OK, we didn’t actually get to the end of the earth. With three more days sailing north and then east along the northern edge of Europe it felt like the end of the earth. There’s not a lot more to say about the boat trip. As we moved further and further north the weather seemed to get ever more gray, the settlements got a little more remote, the sun rose ever earlier. When we finally turned southeast on the last day en route to Kirkenes – just a couple miles from the border with Russia – it seemed likely that I would never be further north than the 71 degrees latitude we were at then.
After six days we were decidedly ready to get off the boat. There’s only so much of the coast line that you want to see and only so many villages and towns that you want to spend a couple hours in. One of our stops – Tromsø – is a city that could be worth spending time in, but we’re coming back there on our own after the boat trip is over.
And then there’s the food. To their credit, the food was often surprisingly good. But while the menu changed a little over the six days, we were getting pretty tired of the same options over and over again. And then there was just the weirdness of the food service. For one, they had obviously just implemented new technology, where the waiter would come to your table with a smart device of some sort and enter your order there. Sounds like it would make things a lot more efficient, right? Oh God no. It was painful – and painfully slow – watching them try to figure out how to enter all the right information. I’m sure ordering took four or five times longer than if they’d just written the order.
On top of that, there was just random weirdness. Maybe to make the menu look bigger they would have the same item listed in different sections, often with a different name. But exactly the same dish. On the breakfast menu, “Eggs, over easy or sunny side up” translated as one egg, always sunny side up. One day the egg was genuinely cold. Another day, without warning lunch was served an hour earlier than normal; we got there two minutes after it closed (early) but they served us anyway; others who arrived a little later were turned away. On two occasions they substantially reduced the dinner menu without explanation. And though they claimed to offer a fancy dinner option, and told us when we checked in they just didn’t know what nights it would be offered, it just never appeared.
There was lots about the ship and the cruise that was wonderful, but the food service was weird.
So that was it: six days up the coast of Norway. Lots of great scenery, a few beautiful fjords, enough rain and drizzle to last a long time. And always the question going round and round in my brain: why do people live this far north? It’s strange enough in the cities but when you pass these utterly remote residences you just wonder. Why do they live there? At least during our week the summer is cold and rainy, while in the winter it’s colder and dark. What is life like up here then? Not sure I’ll ever find out.