Mar. 24th, 2009

notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
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.)

The second half of Day Three. )

[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.)
notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
Bodo smells like fish. Dead fish. Three days’ dead fish. That is my lingering memory of that town.

There are no particular places of Historic Note that must be visited, and I’m a little churched out at this point, and it started to snow again, so Ella and I decided Bodo was the perfect place to do a little Norwegian shopping. The mall was right across from the tourist office; it seemed meant to be.

Alas, Norwegian prices meant that it was a strictly look-but-don’t-touch scenario. I browsed a bit, but really the only notable thing was the busker in the second joined mall. She had a minuscule electric guitar hooked up to a teeny weeny amp, but mostly it was just her and her voice. She did a lightly accompanied version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, covered with great adroitness by Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, and K.D. Lang among others, and this Norwegian street busker outshone them all. It was glorious. I gave her all my spare change and thanked her profusely.

After that, I came thisclose to getting a second set of holes in my ears, or some other piercing, but common sense finally reigned. I’m pushing it with work as it is with my current set, as tame as they are, and I should really consider before moving on to anything else. This is kind of a huge trip for me, and I feel the urge to commemorate it.

In the end, it turns out that I’m not the kind of girl who can hop ship for a couple of hours, approach an unknown artist, and have them punch needles into me. I need a little more time and consideration than that. There’s a shop’s reputation, healing time to consider, any issues related to getting work done in a different country, et cetera. I’m just not that hasty or flamboyant.

Which is why I did a little internet research, found a very reputable shop in Tromso (where we’ll be for three four hours tomorrow), and, well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.


notyourmonkey: (Default)

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