Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cruise Journal Six -- Harstad, Norway

View of Harstad from on board our ship

I had intended to combine our last three ports, Harstad, Bergen, and Kristiansand, into one posting. But when I wrote the journal entries on which I am basing these blog posts, I realized that I would not do justice especially to  Bergen and Kristiansand (our final two ports) if I attempted a combined account here!

So, first Harstad. This is the third largest town in Northern Norway. When I say that it celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004, that sounds as if it is a “new” town, but actually this area has been settled since the Stone Ages. Located here—though we didn’t visit it because it is at some distance from the town center—is the 13th century Trondenes Church, the world’s most northernmost medieval stone church.

 Though it is 20 to 30 degrees farther north than cities such as Chicago, Beijing, and Toronto, it experiences warmer winters than those cities. At first this was thought to be because of the Gulf Stream, but more recently it has been speculated that Northern Europe’s mild climate is due to intercontinental weather patterns driven by North American’s mountain ranges. Thus Harstad residents don’t experience the brutal winters of most locations north of the Arctic Circle. Summers here are cool, with average temperatures seldom reaching 70°. The city experiences the midnight sun during the summer months from May to mid July. The polar night lasts from November 30 to January 12.

Harstad is an attractive town with a mix of old and new architecture. It was one of the few coastal towns in Norway to escape German bombardment during WWII. We and the Cannons chose not to take any of the official cruise excursions here. We walked through the city center, visited a modern mall with a bookstore that had many familiar American best sellers in Norwegian, as well as many books in English. On the next level of the mall was a store that was obviously Norway's version of Crate and Barrel.  As usual, I was shocked at how expensive everything was.  From the deck of the ship we spotted a interesting looking church, so we decided to walk up to visit it. The church was locked, but from its location, we had a lovely vista of the town. As usual, I took many flower pictures in Harstad; soon I will blog just about the flowers of Norway!  But I will put a few flower photos here, too.
I loved these hanging flower baskets on all the lamp posts in the City Center!

the little church
we walked up to
Here are a few other pictures from Harstad.

Harstad city center

A residential street, a typical (though larger than most)
Norwegian house

Yes, they have Mexican food in Norway!

From out verandah, Bob and I watched them load fresh produce onto our ship.  It takes hundreds of heads of lettuce to feed 684 cruisers!
Sailing from Harstad



  1. Well, that was a nice break, to drop in on Norway. Thanks for the photos. The little church had such interesting symbolic lines. All that produce, Yum!

  2. I always love the hanging baskets in city "centres" and thinking of you and BB walking around in those vistas was fun. I notice the clouds, too - making the temps LOOK cool.

  3. I guess you didn't visit the farthest north medieval stone church. The one you pictured
    looks pretty contemporary. We forget the enormous footprint we leave in our world as middle class consumers (re: the loading of goods on your cruise ship).