Posted by: tim ellis | November 22, 2005

Day Trip to Norway! November 19, 2005

It was all my Mum’s fault really. While I was in Edinburgh, pretending it was Romania (see here) she was reading through the local papers “Readers Travel Offers” wondering where her next holiday was going to come from, when she saw an advert for an Orca Safari – Fly Birmingham.

“Look” she said to my dad, “Here’s a holiday for Tim.”
So he looked and said “Hey, I fancy doing that”

Well to cut long story short, I ended up going on holiday with my dad for the first time since I left school, on a Day Trip to Norway.

The first problem was that although the advert said “Fly from Birmingham” the booking form showed the flight leaving from East Midlands. I phoned the newspaper, who said “No the advert definitely says Birmingham.” I agreed, but pointed out the booking form definitely said departure EMA rather rhan BMX. “Ah yes, I see what you mean. We’ll get back to you…” Which they did “It’s an error on the form, it’s definitely Birmingham, all the other details are correct”

After that, though everything went smoothly. The Booking was confirmed by Post, phone and e-mail! all within 24 hours, and the tickets arrived a week before departure.

So 3 AM Saturday morning saw us at Birmingham Airport playing a fun game of “Spot the fellow passengers” – trying to identify the Norway Daytrippers from the Algarve Sun-seekers. We checked in and following the directions on the screen, headed for departures. We’d stood in a queue for about ten minutes when the announcement came “Please note that Departures does not open until 4:00 AM”

Still we eventually got through ready for our 5:00 AM flight. Thing is, we were ready but the plane wasn’t – the freezing fog at Birmingham led to an hour and a half delay, which isn’t good given how soon it gets dark north of the Arctic Circle…

Finally though we were on our way, and after a smooth flight landed at Evenes airport, Narvik. We were met by our 3 “local” guides – all naturalists off the boat, who told us “You won’t need your passports, because you cleared all that at Oslo…” No one felt like arguing, we didn’t want to waste any more time, so a brief bus ride later we were boarding the boat – a very smart catamaran, quite luxurious inside – had the weather been inclement it would have been fine. Deck space was quite limited though, especially before the Zodiac and Snorkellers left.

The scenery was wonderful though, and we had seen Sea Eagles (and those with binoculars claimed to see Orca too) before we even left the dock!

It wasn’t that long before we managed to find the Orca with the naked eye, mostly swimming around the fishing boats. Typically we saw them in larger numbers and closer as the light started to go, just to make the photography harder!

As night fell, we headed up towards the fishing boats where the seagulls (and whales) were gathering to try and get the offcuts…

This night excursion was in part to give the Zodiac drivers time to get back to Lodingen where they were setting up “Orca Base Camp” – a group of Sammi tents where they were preparing us a traditional meal of “Hunters Stew” (Caribou) with potatos, vegetables and “A Jam, I don’t know the name, but it’s nice”

We followed into Lodingen where we were able to visit the hotel (for coffee), the shops (to realise there was nothing we wanted to buy) and the Research room (where we bought Tiu Simula’s Orca Book) before dinner.

A longer drive back to the airport (where we were the only passengers) for another smooth flight (aided by a tailwind) home arriving back around 01:10 AM – As we queued to clear Immigration I suggested to dad “Tell them we don’t need to do this, we were cleared at Oslo…”

You can see photo’s of this trip here

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