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Pole to Pole

Day 16: Tromsų to Hammerfest

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe've strayed some way off our thirty degree meridian and should be striking directly across Norway, but the desolate mountain ranges of Finnmark provide such an impassable natural barrier that all land-routes east must first go north.

At four in the afternoon we board the MV Nordnorge, a stout, workmanlike vessel of 2600 tons which forms part of the Hurtigrute (literally 'rapid route') service from Bergen to Kirkenes on the Russian border. The ships take eleven days to work their way there and back through the channels and islands of this convoluted coastline. Also boarding at Tromsų are sacks of potatoes and onions, sides of meat, televisions, wash-basins and mail. The Hurtigrute is a delivery service, a bus service, a postal service, and for tourists a way of experiencing the life as well as the physical spectacle of the fiords.

This is not a good day for spectacle. A line of low grey cloud has settled a few hundred feet above the water, reducing fiord-spotting to an act of imagination. There is a restaurant, with a lady organist playing 'Beatles songs like you've never heard them before'. She's as good as her word.

When I repair to my windowless cabin in the bowels of the ship, we are making a steady fifteen knots and the organist is playing 'The Happy Wanderer'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 16
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Tromsų
  • Book page no: 33

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