I was fortunate to have my mom take me on a wonderful trip up the coast of Norway in late June with the Hurtigruten cruise line on the MS Finnmarken . It was during the height of the midnight sun with almost 24 hours of sunlight a day. I had heard about the perpetual sun in summer and darkness in winter, but nothing prepared me for how this seasonal magic would have affected me.
Their website gives a good description:
“Take time to enjoy the wonder of Norway’s Midnight Sun on board a Hurtigruten ship. This is a natural phenomenon found in latitudes north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours. Brilliant sunshine through the clear Arctic air bathes the shores, fjords, mountains and bays in fiery reds, soft pinks and golden yellows complemented by the deep, soft greens of pine and hardwood forests.”
The first night, I woke up at about 3:45am and looked out the port-hole and it was still light. And not a dim/twilight, it was bright sun. My internal clock was completely confused. For the next week, I wouldn’t go to bed until well after 12:00 and then wake
sometimes at 4:00am ready to start the day (this is coming from a person who thinks 10:30pm is late to go to bed). The days were filled with looking out expansive windows or sitting on the decks watching the spectacular landscape roll by with little villages nestled on the hills and some right on the edge of water. I was fascinated with what life was like for people on the edge of Norway. I wondered: How do you live during sunlight versus darkness? How do you adjust to the seasons? What tricks do you have? How has technology changed your life during the seasons? How do you deal with babies sleep schedules?
The trip originated from Bergen (south/west part of Norway) and ended in Kirkenes (north tip area). We would stop at ports along the way, as this was a “working ship” delivering passengers, cars, appliances and even orchids. One morning I was up at 4:00am at the 24 hour cafe (thank goodness for that!) and we pulled into a misty port where I saw two passengers arrive, one depart and a couple of guys working the loading dock. It struck me that all this work was going on in the middle of the night and in the sun. I can’t imaging working in the dark and cold of winter.
One of the best afternoons was driving up to an iditarod farm for raising racing dogs. Before I go any further: They do not sell and are not a puppy mill! They have over 250 dogs including 2 litters of little itty bity puppies and who doesn’t love a bundle of puppies. What’s facinating is that at this farm, the dogs are born and raised outside at all times.
Once they form their teams and have their racing partner, they stay in the order of the teams at all times (except when playing). But they each have a little hutch that they are chained to and have plenty of room to roam. I’m not a dog person but this place seemed to have very happy dogs that were able to do what they were born to do. My other favorite little village was Stamsund (pictured above the puppies). Sailing into and out of the port was beautiful, there was a gravel sidewalk and a main area was only about one street long with cabins and fishing boats along the water.
I never had any particular desire to travel to Norway before this trip but I am determined to go back by car and travel the coast line to try to get some of my questions answered. It was one of the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen. I am also intrigued with visiting the country during the darkness to compare the two.