We woke up this morning to find ourselves docked in Kristiansund, our last port of call before returning to Liverpool. At some point during the night we’d crossed south of the Arctic Circle once again, so we would gain back even more daylight and our chance of seeing the Northern Lights one more time had diminished a lot. Nevertheless this was a new port for us, so we were looking forward to the excursion we’d booked.
Kristiansund is the main port in northern Norway for the offshore oil and gas industry and a lot of exploration and drill ships come and go from this port.
At 9.00am we assembled in the Neptune Lounge, waiting for our bus number to be called. Then we disembarked the Boudicca and eagerly looked around. We were moored up next to an exploration ship called the Edda Fauna and there were a few shops, a tourist information centre and the Oil and Gas Visitor Centre nearby.
We set off on our journey, winding through the streets with their colourful houses, before we came to a long tunnel; in fact it was about 5.7km long, so not ideal for anyone who was claustrophobic. The tunnel went right underneath the Atlantic Ocean and reached a depth of 250m, making it one of the deepest undersea tunnels in the world.
When we eventually emerged on the other side, we found ourselves travelling along a sort of causeway, with the Atlantic Ocean on either side; the Atlanterhavsveien road runs over a series of small islands with views of sea, fjord, and mountains, connecting Averøya to the mainland near the town of Molde. It was breathtaking and, as we watched, the rays of the winter sun peeked through between a couple of mountain tops and sparkled and glittered on the calm sea. At least today it was calm, but the location of the Atlantic Road, with the ocean on both sides, means that in the depths of winter, when there are high winds and/or snow storms that this stretch of road bears the brunt of some spectacular waves and high sea spray. Norway really is a stunning place, and it was magical.
After about 20 minutes driving over the Hulvågen Bridges in which we were totally entranced by the views, the bus pulled up at a lay-by a few hundred yards before one of the famous bridges, the Storseisundet Bridge. From our viewpoint, this arched bridge curves first of all to the left and then to the right; in fact, depending on your perspective it can make the road look as though it comes to an abrupt end, and the traffic just disappears into nowhere! It looked completely different, depending on the angle from which it was photographed, and it was so different and so unique; one of those ‘instantly recognisable’ landmarks. 🙂
We took the opportunity to take lots of photos, not only of the bridges but of the mountains, islands and sea, with the sun low in the sky.
Back on the bus we continued on our way, feeling quite exhilarated by this journey, which was voted the world’s Best Road Trip by the Daily Mail. Over five miles of spectacular scenery and a great experience.
Our next visit was to the Kvernes Stave Church, in Averøy. From outside it looked fairly plain, but it was amazing when we went inside. All the wooden walls and ceiling were decorated with hand-painted designs, and the wooden pillars, beams and pews were intricately carved. Each of the pews was contained in a separate little cubicle with a gate, and when you went to sit inside, there were blankets thoughtfully provided, as there was no heating in the church.
The guide explained that the stave church was built around year 1300 and has a rather large main nave (16m x7.5 m) with external diagonal props supporting the walls. Several repairs and reconstructions have been carried out. In 1633 the stave-built chancel was torn down, and a new one erected in log construction. A baptistery was raised at the western end, windows were put in, and the chancel was decorated with painted scenes from the Bible. In the following decade, the nave and baptistery were decorated with acantus paintings. The vicar at the time, Anders Ericsen (1603-62) paid all those expenses himself. The king sold the church in 1725, and it was in private ownership until 1872 when it was bought by the parish. A new church was built in 1893, and the stave church was saved from demolition when Fortidsminneforeningen (The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments) bought it in 1896.
We were then treated to a couple of pieces of Norwegian music, played on the flute. Although it was cold inside the church, there were many candles and you could smell the evocative scents of wood and incense. It really was a very lovely place, and well worth a visit.
When we went back outside again, the sun was out and it was actually warmer outside than it was in the church. We got back on the bus for our return journey and it was at this point that some sharp-eyed person spotted a white-tailed eagle, just before it soared, on majestic wings, over the nearby fjord into the distance. Wow! A fitting end to our trip, before heading back to the Boudicca.
We arrived back at the ship around 1.30pm, and off we went to the Four Seasons Restaurant to get some lunch, as we were good and hungry by then. We each enjoyed a rosé wine with our delicious meal.
Looking at today’s programme of events, we saw that they were holding a ‘Norwegian Grand Bazaar’ in the Neptune Lounge from 2.30pm – 4.30pm, so we decided to go along and have a browse. Really, it was just a means of getting customers along to have a look at the various things on sale around the ship, e.g. from the boutiques, duty free shop, the beauty salon or the photographers. It wasn’t really ‘Norwegian’ as such; there were handbags, perfumes, clothing, souvenirs, etc. But best of all, there was a drinks station serving gløgg, or mulled wine. To be honest, I was very surprised we hadn’t seen it on the ship before now; it would have gone down very well if it had been available when everyone was freezing outside on deck looking for the Aurora Borealis. Never mind, we each bought a glass of the (very) hot gløgg, which contained red wine spiced with cloves and cinnamon, and containing currants and almonds. It was very nice, but we resisted the temptation to have another one; it is far too easy to drink too much on these cruises, especially when they are all-inclusive!
By now the Boudicca had set sail once again, so we went back to our cabin to get showered and changed and sorted out as tonight was British, or red-white-blue night, and we always make the effort to dress appropriately on these occasions.
Trevor wore his Union Jack waistcoat and bow-tie and looked very smart as ever, while I wore white jeans, a blue t-shirt, and a Union Jack jacket. Then we went along to the dining room for our dinner at 6.15pm as usual. We were the only people on table #32 who had dressed up, but here and there on other tables we could see that other people had made the effort. The dining room was decorated out in red, white and blue bunting, and the dinner had a British flavour to it, i.e. roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash etc.
Tonight the show started off in the Neptune Lounge with a good old British singalong, with much flag waving and people getting into the spirit of the thing. It ended with a rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, with everyone on their feet and a forest of waving Union Jacks. It was all good fun. 🙂
Then the Boudicca Show Company performed Britain Rocks which was a celebration, through the decades, of the best of British pop and rock music, including the Beatles, Queen, Robbie Williams etc. The show finished off with the orchestra playing Elgar’s famous Pomp and Circumstance march no.1, and everyone spontaneously stood up at the end. A really great show, as ever.
We finished off the evening by going to the… yes, you’ve guessed, Lido Lounge where the keyboard player, Alan Shiels, was playing some lively tunes (no Timeline Duo tonight, thank goodness) and the dance floor was packed. Then there was a special late night cabaret in the form of Jess Belleza, who was the male vocalist with the Boudicca Orchestra; he was paying tribute to British household names such as Tom Jones and Elton John.
Then it was off to bed, at the relatively early time (for us!) of half past midnight. We had a couple of days at sea to look forward to before arriving back in Liverpool – our holiday is sadly fast coming to an end now, so we’d just have to make the most of the remaining days.