I am slightly behind in blogs due to the signal strength being incredibly low through the Fjords but here is Alta day 2.
Our second day in Alta was just as fun and exciting as day 1 and started with an hour’s drive out to Mase, one of the largest Sami camps in Norway.
It was quite different to what I had expected, there seemed to be just one family there but then again I am not entirely sure if there were others around or close by. Either way it was another amazing Sami experience and this time we were served , a traditional Sami dish made from Reindeer meat, carrots, potatoes and gravy. I tried a little bit but the Reindeer meat wasn’t high on my list of things to experience. For desert we were offered cake with cream and cloud berries and it was incredibly good! Once our tummies were full we made our way outside where we could practice Reindeer herding and then we enjoyed a short but very beautiful Reindeer ride across the frozen Alta Lake. It was peaceful and exciting, another thing I would recommend you try! The Reindeer were quite jumpy, they didn’t like to be touched but they were quite happy to stand while you posed with them for a photograph and the Sami family were very welcoming. Again we learned more about the culture and the fact they now carry cell phones when crossing the mountains. We were told that the space between the fire and the back of the Lavvu tent was sacred, this is their kitchen area and it should never be crossed. We were also told that the parents and younger children sit to the left then the older children and servants to the right with guests then being left to sit at the door. The Lavvus were nice to look at from outside but an absolute marvel from the inside. A real wood fire burning brightly in the middle and the whole floor was lined in Reindeer skin to keep the heat. It was visually impressive and we were all very grateful for the heat after being out in the elements.
From Mase we spent a few hours driving around, stopping at various places to take photographs, including the impressive new Cathedral and the main city centre. We also stopped for lunch inside the city centre shopping mall and that lunch was smoked Reindeer with a garlic sauce, fresh lettuce, onions and garlic bread topped with what seemed to be a kind of blueberry sauce. It looked very nice but I wasn’t sure whether I should eat it or not, again my picky eating habits surfaced but I tried it and I have to say it was delicious! I ate more or less all of it, only leaving a few pieces of the meat.
Once fed and watered we made our way out to Holmen where we would again meet some huskies but this time enjoy a 25 minute ride! We had a walk around the centre, met some of the dogs which again were very friendly and then the time came to wrap up and enjoy our ride. We were pulled by 6 dogs, one of which was just a puppy in training and one at the back which to begin with was a bit of a bully. The dogs don’t tend to fight but maybe on this day he was just feeling a little stressed and he had a go at the dog next to him. It was over within seconds and they happily ran side by side for the rest of the journey. The dogs are beautiful and very intelligent, they love being on the go. Every time we stopped they would cry and bark to get going again, just like a dog at home would when you mention walkies. The ride was fantastic I really did enjoy it and it would have to be the second best experience of our visit to Alta, the Northern Lights being the main highlight. Eric, who owns all the dogs knows each and every one by name and I think there were 85 there in total. They are apparently named in groups so for example Whiskey, Vodka, Brandy and twins may be called something along the lines of Salt and Pepper. Our time at Holmen ended with a brief stop in another Lavvu where we were served warm blackcurrant juice and cookies around a large wood burning fire, it was the perfect end to a wonderful experience.
Our plan that evening was to go out in search of the Northern Lights again and we did but sadly Mother Nature was NOT on our side. It was very cloudy and it just got steadily worse. I managed about an hour in the cold before deciding I had endured enough and would head back to the ship. I would really have liked to see them again but I was lucky to see them the night before and I am sure I will be back to do a Northern Lights voyage again.
I can’t stress to you all enough just how great of an experience those two days in Alta were. We had the opportunity to get out there and experience so many new and exciting things, it really was incredible. I would love to do the whole thing again.
We did have plans for Tromso that included the Wilderness Centre and snow-mobiling but sadly we encountered a few problems en-route and some pretty rough weather which delayed our arrival so all of our tours were cancelled. We have sailed from Tromso and are now on our way back to Southampton. Our final port of call, Bergen, has sadly been cancelled due to the weather.The coast of Norway had a severe weather warning for swells of up to 15 metres and winds of up to 120mph. We are currently sailing behind the storm so will miss the worst of it but we do have a LOT of motion onboard today! Better to be safe than sorry!
I will check back in with you all again very soon!