Oriana 8

The alarm on my mobile was set for 7.30am. At 7am we hit an ice-berg! Or, so it seemed from under the duvet. Now that is athe problem with having lower cabin at the front of the ship,  they drop the anchor by feeding the chains holding it through your bedroom. Not in one long clanking rendition of a WW1 tank going over no-man’s land, but random stocatto grindings that kept you on edge thinking, is that the last one?  However, we were in breakfast for 7.30am and stretching our legs around the deck for 8am.

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We were on an excursion so we kitted ourselves appropriately and went to the lounge and collected our Tender Card which was needed to board the boat which carried us to the  harbour as we had anchored a mile offshore.

With very litte delay we were scooting along on a calm sea to the 2nd largest island in the Lofoten chain. Disembarking we boarded a free shuttle bus to the main town of Leknes (population 8000) eager to experience the delights and sights of island life. Half an hour later we were back on the bus to the harbour. It is a disappointing little place with nothing of interest for the tourist other than a shopping mall and of being a good example of a functional settlement with no frills.

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We spent the next 45minutes exploring the little beaches and rocky outcrops next to the quay. Sue was brave enough to take off her shoes and socks and go for a wade, a few other passengers also did  this and the only thing they seemed to have in common was that they were mad and quickly turned blue.

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Boarding our tour bus we set off under clearing blue skies down the E10. Again, I will not attempt to describe the views as they slid past our window other than to say they were as spectacular as you could ever want to see.

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Our first stop was in the pretty fishing town of Henningsvaer. There we watched a film show of local scenes and while Sue looked at the adjacent Art Gallery I walked through the town itself taking photos, attempting to find shots that were equally as good as the ones I had just witnessed. The problem with excursions as these is that you are limited by when the bus leaves. I could easily have spent several days here exploring the surrounding sea and mountains.

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Our second and last stop was in Svolvaer, the largest town in the chain and on the largest island. We were there to visit the ‘The Magic Ice-bar’, and have a non-alcoholic cocktail. We were given cloaks to wear to prevent us from freezing as we entered what must have been a giant freezer. Inside were dozens of elaborate ice sculptures which surprisingly seemed to photograph well, even though inside it was very gloomy.

We were supposed to only have the one drink, though Sue managed to have four. She found out later on the return journey that they did contain alcohol and she had a little doze on the bus.

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Having experienced two of the islands in this Arctic chain we saw how popular they were with climbers and hikers from Europe, they seemed to be clinging to cliffs, walking puposefully along tracks or paddling a canoe every where you looked. Don’t be misguided that this place is not a wilderness, it certainly is, but accessible only because the Norewgians have built such superb roads. From the cocoon of a bus you pass through in comfort, but I for one would like to be out there stretching a few sinews, at leasrt on a sunny day, not so sure about November to March!

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When we eventually returned to Leknes we boarded the Tender that was waiting for us and very soon after were back on board stocking up with pizza and panini in the restaurant. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, 8 hours ago!!!!!!

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At 6pm we left anchorage. Sue went on deck to watch and I remained in the cabin to listen to the anchor chain rattle and ensured it was safely stowed away in the bottom of the wardrobe.

*Note to the Captain: Have you considered a chain muffler to comply with EEC Noise Abatement Regulations and the well-being of your stowage class passengers?

In the stern theatre we watched a tribute act to Cliff Richard. The performer, despite a nervous start turned out to be very good, sounding and looking like the younger original. Both Sue and I joined in with the songs we knew and unlike the night before we knew the names of the tunes and the name of the artist was a cinch!

There was only 6 of us for dinner as Lynne and Barry had arranged alternative dining for the evening. The conversation centred around grandchildren and Christmas as well as what each of us had been up to during the day. Afterwards we all relocated to the theatre to watch our excellent dance group perform. However, with a full auditorium we observed some technicians attempting to electronically lower part of the stage but despite an increasing number of attempts and other crew mebers joining in, it refused to budge. An announcement from the Cruise Director informed us that as the stage was too dangerous to dance on there will be a showing of the film ‘Quartet’. As Sue and I had already seen this we took a turn around the deck and retired for an early night.

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