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Nordic Paradise: Volume VI

FINNSNES & SENJA

Image: Beautiful beach in Senja, Norway, 2022.


After Honningsväg, MS Maud started sailing southbound back to Dover. Her next port of call was Finnsnes, a small town located in the municipality of Senja. Senja is often referred to as ‘Norway in miniature’ because of its fjords, mountains, and natural beauty. I was extremely excited to visit here as I knew it was renowned for its scenery.


FINNSNES


Whilst visiting Finnsnes, I was fortunate enough to go dogsledding again, and it was an experience! We arrived at a family-run centre called Aurora Husky, which had forty or so Alaskan huskies trained to pull small sleds. They were all very cute and eager to start running; they howled every time a sled passed the track, as if to say, ‘come on guys, you can go faster than that!’. On my first visit, I was able to mush my own sled, which was possibly one of the hardest and scariest things I have ever done. It looks effortlessly easy but it is in fact, extremely difficult. The two rules we were all told to strictly abide by were 1) not to fall off and 2) not to let go if we fall off… Two things I did repeatedly! It was especially hard for me to keep my balance on the sled because I had no passenger, so I had four ecstatic doggos full of energy trying to pull me and nothing to weigh me or my sled down. I must have stood on the sled for two seconds, lifted my foot off to start moving, and bam! Hit the ground and spun around like a starfish. All of the guests watching me found this hilarious and I’m glad I could provide some form of adequate entertainment but honestly it was proving quite the task to stay perpendicular to gravity.


Images: Dogsledding at Aurora Husky in Finnsnes, Norway, 2022.


I knew now that this was going to be harder than it looked. I found myself concentrating so hard and gripping the sled so tightly that my body was rigid and stiff, and I wasn’t really enjoying myself for fear of falling off… again. I decided I needed to loosen up a little bit, and the longer I stood balancing on the back of the sled, the more confident I became. Until we approached the bends and corners of the track, that is. I tried to lean against the first corner to provide some kind of counterbalance to the lack of weight in the sled but found myself tumbling to the ground and skidding on the ice, arms outstretched in front of me, flailing about trying to grip the sled handle again. Naturally, during the process of falling, I’d let go of the sled, and the dogs went galivanting off in one direction, me skidding in another. I kept getting back on and trying again but I found it really hard with no passenger to weigh it down. One of the guides came to my rescue and started mushing as I sat in the sled and caught my breath for 20 minutes or so. I reckon he was fed up with watching me fall to be honest. I absolutely loved being pulled along by the Alaskan huskies, watching the snow fall effortlessly along the forested track. It was a beautiful place, with stunning scenery and I couldn’t quite believe I got to experience something on my bucket list in such a serene and stunning environment. I mean, I went dogsledding in Norway… how cool is that?!

I became very attached to this one husky in particular called Solo; he was so friendly and kept pawing at me for attention, so I gave it gladly. I would have 100% taken him home if he wouldn't have melted with all that fur in our UK climate!


Image: Huskies all lined up pulling the sleds in Finnsnes, Norway, 2022.


The final time I accompanied guests on board MS Maud to Aurora Husky was much more relaxed. I was mushed around in the sled by a passenger as the group had an odd number. The ice was more compact now and the sleds glided across the tracks with ease. The dogs were pulling energetically and we zoomed around the forests in sleety rain. Whilst we were waiting for the other groups to finish, Teal, one of the other Expedition Team members, was sliding down the icy hill and finally convinced me to go down. Below is a video of this moment – an apt example of how dramatic I can be.

Video: Me sliding down an icy hill at Aurora Husky, Finnsnes, Norway. 2022.


SENJA


One of my trips also included a guided scenic bus tour around the island of Senja, where we passed through several of the road tunnels, interconnecting some of the Norwegian islands. It was a glorious route, with stunning scenery and snowy mountains left, right and centre. Along the route, we could see frozen lakes, wooden cabins and lots of Nordic fir trees! On route to Hamn, we spotted a reindeer stood in the middle of the road, which moved slowly out of the way of the bus, completely unphased and in no apparent rush. Our first pitstop on the scenic route was a cute little café in Hamn, which included what the locals called a ‘light bite’ comprised of salmon and chicken wraps and the most delicious cinnamon cardamon buns to grace the earth. Many of the passengers couldn’t eat all of their food and kindly donated their cinnamon buns to the Expedition Team and other crew members. We shared them around on board later on, they were very much appreciated!! We also spotted a moose in the distance during our tour; it was fantastic to see such a large animal in the wild, in all its glory.

Visiting Finnsnes and Senja was definitely an incredible experience. Although quite challenging, dog sledding was amazing and something I’ll never forget. I wanted to take all the dogs home with me but I think customs would have something to say about that!


Stay tuned for my next instalment, it’s something completely different to the others!






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