Sunday, July 08, 2018

Way up North in Honningsvåg, Norway

We got up very early to see us pass the North Cape. It was
overcast and foggy but it cleared up enough to take this
photo.  This is the northern most point in Europe that can be
accessed by car and is very popular for tourists.
 During the night of the June 18th or early the next morning we passed the Arctic Circle. I checked at 1 am and it was daylight. We had heavy drapes that shut out the light to enable us to sleep. We got up early to see the North Cape and the boat circle around and enter Honnigsvåg, the northernmost city in Norway and just barely a city with 2,484 residents. The sun remains below the horizon from Nov. 21 to Jan. 21!!! I can't imagine living through that.
The average high temp in June there is 52 degrees - and mostly cloudy. Our local guide told us that the day we had (70 degrees and sunny) was one of the five best days they have in a year!
The day started out cloudy but cleared up quite quickly.
Here's our first glimpse of the town.

These were the only trees we saw all day. They and the
fences beneath them are to protect the town from avalanches.
The white spots on the hill are reindeer.

Our ship with it's tenders going back and forth.

We saw reindeer several times during our day. All reindeer
are owned by the Sami people. Formerly known in English
as Laplanders. Since prehistoric times they have lived in the
northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

We drove over the mountains to Gjesvaer and saw snow
fields along the way.

Beautiful clear glacial lakes dot the area.

The small fishing village of Gjesvaer where we boarded a small boat to go bird watching. This was our first "official" tour,
purchased from the Cruise Ship. It was worth it. We wouldn't have been able to organize this ourselves. Like most villages
in the Finnmark (the Norwegian northeastern county) the Germans burned down the town in 1944. It has about 130 inhabitants at present.

We saw a number of fishing vessels heading out to sea. The
hills in the distance were on the islands we circumnavigated
looking for various bird colonies.

The village as we left the harbor.

Fish were drying in racks on the docks.

Although we are wearing warm clothing it was mostly due to
the wind. The temperature was in the 60's.

Those are puffins on the ledges. We saw lots of them but I wasn't able to photograph any of them close up - with a simple
camera. Walt got some better photos, including the one just below. They were swimming in huge flocks around our
boat but took off as we approached. 

Here's Walt's picture of a puffin taking off from the water - it takes them
quite a long time to get airborne! 
And Scott's photo of a puffin close up
Scott again, this time with several puffins!
Enormous colonies of kittywakes nested on the steep cliffs.

As you can see it was a beautiful day. We also saw numerous Gannets and Cormorants. Many white tailed Eagles soared
over the islands. The Puffins are the most numerous with over 400,000 pairs!

Walt & Honoree - Walt is a great photographer and has a big
collection of lenses, including this huge one.

Heading back you can see the extent of the village.

Approaching the harbor

Here's a poster explaining the bird species visible here and the mountain range behind the town.

Taken from the bus as we headed back to the ship, you
can see the town and in the distance the islands we visited.

The lakes are very beautiful and we even saw some sandy
beaches - but you'd have to be very hardy to bathe.

Our guide explained that almost all Norwegians have a
small cabin somewhere in the country where they go on
vacation.This includes the people of Honnigsvåg! In the
distance here are a herd of reindeer.

This small island with several vacation homes was connected to the "highway" by a bridge.

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