A Day in Bodø

Got up at 07.45 this morning as we were going on an excursion after breakfast. We had last visited Bodø in June 1999 on the M/S Funchal, and it was a pleasure to be back in this charming little town, which heavily features many sculptures and street art.

Once again, the weather was crisp and cold, and the snow was deep. Looking outside at where the Borealis was docked, we could see lots of ice around the area and in the roads and pavements, so we made sure that we had our Spikies in the rucksack as it looked as if we would need them.

Our excursion was called ‘Bodø Panoramic’ so we looked forward to being taken out in the countryside with fantastic views; I believe that on a clear day you can see the Lofoten Islands from around there.

Once the call came for our tour party to disembark, we made our way down the gangplank and over to the row of waiting coaches. It was indeed icy underfoot, but the area had been heavily salted and gritted. Nevertheless, we instinctively picked our way carefully over the hundreds yards or so to the buses and took our seats.

We set off through the streets and looked eagerly out of the window as we tried to listen to the guide’s commentary. However, her English was not very good and it sounded as if she was tentatively reading from a script. The bus made its way through the town where the guide pointed out the post office, the bank, the hospital and the prison. We also passed the aviation museum and the town hall. As we drove slowly through the built-up areas we were expecting to leave the urban sights behind and see some of the rugged coast and countryside, but the coach continued through a couple of housing estates before we shortly pulled up at Bodin Church, where the guide said we had 20 minutes to look around and perhaps go inside the church.

The church dated from the 13th century and had an unusual-looking steeple. We took some photos of it against the snowy backdrop and the pale blue winter sky.

We were, however, disappointed to see that it was closed and we couldn’t go inside. 😦

We wandered around for a while, enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine, and kicking the snow about. Then the guide called us back onto the bus where our intention was to continue to the viewing point at Mount Ronvik where we looked forward to getting some great photos.

As we travelled along, the guide struggled to explain to us in English what we were looking at and what we could expect to see. She spent some time talking about the Northern Lights in Norway and told us that, if we wanted to see the Southern Lights (the aurora australis) we should visit Alaska! (what??!!) I really think she needed to do her research a bit better!

The roads were very icy as we slowly climbed higher, and at one point we drove along a road next to a steep mountain which had a large pipe acting as a water run-off; the water gushing from the pipe had frozen solid. We were supposed to be going down towards the viewing point to look over to the Lofoten Islands (which we visited in 2014) but the road was closed as it was a solid sheet of ice.

One of the other coaches on our trip drove up alongside us and their driver had a brief conversation with ours. It was decided that, because of the weather conditions, they didn’t want to go any further. Several of the people on our coach were unhappy with this decision, and wanted to be allowed off the coach to take some photos anyway, and look at the view the best we could. Shortly afterwards the bus began its return journey to the Borealis, carrying a load of disgruntled passengers. 😦

When we arrived back in the port, we decided not to go on the ship yet, but just to walk into the town. We put our Spikies on over our walking boots and set off as we weren’t all that far from the town centre. When you’re walking in snow and on ice you use different muscles from those you use normally, so my legs soon began to ache.

We made our way into the main town and had a good look around. Bodø is well-known for its street art on gable ends, created by a number of international muralists. The featured image in this post was created by a British artist who goes by the off-putting name of Phlegm. His work features mythical fairytale type images, consisting of half-human and half woodland creatures.

We also saw several statues and sculptures, including this one featuring three eagles.

While walking along, we had to be careful not to walk on cleared pavement in our Spikies. Not only would it wear the grips down it could, ironically, cause you to slip. So I had to walk along the edges where the snow and ice had not been cleared yet. 🙂

While we were in Bodø, we decided to see if we could find a bank to change our old currency. We used Google Maps to find the nearest bank but, when we found the building, it was the bank’s offices rather than an actual bank! We then had a perfunctory look for another bank or post office, soon giving up when we got fed up with walking around the icy streets on what was increasingly becoming a wild goose chase. Still, it clocked up the steps on our phones all right. 🙂

Making our way back to the Borealis, we arrived in port where we got some fanastic photos of the ship against a clear blue sky.

