We are in Kirkenes (pronounced sheer-keh-nays), in the Finnmark county, a 15 minute drive to the Russian border. There is a Russian soldier monument commemorating the area’s liberation from Nazi occupation by the Red Army in 1944.
I hardly slept last night I was excited for today! I had a full breakfast this morning and we had to be ready to disembark for 9:00 am to catch the bus to the king of excursions – The King Crab Adventure!
Kirkenes is known for the best place to see the Northern Lights and its Sno-Hotel which is rebuilt every year. We are heading to the same location for winter king crab fishing. I’m not really sure what to expect but I know it will be fun.
Arriving at the Sno-Hotel we are herded into the back room of a shack where we meet Dirks our guide who is tall and has piercing blue eyes with a devilish smile.
In preparation for this trip my friend Kim Czender sent me some Norwegian phrases that might come in handy. This would have been a perfect time to use his one: “Hei ljekk! Du har vakre Tyne!” Or “Hello handsome, you have beautiful eyes!” but I froze. LOL
Dirks outfitted us with a snowmobile onesie, helmet and gloves. We had to put this suit on over the multiple layers my body was already wrapped in. I felt like a kid being dressed by a parent as Dirks helped me into my suit and pulled up hard on the zipper. He is chatting to everyone as he watches to ensure we are dressing according to his instruction. He slaps both my shoulders and says “Dis is good!”
We all waddle outside in our blue suits and meet up with Dirks by a wooden sled with seats lined in reindeer hides.
Because it is winter we will not be going on a boat We are told to get in a sled which for me isn’t easy. The height of the sled comes to my waist and I can’t lift my short legs over the wooden sides with all these clothes on. What’s a girl to do? Nothing! Dirks playfully pushes me backwards into the sled directly into the lap of a German gentleman. Then my legs are folded gently into the sled. Tucked in, Dirks hops on a snowmobile and proceeds to pull our sled with 12 people in tow. With visors down it was quite comfortable in this -5C temperature.
Arriving at the icefishing hole where there is a crab trap, we learn about the King Crab, an invasive species that eats everything in sight and has migrated from Russia. We also learn that the King Crab gets its name because it’s blood is blue. Their blood doesn’t contain hemoglobin. Dirks demonstrates this as he thrusts a knife into the body and allows the blue blood to drip into the snow. Icky and cool at the same time. He also mentioned that the crabs grow much bigger but for the purposes of eating, medium sized crabs are best.
We are busily snapping pictures and asking questions and enjoying the fresh air in the fjord. Time to hold a crab. After all questions are sufficiently answered, back into the sled I fall and head back to the Sno-Hotel where a reserved table in the restaurant is waiting for our group.
At the restaurant, Dirks demonstrates how to crack a crab leg and the feast or more fitting, the carnage begins. The recommended way to try crab was to butter a slice of bread and spread some mayonnaise, crab and a squeeze of a lemon. I tried it that way, but preferred the crab and lemon alone.
After our fill of crab we were told we could tour the Sno-Hotel, visit the reindeer farm and the dog sled teams. This was a pleasant bonus but I think we were ahead of schedule. It was pretty inside the hotel and I managed to get through most of it before venturing to see the reindeer. It was time to get back on the bus and head back to the port. Lunch onboard was skipped today. I’m so full!
It was a fun excursion but as it was from 9:00-noon, I would recommend skipping breakfast.
Northern Lights gazing tonight: