There’s no where to go but down from here. Things get strange up above the arctic circle. In the summer, for weeks, the sun never sets. In the winter, it doesn’t rise. Reindeer and Santa are real here and you can meet them. The Earth ends here, dropping off into the water over precipitous cliffs that make you really appreciate how brave the Vikings were to have sailed out beyond these cliffs.
Norway is long. If you flipped it over on it’s southern end, it would reach all the way to Rome. The northernmost point, called the North Cape, is the furthest point north in Europe. It’s further north than Iceland. It’s really far north.
Honningsvag, a modest size sleepy fishing village nearby, is the perfect place to start an expedition to the North Cape. Though the town has some distractions like far too many “native” shops selling furs and the traditional hats of the native populace, the real adventure lays as far north as possible. On our recent trip to Norway, we took a tour from Honningsvag up to the North Cape and were inspired by the scenic wonder and encompassing feel of standing at the edge of the world.
From town, we traveled by bus out and up the North Cape peninsula. We passed huge drying and smoking racks for locally caught salmon and more than a few small fishing camps and villages. Further out, beyond the last traces of civilization, we discovered several lakes perched on the cliffs above the sea, formed from melting snow and ice from the mountains.
Here, we also first caught sight of the majestic reindeer herds. These quasi-mythical creatures almost look more like goats with furry coat racks growing from their heads than North American deer. Though they keep their distance from the bus, the further we got from the towns, the more of them we saw. We got up close to one at a local Suomi camp, home to the indigenous people of northern Norway. They (the reindeer) smell more like goats too.
At the North Cape, we found a huge exhibition hall that tells the story of the discovery and history of the cape. Outside is a huge globe shaped sculpture that marks the northern-most point. From here, trails spread out, including one that traverses the European continent all the way to Italy. We explored the first 500 feet of it. We also spent some time surveying the cliffs and views over the sea which truly feel like nothing exists beyond the horizon.
Back inside the hall, we found choices of several types of craft beer from a Norwegian brewery, billed as the world’s northernmost craft brewery. The cloudy wit beer went perfectly with the scenery and atmosphere of being at the world’s end.
We then took the bus back into town. Before heading out, we stopped in at the Artico Ice Bar, probably the most popular tourist attraction in town. Inside, the bar is made of ice, patrons wear fur coats, and the temperature remains just above freezing. With our 2 1-year-olds in tow, we decided not to stay, and instead found a nearby bar more to our style. The Corner bar hosts a fairly large restaurant as well as a decent craft beer selection. More importantly, it housed a large outside patio overlooking the water. We enjoyed some Icebjorn (Polar Bear, but Icebjorn sounds way cooler) beers from Mack brewery in Tromso, the same brewery as the beers we had at the cape. We took in some final views of the water of the Arctic before heading back to the ship and departing for points south, relatively speaking.