Visiting the Top of the World: Honningsvåg, Norway

In January 2013 I visited the bottom of the world also known as Antarctica which I absolutely loved.  I desperately want to return now that I know how to use my camera better.  I came very close to booking a trip this year but decided to go to the top of the world instead.  Honningsvåg is the northernmost city in Norway and maybe the world but this is disputed by several places such as Barrow, Alaska.

Click here to see my posts about Antarctica.

I had always wanted to visit Norway and had been eyeing the Hurtigruten cruises that start in Bergen and travel all the way to the top of Norway and back to Bergen.  I feel like a made a great decision as I've never seen anywhere similar to the country of Norway - especially the northern section.   Once we got to the Arctic Circle I felt like I was in another world!

Norway-2083189I visited this area at the beginning of February.  They were only expecting about six hours of sunlight.  I noticed that everyone has their lights on and the middle of the day when our ship stopped.  I also began to wonder if many of the houses were painted bright colors because it is dark for so long during certain times of the year.  The moon was also visible all day which I thought was very picturesque.  These people don't see the sun for a whole month during the winter.
Norway-2083189I found myself wondering a lot what it was like to live in such a small town whose population was only a few thousand people.  Then I remembered that I am from a very small town in Vermont.  I doubt it's much different than the area I grew up in.
Norway-2083189Fishing is a big part of the economy.  Although it was very cold this time of year I did see people out on fishing boats.
Norway-2083189Like almost all of the towns our cruise ships docked in Honningsvåg was very beautiful.  You can see a tree farm growing on the mountainside.
Norway-2083189All around Honningsvåg the landscape becomes very rugged with craggy mountains like the one below
Norway-2083189Hurtigruten's Finnmarken is not only a cruise ship it is also a working ship.  It stops in this and many other towns to drop off and pick up supplies as well as passengers.
Here are a couple more views of the town taken from the ship.  We were allowed to disembark but we didn't have a lot of time.  I did get off the ship but you will see below how long I stayed on shore:

DSC02932-1It was very cold for this Floridian so I walked into town and started my way back almost immediately.  I like the photos I can get from the ship's deck and and in spite of my Vermont upbringing I am not used to temperatures hovering around 0°F.

DSC02932-1Here I am again looking like a Scandinavian snowman.  My winter coat is very warm but I am also wearing two heavy sweaters underneath it along with a scarf wrapped around my neck, a thick winter hat and some heavy duty winter gloves.  You will need these things if you visit Northern Norway in the winter.  I was much colder visiting this area then I was visiting Antarctica (you can only visit Antarctica when it is summer in the southern hemisphere).  I did, however, find the temperatures to be similar to that of when I visit Vermont in the winter.
DSC02932-1I didn't pack a tripod.  That was one of my biggest mistakes going on this trip.  One of the main things I wanted to see was the Northern lights also known as the Aurora Borealis .  We got to see them several nights in a row - we were very lucky and they lasted a long time while putting on quite a show.  These 10 second exposure photos were taken handheld so they are not the best. 
DSC02932-1Although I didn't come away from this trip with great photos of the Northern Lights, I got to see them with my heart and my mind.  Even if I had had a tripod the ship was moving and I'm not sure they would've turned out a whole lot better.  If you want to get some great shots of the Northern Lights I recommend being on the ground or on a ship which isn't moving when the wind is minimal. 

DSC02932-1Hurtigruten gave us this nice certificate showing that we head across the Arctic Circle.  I crossed so many items off of my bucket list on this trip.  I got to see the beautiful country of Norway, the Northern Lights, and crossed the Arctic Circle.
 Are you interested in visiting Norway?  Would you consider going on a cruise with Hurtigruten?  Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a terrific week.  Thank you for visiting!

















Travel Notes & Beyond

Visiting The Bacab Eco Park in Belize


Our second stop on my Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian star was the Belize city port.  In order to get from the ship to shore you must take a smaller boat.  Belize is a fast growing area.  It is still not as commercialized as the Cancun area but according to the locals is growing very quickly.           

Continue reading "Visiting The Bacab Eco Park in Belize" »

"I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.” ~ Gilles Peress

I've always said that I believe very little of what I hear and only some of what I see.  The same goes for photographs as I know now that they can be edited and manipulated in many ways.  I still often get asked by many of my friends and people why I would want to visit some of the places I do - especially Antarctica and Tanzania in Africa

It's great to be able to punch a few buttons on my cell phone and pull up some images from my Instagram account and show people a few pictures of these places.  I can tell by the looks on their face that they understand why I would want to travel so far away into places that many perceive to be dangerous.   At least I can show them why I wanted to see certain places in person.

