About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ramfjord to Hammerfest

Day 14: Ramfjord to Hammerfest.: On to our northern-most point, the 'Land of the Midnight Sun', crossing some of the most famous salmon fishing grounds in the world. This evening why not visit Nord Kapp, the Northernmost point of Europe?(Breakfast and Dinner included)

Hotel: Hammerfest Turistsenter As
Bags to the bus: 5:45 Bus departs: 6:00

The longest day in Contiki history started with my alarm at 5:20, the reason I took an evening shower. We did not have breakfast at camp today so we could save time. Instead, Dion packed up breakfasts to eat on the bus this morning. Breakfast was a ham and cheese sandwich, boxed orange juice and a muesli bar. Our first stop was at 9:20, for 45 minutes, at a little restaurant place. Che thought it was closed, but it was open, thankfully, it was quite cold and there was no where else to go here. After this stop Che handed out the rooming list for Russia. He had not mentioned this before, and I ended up without a roommate, which would soon change. Skye didn't want to room with Ted (he snores), and wanted to room with Tania. Well this screwed up the rooming, forcing a couple to split up. Once they figured out what happened Che put Ted and Skye back together and I was to room with Tania. Not everyone was happy with this, but I was fine with it since I got along with everybody.

Just before 12 we stopped in Alta for 45 minutes. There was a museum (rocks, I think) with a little cafe, and restrooms. I had a muffin to pass the time. We almost left Skye, Tania, Danny and Samar behind, they ran after the bus as it started to pull out, close call and it wasn't a good day to miss the bus. Basically after that we drove through Bumblef*ck Norway. I couldn't figure out how people live here. The trees are sporadic (and sparse), and houses randomly placed through the countryside (if you can call it that), and half look like they are about to collapse (both the trees and the houses). Apparently for fun the locals go to the campsite we stayed at the night before for the weekend, we saw some of them at the campsite and they seemed to have a good time. I don't think I could live here, the campsite seemed nice for a weekend, but every weekend?

Che talked to us about Norway on the bus, he explained that the major industries in Norway are fish, and ship building. They are not part of the European Union, in part because they are a new country and want their independence. Of course they end up following the guidelines set by the EU so they can trade with EU Countries, eventually they will probably join. We arrived at our campsite in Hammerfest at 3:00. FYI: Hammerfest is the northern most city in Europe.
Our cabins were at the top of a BIG F&*king hill! Of course the showers, (which I heard were good) the cook tent and bus were at the bottom. So I had to drag my bag up the hill, which wasn't much fun. At the top there was a bathroom with sinks and toilets so you didn't have to go hiking in the middle of the night if you had to go to the bathroom. I was rooming with Lis, Jilly and Leah B. here for two nights, the windows had white curtains with little flowers, very nice. Unless of course you're in Hammerfest in the beginning of June, when the sun doesn't go down! Even stranger was that this was not the only place that had light colored shades on the windows where the sun doesn't (or barely) go down. I'm done with my tirade - the sun never kept me from sleeping anyway, but I know it bothered some other people.

Anyway, we had dinner at 5:30, which was pretty tasty since we got our food supplies at a Statoil (gas station convenience store), it was a Sunday and we were in the middle of nowhere, they couldn't find an open grocery store. During dinner Dad called, apparently the family was getting concerned because they hadn't heard from me. I guess no one told them they don't have the internet in the middle of nowhere. I knew before I went, I was just in denial until now.

The bus for Nordkapp left promptly at 7pm, with a new driver. Andy had already used all his driving hours for the day so Contiki (with our money from the optional) hired a driver for this trip. This meant that Andy got to party it up tonight! His first job, bathroom nazi! Everyone was celebrating with some drinks on the way up, which meant they had to go to the bathroom. Andy tried to keep them out since the bathroom only holds so much. We did make a stop on the way so people could use the bathroom, I tried to get a picture of some reindeer at this stop, but the guys kept scaring them away. After that I got dragged into a conversation about the military with Corey, where he said something insulting about Marines, but insisted he was joking. I thought it was in poor taste, but kept my mouth shut.

We got to Nordkapp at 10:30 and I made a mad dash to the gift shop, it took me a while but I figured out that I wanted a key chain, t-shirt for dad, certificate (that I'd been to Nordkapp), a book and a couple postcards to send home with a Nordkapp stamp. After I finished my shopping I went out to get a picture with the Globe. My book says that the globe is "situated at the very extreme point of the North Cape plateau, it symbolizes our common planet. This is the meeting point for the peoples of the World." It doesn't say that it's cold and windy here, which is why I didn't take too many pictures before running in to do my postcards.

After writing my postcards I was talking with Skye and Tom and somehow the conversation came to the rooming situation and it was agreed that Tom and Skye would share a room in Russia, if Ted agreed. Conveniently, Ted walked by shortly after and agreed to the switch, he would now be rooming with Corey. At midnight we all went out to see the midnight sun, but luck was not on our side. We were among the 92% of people who do not see the sun at midnight, but the sun had been out a little earlier, and that would have to suffice since I don't see myself heading back any time soon. Everyone took lots of pictures and then I made a run for the "Children of the World" monument so I could get pictures before we left at 12:30. Of course there were some other tourists there taking pictures and getting in the way of mine. Didn't they know my bus was leaving in a few minutes?

On the bus ride back Che played his guitar a bit while we all tried to sing along, which isn't so easy when people only remember the first verse of a song and had been drinking. It was actually pretty fun, and showed a bit more of Che's personality. Marie tried to get him to play Bon Jovi, she's a big fan and was asking for Bon Jovi songs all night. While driving we saw Reindeer everywhere and every time I tried to get a picture I failed. Finally I just watched them, and it was sooo much better then getting a picture. I saw a couple of babies following their mothers, and the kids sized ones seemed to be playing with each other. It was nice to see nature doing it's thing, relatively undisturbed. And for a moment, in a beautiful place with the sun out at 1am and reindeer playing with each other, I felt like I was a better person for having been to this place.

Finally we made a stop halfway back and there was a reindeer, all by himself, watching the bus pull in. I jumped off to take a picture, I was the first one there, and got a nice picture of Dion feeding him. Then everyone started to feed him, he eventually decided that I should feed him (I thought he wanted to eat me), his nostrils flared as he looked at me and started to run to me, I ran away. That's how I like to remember the story, but Chris has it all on tape, and apparently he was just walking toward me when I ran away. I like my version better. Everyone tried to feed him and take pictures and pet him, I watched from the bus. When the bus pulled out he followed us, he was running for quite a few minutes after the bus, it was so sweet, poor little guy. He was alone so I wonder if he got separated from his family.

After that the bus calmed down a bit as people started to get tired. Leah B, Nancy and James talked to Corey about his alarm. Apparently he has trouble getting up in the morning and needs time to adjust to getting up, or something like that. Basically, his alarm went off really early and well before he got up, waking everyone else in his room up.

At some point Skye had to use the bathroom, but couldn't get it open, several people tried, but couldn't either. Eventually Andy had to get the key to open the bathroom. It was kinda funny watching people try to open the door, when it was obviously locked. The bus got back around 3:30 in the morning, and I got to bed at 3:45am, making it an over 22 hour day. But we would be able to sleep late tomorrow.