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Pole to Pole

Day 17: Hammerfest to Karasjok

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleMy bunk is comfortable enough, but every time anyone in the vicinity turns on a tap the result is a series of sledgehammer thuds, and a short night's sleep. Up on the bridge at a quarter to seven to film our arrival at Hammerfest, only to be told we're running an hour late and we could have stayed in bed and listened to the taps. There isn't much compensation in the landscape. An unrelieved horizontal band of cloud hangs, like a pelmet, over the treeless headlands. When Hammerfest does appear, a smudge nestling in a bowl of tundra-covered hills, it lacks the sparkle of Tromsų. Bleak and beleaguered, one can well believe that when the town was first settled in 1789, early occupants had to be encouraged with the promise of a twenty-year tax exemption.

The Nordnorge, which has taken fifteen hours to bring us from Tromsų, unloads and turns toward the North Cape, leaving us on a cold, damp dockside. Norwegians grin and shake their heads wearily when I use the word 'cold'. Maybe they just take it for granted, as we might the word 'air'.

'There's no such thing as bad weather, Michael, only bad clothes.'

The town's Director of Tourism is almost lyrical about the weather. Did I know that only three days ago the temperature in Hammerfest had reached twenty-eight degrees Centigrade?

'Well, of course that's too hot,' he grimaced, rather spoiling the effect.

Did I also know that only yesterday the QE2 had been in port?
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 17
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Hammerfest
  • Book page no: 33

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