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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 07 - Huskies, Huskies, Huskies!!!

Updated: May 25, 2023

It’s Husky Day!! We awoke this morning as the ship was docking in Vadsø, the only port that we do not call in on our way South. This town was the centre of “pomor” trade – trading between the Russians and Norwegians in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Norwegians traded fish, especially the dried stockfish, for grains from Russia. Initially this trade was illegal as the Hanseatic League had a monopoly over all the fish caught in Norway, ratified by the King of Denmark (Norway belonged to Denmark at that time). However, the pomortrade was legalised in later years.

We arrived in Kirkenes around 9am. This is the capital of the Barents region and the gateway to the east. The town is below the arctic timberline and so is more fertile compared with the rest of the coast, there were lot of birch trees. As Kirkenes harbour is far up the fjord the Gulf Stream does not reach it and ice-breakers are often used to open up the harbour in cold winters.

Picture 1 - Arriving in Kirkenes

The surroundings around Kirkenes, which we saw from the bus trip to the snow hotel, were very picturesque, in a monochrome eerie way. A lot of the lakes looked to be completely frozen, but we could still see where the waves were!

Picture 2 - View from the Bus

Whilst we were on the bus we were told about the plan at the Snow Hotel - we had been split into three groups. Our group, group 3, were going to see the Snow Hotel first, then say hello to the reindeer, have a warm drink and then get suited and booted (if necessary) for the husky ride before going on the ride. The guide described what additional clothes they could lend us including balaclavas – you know those things used for robbing banks, but since everything is online now the banks have no money so we’ve had to find a new use for the balaclavas!

We arrived at the Snow Hotel, and managed to get some pictures before anyone else could get in the way! We could hear the dogs – they were really excited to be pulling the sledges, apparently it’s a game for them. The Snow Hotel didn’t look like much as they had covered it with a blanket – to stop it getting warm! It was really cold outside - as long as we were moving it was ok but it wasn’t a good idea to stay still for a long time!

Picture 3 - The Snow Hotel

There were also lots of glamping pods on the hillside – some of them have lovely views over the valley!

Picture 4 - Glamping Pods

The inside of the Snow Hotel was completely different from the outside. There were lots of snow and ice sculptures and ice murals in the bedrooms. There was even a polar bear on reception – he was the employee of the month, didn’t complain and never had a day off!

Pictures 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 - Inside the Snow Hotel

After we left the snow hotel we went to see, and feed, the reindeer - they were all male although one would let another feed!

Pictures 11 and 12 – Reindeer

Finally, after a warm fruit drink, it was Huskie Time!! Whilst waiting for the previous group to finish their trips we got to say hello to the dogs in their kennels - they were very friendly.

When the previous group was back, it was our turn. I sat at the back of the sled with mum in front. The dogs were eager to set off and off we went! It was really fun, especially when we went faster downhill. The views were lovely too.

Picture 13 - We're ready to Set Off

Pictures 14, 15 and 16 - Views from the Sledging Trip

We returned from the Snow Hotel to the ship just after lunch. Then it was off on our return journey. This afternoon we had a lecture on the town of Vardø which we were going to be calling at in the late afternoon. There was some interesting information about the witch hunts in the lecture.

Mum and I decided not to go on the walk to the Fortress in Vardø (the northernmost fortress in the World) - instead we stayed on board in the warm!

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