The Retirees go Abroad – France Norway UK and Ireland – Hammerfest then the Arctic Cathedral Tromso

Next morning, we enjoy a lie in and a peaceful preparation for breakfast. Today we go to Hammerfest at 10.15 and then Tromso at 23.45 for the midnight concert. Hammerfest is a really pleasant town but shame about the weather. The tour manager recommends we buy spikes for this visit due to the icy conditions. The best advice. They stretch over your shoe and provide a very efficient set of spikes for walking on ice and icy surfaces. As I said earlier I spotted two outstanding churches in this town as we departed going North so I have the opportunity to see them. They are certainly remarkable but there are churches everywhere in this town including the Seventh Day Adventists. The Polar Bear Club is located in the tourist info centre and to see the display is free but you can join the club for what purpose I don’t know.

Home for lunch a walk in the gym (the decks are still icy – we are in the Arctic circle) on the treadmill. Whilst I had a nanna nap to prepare for tonight, the boat moves on to Tromsø, a city in Norway, which is a major cultural hub above the Arctic Circle. It’s famed as a viewing point for colorful Northern Lights that sometimes light up the nighttime sky. The city’s historic center, on the island of Tromsø, is distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses. The 1965 Arctic Cathedral, with its distinctive peaked roof and soaring stained-glass windows, dominates the skyline. Dinner, read my book then at 2345 we join the rush to the concert. The obligatory bus ride to the Arctic Cathedral.

Wow it is surprising. My first impression was a mini Sydney Opera House. It is made up of a series of inverted concrete “Vs” with the ends closed off with stained glass windows. Very simple design with stunning effect. The concert turned out to be a presentation by a soprano, female flautist and male pianist presenting Norwegian instrumental and vocal pieces, and Sami folk music called “yoiks”. They started off at the organ on the mezzanine (a 26-piece pipe organ) and progressed to the temporary platform at the front. Very pleasant and the musicians superbly accomplished. To bed as we are off again in the morning at 0800.

The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Camp Tamok and Sami village

Next morning, we arose late at 0730 and dined at 0830 with Jim and Mary before docking at Finnsnes and heading off to Camp Tamok for our wilderness adventure. Finnsnes is a small town located in the municipality of Lenvik in Troms county, Norway. The town is located on the mainland part of Norway, across the Gisundet strait from the island of Senja. Our bus driver had a hole in his throat and used a hand held “microphone ” which he held at the hole in order to speak. While travelling through the countryside he took a call on his mobile – the mobile in one hand, voice enhancer in the other and driving the bus with his knee – no trouble! On the way we passed a 4 wheel drive that had slid off the road just to show how much of a risk he was taking.

2 hours on the bus then we were greeted by Rufuo a Sami who became the tour leader. A change into warmer gear (it is now -10c) and I was heading off to snow mobiles (skidoo) while Kerry went with Doug and Nerida on the Husky sledges and Reindeer ride. The snow mobile was exciting but most of the participants were novices so the guide took it easy particularly after there was a rollover by one of the snow mobiles. I was conscious also that I had a passenger a Dutch lady travelling with her girlfriend. Then having finished the snow mobile ride we went to the reindeer where Rufuo introduced us to his animals and told us a bit about Sami life (including that he kills these animals and butchers them for meat for his family). Riding on the traditional sleds was very peaceful and slow. Temperature -14 degrees. Back to the Sami village (a mock up) to the Sami lavu (tent) for some of bambi in a stew and a cup of tea. Then another one and a half hours in the bus to catch the boat in Tromso.