"" Writer's Wanderings: The Perfect Day In Honningsvag, Norway

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Perfect Day In Honningsvag, Norway

A Honningsvag welcome

The last time we were in Honningsvag we did an excursion out to king crab traps and had an encounter with them just before we returned to shore to eat some. I had originally booked an excursion to do a similar thing but I received word as we got closer in time to our arrival at Honningsvag that the excursion did not have enough interest and it would be canceled. The company I booked with however offered us an alternative adventure and it included the possibility of seeing puffins. We were in!

After a little bookkeeping, canceling through the booking agent and booking directly through the tour company, we were set to go when we arrived. Our arrival morning could not have been more pleasant. The temperature by the time we were done with breakfast was already up to 50 F. The sun was shining brightly, although it had done that all night as well. We went ashore to find our meeting point.


The ship was docked right near the information building and just outside, we met the tour leaders from The North Cape Experience.  There were two large vans, one for the group who were not going on a boat ride and the other for those who were. Yes, we were on the boat ride.

Our guide set out with the six of us who were going to experience the North Cape by sea. The other van followed and our first stop for both groups was a fish operation where they were drying the fish in the open air. It has been done for hundreds of years this way. They are called stockfish and are usually cod but he had another variety there as well, haddock or halibut.

The fish are dried during the colder months. The cold dry air slowly dries them. I believe there is one other step when the May temperatures begin to climb. The bodies of the fish can be rehydrated and used in a variety of dishes depending upon what country is using them. They are shipped all over the world. Our guide said the reconstituted fish is even better tasting than fresh. The heads of the fish are also dried separately and are used in fish seasonings or ground up and added to other foods to add protein especially in countries where protein foods are at a premium.

Next up was a stop along side the road where a Sami tribe lived. The picture I have shows the old traditional shelters they lived in. Nowadays they live in more comfortable homes. The families that make up the smaller Sami population near Honningsvag own all the reindeer herds that are on the island. I believe he said the reindeer numbered about 7500. 

The Sami have their own language and have historically been herders, fisherman and hunters. Today they make most of their living from their reindeer. Reindeer meat is high in protein and low in fat, so low in fact that pork fat is often added into their sausage. The Sami are said to be an indigenous people but like the dispute over the northernmost city, there is also a small dispute over this as well. The Sami can also be found in several other northern countries including Sweden, Finland and Russia.

A lookout point gave us a great view of the Tufjorden (fjord). This day could not get any better weather wise. The clear blue skies and warm sun was a true gift. This view of the fjord was spectacular. The snow still lingering on the hillsides and nearby mountain cliffs was a reminder however of just how far north we were.

Back in the van, we headed along the road to Skarsvag, the northernmost fishing village in the world. I don't think this one was disputed. It also happened to be the place where our guide lives in the months that he is a fishing captain bringing in a ton or two of fish to the place where they are dried. The darkest months of the year (when the sun never rises) the family spends in the Canary Islands and the months that he is a tour director I'm guessing he spends in his home in Honningsvag.

Here is where one group parted with the other group but not until we had the opportunity to meet up with the king crab. There was a large pool with a half dozen or so very large crabs. Our female tour guide fished one out and explained how to hold it safely for man and crab. Rubber gloves were passed from one person to another for whoever wanted to hold the red crusty clawed creature. Bob got his chance and we took the photo op.

Meanwhile our guide, the captain, was preparing the boat for our wildlife safari on the water and our visit to view the North Cape from the water. We six needed to suit up. While we were promised not to get wet, the thermal suits were buoyant and warm against the cold air. And just to make things a little more challenging, marine regulations required an extra little life vest.

I think I'll save the ocean adventure for the next post. Hang on. It was quite a ride.

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