Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fiord sailing Day 4/5 August 4/5th

Never mind the rest of today, I (i !!!!!!!) have just sailed up the Troll fiord, the Hall of the Mountain King. In a boat 25 metres wide, in a fiord barely 35 metres wide, with a pool at the end juuuust widening enough for the boat to do a very impressive spin around to sail back out... I don’t know that it’s wise to try to write about it, as so many have tried.... we sailed into the fiord at 11.15pm, as the light was fading over the peaks. By 11.45, when we’d just sailed back out (into the ? fiord), which is all of ?metres wide by comparison, the grey stone walls were merging into the dusk.

Best way to manage the description is to get you all to stand, leaning forwards into a cold wind; now drop your jaws and totally forget that you are cold. Look up, and up; sheer grey stone cliffs, fissured, mossy, with permanent snow in the shadows. See the paley grey light of midnight dusk fading over the sharp crags at the top. See an absolutely clear line of silhouette dividing rock from ethereal ice sky. All you can hear (when the relevant bit of Peer Gynt finishes playing on the ship’s loudspeakers) is a small wash of water onto the rocks, and the ship’s engines. A few people danced to the music, and I think quite a few clapped the navigator as the tight, tight turn was safely managed. Or perhaps it’s not really dangerous, because the sharp angle of the rocks above the waterline must echo the sharp drop below it. But you do feel that you could just lean a little further over the handrail and touch those ancient, stern cliffs. Some people have managed it because there is, sadly, graffiti on some of the lower, smoother rock faces near the water line. Dates like “1972 Giacometti” and “Nor-line Tour 1985” can be seen. Grieg is turning in his grave, I can hear it.

The photographers were out in legion numbers, some of them purrforming illegal operations to get their shots (climbing up Crew Only stairs and such). But quite a few of the crew came up onto their exclusive top deck to see it; I was impressed that these presumably somewhat travel-hardened workers were still obviously enjoying the experience. After we got cold on the open stern deck (in spite of the very good ‘Troll Soup’ - they boil up nicely with cream and carrots I assure you) we moved to the front internal observation deck. Views from there are now somewhat obscured by salt on the outside of the windows, so no good for photography, but the effects of the light on the water were lovely - pale yellows and greys, on smooth reaches and gentle ripples. The boat doesn’t leave a huge gushing wake, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the stabilisers. We didn’t try the “Troll Wine”, but it looked toxic in large shot glasses. M heard someone say “it’s got rum in it” so perhaps it’s just warm ship’s grog? Who knows.

An experience. Brought to you by its very own magical self, without interference or embellishment of any kind by me.

Now I am waiting for our washing to finish drying so I can start tomorrow which is now today, knowing I have a full complement of socks. I’d like to stay up for hours, watching the fiord as we sail through it - this is one of the more narrow straits we navigate - but one could easily go mad trying to see everything. Even the people we’ve met who are taking this trip as a return adventure don’t expect to spend every minute catching a view of something they didn’t see going the other way, it’s just not possible to keep the concentration that high for so long. Because, dear readers, this really is a voyage of views that are continuously amazing, fantastic; wild and remote and lonely. Beautiful and dangerous, that toxic, compelling combination.

I think I’ll need a bit of my own TrollWein (gin on the rocks) to send me Solveig’s Song to lull me to sleep tonight. Me, here, seeing this? Just as hard to take in as every other marvel. I met a cat today who allowed me to pat him and pull his attractively white-circled racoon-ish tail. Now THAT’S real.

1 comment:

Hil said...

This sounds absolutely wonderful!

Your posts reminded me of this photo of Tim's:

He didn't see the fjords, but did go dog sledding way up north, most likely fairly close to where you are now.

I've always liked trolls. I went looking for a particular image, but came up with a whole troll site:

Our plans? I am more relaxed now, as we have our tickets and a month's accommodation sorted in Paris. The other 3 weeks we might fly more by the seat of our pants!

I bought an iphone last night; very exciting! It's just gorgeous.