DAY FOUR If you have read the earlier articles in this series you’ll know I’m on my way to see the Northern Lights (hopefully).
It still poured with rain as our boat made its way along the coast towards Alesund, our first stop.
Unfortunately, immediately after breakfast the mist decided to keep the rain company. I imagine the fjords must look very beautiful, if only I had been able to see them through the gloom.
View from our cabin window of fjords
The morning information meeting on board was cancelled twice because of the inability to stop the boat rocking and rolling. I did feel sorry for anyone suffering from seasickness, and I counted my lucky stars: it could very easily have been me ... it has been in the past.
Eventually the boat pulled into Alesund harbour. The on-board paper stated that it is a town of just under 45,000 inhabitants, and well known for its art nouveau architectural style in which most of the town was rebuilt after a fire in 1904.
It is, the paper added optimistically, a wonderful place to enjoy the views. That might have been true, had I been able to look upwards without a whole bucket of freezing rainwater sloshing me in the face. (Well, that’s what it felt like).
Within ten minutes of disembarking the boat we were drenched in the rain and frozen in the biting wind. Weren’t we brave? Come on, I think applaud is needed here - it was exceptionally cold, honestly. My fingers were numb, despite my brand-new ‘north face’ mitts, even my eyebrows felt stiff as they froze in the icy-cold.
We quickly headed for the first shop that we saw open; it didn’t matter what it sold, but we figured it was bound to be dry inside. As we entered the proprietor, a rather lovely Norwegian man with a huge smile, greeted us warmly. He quickly turned to speaking English as best he was able, which was 100% better than my command of Norwegian.
It turned out that the shop was an emporium of all sorts, from heavy-duty chain ropes, practical leather goods, plates and cutlery to small tourist type articles such as key rings - I bought a few of these, just because the proprietor was so nice to us.
Before we braved the elements outside again, the proprietor stopped us in the shop doorway and said he wanted to tell us a ‘yoke’ (he meant joke) which to be quite honest I didn’t get, but I laughed anyway, and felt very inadequate yet again at my lack of his language. Shame on we Englanders, we’re not great in the language stakes are we. Well done you lovely, friendly Norwegian people once more.
I don’t wish to return to Alesund anytime soon, this is not the fault of the town, rather the fault of the weather. It’s probably lovely on a dry day, or at least on a day when the arctic wind returned to the North Pole and stayed there.
As our boat departed my mind returned to food, or at least what exotic feast the chef might be cooking up for that night. The buffet lunch that had been available before the boat docked at Alesund totally lived up to last night’s feast. It was superb. Surely things couldn’t continually live up to this extremely high dining standard I thought?
I was right, they couldn’t. Dinner turned out to be a rather disappointing affair. Evening meal was à la Carte which sounds grand. It wasn’t. The menu had a choice of two main meals, and two desserts, one of which was a piece of fresh fruit. Soup was the starter for anyone who wanted it. For my main meal I chose turkey, which arrived plated with some uninspiring boiled vegetables. It was all a bit bland and not exactly earth inspiring stuff.
Still, the lack of tasty food was made up for by meeting the two ladies with whom we will share a table for evening meals for the rest of the trip. They seemed a lovely couple, but within five minutes one of them started to look a little green and had to rush away to the toilets, and then the other one, who said that she had been feeling a little queasy since we set sail, fled the restaurant before the main meal arrived.
These choppy seas have a lot to answer for!