Happy New Year! We began 2018 in Russia on The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express Train on the way to Norway. Dinner was served on the train with an abundance of vodka that consequently sent me to my cabin for the night while everyone else disembarked for a fireworks and fire dancing show to ring in the new year. On New Years day we crossed the Arctic Circle!
We passed through the Russian/Norwegian border quite smoothly and took a bus to the town of Kirkenes, famous for the part it played in WWII. We visited the Andersgrotta bomb shelter built to hold 2,500 people and protected them for a total of 328 air raids. There was no heat, light, or bathrooms in the rambling tunnels as the town was bombed and burned down above.
Then it was time for a snowmobile sled ride to the frozen fjord to catch our lunch of delicious king crab. Turned out the crab was caught the night before so we witnessed the traps being hauled out of a hole in the ice and the crabs being quickly dispatched by a knife. They are called ‘King’ crabs because of their blue blood.
The sun never rose while we were in Polar Night in Norway, so most of my pictures are a bit dark or blurry. Take for example this one of the dog sled adventure we had in late afternoon!
There’s nothing like a vodka shot served from a glass made of ice at the Kirkenes Snow Hotel at the end of a dog sled ride.
Each room in the snow hotel has its own beautifully carved theme. If you are brave enough to stay overnight (unfortunately we didn’t get to) you are given a thick sleeping bag and a balaclava to spend the night in your personal igloo art piece. I heard that it’s cozy indeed and super quiet. Only problem is putting on your boots and clothes to run down the snow corridor to use the WC in the night!
There was plenty of activity at The Snow Hotel including a reindeer farm, snow shoeing and visiting the husky farm full of excited, vocal sled dogs. They provided us with snow suits, mittens, boots, socks, and balaclavas when needed.
Although Kirkenes was bathed in darkness for most of the day and the sun never rose in the polar night we discovered the warmth in the hearts of her people. And the laughter we shared was more than enough to brighten our days!