“In Search of the Northern Lights” with Viking Cruises Day 9

Saturday, January 29th, 2022

It is much colder today with a high of only 5˚ and sunrise was at 9:27 AM and sunset at 1:53 PM. This morning we went on an excursion called “Northern Norway during WWII”. We traveled to the Tirpitz Museum in Kåfjord.

The museum was a timber building from 1880 and was built in Lillehammer and then it was taken down and moved to Kåfjord in 1945 to help rebuild the war-ravaged area. When it was rebuilt, it first served as the first nursing home and stayed as one until 1961 when a new nursing home was built.

Nearby Altafjord was the largest German naval base outside of Germany. After the sinking of the Tirpitz and the Germans were losing the area, they destroyed Alta. It was part of the German Nazi’s “scorched-earth” policy when they retreated.

The Tirpitz was a huge Nazi warship. This battleship was the heaviest battleship and weighed 2,000 tons more than the Nazi Bismarck. It weighed 42,900 tons or 52,500 tons when it was fully loaded. It was the heaviest ship built by a European Navy at that time. In 1942 she sailed into Norway to be a deterrent against an Allied Invasion. Also she was to intercept Allied Convoys to the Soviet Union.

In September 1943, while anchored in Kåfjord/Altafjord, she was attacked by British midget submarines and put out of action for the first time. There was quite a Norwegian resistance against Hitler and the Germans so they helped to inform the British of Tirpitz’s location! On the other side of the hill with the thigh-high snow is where the Tirpitz tried to hide.

The war museum was filled with many relics from the war and had the largest collection of photos and artifacts from the Tirpitz. Below were a few of them that from the museum.

Photograph of the Tirpitz

We also visited the Kåfjord Church nearby. It was the oldest standing church in Alta. The Rallar family statue in front of the church was a symbol of the poor families that lived and worked in the copper mines in Kåfjord in the 1800s. Cooper mining was popular in this area after it was discovered.

The beautiful Altafjord as we head back to the ship

The picture below shows what they call “Arctic Smoke” and it was caused by the water temperature being warmer than the outside air and it was really cold today.

“Arctic Smoke”

The sun was shining on Alta’s two ski jumps as we headed for our afternoon snowmobile adventure. They look very intimidating!

This afternoon we traveled by bus to the Igloo Hotel in Sorrisniva where we geared up for our snowmobile adventure. They had all the clothing, boots, and helmets that we needed to be comfortable during our ride. Before we got on our snowmobile we had a thorough safety instruction from our guide.

Dave was an excellent snowmobile driver! Our ride followed along the Sorrisniva River. About halfway through our ride we stopped and enjoyed the views and if you wanted it was an opportunity to switch drivers. We did not.

Upon returning to the snowmobile hut and getting out of our helmets, boots, etc… we visited the Igloo Hotel. It was first built in 2000 and was Norway’s first ice hotel.

Since then the ice hotel was rebuilt in late December and lasts through the beginning of April. Local craftsmen built the igloo hotel and inside it had amazing ice sculptures, an ice bar and an ice chapel. The hotel was the world’s northernmost ice hotel! We were given an explanation about the building of the igloo hotel by one of the craftsmen who had been a part of it for over ten years. He also poured us our shot of Aquavit in an ice shot glass at the ice bar! It was very cool to roam through the igloo hotel. No guests were in their rooms so we were able to walk throughout the hotel.

After dinner we checked the temperature at 9:00 PM to see how cold it was outside.

This doesn’t include the wind chill!

Tonight’s entertainment on the ship was an evening with our assistant cruise director. His show was called “Scott Nichol- Caledonia”. He sang some of his favorite tunes and also discussed more about his background.

Scott Nichol- Caledonia

After the show we went back to our stateroom and bundled up because it was very cold and windy out on deck. It was worth it because we were able to watch the northern lights for a second night in a row! We were still awestruck watching them!

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