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Category Archives: Europe
Southward we went. The winds and the waves became fierce and rain set in, so the captain decided to skip our planned stop in Hornsund, at the southern end of Spitsbergen – The conditions were not good for a landing and there was a huge gale coming in. The ship was made ready for the open ocean and a crossing of the wild Barents Sea. We waived our farewells to Arctic expanses of Svalbard and to the land of the ice bear and we set our sights on the notorious ocean crossing that separated us from the Norwegian shore.
The ringing of the ship bell jolted us out of our slumber. The bell was reserved for letting us know when it was time to eat and when there was something amazing to see, so we all rushed on deck. The sky was blue and cloudy and there were amazing, jagged mountains rising up all around us. On the shore we spotted two large polar bears milling about. One of the bears had a dead seal in its mouth and was enjoying its morning feast. The landscape was breathtaking and I was torn between watching the bears and scanning the Arctic expanses. There wasn’t any ice in the sea around us, which made me wonder how far we had gone during the night. After about an hour watching the bears the bell rang again to tell us breakfast was ready. We walked inside and filled our plates with cold cuts and cheese and fruit and then took a seat. During breakfast the Captain informed us that the ice conditions had been too unpredictable and that he didn’t want to risk getting stuck, or worse, so he turned the ship around in the night and headed out of the Hinlopenstretet – My only hope of seeing narwhales was gone! There was a lot of disappointment, but we quickly turned our attentions to the places we would see on the west coast and accepted our fate. Continue reading
I took in a deep breath, smiling as the icy air shot into my lungs and filled my body with a strong sense of being alive. It was still technically summertime, yet the multiple layers of fleece and nylon I was wearing did little to cut the Arctic chill. I looked down to my small backpack and hoped that I had brought enough clothing to stay warm. From my vantage point on the tourist dock I watched the infrequent boating traffic go by on the fjord. Each time I saw a new boat rise up out of the distant horizon I got excited, only to be let down when the small dot turned into a large fishing boat or a research vessel. Just as I began to wonder if my boat was going to show up, I spotted her tall profile rounding a large fishing boat that was moored nearby. Three tall masts rose up out of her lovely turquoise hull, several square sails hung from the yards on the fore mast, and a web of ropes and lines tied them all together. I watched in awe as the tall ship from my dreams approached the quay and came to a stop. The name Antigua was painted on the bow in big white letters – My ride had arrived! Continue reading