When we woke up this morning we were in a new port of call, that of Leknes in the Lofoten Islands. Lofoten is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway. Though lying within the Arctic Circle, the archipelago experiences one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude. Lofoten is known for a distinctive scenery with mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands. We were looking forward to exploring.
Our excursion wasn’t until 11.45am, so we just spent the morning pottering around the ship and walking about on deck. The weather was still very cold and the decks were still slippy with some ice, although we are now heading south again.
When it was time, we went along to the Neptune Lounge to await the call for our trip, which was called “Introduction to the Lofoten Islands”. Then off we went for a look around Leknes, which is the administrative centre for the islands. As we went along, the landscape reminded me of that of the Scottish islands of Lewis and Harris; there was the same mountains, lakes, peat bogs and gorgeous white sandy beaches (not that we’d be going there for a swim!) as well as fields of sheep and farmland.
As expected, Leknes makes a lot of its income from fishing. We went along to the harbour where the boats come in and we saw a large fish-processing plant, where the freshly caught fish is cleaned and packed into chests of crushed ice, ready for despatch to the shops for sale. Around the other side of the harbour was a shipbuilders’ yard, where we could see a large fishing boat in dry-dock.
We had a wander around the harbour to take photos and have a brief look round the shops. In the small supermarket we bought two kilogramme blocks of brunost, the well-known Norwegian sweet cheese. Brunost (which translates as ‘brown cheese’) is made first of all by the milk being boiled until the lactose in it caramelises, giving the cheese both its brown colour and sweet, caramel flavour. It is a very rich cheese and you can only eat a little at a time because of this. But it is delicious on crumpets on in scones.
Back on the bus we continued our tour around in the gathering dusk. We went up a zig-zag path to the top of a mountain so we could have fantastic views over the town. The Lofoten Islands really are very picturesque, and I think it is somewhere I would like to visit in the summer, when there is 24 hours of daylight.
Once we got back down again, our guide announced that we were making an unscheduled stop as someone had requested a comfort stop. So the bus pulled up next to a supermarket and other shops, where there were some public toilets. A woman got off the bus, and the rest of us waited. At this point the guide said that anyone who wanted to stay in the town and make their own way back to the ship was welcome to do so, as long as we let her know, so some people got off the bus.
Twenty minutes later, with everyone complaining, the lady who’d needed the toilet stop still hadn’t reappeared. Everyone agreed that it would have just been quicker for her to wait until we were back at the ship. It was well after 2.00pm by now and none of us had had any lunch, so we were a bit disgruntled.
Eventually the guide decided that the woman wasn’t coming back on our bus, so we started up again and made our way back to the Boudicca. They advised us that the staff were keeping the dining room open until 2.45pm, as long as we went straight there. As we had to pass our deck on the way to the Four Seasons Restaurant anyway, we dumped our stuff in our cabin then hotfooted it along for some grub. The cheese we put on the windowsill next to the cold glass, as we didn’t have a refrigerator in the cabin. But the sub-zero temperatures outside would ensure the cheese remained nice and chilled.
Then it was a case of going to the Lido Lounge to take part in the afternoon quiz. The lounge was packed, so we could only find a seat at the bar, where we enjoyed a couple of drinks. Nope – we didn’t win. 😦
The entertainment tonight was a singer called Lynn Sweet. We’d missed her first show as we’d been on the trip to see the Northern Lights. She was a decent enough singer, but she chose to do Whitney Houston and Jennifer Rush songs, as as I’m not keen on those singers I didn’t really think much of the show.
Afterwards, however, we stayed in the Neptune Lounge for a second show, this time starring the Boudicca Show Company. The show was called The Ringmaster and had been written and choreographed by the male lead singer, Duncan Johnston. It was excellent and we really enjoyed it, although some of the old farts moaned about it, as it featured modern music (Robbie Williams, Katy Perry etc.) and had a dark, Gothic theme to it.
Then, as ever, it was along to the Lido Lounge to finish the evening off with a couple of (free!) drinks and a bit of disco dancing. Another late night, after 1.00am when we went to bed. We had another day at sea to look forward to tomorrow.