Last week I took you on a journey to the North Cape and today I want to write about my second excursion with the Hurtigruten cruise, this time to Hammerfest - the oldest town in Norway.
Hammerfest has been the northernmost town of Europe until Honningsvag (the town from which you can access the North Cape) achieved town status. Nonetheless Hammerfest still advertises with being the northernmost town of Europe but as I sympathize with Honningsvag, I call it the oldest town of Norway because that's what it is together with Vardo further East.
It lives from tourism, mainly tourists who come with the Hurtigruten and stay for 2 hours, and from its huge and newly-built gas site. Snøhvit, snow white as this gas site is called, is Europe's first export facility for liquefied natural gas. Naturally it brought a lot of jobs and an economic boom to an otherwise rural Arctic region.
Apart from that, one chain of the Struve Geodetic Arc is located in Hammerfest, which was the first accurate measurement of the meridian. The statue you'll see on pictures below is a reminder of that and if you look at the map below, you'll understand this measurement better than if I'd try to explain it!
I visited Hammerfest on my way back from Gamvik to Tromso last November with the Hurtigruten cruise. I booked the trip in advance and hence couldn't know that I'd feel miserable that day. I was sea-sick, as bad as never before and yes, I puked. Fortunately I felt a lot better with solid ground beneath my feet so I was ready to explore the city.
We were already late on schedule (no, not because of me) and as it was off-season, we were only about 20 people, most of them Brits and Germans. We only had an hour and a half before we had to be on the ship again so the excursion began with a quick bus tour around the city centre. We then visited a nearby mountain from which we had an amazing view on Hammerfest from above and then went to the Struve Geodetic Arc.
While we took pictures of the statue, a plane was about to land at Hammerfest airport and as this is right in the city centre, it looked liked the plane was about to crash into the city. Amazing but if I ever visit Hammerfest again, I will do so by ship and not by plane!
I would have loved to visit the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society too but unfortunately we didn't have the time and so I went back on-board. Only 7 hours later I experienced my first (though weak) Northern Lights and 3 hours from that I was back in Tromso.
Unfortunately it was a grey November day and as I took many pictures out of the moving bus, they didn't turn out fantastic but still, Hammerfest is a lovely city if you like visiting/living in remote places but still want to be in civilization!