W1610 – Get a Grip

On Wednesday we made our first port of call on the Arctic Adventure cruise, into Kristiansund which is a small port roughly half way up the western coast of Norway. This was to be my first time into this port, but as we approached the weather was not very promising – very grey, damp and misty. To show what the conditions were like, I took this photo of a sailing boat we passed as we sailed in – the photo is in colour – honest!

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Kristiansund is spread over three islands linked by bridges and also by Sundboats, public ferry boats. These ferry boats have transported people since 1876, long before the bridges were built, and are part of the oldest continuous public transport system still in operation. As we sailed into the channel separating the islands the weather was already clearing, and we had a good view of one of the Sundboats as it passed us:

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The shore tour I had selected in Kristiansund was to visit a tiny island called Grip, located 15km offshore. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was an important and cosmopolitan fishing port, with around 600 inhabitants. In the last century it was Norway’s smallest community, but since 1964 there have been no permanent residents,  the colourful houses are now used by the relatives of former residents as summer holiday homes. The highest point in the island is only 10m above sea level, and in 1796 & 1804 almost all the houses were destroyed by tidal surges, the stave church and just a few houses surviving.

The boat trip across to the island took around an hour, and on arrival our guide took us to see a small museum,  and then to the stunning stave church, built in 1470:

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We then had some free time to explore this small but attractive island by ourselves. The attractive wooden houses were set in tiny streets with just a narrow path between them:

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Just offshore was this lighthouse, at 47m it is the second tallest in Norway:

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Close to the shore were many huts and stores used by the fishermen, and nearby on the rocks were some klipfish drying. This traditional method of preserving fish involves splitting it in two, salting it, and leaving it out in the sun and wind to dry out:

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I was interested to see this expression of all to familiar sentiment on one of the shed doors, but whether the adornment was a representation of Messrs Farage and Gove I couldn’t possibly comment 😉

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The island seemed idyllic in the warm and bright sunshine which had replaced the earlier mist and gloom. The free time passed all too quickly and it was soon time to catch the boat back to Kristiansund. I briefly returned to the ship to freshen up, but decided to  forgo my lunch in order to have a couple of hours to explore the port on foot with my camera. The port was largely destroyed by the Germans in the second world war, and so 80% has been rebuilt since then.

I headed out towards Kirkelandet Church, passing various statues and artwork on the way, the most striking of which was the monument to the local residents taken to Auschwitz concentration camp:

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Kirkelandet Church is a very striking modern church, breaking all the usual conventions in church design. The main feature is the vast wall of coloured glass:

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I then walked on to Vanndammen park, a large area containing lakes and paths through the trees, which provided welcome shade from the bright warm sunshine:

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A long and winding route let me eventually to the Varden viewpoint, at 78m it offers wonderful 360 degree views of the whole of the three islands that make up Kristiansund. Here there is a watchtower, used in the past as a lookout in times of hostility and by pilots in times of peace:

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My walk through the park, while most enjoyable had taken longer than expected,  so I had to hasten my walk back to the ship to be sure of boarding before she set sail. On the way I did pause briefly to photograph one of the manhole covers unique to the town:

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I was so lucky that the early poor weather cleared so quickly into such a fine day, which helped hugely to showcase both the port and it’s nearby island of Grip. It was a lovely day, and now I have certainly got a grip on enjoying this Arctic Adventure.

Postscript: Later that evening as we steamed north towards our next port, we passed the fellow Fred. Olsen ship Balmoral sailing south. I noticed up on our bridge someone waving to the other ship – or were they just giving them a big hand?

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