Despite being avid tourists, we hadn’t heard of either place. Francesco Negri, however, visited the North Cape, the northernmost spot on continental Europe, as a tourist in 1664.
English navigator Richard Chancellor named the North Cape in 1553. Europe ends at a sharp high cliff, but the warm Gulf Stream meeting Arctic waters mean it is often foggy. Perhaps, it wasn’t just the distance that kept tourists away.
The future French King, Louis Phillippe of Orleans, visited in 1795. Tourism picked up a little after King Oscar II climbed up the cliff in 1873. By 1907, even the King of Siam had stopped by. A visitors center was built in 1988 with a movie theater, museum and restaurants. I was told they have over 200,000 visitors a year now.
It was the only disappointing tour we had on our Pacific Princess cruise. A bus driver took us there and dropped us off in the fog for three hours without providing any information about the area or its people. But the museum and film were interesting. It would have made a nice visit for an hour or less. A clear day probably would have made the stop worthwhile.
Sister-in-law Michelle and her friend Carol had a much better time fishing for Alaskan King Crab which seem to have migrated across the Arctic.
Undaunted, Alie and I enjoyed walking around the tiny town of Honningsvag. There was no traffic on a quiet Sunday morning, but I doubt the town of 2500 has much traffic anyway.
I took this photo of a statue of Bamse, a St. Bernard dog. Standing on the front gun turret of his ship during battles wearing a specially made helmet, he became the sailor’s hero. Bamse means teddy bear in Norwegian. Bamse was his ship’s mascot but eventually became so well-known he was the official mascot of the Free Norwegian Forces who escaped Norway after the World War II Nazi invasion. Bamse also was an actual hero who saved more than one man [and was known to break up fights and retrieve crewmen from bars.].
Honningsvag is a primarily a fishing village but also has cafes and shops featuring furs, knitted and woven articles, wood carving, pewter and silver. Because it is at the end of the Gulf Stream, the weather is more moderate than one would expect, but we noticed fences on the hillside above the town to break up avalanches.
Professing to being an artist, I am somewhat snobbish about tourist trap art. But entering the West of the Moon gallery, we encountered the work of local woman Eva Schmutterer. She pieces together scraps of paper in a manner similar to stained glass. Her use of color is fantastic, and her pictures are almost luminous. Fortunately, a framed print cost us less than the frame would have been in a Florida store. I love it and have it in my studio. You can see some of her work at her website: www.evart.no.
Click on photos to enlarge.