I wake up, sad to be leaving in a few hours. I go to breakfast and chat to the friendly guy from Somerset who’s staying on for the full twelve days, and now I wish that I was too. I gather up my stuff and head up on deck for the last time to take some more photos. It must be a lot colder today as the sea looks like it’s steaming, with a mist rising on the sides of the ship. Not much new scenery, so I finish up, go back and check out of my room.
We dock at Kirkenes – my final port of call. As I wait for the exit to open, I’m surrounded by people excitedly looking forward for their trips today. Always the worst bit of holidays – like leaving a hotel with your suitcase dragging behind you, long-faced, as new arrivals bounce towards you. I chat to an English woman who I’ve talked to a few times and she’d sprained her arm on the dog sledging, so is getting it checked out today. After squeezing out the door, the leavers board the coach for the airport, leaving behind temperatures of -20C.
Kirkenes airport consists little more than a snow-covered runway and a couple of gates. Stupidly, I forget to empty my pockets and set of the metal detectors about three times before being pulled aside and having pockets searched (luckily nothing else!) Eventually, we board.
We arrive as Oslo airport, which is big, clean and efficient. I scoff down the biggest chocolate muffin this side of the Atlantic and then head off to my gate. I say my goodbyes to Chris and Rob on the way and wish them all the best. Soon, I’m in the air and heading towards Heathrow.
It’s grey. It’s depressing. Some of the toilets are closed and the one that is open some joker has changed the message with (literally) toilet humour. Isn’t England great? Or am I just negative at being home after a great holiday? I phone my friend who’s going to pick me up but not for a couple of hours. No worries – I’ll just go in the bar, have a meal, a beer and finish my blog.
So this is the end. Norway was simply fantastic, and was everything I expected and more. I saw the Northern Lights which was my number one objective, but the trip was so much more than that. The scenery, people, excursions, ship and cruise company (Hurtigruten) were all fantastic and I highly recommend this trip. I had some great experiences I will never forget, and was proud to come here on my own and make it the holiday it was.
Now for the rest of my sabbatical. Madrid’s next, and I shall blog about that after, then hopefully Japan and Australia.
You know, this might just be the best thing that I’ve ever done. I can’t wait for the adventures to continue…