You can use any of my photos in a variety of sizes for free without worrying about getting in trouble as they are free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.  My profile on Pixabay is HERE

Blogg1Above is a photo of myself in Paradise Bay and below is Paradise Bay which I thought was the most beautiful part of Antarctica which is saying a lot.

Blogg111This ship seemed so small compared to the other ones I saw and compared to the glaciers surrounding it

Blogg111The sun would go down around 11:00Pm and come up around 3:00 AM
Blogg1The glaciers were so much bigger than I expected and it really was not as cold as I expected.  It was generally around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Blogg1This was the closest thing I saw to a sunset and it was almost midnight

Blog11111The following photos were taken on in Massai Land and on safari in Tanzania.


  These zebra kept running back and forth past these lions.  I was so scared they would get caught playing their "game".Zebras-278084_960_720

Thank you very much for stopping by my blog.  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions.  I really enjoy hearing from my readers.  I hope you are all having a wonderful week.   







My Favorite Part of My Alaska Cruise: The Tracy Arm Passage

Pano (1 of 1)-297

"To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world."

~John Muir

(OK we all know Alaska is a state not a country, but it may have been when this quote was written)

Visiting the Tracy Arm Passage was definitely one of the highlights of my cruise to Alaska. Tracy Arm is a Fjord located only about 45 miles from Juneau.  Our ship was only there for about six hours, but it was incredibly beautiful.  There was a chance that we might not be able to get into this area because ice chunks are often blocking the entrance for the ship to get in.  It was pretty cold in this area compared to some of the ports we stopped at so I was very grateful for the server passing out pea soup to those who wanted it on deck.  On this day I saw more people out on deck looking at the beautiful scenery and taking photos than any other on this seven day cruise.  One thing I would definitely recommend to people who like to visit this type of environment is not to visit Antarctica first like I did.  Antarctica was probably one of  my favorite trips so far and Alaska, at least this particular cruise that I chose, just did not compare. The fact is you're just not going that far north on some of these cruises, so you're not going to see some of the scenery such as this Antarctica scene:   AntarcticaBack to Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska!

Lot's of people out on the deck despite it being fairly cold:
  Pano (1 of 1)-298Server passing out yummy pea soup!

Pano (1 of 1)-290

Pano (1 of 1)-292
If you are lucky, you might see bears, deer, wolves, seals, and even mountain goats.  Perhaps I wasn't vigilant enough or just not lucky, but I don't remember even seeing a bird of any sort.

Pano (1 of 1)-300

Pano (1 of 1)-135

 Yes, this ice chunk was really this blue!

Pano (1 of 1)-136

  Pano (1 of 1)-295

  I will leave you with a photo of me trying to stay warm and wearing sunglasses becaause I got a chunk of snow in my eye while dog sledding :(Pano (1 of 1)-294

  Thanks so much for stopping by.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  Take care my friends!

~ Michelle

Some of the Many Benefits of Using Google's Panoramio to Store Photos

One of my most popular photos, taken in Antarctica, on Panoramio with more than 9000 views:

There are many benefits to joining Panoramio for those who like to take photos for any reason.  First of all you get free storage space for your photos.  They are stored in full-size.  Facebook  does not store your photos full-size.  One can also get a page rank when you join Panoramio.  

I just joined in March 2013 and I have a PR of 2. Here is my site:

You also can join groups in Panoramio similar to how you can join them in Facebook. Members can comment on your photos as well as like and favorite them. Each photo has its own statistics showing how many views it's received, likes, and favorites.  You also can see the lifetime views of each of your photos.  For me it is like social networking for photographers who are both professional and hobbyists.  When one joins panoramio, they can choose for no one to be able to use your photos at all without your permission, or you can choose to let anyone use your photos for any reason.

One of the best things about joining Panoramio is your Photos can be used in Google Earth and Google Maps if they are selected.  There are certain criteria your photos must meet in order to be used.  First of all there cannot be recognizable people in your photo or close-ups of flowers and animals.  I like it for my landscape photography which is probably my favorite thing to take photos of.

Panoramio was acquired by Google so in 2007 so it is probably a fairly safe place to store your photos.  I used AOL photo storage eight or nine years ago.  When they no longer offered photo storage, they did give their users plenty of warnings to move their photos.  Those who did not, unfortunately, lost all of their photos.

  Here is my most popular photo overall based on Panoramio's algorithm,  It was taken on my dolphin siting expedition in Lovina, Bali:

Pano11Here is my most popular photo in Google Earth with more than 26000 views.  It's a research station in Antarctica:
Pano11Here is my most popular photo taken in Antarctica in Google Maps with more than 31000 views:
Pano11Here is my most popular photo which is shown on an external widget of a sunrise in Lovina, Bali with over 5600 views:
External widget 5600Do you use Panoramio?  Are there any other photo storage sites that you would recommend and why?  Thanks so much for your visit and your comments!