So this was it. The point where we got as close to the Russian border as we could, learnt the stories of the Atlantic Convoys, the liberation of this area by the Soviet army in 1945, and just marvelled in the resilience of the people in this most beautiful part of the world. Of course it helped that the sun shone some of the time, but the dangers of the area were also in evident in that our trip to the North Cape (Nordkapp) had to be cancelled as an avalanche had taken a coach off the road the previous day.
We arrived in Havøysund about breakfast time – you can see that it was an early breakfast for the gulls as well around this fish factory; the sun on the houses was incredible however …
Then on to Honningsvåg and a sequence of shots (not all here but some on Flickr) which I like as much as any I took, especially the third one – the solitary cottage!
What a setting and what a weather welcome for our arrival in Honningsvåg but as we arrived and walked around the town, we could see a storm approaching.
With time to kill because the coach trip had to be cancelled, I found the time to do a silky water shot. Well in fact I took many, but this is the one I selected …
So a retreat to the boat and an evening trip round the coast to take us to Kirkenes the next morning. What an interesting place! So close to the Russian border, and so the Norwegian armed forces (mainly recruited from the more densely populated south) are trained up here and told why it was important for them to be in “the frozen north”. The history of this part of Norway was told to them by Dirk, a German history enthusiast who had settled here about ten years ago and knew more about what the Germans and Russians did here during the war than the locals did! Here, he’s delivering a talk in front of the Liberation Memorial which depicts a Russian soldier. The Russians have a reciprocal agreement with Norway that people who have lived with 15 (or 50) miles of the border for more than 2 years can cross the border freely without visas. Thus they come for the annual commemoration ceremonies of their liberation.
Dirk was also responsible for guiding visitors through Kirkenes’ bunker which we were unfortunately unable to visit because the Norwegian army had a pre-booked visit.
The sea began to freeze over; walking around the town was fascinating; just seeing how life was conducted in such a remote and climatically unwelcoming place was really interesting.
But we had to leave and start the journey back to Bergen. First stop was Vardø – I love this shot. It just tells so much about life in winter in Norway. They love light; but it’s not street lighting; it’s building lighting – whether of a church, or more usually – the lights they put in the windows of their houses.
A last shot from Finnmark before we returned to Troms …
There’s a few more images in this Flickr album.