In the morning, we wake early and head to the breakfast room. Its pretty good too, bacon, eggs and tomatoes, with nice coffee and lovely soft bread.
We pile on to the bus to make the hour-long journey to the most northern tip of Europe, the North Cape, 71 degrees north. The terrain gets more and more bleak and incredibly windy. We film at the top of a valley and very nearly get blown off my feet. We also have to hold down the camera tripod.
The North Cape is very quiet; most people come he to see the midnight sun in high summer. We film and film some more, getting some lovely shots. It’s hard to believe that only 1,400 miles further is the North Pole. It’s quite an eerie place.
We are running behind so quickly pile into the bus and head to the town of Gjesvaer, a small fishing village to pick up a boat. On the way we stop and purchase souvenirs form a local Sarnes lady. I buy a magnificent head of antlers and a couple of knives.
We are going to Gjesvaer to sail around Bird Island, some 2 million birds visit this small island and its an incredible sight and I’m looking forward to it. We are also going to cook with a couple of local celebrities Bjorn & Helene Dag runs a snack van right on the quay outside of their home. They are better known locally for winning the Norwegian lottery. They are both funny and have a very British sense of humour.
We set off and meet Ola, the captain of the ship and sail off with a few Italian tourists. It’s only a short hop and we are there. Puffins, Gannets, Cormorants and Sea Eagles soar above us. Seals bob up and down keeping an eye on us, its all-very exciting. After interviewing Ola we head back to port.
I take some lovely pictures and we get some good shots on the way to Bjorn and Helene’s.
We set up and Helene in her van cooks me a traditional Norwegian fish dish. First; soak fresh cod in cold water to firm up, then boiled. Next a white sauce is made with onions, garlic and curry powder added. Finally, the cooked cod is added, along with cooked macaroni, egg yolks and cheese. Its pretty good, the freshness of the fish comes through. We eat some lovely really smokey, smoked salmon and some fried fish sausages or pate (can’t remember)
We say our goodbyes and start the drive back to Honningsvag, getting slightly worried as the wind and rain are picking up and our flight to Tromso maybe cancelled, oh dear...
We get to the airport after an hour-long drive and its still touch and go. The incoming flight is all over the place when it lands. Eventually we get on and take off. It’s probably been the most scary flight I have ever had, we are all over the shop. The hostess is completely nonplussed by it all. I suppose she is used to it.
I fall asleep and wake up as we are coming into land at Tromso in the dusk. The wind and rain have gone so we land with a gentle bump.
Again it’s a quick turnaround, as a we have dinner booked at RA Sushi Bar, a trendy new Japanese restaurant in town. It was only a couple of minutes walk from the hotel so nice and quick.It’s small and straight to the point, airy and with charming staff who were obviously well trained. We start with local beer and move swiftly onto Riesling, perfect with sushi in my view.
Hanne explains that dinner is on the owner this evening and that he was going to pick the menu for us. I have been in this situation quite a lot over the years, but was not prepared for what was to come.
Starters are delicious, King Crab rolls with pickled cucumber, slivered almond coated prawns, deep-fried whale, Thai style (yes I know its an issue), salmon with pickled cabbage all delicious.
Two huge main course platters arrive far too much for us all, crammed full of all the dishes you can name. Fried Maki rolls are excellent, as is crab and scallops. Numerous varieties if Nigri, some even topped with fruits, not authentic, but the locals love it the owner explains. This is really pushing the boundaries of Japanese food, and it does take a little time to get your head around it, but I quite liked it. I’m a firm believer that this type of food is incredibly good for you, and you can't get fresher fish than right here in Norway, so a perfect place for a sushi restaurant. Oslo has 140 sushi restaurants; I can't help thinking that Tromso is going to be next to take off.
We say our goodbyes and leave a healthy tip for the staff and head back to the hotel. We try and get a late drink, but the hotel is packed with a Norwegian police ball, so headed off to bed.
In the morning, I get up early and wander off around Tromso to get some photos. The air is still and cool, with a lovely light perfect for pics. I head into the coffee shop that my wife and I had been in some months ago for a nice (but expensive) cappuccino and a croissant. I sit there and watch the local traders set up for the Saturday market. Before I know it its back to the hotel and packing before setting off to the airport for the final time.
Its been a whistle stop tour of this huge country, but I'm really glad I had the opportunity to meet such lovely people and see the spectacular scenery, and the food was excellent (apart from the brown cheese, sorry).
My thanks to all who helped with our trip and yes as Arnie once famously said, "I'll be back"