Thursday, September 2, 2010

This Post Ought to be Called Part 3.5!

This is out of chronological sequence—I should have written this before the post on Murmansk and Hammerfest. Thanks to having a camera which catalogs all my pictures by date, and thanks to examining the pictures carefully to refresh my memory, I realized this afternoon that I had omitted this most exciting segment of our cruise to the Lands of the Midnight Sun.

On July 28th we crossed the Arctic Circle. Once in this vicinity, and until we turned back South on August 5th, the sun didn’t set. More about this when I get to the Spitzbergen, Magdalen Bay, and the Polar Ice Barrier section of this condensed journal.

Some of the most dramatic scenery we saw on the cruise was that on the North Cape. We didn’t go on any of the North Cape excursions, but nevertheless, what we saw from the ship was breathtaking. It was cold and misty, so the pictures don’t really capture the beauty.

After cruising around the North Cape, we came to the little village of Honningsvaag. We got off the ship briefly, and I was struck by how much the brightly painted wooden houses reminded me of those in Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, seen on our last cruise.

In the picture above, Bairds and Cannons are enjoying champagne on July 28, the day we crossed the Arctic Circle. This event is celebrated on North-bound ships, just as crossing the Equator do.

Now here are some of the dramatic North Cape photos, followed by one of Honningsvaag:

where we were--see how far North?

Honningsvaag and the brightly-painted houses

Part Four--Murmansk, Russia, and Hammerfest, Norway

Two ports we visited back to back offer an amazing contrast. Murmansk, the only Russian town we visited, was almost completely destroyed during WWII. So was Hammerfest, the Norwegian port we visited the next day. The Russian town was filled with bleak, run-down, gray concrete block apartment buildings. Hammerfest, on the other hand, was bright, clean, pristine, and colorful.

In both towns we visited cemeteries. In Murmansk our guide took us to a cemetery dedicated to the Allied soldiers who fought and died in the area. While there was a lovely memorial wall (reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC), the graves themselves, marked with stones set flat on the ground, were knee-high in weeds. In Hammerfest the cemetery was obviously just mowed, the gravestones (many ancient ones) had been re-set. The chapel next to this cemetery was the only building in Hammerfest not destroyed in the war.

Statue in Murmansk honoring fallen Russian soldiers in WWII

In Murmansk our guide took us by a gigantic statue that is dedicated to the fallen Russian soldiers--admittedly, very dramatic and impressive, if overpowering--and also a Russian Orthodox church. Contrasting with the traditional Russian church was a Lutheran church in Hammerfest, which had an unusual and quite contemporary triangular shape. This church was designed in 1961, but has had many different styles through the years. I was particularly struck by a series of paintings depicting the church as it looked through the years.

Also while in Hammerfest we went to an excellent museum called the Museum of Post-War Reconstruction. It recounts the residents’ struggle to rebuild their lives after the entire area had been burned to the ground as a part of a scorched-earth policy by the Nazi regime.

And now, a few pictures:

Apartment building in Hammerfest

Apartment building in Murmansk

Hammerfest cemetery

Overgrown cemetery in Murmansk
Hammerfest, Norway

Russian Orthodox Church in

Lutheran Church in Hammerfest

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Taking a Break from the Cruise Posts!

To take a break from the tedium of organizing my travel pictures, I've done a bit of crafting and quilting in the last few days.  On Tuesday I drove out to friend Patty's farm for lunch and so that she could show me a new method of paper piecing.  She learned this technique at a recent workshop sponsored by our quilt guild, one that took place while I was cruising in Norway.

This method uses freezer paper for the paper piecing block pattern.  Rather than sewing directly onto the paper as you normally do, you sew just outside all the seam lines, which means no tedious ripping off of paper patterns when you're done.

Above is the block I made.  It is very tiny--about 3".  One of the huge advantages of paper piecing is that one can make small blocks that are precise and accurate.  I plan to make 11 other of these tiny blocks, using this color scheme (the same color scheme of a king sized bed quilt that I am working on).  I plan to use for this wall hanging scraps from the Anniversary Quilt that Patty and I made last fall, as well as some of the same fabrics that are going into the bed quilt. 

Another project:  A couple of days ago I made two fabric postcards, to send to a dear friend as a belated birthday greeting.   I now have a postcard stamp for the address and message side of the postcard; I love it!  I just heard from my friend to whom these cards were addressed.  Friend, you mentioned receiving ONE.  You ought to have gotten two; let me know!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lands of the Midnight Sun--Part Three--Geiranger Fjord and Geiranger Village

The Geirangerfjorden

Below, the Seven Sisters Waterfall
Since 2005 Geirangerfjorden has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We cruised up the fjord, seeing a number of dramatic waterfalls, including the one called The Seven Sisters.  We sailed up to the head of the fjord to a little hamlet, also called Geiranger. The town is visited by several hundred thousand people every summer, and tourism is the main business for the 250 people who live there permanently.  Some 140-180 cruise ships visit this port each summer.  We and our travel companions Ray and Jo soon dubbed this village the “Norwegian Gatlinburg” because of all the souvenir shops, campgrounds, RV parks, the five hotels, etc. 

What the little town did have, though, that was definitely worth our taking the tender from the ship to the dock was another magnificent waterfall.  This one originated far up the mountain but that then cascaded down through the town. We took a walk up an easy path to see the rapids from several different vantage points. 

That evening we had a lovely dinner in the grand dining room with Baylor friends Bob and I had met on our 2008 Danube River cruise. Jo had met Nancy, one of two sisters, even earlier when she took an Oceania cruise around the British Isles and actually roomed with her. Another connection—Nancy was my sister Martha’s friend in Baylor and pledged the same club she was in! Still another connection: Nancy’s mother and mine were friends in Baylor. AND yet another:   her uncle, her mother’s much-older brother, was a colleague of my father’s in BU’s journalism department.

Below are a few more of my favorite pictures.  Remember to click on them to enjoy them larger!


the waterfall in town
Nancy at the right and her sister Suzanne at the left
Below, Bob and Alice in town at the waterfall