Happenings in Hammerfest

Wednesday, Sep 25

We awoke this morning to a lot of rain coming down.  The day looked dreary and wet. We met Jeff and had a really lovely breakfast in the hotel.  There were lots of options, including American style bacon for Rob. I had some hearty bread with jam on, some white creamy quia seed thing with coconut and berries on top, a little cup of berries, a bit of normal sausage, as well as a bit of what I thought was going to be a tater tot but turned out to maybe be a funny shaped chicken nugget.  

After breakfast, we three gathered in our hotel room to make a plan for the day.  While we were there, a ferry boat docked not far outside our window. We watched as the crane on board the ferry lifted a minivan cradled in 2 straps up from the ferry deck and lowered it onto the dock.  I think I would have been very nervous if that were my car.

We weren’t very excited about venturing out in the rain, but decided we ought to at least see what Hammerfest had to offer.  Our first destination was the Reconstruction Museum. For much of WWII, the northern part of Norway was occupied by the Germans.  The museum shows what life was like for the people of northern Norway under the occupation and in the aftermath of Germany’s scorched earth policy that was applied in 1945 as they retreated.  During the occupation, it was not unheard of for Norwegian girls to get pregnant by a German soldier. The museum had a Christening gown on display with a wide strip of lace in a swastika motif.  Just what any mother wants her baby Christened in! As the war came to a close, most of the inhabitants fled the area on ships to be temporarily housed in camps or with families farther south. Before they fled, many tried to bury their most prized possessions so they could claim them when they returned.  The museum had a pair of red velvet chairs that had been buried before their owner’s exile, then retrieved later. A small number of people hid out in caves through the final winter of the war. Many of the Sami people took their reindeer sledges and retreated to barren land father inland or across the border in Finland, sheltering in their version of teepees.  

After the museum, we wandered for a bit looking for a place to eat.  We ended up at Qa spiseri. It looked popular, people coming off the regional ferry (the one that goes up and down the entire Norwegian coast – the Hurtigruten (or Hurdy-gurdy as I’ve been calling it)) all seemed to be heading inside.  I was excited when I saw that they serve Finnebiff. This is one of the Norwegian dishes on my list of things I want to try while I’m here. It’s a reindeer stew with a creamy sauce. When the dish arrived, it looked like beef stroganoff on mashed potatoes with a little pot of lingonberries on the side.  As I ate, I noticed that the reindeer is flakier than beef. There were lots of onions in the sauce, but no mushrooms. I added the lingonberries in and mixed the whole thing: meat, sauce, potatoes, and berries together on my fork. My verdict is that it is really good. I would definitely order it again.

After lunch, Rob and I wandered over to the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society.  It was pretty small. The best part was the stuffed polar bear near the entrance. We did touch a few seal skins, which were so furry and much softer than I might have imagined.  The exhibits were mostly about polar expeditions from Hammerfest and some info about drying fish.

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