Hurtigruten Day 6: Hammerfest - Havösund - Honningsvag (North Cape) - Mehamn
"You can sleep in the south", people say in north Norway. But everybody should decide by himself if this is a reason to start the 6th day in the Hurtigruten with a major effort and get up already at 5:15 a.m. in order not to miss the landing maneuvre in the most northern city of the world. But as Hammerfest is harboured in southern direction at noon time, one can turn in bed to the other side without having a bad conscience. Hammerfest does not run off. At the end, one is on holiday and the nasty alarm clock is going to get one early out of bed again in the daily life. Moreover, today, the North Cape is on program, the dream destination of many north country travellers. Thus, reasons enough to start the day rested.
At night, the ship landed in Öksfjord, the first harbour in the province Finnmark, the biggest and the most northern of the country. Many things change at the border from Troms to Finnmark. The landscape slowly changes from high mountais to wide plateaus and tundra. But the coast remains fascinating and torn as in the whole journey up to now. Also the role of the Hurtigrute changes in the Finnmark. From the total of 34 drop-in stations, 11 are only in this province. The more northern the harbour, the more importants gets the freight, the more people wait for the daily arrival of the ships. Many come to the landing stage but neither they wait for a freight nor for some passengers. Also, they do not go on board, they only come to get a touch of the wide world.
At 06.45 a.m. the ship leaves Hammerfest and takes thrustfully course to Havöysund. Shortly before the arrival, there is the matutinal Hurtigruten-encounter between the islands Hjelmsöy and Havöy. A long hoot, a short one, and then a long again, that's the way the Hurtigruten greets in all encounters first with the bugle, then the one in southern direction answers in the same rythm. A nice gesture with tradition that is completed after nightfall with floodlights. The passengers and the crew of both ships wave to each other, in the kitchen deck, oftenly white table cloths are panned. It often happens that the friends, children or parents, the marriage partner or simply the one's big love is on board of the other ship. After all, 650 people have their working place on these 11 ships.
At the northern side of the island Hjelmsöy, there is the biggest bird rock of Europr for Tordalken and Trottellummen. Approximately 250.000 birds live here. Unfortunately, the Hurtigrute does not go that far away, the island is passed form the south by fast steamers. To starboard, we circumnavigate the east tip of the island Havöy. At its southern side there is then, so to say just around the corner, the harbour of Havösund.
Before the second world war, the place had only 150 inhabitants, thereafter, many people left the surrounding islands in the course of time; With nearly 1.700 inhabitants, Havösund is today the centre of the island community Masöy. Since a couple of years, the place is communicated by a bridge with the mainland, as also a cul-de-sac that is safe in the winter and 82 km long with the main road network of the country. Such travelways might be very important for the people and the economical development and the biggedr fishing places in the north of the country, but it is not the mainland that gives the inhabitants their means of subsistence. The basis of life is still the high fish stock in the north sea that gives numerus working places to the country.
Between the short stay in Havöysund and the arrival in Honingsvag there are approximately two hours. The fast steamer leaves its present course that was mainly in northern direction and turns to the east, passes the island Masöy on the port side and if there is nice weather, the North Cape island Mageröy is already recognizable from a distance.
The Hurtigrute is on an aristocratic navigation channel. Louis Philippe of Orleans, later the King of France, was during his North Cape trip in the island Masöy as a guest of the merchant Buch. Louis Philippe escaped to this far and lonely place, as in his country, it was attempted to his life. His escape made the first North Cape tourist of the Prince.
80 years later, the Swedish-Norwegian King Oscar II traversed these waters during a visit of the North Cape. This trip of which it was much talked about, was the best advertising for the trips into the country of the midnight sun. Some years after the visit of the king, the tourist ships started to arrange trips to the North Cape on a regular basis.
In former times, the ships, included the Hurtigrute, anchored underneath the North Cape and the passengers had to climb up more than 1000 stairs to the North Cape plateau heighted 307 m. In front of the sight of the midnight sun - if visible - Neptun placed sweat. Today it is easier. The Hurtigrute arrives at noon time in Honningsvag that is, with 2800 inhabitants, the capital of the North Cape. The side trip the the North Cape takes then place comfortably with the bus through a road of 34 km.
This, one stands at the North Cape. 71° 10' 21'' at the north of the equator, 2.080 km distant from the North Pole, but still not at the most northern point of Europe. This point is a little tip on 71° 11' 8'', that pokes out at the west of the plateau. But it is only possible to get there on foot.
Nowadays, the North Cape is touristically fully developed. The is a North Cape hall with a multi vision exhibition arranged to 225° that shows the North Cape and the Finnmark in all seasons on a huge screen and in case of bad weather, it makes the visitor forget a little his disappointment. Then, of course, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and a panorama grot carved into a rock with a view over the North Sea. One can buy stamps provided with a special postmark. There is a ecumenical chapel for all religions in which one can pray or simply find some quietness from the hustle around the North Cape, at which the midnight sun shines form May 13th to July 29th.
But the visit of the North Cape in the winter time, without the summer masses, must be specially pleasant; As meanwhile, the excursion to the north Cape on the Hurtigruten is offered throughout the year. Well, this is a good reason for a winter trip! Before we leave the topic North Cape, one more reference in order to visualize the massive north-south dimensioning of Norway. If the country was turned by its southern tip to the south, then we would be now close to Rome.
A further Hurtigruten excursion is to the account of the interests of the friends of the birds. In the summer months, one first goes by bus to the little fishing residential estate Gjesvaer that is located at the west of the North Cape island. There, one changes to a boat in order to watch the world of the birds of northern Norway. Only in the winter time, an excursion by bus is offered, that, depending on the weather, drives one to different little fishing villages. One learns things about the daily life of the fishermen and of the history of fishing. Or, it is also possible, also only during the winter time, to have a walk in Honningsvag for 1,5 hours with the company of the travel guide.
But if somebody wants to abstain from all these offers, he will still not be bored. Honningsvag is the biggest fishing residental estate in west Finnmark and there is always something going on at the harbour. There is an abundance of photo scenes. In order to have a little walkabout through the area, one first gets to Havnegate at the right of the Hurtigruten dock, then to Fisker- and Radhusgate. Thuis, one gets to the church by always having a view to the harbour and the Hurtigrute. It was constructed in the year 1884 and is the only construction of the area that survived the second world war. Only this fact is already a side trip worth.
Once the church is left behind, the Kirkegata and the Prestevannsveien guide up the hill with a slight raising. As a reward for this little walk, one has a nice view to the harbour, "ones" ship and a major part of the south-eastern course of the coast of the North Cape island. Without problems - everything is overseeable, one cannot get lost - one gets back to the Hurtigruten dock. From there, (to the left) there are only a couple of metres to the North Cape museum that illustrates the history of fishing and of the North Cape tourism.
Once the fast steamer left the harbour of Honningsvag, there are no islands and skerries that protect the waterway of the Hurtigruten up to the return in the morning after the next. The sea can freely let off steam and makes really use of this opportunity. Here, in the northern and eastern sea, Hurtigruten ships have the most and strongest fights with the forces of nature; Good to those who have good weather. But those who survived a hurricane in a fast steamer will never forget these hours for a lifetime. The knowledge about the reliability of the ships and the experience of the crew make such an event to a unique adventure (see also diary of the 11th day).
The next harbour is Kjöllefjord. On the way to there, the steamer crosses the 19 km wide debouchure of the massive Porsanger fjord with a length of 120 km. Then Svaerholtklubben is passed, one of the biggest bird rocks in the world, followed by the debouchure of the lakse fjord that is 22 km wide. At its shore, the big peninsula Nordkyn is located, that is sparely communicated with the mainland by a "land bridge" of approximately 1 km width. In the north west, the Kjölle fjord, at which end the same named built-up area is located, cuts deeply into the peninsula. The beautiful
inlet into the fjord is flanked at the starboard side of the Finnkjerka (Finnchurch), one of the most beautiful sea cliffs of the country.
before entering Mehamn in the evening, the last but one harbour of the day, with Kinnarodden, the Hurtigrute passed the northest point of the Nordkyn peninsula and therewith passed at 71° 8' 0'' the most northern point of the European mainland. Kinnarodden is a distictive rock spur that pokes out of the sea with deep columns for more than 200 m. But there is no decent road that guides to this place. There is no multi vision exhibition, no souvenir shop, no special postmark and last but not least, not even a sausage-stand! Thus, why going there?
Here, there is still a lot of work for tourism managers.
It is to be mentioned that in Mehamn, there is the most northern hotel room of the European mainland, Berlevag is the last harbour of the day and that meanwhile, the fast steamer changed its course to south-eastern direction; Exhausted by the impressions of the day, we await the things that come tomorrow.
Previous page Next page
Back to the index Norway-Hurtigruten
Author: Manfred Hofmann; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz