My ship left at 6am and I was up way too early. Something was not quite right with my stomach.
The storm had gone but the sky was still grey. Temperature had dropped again to 7 degrees.
At the harbor I met Marlene, a cyclist from Lyon. She is on a sabbatical and has been cycling through Switzerland, Germany and Sweden up to Norway and the Cape. She crossed the border to Norway „through the forest“ end of June. For the first time I did not feel the urge or the curiosity to talk to another cyclist. Apparently this feeling was mutual. Maybe missing chemistry.
The Hurtigruten ship is very impressive. It is a mixture of cruise and freight ship build for heavy weather and it is not a ferry. However, there is a small elevator at the side for some cars or other heavy goods like building materials or the mail. It is used both by locals and by tourists on a multi-day cruise.
The views were stunning and the whether quickly became better the more we got southwest. Actuality one could see the heavy clouds hanging over the North Cape once we had left the area.
Originally, I had planned to go to Tromsø where I would arrive at midnight because from the website I figured that this was the most southbound harbor. From there it would be a 3 hour drive with a taxi or similar which would be very expensive. Of course I could cycle the route again but time was running out and I still wanted to see the Lofoten.
It turned out that my original information was wrong and the ships are actually running from Kirkenes at the Russian border to Bergen in southern Norway in 5 days stopping at about 40 harbors along the way. I asked if could extend my trip until Svolvær on the Lofoten. The answer was “no, we reach our maximum capacity in Tromsø”. A little later I asked again, this time the higher ranking lady. “Come back after Hammerfest” she said.
As I am now officially a cruise ship tourist, I made use of the time in Europe’s most northern city for a short walk. The buildings itself are simple and functional. All of them are from the 1950s or later. In WWII the Germans troops had evacuated northern Norway by force and destroyed the entire infrastructure so the Russians would be slower in their progress south. I still vividly recall the conversation with a Norwegian lady about this so-called “Lyngen-line” and the “roads of blood” which refers to the forced labor with locals which the Germans applied to build their defense infrastructure.
It is unbelievable and encouraging that today, 76 years after the war, a majority of the tourists are Germans without any hostile intentions.
After my stroll through Hammerfest, I walked back to the reception manager and asked kindly for a third time. Now, it was finally possible and not expensive at all. This means I will stay one night on the ship and reach the Lofoten tomorrow afternoon – yeah! From there I will then cycle east to my base camp 2, aka the rental car.
That now feels like a much better plan. The only downside: now I have time to miss Carolin, my wife. Long distance cycling is not so much hers but a cruise ship tour we would normally do together.