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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 04 - Crossing the Arctic Circle, an Ice Bath and Northern Lights

Updated: May 12, 2023

This morning we woke up just south of the Arctic Circle. This is located at 66° 33’ north and is the southernmost point at which the Midnight Sun shines 24 hours a day on Midsummer Night’s Eve. We crossed the circle at around 8:15am as we passed between the island of Hestmona and the mainland.

Picture 1 - Crossing the Arctic Circle

Legend has it that Hestmona Island was formed when a horseman, who was the villain in the Legend of the Seven Sisters, was turned to stone as the first rays of the sun struck him when he was chasing the Maiden of Leka down the Helgeland coast.

Picture 2 - Hestmona Island

We continued sailing up the coast past numerous small villages. These are former trading posts - originally these were set up to facilitate the transport of fish to Bergen from where it was exported. There were some wonderful views to the shore and over the sea.

Pictures 3, 4 and 5 - Views from Ship (Artic Circle to Bodø)

At 10:30 we had an Arctic Circle Ceremony out on deck. Although it is cold out, it’s a “dry” cold so it’s quite refreshing. As long as you are out of the wind that is! Part of the Arctic Circle Ceremony is a baptism by “King Neptune” – in icy water! The ones carrying out the baptism made sure to get ice and water down our backs!!

We arrived at Bodø just after lunch. Bodø is the administrative centre for Nordland County and the 2024 cultural capital. This is the first time that a city north of the Arctic Circle has been chosen. Mum and I had decided that, rather than visiting Bodø, we would go on an arctic coastal walk excursion.

The walk was really enjoyable and informative. We got a bus out of Bodø to about 10 minutes down the coast where the walk started. There were some lovely views of the sunset over the ocean. We had a guide who was full of information. We found out that Norwegians came from the bottom of the sea (honest – well, when the bottom of the sea was not under the sea) and that the fjords were created when the glaciers travelled down from the tops of the mountains. As the glaciers travelled they wore away the softer rock leaving the hard granite mountains. The accumulated silt, sand and other solids were then deposited where the fjords met the ocean. Then there was an avalanche and a section of land the size of Iceland fell into the ocean, causing a 5km high tsunami that flooded the fjords and turned them into what we see today.

Pictures 6 and 7 - Views from Walk

We were also told some facts about the Vikings, who lived in Norway, Sweden and Denmark between 854AD, when they pillaged Lindisfarne, and 1066, when the Battle of Hastings happened. They originally travelled to trade. However, when they saw all the riches virtually unprotected, they turned to pillaging. Only those who left their villages to go sailing across the ocean were called Vikings. They sailed as far as Newfoundland in North America and Constantinople/Istanbul in Turkey. The reason for their remarkable feats of navigation is the discovery of the sun-stone - this mineral rock made it possible to see the location of the sun even when clouds covered the sky.

Pictures 8 and 9 - Views from Walk

After the walk we returned to the ship before attending a lecture on the Northern Lights. This gave an overview of the history of when the Northern Lights were first recorded (in 567BC by the Babylonians), how they are created (the influx of particles from the sun carried on solar winds and entering the earth’s atmosphere) and what settings to use to take the best photograph! Fingers crossed for seeing them!!

After the daily review and dinner, Mum and I headed back to the cabin to unwind and go to bed.

Only to be woken up by the announcement system letting us know that the Northern Lights had been sighted off the Port Side of the ship. So it was all systems go – trousers, jumpers and jackets put on over the top of our pyjamas, shoved our feet into shoes, grabbed the cameras and headed out onto the walking deck. I didn’t see much at first, it looked as if there were wisps of cloud in the sky – these were the Northern lights – they look nothing like they do in the pictures! It was a good thing that we were warned about this in the lecture.

We attempted to take photos of them but were completely and utterly….unsuccessful….I got some lovely pictures of the black night sky though! I think more practice with different settings on the camera is required.

Picture 10 - The Northern Lights....the failed picture

Whilst we were watching the Northern Lights we also saw a comet – some of the other passengers got some lovely pictures of it! We were jealous.

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