A History Lesson in Narvik

We woke up around eight o’clock this morning on 22/2/22 (!) to find that the Borealis was docked in Narvik, a new port of call that we hadn’t visited before. Strangely enough, Narvik is further north than Bodø; we had been heading south since leaving Ålta but now we were temporarily heading north again. 🙂

We looked out of our window at a cloudless, steel-blue sky and went up to enjoy our breakfast before deciding what to do for today.

We didn’t have any excursions booked today, preferring to explore on our own. In any case, it appeared that the Borealis was docked right in the town and you could walk right off the ship, so we decided this is what we would do and see where we ended up. We didn’t have any firm plans, and that is part of the fun of exploring. 🙂

Venturing out on deck after our breakfast, the cold nearly took our breath away and we didn’t stay our very long without coats and other warm clothing. Here’s a screen shot of the weather app on my phone…. brrrr!

Returning to our cabin, we dressed in the usual warm layers and put on our walking boots, making sure our ice-grips were in the rucksack. Then we went down to Deck A where the gangplank was situated and disembarked the ship. As expected, the ground, although well-gritted was frozen solid and I didn’t want to walk far without putting on my Spikies; I already have my right ankle pinned following a fracture in 2008, and it is certainly not an experience I wanted to repeat. So I leaned against a wall and lifted one booted foot in turn as Trevor fitted my ice-grips for me.

Off we went, taking our time as we crunched over the ice and packed snow. A lady standing near the dock gates was handing out maps of the city, so we took one and had a look at it as we walked along. We passed some steep, rocky hillside adjacent to the road and took photos of the large, rigid icicles hanging down.

Despite the bitterly cold temperature, there was no wind and the walking soon made us warm up, enough to remove hat and gloves. We enjoyed the fresh air and the clean, windblown scenery, and the feeling of just being free to do what we wanted, when we wanted.

After a couple of miles, we saw what looked like an interesting building housing a museum, a public library and a café; a look at our map told us it was the Narvik Krigsmuseum (Narvik War Museum) so we decided to go inside for a look.

Removing my Spikies and putting my coat over my arm, we paid for our tickets then went inside the museum. You could download an app called Useeum which effectively turned your mobile phone into an audio guide in the language of your choice.

Making our way around, we looked at the exhibits which consisted of photographs, clothing, artefacts, weapons and all sorts of personal things that depicted life during 1940 in Norway. Our audio guides let us listen to perspectives from a former soldier, a nurse and a farmer, and described the German attack and the various battles through video footage, pictures and text.

There were also interactive exhibits and a large diarama depicting all the battles ships from Norway, Germany and the allies, including Britain. It also described life under Nazi occupation after the battle of Narvik was over.

There were three floors of the museum to explore; some containing aircraft, tanks and other military vehicles; uniforms, weapons and peacekeeping measures. It was all very interesting and there was a lot to see and learn. We spent more than two hours in the museum before deciding to return to the Borealis in time for lunch.

Taking a slow stroll back again, we looked at our phone and noticed that it had “warmed up” to -9ºC now. 🙂

We boarded the Borealis and and dumped our coats and bags etc. in our cabin before going up to the Lido restaurant for lunch. I enjoyed a hot beef stew with broccoli and carrots, washed down with the inevitable cold cava provided by the ever-attentive Stanley. We then returned to our cabin for an hour’s power nap, and spent the rest of the afternoon pottering about, bumping to Mark, Jan, Andy and Kal at the pool, where Mark was enjoying a “cheeky burger” as he put it. As it was only a couple of hours until dinner time, I asked if this meant he would be absent from the dining room, but he said no, they would be there as usual. 🙂

At five o’clock Trevor said he was going outside on deck to watch the sailaway, and putting on his coat he disappeared out onto the promenade deck.

I got showered and shampooed before dinner, then dressed in a pair of white trousers with a blue top, and some amazing Irregular Choice shoe-boots, featuring sea-surf and a couple of little dolphin water pistols, and a lucite heel with little fish in them. On the way to the restaurant (in fact, for the rest of the evening!) my shoes attracted a lot of attention.

The show tonight was called “British Rock Royalty” and featured songs by some of the most influential British musicians and singers and some of the biggest groups ever, even chosen by Her Majesty the Queen. It was a colourful, all-singing all-dancing show consisting of the best of British, and once again it made me wonder why Fred Olsen Cruise Lines had stopped doing their wonderful red, white and blue evenings, which were a lot of fun. A lady coming out of the theatre in front of me asked one of the entertainment hosts the same question, and was told they were “reviewing the theme nights”.

Then it was just the usual; up to the Observatory to do the quiz (which we didn’t win) and make the most of Fred’s all-inclusive drinks, including their wonderful sangrias. In fact, I’d got the other people on our table drinking the sangrias as well. 🙂

We enjoyed the music of Funky Blue and the conversation with the people at nearby tables, then around 23.30 Trevor went outside to see if anything was happening in the sky, as we had seen several people coming and going with their coats on. Soon after, he came back in and said that the aurora borealis had decided to put in another appearance so, ignoring the fact that I didn’t have a coat on and only had a faux-fur wrap, I went outside onto the bitterly cold decks and gazed skywards. Sure enough, there was the now-familiar green glow.

Aurora borealis in the skies near Narvik

We didn’t stay out long as it really was very cold and uncomfortable, so hurrying back into the warmth of the Borealis’ interior, we enjoyed a night-cap and returned to cabin 3326 around midnight.

We had a sea day to look forward to tomorrow.

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