National Geographic Endeavour
The Caledonian Star is on her way to the high Arctic. Like an Arctic tern, she travels between the north and south each year. Maybe when we reach Spitsbergen we will encounter some of the terns we saw last winter along the ice's edge of the Antarctica Peninsula. Amazing -- a bird which travels from "Pole to Pole". Today, en route along the coast of Norway, we explored some marvelous Norwegian fjords. One of the most impressive is Geirangerfjorden, with steep cliffs about 1,000 feet high. Cruising along the shoreline we enjoyed the rich flora of the lower slopes, with a fine span of trees and colorful flowers. High up on the cliffs we awed at and wondered about the odd farms clinging to the slopes, a reminder of the hard conditions that were part of the Norwegian heritage - every inch of farmable soil had to be cultivated, and the sloping patches of grazing did not seem bigger than an average lawn around an American family house. No roads lead to these isolated farmsteads, and everything needed, including cattle and sheep and the work horse had to winched up from the fjord, while the children were roped to the house wall when "playing" outside. For obvious reasons these farms are abandoned today, but kept in shape as part of the cultural heritage. Since we had a peak summer day, windless and with a glowing sun we did not encounter any trolls, the traditional Norwegian folklore giants. They are nocturnal creatures, who will turn to stone if exposed to the sun's rays. Some traces of petrified remains of them were seen in the beautiful geology of the cliffs, though: a fossil ear and nose imbedded in the bedrock! To sail through the fjord is really a journey in to the landscape with villages, folk life and impressive scenery.