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Thursday, 9 August 2018

North to....Kirkenes

Following Peter and my trip to Antarctica in March I've been keen to go to far away places where there's ice and space. On my return I signed up for a sailing trip to Antarctica. It was expensive and recently I cancelled my booking - I didn't think at 72 I'd be happy in a sail boat crossing Drake's Passage. I then thought I might go sea kayaking off Sweden's coast in the summer. Except my capsizing in Canary Wharf put me off that.

The Sub Antarctic islands of New Zealand are spectacular. Paradise for sea birds, whales, seals and penguins. A brilliant holiday. Sailing from the tip of New Zealand's South Island and wild seas and rocky landings. So I asked my travel agent to find out more. It's expensive but what you have to consider is the journey - in a plane - 16 hours or more. I found the 13 hours in economy and economy plus to and from Buenos Aires quite hard. I really wouldn't want my holiday memories tainted by a uncomfortable plane ride home. It would cost £4000 plus to fly in comfort - that is business class. I can afford that but no. If I'm to spend that money I need to go to the Ross Sea and that's over £20k.

I've reluctantly decided that if I want cold I'll have to stay north of latitude 54 north. That leaves plenty of places. Greenland ( the west coast is especially attractive) Northern Canada, Alaska, Arctic Russia, Svalbard and Norway. The trouble is my trip with Peter to Svalbard's in January 2017 has spoiled me. You can't do Arctic Russia or the North West Passage in the Winter, and Canada and Alaska is out of bounds. There's Iceland but that's almost temperate.

I'd love to go back to Svalbard - I have such strong memories of 24 hours of dark, illuminated by a brilliant moon and cloud reflected glow of a below the horizon sun painting the mountain tops silver and gold. I love ice and the primordial. Antarctica gave all that and more - except there were restrictions - a very comfortable modern boat!

I've been looking on the web for adventures in ice. I think I've discovered it.  Astronomy Voyage. 12 days in January sailing up and down the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. Stopping off at some 34 ports, 100 fjords and lots of sea. It'll be dark quite a lot of the time, so let's hope the sky is clear. I studied Astronomy at university so this is just up my street, Clear skies and we'll have a whale of a  time -there's nothing about a telescope on board.

Unfortunately my companion to Svalbard and the Antarctic Peninsular can't join me - he's be in Australia. I phoned the tour company Herigruten, this afternoon: that's how keen I was. I'm going on my own I said but all your prices are for twin cabins. My contact Olga Belova checked and I could book a double cabin for one. They'd also book the fight to and from Bergen.

I've booked a 12 day voyage in the dark up the coast of Norway. It won't be soon - January 2020. But then we all need something to look forward to. 

P.S. Olga was brilliant and everything booking wise was smooth.

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