September 15, 2018
Morning seemed to come too soon. It was an awkward night. Maybe we had pushed ourselves too far the previous day. There was the unfamiliar motion of the ship, and the distracting irritation of what turned out to be a tube of lip balm rolling back and forth on the nightstand during the night, click-clack, click-clack, over and over again. We were both too tired to reach over and investigate the source. Still, we managed some few hours of oblivion before rising to search out coffee.
While we slept, our vessel made scheduled stops, for people, cargo, and mail, overnight at Florø, Måløy, and Torvik. The first stop at Ålesund, at the mouth of the Geirangerfjord, was while we were still at breakfast. Such was the working rhythm of the MS Spitsbergen, a unique combination of practical boat and cruise ship. In the early afternoon, after watching the western coast of Norway slip by, we moored in the Norangsfjord (an arm of the Hjørundfjord) and took a tender to the dock at the small village of Urke in Møre og Romsdal. We spent a pleasant hour in the light misty rain wandering past the rustic houses, snapping pictures of the grazing sheep, collecting quartz from the rocky strand, and listening to a mountain stream spilling into the fjord with a great and turbulent rush of sound.
Later, we returned for a second stop at Ålesund. We disembarked and wandered the town for an hour, capturing image after image of the striking Jugendstil (art nouveau) architecture, almost the whole of the town rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1904. This is what we enjoy the most, wandering on our own down cobbled streets, peering at decorated doorways and facades, looking into shop windows and, in Ålesund, admiring an exotic and fanciful variety of rooftops: gables, towers and spires. We posed—an obligatory moment—in front of the MS Spitsbergen before embarking again, the huge letters on the black and red-painted bow announcing its presence to the gathering travelers.
We met for dinner, our little group of wanderers. During a wonderful repast of Norwegian specialties, we recounted our day to one another. We reminisced about trips taken and dreamed about the journey ahead. We recounted misadventures we had experienced on previous travels, perhaps to ward off the mishaps that sometimes befall even the most seasoned of travelers.
Tomorrow brings Trondheim, the Nidaros Cathedral, and Rørvik in Vikna—Vikna, where Martin Cornelius, Joan’s grandfather, was born. Sometime before midnight we will pass by Leka and look for it in the velvet dark just as Great-grandmother Cornelius had done one night eighty-six years ago.