Tag: Snow

Linda loves snow, so we often head for destinations where we may find it.


After a few days at sea we land in Hamburg, Germany. It’s Sunday, so most of the city is likely to be closed. Worse still, the local ferries that would take us straight into the city centre aren’t running.

It’s a two mile walk into town through the deserted docklands area, and the sights are few and far between. We pass the time doing a few geocaches of varying degrees of difficulty.

Top tip: There is a ferry which runs from a nearby dock straight into the St Pauli district of Hamburg – but it only runs Mon-Sat. If you visit on a Sunday, you’ll have to walk, use a taxi from the cruise terminal or pay (€15 each) for the shuttle bus overseen by MSC Cruises.

Eventually we arrive at the Old Elbe Tunnel, an old under-river passage that you may have seen Jon Voight running through in The Odessa File. Cars drive into large lifts and are hoisted to a subterranean roadway before being hoisted back up on the other side. Very cool – we enjoy our walk through this particular piece of history.

At the other side of the tunnel we arrive in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. It’s at least another mile to walk into the city centre but the local Hard Rock Café is right by the entrance of the tunnel. In the same way that I like to visit Apple Stores across the world, Linda loves Hard Rock Cafés, so we stop in for a beer and to purchase a local pin badge for her collection.

Afterwards we head back to the ship in some very (very!) fine snow. It’s a shame the ferries aren’t running – or any other public transport for that matter.

We’ll be back in Germany in June – but next time it will be way down south, in Munich.

Uninspired by Alta

This morning we arrived in the tiny town of Alta, less than 100 miles from the very top of the European mainland. The surrounding hills are dusted with snow and it is very chilly indeed.

A picture of a surreal mountain just outside Alta
An unreal-looking mountain just outside Alta

After breakfast in our cabin we do the unthinkable – we decide not to go ashore. There are a few reasons for our decision:

First, it’s a tender port and we have not yet tried getting the mobility scooter on and off one of the small boats that will ferry us to shore.

Second, it’s another long walk into town (approximately 2.5 miles) over a rather steep hill.

Third, we can’t actually find anything listed in Atlas Obscura or Tripadvisor that we want to see.

Fourth, there isn’t anything worth seeing anywhere near the tender docking area either.

Again, the local town has laid on shuttle buses into the centre of Alta, but we can’t justify $40 USD to visit nothing. There aren’t even any tours being offered by Princess Cruises that are of interest.

Also of note – we are in Alta for two days, so we can always change our minds tomorrow. There are tenders running until 3am, just in case we decide we want to go and see nothing in the middle of the night!

So instead we decide to take it easy. I have a few copywriting tasks complete and we then spend the afternoon watching TV and relaxing. To be honest, my knee needs some rest after yesterday’s yomp into Tromsø.

Top tip: The power points under the beds on Island Princess are standard Euro-style plugs. If you have any devices that require 220V power, like Linda’s Dyson Airwrap, you will need to use these plugs. The 110V US sockets on the desk do not deliver enough power.

Learn more about sockets on cruise ships in our article, The Problem With Power.

The Island Princess is anchored between the local airport and the town which is quite interesting. watching 737-sized jets taking off and landing on the runway surrounded by snow is a little different.

Later we take part in – and win – the classic rock trivia quiz. Instead of a bottle of sparkling wine, this time the prize is two Princess-branded water bottles. Quite cool, but I have no idea how we will squeeze them into our suitcases.

It is cloudy and a little misty overnight – and there is no sign of the Aurora Borealis anywhere. I check from our balcony and the main deck, but there is nothing. Not even when I look again at 3am.

The town of Alta does look quite pretty after dark though.

A picture of the town of Alta at night time
Alta after dark

It is supposed to snow tomorrow, so maybe we will go ashore at some point after all.

Alta – Part II

After another lazy breakfast in the cabin we finally decide that we really should go ashore and see Alta. Especially as we didn’t bother yesterday. It’s not every day that you’re within 100 miles of the end of the European mainland after all.

We’ve decided we will head for a local gift shop and see what it has to offer – Linda wants a pair of woollen mittens because she forgot her gloves. So it’s down to Deck 4 for security and on down to Deck 3 (which is apparently known as ‘Holiday Deck’) to board the tender. There are just 20 people on board, suggesting that everyone else did their onshore visit yesterday. The ride is quick and smooth and we have minimal problems getting the scooter on and off the small boat.

Apple Maps said that the gift shop was 1.8 miles away, but upon landing at Alta Ferry Terminal it is suddenly 2.6 miles. After navigating the rutted, gravel strewn, ice puddled environs of the terminal, we begin a long uphill trek. The main road into Alta winds round the side of the hill, a constant climb for most of its length. Great if you have a mobility scooter but quite a trek otherwise. Especially as the footpath is covered in hard packed ice and snow…

A picture of Linda riding her mobility scooter up the hill into Alta
This hill goes on and on. And on. And on…

Top tip: One of the local companies offer shuttle buses into Alta town centre at a cost of $20 USD per person. However, should you decide you want a cheaper option, and you don’t want to make the long trek on foot, there is a bus stop just outside the Europris supermarket next to the cruise terminal. Be warned that there appears to be just one bus on that route each hour, so plan accordingly.

Eventually we arrive at the shop (after being stopped briefly by a red squirrel). We then discover that it is a cook shop, not a gift shop. Great if you want to bake a cake, not so good if you want woollen mittens.

A picture of a red squirrel we spotted in Alta
Disruptive little guy

After scrolling Apple Maps for a little while, I discover a nearby fabric shop called Kilden which may have the mittens we seek. It has to be close by because the first scooter battery is already well into the ‘red zone’.

Thankfully they do have mittens, knitted by one of the ladies who works in the shop. They are not cheap, but they are very high quality – and Linda assures me they are warm too. It’s a lovely shop with loads of wool, crafting materials and souvenirs and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Linda says she could have happily spent a fortune in there.

Afterwards we cannot find anywhere for a beer, so we make the long trek back to the ship. The uphill section of the return journey isn’t as strenuous, but the long downhill section is treacherous in the ice. We also have to change scooter battery – I think it lasted about 3.5 miles today. However, travelling downhill seems to be much more energy friendly because the new battery isn’t showing any depletion by the time we get back to the ship.

I hate mushrooms

Back on board, two things happen. First, the Captain informs us that due to a lack of pilots, we won’t be leaving Alta until 4am. Apparently this will have no effect on arrival at Gravdal on Friday.

Second, it starts snowing. Sideways. This is awesome – and the crew who have never seen snow all rush out on deck to snap selfies, which is fantastic.

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