Thursday, August 15, 2013

King Crab Safari at Kirkenes, Norway

(Read my Home Planet column: Feasting on Crab at Kirkenes, Norway)

We climbed onto the boat and straddled the padded humps that served as seats on our King Crab Safari boat. Our guide pulled slowly out into the fjord at Kirkenes, Norway, before picking up speed. The cold wind whipped my hair and caught my breath as we skirted the shore.

Our guide used a motorized winch to haul up the basket and pulled out more than a dozen giant crabs and took us to the small shack that had been fashioned into a dining hall. He prepared the crabs and then steamed them to perfection. 

It was a feast of abundance. 

The sweet, salty taste of the giant crabs was like nothing else I've ever eaten. And, I suspect, like nothing else I will ever taste again.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vigeland Park, Oslo

Near the center of Oslo, a sprawling garden draws locals and tourists every day of the year. The Vigelandsparken, also known as Frognerparken, was designed by sculptor Gustav Vigeland to display the more than 200 sculptures of stone, bronze and iron he created. A massive Monolith with 121 carved into a single stone captures the beauty, pain and struggle of human existence. 

The park was completed between 1939 and 1949, a time of war and social upheaval around the world. 

The morning I visited a soft rain was falling and it deepened the effect of his work, adding drama and emotion to the faces of the sculptures.

 If I lived in Oslo I would visit the park at all times of the day, chasing the light to see the way it paints the figures. 

Cruising the Coast of Norway with Hurtigruten

I'm taking the Hurtigruten coastal cruiser Midnatsol south along the coast of Norway from Kirkenes to Bergen. 

This is not like any other voyage I've ever taken. There isn't the glitz of a mega-ship or the all-inclusive luxury of a European river cruise. It reminds me of a train as we stop at small towns along the way, taking on new passengers or watching others go on their way. Hurtigruten's history as mail ships and a way for Norwegians to travel easily up and down the coast is a rich one. And not far beneath the surface today. 

There isn't any loud music or party on the top deck. The passengers are focused on the view, with good reason: the Norwegian  landscape is unlike any other. Craggy mountains, deep mysterious fjords, barren islands and vibrant, colorful, cities compete for attention.
The sky is light deep into the night, pulling me to the window when I should be sleeping. 

I am in the land of the Vikings and I cannot get enough of this view.