Arctic Off The Beaten Path Tips by globetrott Top 5 Page for this destination
Arctic Off The Beaten Path: 16 reviews and 51 photos
Kem is the place where our buses took us to in order to continue to the Solovetzski islands by boat: There are lots of lovely wooden houses in the village of Kem and you will see some of them also around the place, where your buses are leaving from. Even the new houses are built completely of wood in this part of Russia.
This was a surprise for me to see in Kem- the small village, where you take the boat from to the Solovetzki islands: This small wooden church was recently built next to the pier and it is open for visitors during the day. Take a look inside, it is quite modern, but still worth seeing and photography is no problem at all !
There are older churches as well in Kem, but much too far away from the pier, to walk there while your bus is waiting for the rest of your group !
Lonyearbyen is quite an "untypical capital" so you should not expect a regular town-square or a system of streets in the city of Lonyearbyen - it is all a bit different, and it all serves the only purpose to be able to survive the hard , cold and almost dark wintertime as good as possible. Cars and ski-doos will be parked unlocked somewhere behind the houses, as thieves would not be able to get far with them anyway !
In the internet I saw great pictures of the lighted town of Longyearbyen in wintertime, when the sun never rises for several months. It might be depressive, when you have to live that way for several months, when you come just as a visitor for a few days it might be very romantic and interesting and recently they also started with some kind of a winter-tourism there !
Across almost all of the bay in Lonyearbyen you will see a large mining-cablecar.
Here on my pic you see the cable-car's end at the mining-station. In fact I seldom saw that cablecar in operation, so maybe it was outdated already in 1985 or maybe it is used only in wintertime, when trucks will have no chance to get through the icy landscapes.
Be careful, when meeting these trucks in summertime . they run in highspeed and will not care a lot of the cruiseship-tourists walking in the streets of Longyearbyen. Streets are not asphalted and the trucks will always bring a lot of dust with them !
I am sorry for the bad quality of these pictures, they were taken out of a super-8 film, so it is like scanning a slide that is not 24x36mm, but only 4x8mm.
"Magic Ice" was a very special museum and exhibition of giant ice-sculptures in the Lofoten at one of our stops with the Hurtigrutenship. There is a bar as well, where the bar and even the glasses that you take for drinking are made only of ice.
That museum was just a few steps from the ship and it was free of charge !
A quite interesting sight close to Kirkenes was "the most solid waiting-hut on earth" :
You will find it in a small village close to Kirkenes, the village is called Bjoernevatn and you will pass by it, when driving to the russian border. When you enlarge my photos you will see what the local people used there as a solid cover of their bus-station.
Our tourguide told us that the former hut at this place was destroyed several times by young local people, before the town-government got the idea to build it in a much more solid way.
In my last picture: This is a sight that you will be able only from a large distance: The Boris Gleb chapel is a tiny church at the end of the valley and it is of special importance for the Russians and what I remember is that the tourguide told us that just in order to have this church on the russian territory, they gave quite a large piece of land to the Norwegian.
The Polar-circle is the meridiane in a hight of 66 - 34 degrees north and it marks the "borderline" of the area we call the Arctic. When you pass that polarcircle on a road you will see a signpost and when you go along the coast in a ship you will see this small monument on a tiny island close to the coast.
I passed by it by the Hurtigruten-ship M/S Nordkapp and was able to take these pictures from the distance.
Vardø - the northernmost fortress on earth
Vardöhus Festnig in Vardø is the northernmost fortress on earth. This tiny village is one of the ports of the Hurtigruten-ships and when-ever they will get there during the southbound cruise from Kirkens to Bergen someone will wait there at the port and walk with you to that old fortress, so you will not miss it and will be able to make the best out of the short stay of just 60 minutes in Vardoe.
The entrancefee is 30 NOK, that is just about 3 euros and you have to throw the money into a former bomb next to the entrance
There is an interesting museum inside of Vardoehus festnig and it is showing old uniforms, documents and my favorite exhibit there was the winter-cannon, fixed on a sled instead of wheels. There is a small souvenir-shop in that museum as well and most of the exhibits are explained with norwegian, english and german inscriptions !
The walls of Vardoehus festning are not really very high, but they are made of solid rocks and covered by grass. For "freeclimbers" of today it would not be a big problem to get over these walls but for the old knights it still might have been a problem and of course the fortress had guards as well watching out for enemies approaching and they could easily throw stones after invaders trying to climb up the walls.
Vardöhus Festnig is open for visitors:
1 May – 15 September: 0800 – 2100 hrs.
16 September – 30 April: 1000 – 1800 hrs.
We once touched a sandbank with the ship and it took a whole day to get out of it again. There was a large tugboat coming from Longyearbyen to tear us out of the sandbank again.
Our Cruiseship had some holes on the bottom, but we were allowed to go on cruising till Hamburg.
For me it was an adventure of a very special kind, but the captain lost his job and the shipping-company had to pay high compensations to all passangers - click on the link below read more about it in my Spitsbergen-page !
By ship you can cruise to the so-called "Ice - barrier" , where the frozen part of the area around the Northpole starts. In summer that point is almost 800 nautical miles from the Northpole - depending on the time of the year and the average temperatures
It is a great feeling to go by cruise-ship into the Ice-barrier, plenty of icebergs of all sizes around the ship make a special noise when touching the ship.
And all our passengers got such a certificate with the exacte position that the ship could reach at that day at the Ice-barrier !
Vadsø is a small town of about 6000 inhabitants in the very north of Norway and the Hurtigruten-ships stop there on their northbound voyage for about 30 minutes.
Time enough to visit a small museum - in a shed opposite of the ship - about the early days of the airships: In 1926 & 1928 the airships "Norge" and "Italia" made their last stop there on the european continent before exploring the Northpole.
In my main picture: The replica of the gondola of Umberto Nobile's Airship "Italia".
No entrancefee to be paid in that museum, but donations are welcome and the most time of the year the museum will also be open just when the Hurtigruten-ship will be docked there for 30 minutes.
You can step into the gondola as well.
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