In tune with the cold weather and dark nights, we welcome two contributions from Wendy Novak – one this Monday and one next – following her trip to Norway last November. Both pieces are illustrated by her very own photos more of which you can see on Flickr or Wendy’s Facebook page.
Hi, I’m a local photographer who has been walking the streets of SE16 for the past few months taking shots for the Royal Photographic Society’s ‘Bleeding London’ project. (www.bleedinglondon.co.uk). I’m a landscape and travel specialist so I thought it would be lovely to do a cruise to Norway.
So why visit the Arctic in November? Well, the cruise was called ‘In search of the Northern Lights’! The ms Marco Polo is no ordinary cruise ship. Built in Russia, she started life as the Alexandr Pushkin. On Navigator deck, by the outdoor swimming pool, there’s a statue of Rudolf Nureyev, celebrating her escape from communism. She’s now part of the Cruise and Maritime Voyages fleet, sailing from Tilbury, which is very convenient for those of us who live in London. The hardest part of the journey is getting from Bermondsey to Fenchurch Street, which isn’t exactly the easiest station to get to.
The Marco Polo holds a maximum of 800 guests and she’s an adults only ship, so there’s quite a cosy and intimate atmosphere on board. There’s plenty of food on board with five course dinners, and the same for lunch if you’d like. There’s plenty to do during the days at sea, with quizzes, games and classes. There were a couple of very interesting guest lecturers, an astronomer and a former Special Branch close protection officer who’d looked after the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Salman Rushdie and Tony Blair. There was a different show in the Marco Polo Show Lounge every night, too. One important factor is that she’s a British ship, not Norwegian, so the cost of booze was comparable with London pub prices, not prohibitive, as it is in Norway.
Norway has some stunning scenery which changes as you travel north. It’s paradise for a landscape photographer like me. Our first two ports of call, Eidfjord and Olden, offer beautiful mountain scenery with waterfalls and glaciers. The houses are all brightly painted, too.
We got out first glimpse of the Northern Lights as we made our way north towards Leknes in the Lofoten Islands. Our cruise director, Richard, kept us informed of the ‘lights’ situation by ‘bing-bonging’ us on the tannoy if there was a sighting. The first sighting was not that spectacular really, but nearly everyone was crowding onto the decks to get a look. As a photographer this is not the ideal situation to set up a tripod and take prize-winning shots of the Northern Lights, especially from a moving ship.
And then we reached Leknes……..