Back on board, we spotted Andy and Kal from our table, who had been on the other bus for the same excursion. They too had found the trip lacking for the price we had paid for it (£55.00 each). We decided that later on we’d go to Destination Services and give our feedback, which might warrant a refund.

We enjoyed our lunch in the Lido restaurant as usual, then spent some time wandering around on deck in the crisp air and the bright sunshine, before I returned to cabin 3326 to rest and do some of this blog. Then we went up to the guest services desk and joined the short queue to give our feedback for the tour; we could hear some people in front of us complaining about the same trip.

As the Borealis was not due to sail until eight o’clock tonight and many passengers were still ashore, there were not too many organised activities around the ship at this time, and many of the spacious rooms were devoid of people. It was nice just to sit up in the Observatory and enjoy a few drinks while chatting with our fellow cruisers before it was time to start getting ready for dinner.

Tonight, the six of us from table #126 had reserved a table for 6.30pm in the speciality Asian restaurant “Colours and Tastes”. This attracts a supplement of £5.00 per person which is really only a nominal charge compared to the £20.00+ other cruise lines charge for speciality dining. We all met up at the door where the head waiter introduced himself and escorted us to the table.

The meal started with some special breads with a selection of piquant dipping sauces; my bread was more like a sausage roll as it had a type of frankfurter in it. It was then followed by a selection of seaweed and sushi rolls or soups; I then had some thinly-sliced duck in hoisin sauce and shredded vegetables, with the thin pancakes that you roll them in. It was all washed down with cold beer and finished with coffee and a selection of sweet treats, such as ice cream or crême brulée. It was a delicious meal and the portions were just enough to keep you satisfied without making you stuffed.

Afterwards, we told our table companions we’d see them later and Trevor and I made our way to the Neptune Theatre to bagsy our seats for tonight’s show. As we walked down to the front, a couple of ladies called me over so they could have a look at my shoes! 🙂

‘Anna Seed’ shoes by Irregular Choice

As is usually the case on cruises, my shoes had fast become a talking-point, with people stopping me to take photos. 🙂

The entertainment tonight was the Borealis‘ version of the Liars’ Club, a version of the TV show Would I Lie To You. It featured entertainments director Taylor McCulloch as well as some of the singers and dancers from the show company, and the magician Dain Cordean. They (and the audience) were shown an obscure word, and they each had to say what the definition of the word was, and the audience had to decide who was right. As you would imagine, there were many double-entendres and play on words and much hilarity. It was a really amusing show. 🙂

About 10 minutes before the show was due to finish, the voice of the Officer of the Watch interrupted over the tannoy, to announce that the Northern Lights had put in an appearance! As people in the theatre started getting up and leaving, it meant the rest of the Liars’ Club show was a bit of a damp squib, but Trevor and I stayed to the end, before hurrying back to our cabin to get warm coats and hats on, as well as sensible footwear (in my case).

While we were in our cabin, we saw that a note had been pushed under the door; it was from the Destinations team advising that they had agreed to refund 50% of the excursion cost. At least it was something.

Outside, we waited until our eyes grew accustomed to the dark, then I managed to get some photos of the mysterious green glow in the skies, even including some of the red hues.

Then we hotfooted it up to the already-packed Observatory for the quiz, where the only seats were at the back, with our backs to the big wraparound windows. The barman, Stanley, seemed to materialise out of nowhere, and said the drinks were already ordered!

Another couple sitting nearby weren’t part of any team, so the four of us buddied up but we only got an appalling 7/15 – the questions were very hard this time and I believe the winners only got 10/15 which is the lowest winning score we’d seen so far.

Afterwards, we stayed in the Observatory and watched an excellent performance by vocalist Hannah Sellars, followed by the cheerful music of Funky Blue. It’s a pity that we’re not allowed to get up and dance on this cruise (masks and social distancing and all that) but I suppose cruise ships have to be extremely careful not to risk an outbreak, however minor, of CoVID-19, especially after all the unfair bad publicity the cruising industry has suffered during the pandemic. Better to be safe than sorry.

At about 12.30am we returned to our cabin and settled down to sleep. We had a new port of call to look forward to tomorrow, Narvik, and we looked forward to what the day would bring.

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