Jul 3 - Land of the Midnight Sun

Life here has been rather quieter over the latter part of June, with the weather being mostly cold and wet. I went to my usual activities - the study group on Mon and the BUL danceparty on Wed, which has been nice.

On the weekend of 21-22 June, the (Norwegian) King & Queen celebrated their 60th birthdays here in Trondheim as part of the 1000 year activities. I got to see them and their large party of royal guests from all over Europe as they walked up to the cathderal for a concert on Sat. There was a fair bit of excitement in town for that - lots of activities involving the kids. Weather was actually sunny and reasonable as well. In the afternoon I took the bus to the Lade peninsula (just east of town) and walked the track round it enjoying the views and inspecting the various swimming places along the way. Quite pretty - guess I did about 5km, so was a bit tired by the evening! On Sun I went back out to Lade, this time to the Ringve museum and botanical gardens - as it was open day in the gardens. Weather was cooler, but still very pleasant. The gardens have plantings from all over the northern cool zone round the world. Quite interesting.

Mon 23 June was the main mid-summer's celebrations, and the weather was atrocious! The study group had a rather damp BBQ and then spent the evening just sitting and chatting which was pleasant. It was the last activity before they had a break over summer. I did get a picture of the view out the window at midnight on Fri 20 June when it was still quite light (sunset was 1140pm, sunrise about 3am, and never fully dark).

The main excitement recently was my trip to the land of the midnight sun, accompanied by a friend, Lynda. We left Fri evening on 27 June, taking the overnight train to Fauske. Had a 2 berth cabin which wasn't too bad, older than the ones I'd used previously. We crossed the arctic circle around 8am on Sat morning - there's a cairn marking the place.

In Fauske we transfered onto a coach to Narvik, arriving around 3pm. Along the way we had a short ferry trip, with some lovely views of the Lofoten's in the distance. The weather was gloriously sunny, and we had some wonderful scenery on the trip. We checked into the hotel, and then spent some time exploring the place. In the early evening we joined a walking tour of parts of the old town and cemetary. The guide did a marvellous job with a running commentary in Norwegian, English and German, barely missing a beat. A fair bit of the town had been leveled during the 2nd world war (a major battle was fought there in 1940), so much has been rebuilt. A key feature of the town is the Ofotbanens railway used to ship iron ore down from the mines in Sweden, which is a major engineering marvel.

Later in the evening we took the Fjellheisen cable car up to the restaurant and lookout on Fagernesfjellet above the town. There we had a pleasant few hours watching the sun's lazy arc round to the north above the hills over the fjord - still quite high at midnight that far north. So I can now say that I've seen the midnight sun! On Sun 29 June we spent the morning visiting the war museum in Narvik, which has quite a bit of interesting information. Then we caught a late afternoon bus to Harstad on the northern end of the Lofoten islands.

Spent a quiet evening in Harstad, had a very pleasant meal at the local Chinese restaurant, and then just wandered around. Saw the midnight sun peaking out behind the clouds as it skimmed along popping in and out behind the hills above town.

Then early on Mon morning, 30 June, we took the Hurtigruten (coastal boat) down through the Lofoten's to Bodø. This is some of the most spectacular, rugged (and so typical) scenary in Norway. The weather was rather overcast (also typical), so unfortunately we couldn't see the tops of most of the hills, but they are incredibly sheer, rising straight out of the water. The route followed a chain of fjords through the islands, and included a detour into Trollfjord. The entry was only just wide enough for the boat to navigate in, walls sheer on either side. Inside it opened out into a circular pool, with a waterfall cascading down one side. The captain almost had the boat nosing into the fall as we turned around! Truly awesome in the original meaning of the word. The trip then continued on to Svolvær and Stamsund before leaving the Lofoten islands behind as we headed to Bodø (arriving at 1:30am on Tues morning!). The gods smiled and the midnight sun peaked out from the clouds over the Lofoten's in a classic view reflecting off the ships wake as we sailed south. Truly beautiful.

We had a good sleep for the rest of the night (we were running rather short on sleep by then), before leaving a very wet and damp Bodø on the 11:25 train (actually got dumped onto a coach back to Fauske, since the incoming overnight train was running late). But from then had a confortable trip in first class back to Trondheim. It was an older carriage, with lovely wooden partitions and little curtains between the seats, as it was used for overnight trips as well. The weather varied considerably, from downpours to sun on the trip back, but was relaxing and scenic as always. Finally arrived back at 10pm on Tues 1 July, tired but very glad we'd gone - having seen some magic sights.

Since then, the weather here continued to make Melbourne's seem a marvel of stability as it swings from overcast and heavy rain this morning, to fine and sunny in the afternoon, and back, as its done for the last few days!

[Jun 15] [SSP97 Diary] [Jul 3]
Dr Lawrie Brown / 14 Jul 97