide” for the ship openly admits that she knows little about many of the destinations and is primarily onboard to sell excursions), as I tend to scour the various publications and have found several interesting little tidbits, including tonight’s - heh - planned excursion to an ice bar not far from the dock in Svolvaer. It’s a small consolation for missing out on the ice hotel in Kirkenes.)

[Side note: the elderly French gentleman seated in front of me just whipped out a Nintendo DS and is going to town on it. Heh.]

It’s been fascinating to watch the landscape change and we plow ever further northward. Again, the essentials are the same - mountains, ocean, scattered islands, all in shades of brown and grey - but the differences are kind of thrilling. Things are softer down south, still covered with hints of shrubbery, the sharp edges filed away a little bit, and sometimes there’s even a little smidge of flat land between the base of the mountains and the ocean. Things got craggier as we went further north, the shrubbery giving way to scraggly pine trees, and some sides would get a light dusting of snow. This morning, it’s all sharp juts of rock plunging straight down to the ocean, and even though things aren’t completely snow-covered, not a single scrap of land doesn’t have snow somewhere.

It’s also much foggier today, probably due in part to the sporadic, spitting snow. It’s not slowing down the fishermen, who are out in droves, or the birds - gulls and other kinds of all sorts that I don’t recognized - who flock behind the fishing boats and occasionally cruise alongside us. (Secretly, I’m really hoping to see a puffin at some point.)
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.


notyourmonkey: (Default)

May 2013

5678910 11

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:28 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios