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TROMSO: THE ARCTIC CAPITAL

NORTHERN LIGHTS, MIDNIGHT SUN AND ARCTIC EXPEDITIONS

Tromsø, considered the Arctic capital, is located about 350 km north of the Arctic Circle, at 69°40′ north latitude, in the heart of the wild between majestic mountains and beautiful fjords.

In the north of Norway there is complete darkness during the polar night season.
Here from 23 November to 18 January, the sun never rises but is at most 3 degrees below the horizon, enough to ensure the presence of light.

Being right under the oval of the Northern Lights, it is the area with the highest probability of seeing this magical phenomenon from the end of August to the end of April, generally between 6pm and midnight..
If the sky is clear, you might see the Northern Lights right above the city, but to increase your chances you should go away from the lights of the city centre.

 

Norway - Tromso - Sami

 

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Tromsø has a milder coastal climate than other destinations at the same latitude.
The average winter temperature is about -4°C, but if you’re looking for the Northern Lights, remember that the temperature could be from -20°C to +5°C, so always stay in layers.

On the contrary, from May 19 to July 26, the sun never sets. With the phenomenon of the midnight sun you can enjoy full daylight doing any activity 24 hours a day.

Tromsø is also a strategic point to reach North Cape, Svalbard Islands, Lofoten Islands or Sweden and Finland.
Thanks to its location beyond the Arctic Circle, it is considered the gateway to the North Pole and has been the starting point for many Arctic expeditions.

 

Norway - Tromso - Polaria Museum

 

WHAT TO SEE

Arctic Cathedral

One of Tromsø’s best-known buildings, the modern architecture of the Arctic Cathedral, featuring 11 aluminium-clad concrete panels on each side of the roof, is reminiscent of an iceberg or a Sami tent and has often been compared to the famous Sydney Opera House.
It takes about 25 minutes to get there from the city centre on foot or you can take bus 20, 24, 26 or 28.

The main entrance is surrounded by a large window with a pronounced cross.

 

Norway - Tromso - Arctic Cathedral

 

Storsteinen Mountain

A 15-minute walk from the Arctic Cathedral, on fine days you can take the Fjellheisen cable car to the top of the Storsteinen mountain. From here you have a wonderful view of the city (if low clouds don’t prevent the view).
Otherwise you can reach the top by climbing the 1,200 stone steps of the Sherpa Staircase.

 

Norway . Tromso - Mount Storsteinen

 

Tromsø Bridge

A peculiarity of Tromsø is that it is located on Tromsøya Island, connected to the mainland by an arched bridge.
You can also walk to the Cathedral and see Tromsø from a different perspective.

 

Norway - Tromso

 

Domkirke

The northernmost Protestant cathedral in the world is located in the quiet main street of Tromsø but I could only see it from the outside.
The opening hours are very variable and uncertain but it’s still a beautiful building of neo-gothic architecture, the only cathedral in Norway made entirely of wood.

 

Norway - Tromso - Domkirke - Protestant Cathedral

 

Perspektivet Museum

I don’t know how long each photographic exhibition lasts, but the museum is free so you can “risk” visiting this neoclassical 1838 building.
Satisfaction or disappointment will still be subjective.
I saw unpublished photos that were very interesting for me.
On the ground floor the photos made you imagine the cities/villages and life in the Palestinian Territories before the war of 1948.

 

Norway - Tromso - Perspektivet Museum - Palestinian Territories

 

Upstairs, instead, the different faiths of “homo religiosus” are shown.
Other photos show the history of Tromsø, from the construction of the bridge to the airport.

Tromsø Museum

This is a multidisciplinary museum with first part dedicated to animals living in the Tromsø area and in the Arctic and about the climate change they are fighting.
The upper floor first shows us the damage that man is creating with his waste, then explains the phenomenon of the Northern Lights.
The museum closes with the interesting history and culture of the Sami people.

 

Norway - Tromso - Sami culture

 

Polaria

I don’t think you should consider this museum as an aquarium just because there are three seals, starfish, sponges and other Arctic fauna and flora.
Before you go in, think about the panels outside that explain life in the Arctic and its importance. This museum is in fact the gateway to understanding Svalbard Islands and what is happening with climate change.
Understanding the damage plastic does is essential for all of us.

 

Norway - Tromso - Polaria Museum

 

MS Polstjernan

Housed inside a glass construction, it is the ship used to kill (or, as it was said at the time, “bring home”) at least 100,000 seals. You can walk on its decks, full of objects of the time, hunting tools, numerous photos, videos and objects related to polar expeditions.

Thinking about what this boat has seen, however, almost makes you see the blood of the seals on deck.
It was not very pleasant for me.

The entrance ticket is included in that of the adjacent Polaria museum.

 

Norway - Tromso - Polstjerna

 

The Polar Museum

It would be better if this was called “the Polar Hunting Museum“.
I expected a different museum instead is the exaltation of hunters (especially seals and bears) and the description of hunting carried out over the centuries in the polar territories.
There are many, too many, stuffed animals. Looking into their eyes I wonder the sense of their presence in the museum, rather than in their natural habitat.

 

Norway - Tromso - seal

The multilingual guides delivered free of charge at the entrance explain every object in the rooms (traps, weapons, writings, photos, drawings, reconstructions of scenes and hunting methods).
I have nothing against hunting when it is a necessity to survive, but here we really see almost ostentation and exhibitionism of man’s blind force against animals.

Animals

The whale watching season varies from year to year depending on the presence of herring in the fjords.
It usually runs from November to the end of January and there are several companies at the port that make special excursions.
Some of them also allow you to go into the water with whales, although this experience, given the weather, is not guaranteed.

If you are interested, I suggest you to go to Tonga Islands, where I swam with whales in Nuku’alofa.

 

Tonga - swimming with whales

 

Huskies are some of the most popular animals to meet in Tromsø and with them you could sled or walk in the woods.

Another animal you’ll probably see is the reindeer. They often walk freely along the road or you can get to know the Sami people, with whom you can feed reindeer or have them tow you on a sleigh.

 

Norway - reindeer

 

HOW TO MOVE

Plane

There are 3 connections between the city center and the airport:
– the express bus takes about 15 minutes, with several stops near the hotels and in strategic points of the city.
– the city bus lines 24, 40 and 42.
– taxis

Ship

Hurtigruten leaves Tromsø every day.

The port is located about 4 km from the city centre.
You can easily reach it on foot or by city buses 30 and 42.

 

Hurigruten - Nordkapp

 

District buses

District buses offer some excursions around Tromsø municipality and depart from Prostneset, the city’s main bus station, which is located next to the Tourist Information Office.

Bus 420 Tromsø – Hella – Brensholmen – Sommarøy:
Short excursion from Tromsø around the southern part of the island of Kvaløya.

Bus 425 Tromsø – Ersfjordbotn:
Fantastic views of the fjords and steep mountains.

Bus 450 Tromsø – Tønsvik – Oldervik:
Reach hiking trails and see fantastic views of the sea and the Lyngen Alps.

 

Norway - Tromso

 

CONTINUE THE TRIP

Northern Norway

You could travel from Tromsø to Alta by bus and from there, after at least one night’s rest, take another bus to Kirkenes or Honningsvåg, from where you then reach Nordkapp – North Cape or Knivskjellodden.

Hurtigruten departs daily from Tromsø with a 17-hour journey to Honningsvåg.

Another option is to fly from Tromsø to Honningsvåg with stopover in Hammerfest.

 

Norway - Nordkapp - from afar

 

Svalbard Islands

The only way to get to Svalbard is by plane and there are daily flights from Tromsø to Longyearbyen.
In high season, from March to August, the number of flights increases.

Remember that Svalbard is outside the Schengen area so you need passport.

 

Svalbard Islands - Pyramiden - polar bear

To the South of Norway

If you want to get excited traveling south, you have to travel by ship.
With the Hurtigruten you could reach Lofoten Islands, Bodø, Trondheim or Bergen.

There is a daily bus connection from Tromsø to Fauske. From here you can continue south by train to Trondheim, Oslo, Bergen and other destinations.

 

Norway - Trondheim - Kayaking on the river Nidelva

 

Sweden

There are several direct flights from Tromsø to Stockholm.

The Länstrafiken Norrbotten bus goes from Tromsø to Narvik, from where it continues to Björkliden, Abisko and Kiruna in Sweden.
Or from Narvik you could continue by train to Boden, Luleå, Haparanda and Stockholm.

 

Norway - Tromso

 

BODØ: A STRATEGIC CITY

Bodø (pronounced Bùda) is a small but strategical city.
It is in fact the first port north of the Arctic Circle, the starting point to reach the Lofoten Islands, the northern terminus of the Norwegian railway and gateway to the Arctic lands.

 

Norway - Bodo - Hurtigruten

 

The current center is a mix of wooden houses, brick houses, blocks up to 10 floors high, quite luxurious hotels with large windows.
There are few attractions in Bodø but the surrounding landscape is certainly fascinating: the largest city in Nordland is surrounded by the rugged Børvasstindan mountains, Bodømarka forest and lots of small islands.

 

Norway - Bodo - mountains

 

Just 75 minutes by plane from Oslo, you could see the Northern Lights from September to March and from 30 May to 12 July the midnight sun.

The city was founded in 1816 and around 1860 it became an important centre for herring fishing.
During the Second World War it was practically razed to the ground by bombing on 27 May 1940 and later rebuilt in a sober but functional architectural style, a classic post-war example.

 

Norway - Bodo - World War II

 

During the Cold War, Bodø military airport was considered strategic by NATO because it was from there that attacks against the Soviet Union would start.
In May 1960, during a period of very high tension, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down on Soviet territory on its way from Pakistan to Bodø airport.
Norway didn’t officially allow foreign troops to park or use military installations on Norwegian territory, and this illegal behaviour, in violation of the agreements, led to a worsening of relations between Norway and the Soviet Union.

 

Norway - Bodo - Cold War

 

WHAT TO SEE

Domkirke

The peculiarity of this church, made almost entirely of wood, is certainly its shape of an upside down ship.
Inside there are interesting photos that tell its history, from its construction to the bombardments of the Second World War that practically razed the entire city to the ground.
Rebuilt in 1956, it is one of the few Norwegian churches where you could enter for free.

 

Norway - Bodo - Domkirke

 

Nordlandmusset

Not far from Domkirke, there is the Nordland Museum.
Bodø is a little city so is impossible not to come here and discover the history of this city, which went from the bombings of World War II to its strategic position in the Cold War.

There are also exhibitions about Sami and Viking cultures.

 

Norway - Bodo - center

 

Bodo Tourist Information

Given the few things to do in Bodø, I looked for a few excursions to the Tourist Centre but unfortunately it was a bust, given its uselessness and the listlessness of the staff.
No useful information is given and therefore it could be a library where you browse maps and brochures.

The excursions on visitbodo.com are presented and also the eventual reservation must be made directly from this website, with payment in advance by credit or debit card.

Saltstraumen

400 million cubic meters of water flow in about 6 hours through a 3 kilometer long and 150 meter wide strait between the Salten Fjord and the Skjerstad Fjord, and the maelstrom can reach speeds uo 20 knots..
This phenomenon creates the worlds strongest tidal current and you see characteristic whirlpools up to 10 meters in diameter and 5 metres deep.

I booked the excursion on visitbodo.com but the NOK 495 (just over € 50.00) seemed too expensive.
The bus takes the independent travellers in front of the library and then heads to the port to pick up the passengers of the Hurtigruten ship (who have chosen to participate in the excursion, paying about double).
It do a quick tour of Bodø and then goes to Saltstraumen where arrives in about 45 minutes.
You have about 15 minutes to go down to the shore, take photos and see the current and the whirlpools that form.
Or you could choose another type of tour, challenging the current on board a zodiac.
The time is enough but still shamefully little in relation to the price of the excursion.
Arrival at the port of Bodø is scheduled for around 14.50, in time for the departure of the Hurtigruten ship to the Lofoten Islands.

 

Norway - Bodo - Saltstraumen

 

HOW TO GET

Plane

Bodø Airport is located 1.5 kilometres south-west from the city centre.

SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe are the main airlines connecting the city to Oslo, Trondheim, Tromsø, Bergen, Narvik, Svolvær and others.

Train

Bodø Station is the terminus of the Nordlandsbanen and was opened by King Olav V on 7 June 1962.
From Bodø, a day and night train goes to Trondheim.

 

Norway - Bodo - houses Saltstraumen

 

Ship

Hurtigruten docks here twice a day: at 01.30 when heading south and at 12.30 when heading north.
I chose to arrive here by plane from Trondheim and then continue the trip by ship to Honningsvag (the best port to reach Nordkapp – North Cape (and the real North Cape, Knivskjellodden) with stops at Lofoten Islands and Tromso.

 

Norway - Bodo - arrival Hurtigruten

WHERE TO SLEEP

Thon Hotel Nordlys

By booking well in advance, I found a great price for this hotel very closed to the port, 20 minutes from the Hurtigruten ship boarding and within walking distance from the airport.

The reception staff is kind and professional but I have to write a honorable comment deserves the extraordinary breakfast, wonderful and very rich thanks to the chefs who cook on sight and at least 4 waitresses always in the room to arrange everything and available to guests..

It was one of the best breakfasts ever, with a huge assortment of sweet, salty, salmon, drinks and fruit.
And a spectacular chocolate fountain that invites you to dive in.

 

 

Continue your trip to south (Trondheim or Oslo) or to north (Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Nordkapp – North Cape, Knivskjellodden or Svalbard Islands)

 

 

OSLO: FIRST STOP ON A TRIP TO NORWAY

On my last trips I chose physically hard ones, thinking that afterwards it will be more difficult to do similar experiences.
That’s why I had imagined going to Scandinavia in the future..
Instead some coincidence changed my plans and I decided to go to Norway before.
I never visit a country without going through its capital. And Oslo was the first destination of my long trip.

I had always associated Norway with snow, cold and northern lights. But of course there’s much more.
Norwegians have great maritime traditions, from Vikings toArcticexplorations. And not only that…

Is it possible a low cost trip to Norway? Maybe… but it’s very difficult..
Obviously the personal standards are different but you could take some precautions.
In Oslo for example Oslo Passis essential.
The cost is high (about € 40.00 for 24 hours, € 60.00 for 48 hours, € 75.00 for 72 hours) but it includes access to all museums, attractions and public transport, as well as discounts in some restaurants.
Admission tickets to the various museums are expensive and if you visit the major attractions, you would spend more than the cost of the Oslo Pass.

 

Norway - Oslo - City Hall

 

Oslo Visitor Centre

Seldom has an Information Centre really helped me, but that doesn’t apply in Oslo.
As soon as you arrive, you should just start at the Oslo Visitor Centre, inside the train station.
Someyoung people welcome you with the utmost kindness and answer every quick question.
For more detailed information or to buy tickets and subscriptions you have to take the number and wait in line. Sometimes you have to wait a long time so you could read the various tourist brochures, rich in details and available in many languages.

Nobels Fredssenter – Nobel Peace Prize Palace

Alfred Nobel became rich thanks to the 355 patents filed following his experiments about explosives (he invented also dynamite).
When his older brother died in an explosion during an experiment, some French newspapers believed that Alfred, “the merchant of death who made his fortune by finding a way to kill as many people as possible”, had died.
Shocked by these words, he decided to devote his immense fortune and the interests subsequently accrued by his investment funds to create a series of Nobel Prizes for those who, during the previous year, contributed the most to serve humanity.

The award money, currently close to 9 million NOK (about € 870,000.00), is divided into five equal parts: to the person who made the most important discovery or invention in the field of physics, chemical, physiology/medicine, who produced the literary work most idealistic and to the person who has done the most for the fraternity among nations, for theabolition or reduction of armies and for the training and increase of peace congresses.

Of course, the nationality of the candidates should not be taken into account in the awarding of prizes.
Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and literature are commonly considered to be the most prestigious in these fields.
The Nobel Peace Prize, especially lately, is often accompanied by controversy over the political evaluations that motivate it.

 

Norway - Oslo - Nobel Peace Center

 

The Oslo Card convinced me to go in but unfortunately the initial scepticism was reinforced minute after minute.
There are temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. There are temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. I found a photographic exhibition about changes in generational values but I don’t understand what consumerism, sex and cosmetic surgery have to do with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Upstairs, on the other hand, it is one-way politics that is the master, a clear demonstration of how unfortunately the Nobel Peace Prize has become almost the nobel for exporters of peace and democracy.

This disappointment does not make me buy souvenir in the large shop or in the bar inside.

Kon-Tiki Museum

My high school math and physics teacher used to tell us that “we are all ignorant“. There are those who take offence and those who understand that this is only the truth because we can’t know everything.
Ignorance, i.e. ignoring something, must in fact push our curiosity towards knowledge.
I had never heard of the Kon-Tiki and when I entered the museum that hosts it I was speechless.

 

Norway - Oslo - Kon Tiki - museum

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard the name of Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl. And yet we should all know him.

Certain of his studies, he wanted to show that some ancient populations were capable of transoceanic travels.
He was sure that the Polynesian islands had been colonized in pre-Columbian era by the peoples of South America and not by the West.
This is because winds and currents in the Pacific generally run from east to west and also because in Polynesia there are animals and plants common in South America.

How could he prove this? In the only possible way: doing it!

 

Norway - Oslo - Kon Tiki - museum

 

Thor Heyerdahl, hydrophobic with minimal swimming ability and no experience as a sailor, built the Kon-Tiki with prehistoric materials, methods and technologies.
The balsa wood raft sailed from the port of Callao, Peru,on April 28, 1947 and reached the atoll of Raroia, now French Polynesia, on August 7.
Thor Heyerdahl, Erik Hesselberg, Bengt Danielsson, Knut Haugland, Torstein Raaby and Herman Watzinger succeeded in the incredible feat of covering about 4,500 nautical miles (about 8,000 km) in 101 days on this raft, the legendary Kon-Tiki.

 

Norway - Oslo - Kon Tiki - museum photo

 

In 1955 Heyerdahl organized a scientific expedition to Easter Island.
When he arrived on the island only the heads of the famous moai were visible, but thanks to his excavations it was possible to unearth the statues in their entirety.

 

Norway - Oslo - Thor Heyerdahl and the buried moai of Easter Island

 

Norway - Oslo - Thor Heyerdahl digs the Easter Island moai

Various experiments were also carried out on carving, transporting and positioning the moai.
With the help of only 5 people, with rudimentary techniques and tools, he managed in three days to carve an entire twelve-ton statue in volcanic tuff.
Only 18 men with ropes, a wooden sledge and a special stone base hoisted and “walked” a moai demonstrating that it was possible and also easy.

 

Norway - Oslo - Thor Heyerdahl and the Moai of Easter Island

 

On the island he also discovered representations of reed boats with master mast and sail and was convinced that the ancient Mediterranean civilizations sailed in the Atlantic Ocean and reached Central and South America.
Again, he could only prove it by doing the same kind of trip.

In 1969, in front of the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, Heyerdahl built thepapyrus boat,inspired by ancient Egyptian ships, and named it Ra in honor of the Sun God.

 

Norway - Oslo - Ra construction in front of the Pyramid of Cheops

He sailed from Safi, Morocco, but after almost 5,000 km travelled in 8 weeks, and only 160 km from the arrival, he was forced to ask for help and finish the expedition.
Due to some design errors and a broken rudder, the reeds let in a lot of water and Heyerdahl feared that the Ra would sink with all the crew on board.

Ten months later the Norwegian adventurer launched the smaller but stronger Ra II with the help of four Aymaras natives from the Bolivian area of Lake Titicaca who are used to sail with similar boats (you can still visit the floating islands on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru).

 

Norway - Oslo - Kon Tiki - museum

 

On May 17, 1970, he sailed from Morocco, traveled about 4,000 miles of ocean in 57 days, and finally reached Barbados.

The crew was composed by Thor Heyerdahl, Carlo Mauri (italy), Jurij A. Senkevich (Russia), Santiago Genoves (Mexico), Norman Baker (Usa), Kei Ohara (Japan) and Madani Ait Ouhanni (Morocco).

Vikingskipshuset – Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum houses four Viking ship buried in the Oslo Fjord area: found between 1852 and 1904 in Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune and Borre.
Three of the ships contained graves that have survived to this day: the ship Oseberg should date back to the year 820 AD, the ship Gokstad just before before 900 AD and the ship Tune about 910 AD.
From the ship in Borre’s tomb (900 AD) today only iron nails remain.

The three ships had been at sea for several years before being pulled ashore and used as funeral ships. The dead were placed in special chambers on board.
They were buried with generous supplies of food and drink, various animals, and a large number of objects.

The Oseberg was used as a women’s funeral ship, while Gokstad and Tune were reserved for men.

 

Norway - Oslo - Viking Ship

 

The Gokstad ship had been in use for some years before a local commander was buried there with his many gifts: beds, boats, a tent, a sledge, dogs, horses and peacocks.
This ship is built of oak and measures 24 meters long and 5 metres wide. It’s the largest of the three, with space for 32 rowers.
The oar-holes could be closed with wooden covers when the ship was sailing.
The Gokstad reached a speed of more than twelve knots and could sail to Iceland.

Most of the items were well preserved because the ships had been buried in damp soil and covered with clay and grass, but since no jewels and weapons were found, they were supposedly looted.

Seeing Viking ships is exciting and unmissable during a trip to Oslo.

 

Fram Museum

This museum too, close to the one described above, is definitely worth an accurate visit.

The ship Fram was the first ship built in Norway specifically for polar research. It was used in three important expeditions: from Fridtjof Nansen drifting on theArctic Ocean from 1893 to 1896, from Otto Sverdrup in the Arctic archipelago west of Greenland (1898-1902) and from Roald Amundsen in Antarctica for his expedition to the South Pole (1910-1912).
This means that the ship occupies a unique position in the history of exploration, having been able to reach both the North Pole and South Pole.

 


The Fram is really impressive and it’s easy to imagine yourself inside it when virtual images of big sea and glaciers navigation are projected on the sides.

Here you have a first approach about studies on the conquest of the North Pole. For many years the Arctic currents and winds between Greenland and Siberia have been analyzed, but all attempts to reach the North Pole through the Arctic ice failed.
That’s why it was necessary to design what would become thestrongest wooden ship ever built.

 

Norway - Oslo - Fram Museum

 

Its structure, 40 meters long and 11 meters wide, was designed so that it would not directly face the pressure of the Arctic pack, but to take advantage of the movement of the ice, climb above the pack and thus be transported adrift to the North Pole (or at least very close).
It also needed to be comfortable for the crew, who would have to spend several years on board.

The ship was built thanks to the economic support of Norway and many private citizens who were proud to contribute to its success.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

Oslo amazed me and taught me many things I’d never heard of.
Because traveling for me is also discovering, learning, coming home better than when I left.
The first approach with Norway was definitely positive. Its capital city given me the adventure of his ancestors and a great sense of peace.
Not so much, as said, about the current value of the Nobel Prize, but for a general respect for nature (the cleanliness of the city is total and I had never seen so many electric and hybrid vehicles) and for people (sometimes bikes and cars stop so far from the pedestrian crossings that you don’t even realize they’re thinking about you).
I know that these topics may seem trivial for people who live in Norway or in other similar countries, but I think it’s incredible and unexpected for most of the tourists and travelers who come here.

Oslo was only the first stop of my trip to Norway, click here to discover the continuous…

 

Norway - Oslo - Opera House - Operahuset

 

 

SHARKS DIVING

I’m an islander so I have a very strong love with the sea.
I took scuba diving certification because you can’t know the marine world without going deep.
After some dives in Sardinia, I started thinking about sharks.

I have seen many videos made in South Africa but the cages were not my maximum aspiration.
Both because in life I don’t like being in a cage, and because it’s a very cruel practice for sharks.
In fact, they are attracted with baits and it is not uncommon for the shark to get hurt or to get stuck in the cage until it even dies from his injuries.
In my travels I learned to respect animals and this was not the experience I was looking for.
To see the sharks I wanted to go to their natural habitat, to see them free.
So I looked for a way to make this dream come true (but it would be better to call it madness) and I found 4 possible destinations: South Africa, Hawaii, Bahamas and Fiji.
I don’t know if there are others place but the cosmic coincidences have brought me to Fiji, where for many divers you do the best diving with sharks in the world.

Here, in fact, you can see up to eight different species of sharks: black fin, white fin, gray, silver, tawny nurse, tiger, lemon and bull sharks .
Obviously sharks are the centerpiece of the dive but the ocean could also be crowded with Labori Maori fish, rainbow, giant carango, moray, groupers, rays, turtles and over 400 species of tropical coral reef fish.
In short, those who hate aquariums and want to see free animals in their natural habitat must come here.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

BEQA LAGOON

About three hours by car from Nadi International Airport and one hour from the capital Suva, there is Pacific Harbour, the main base for all tour in the Beqa Lagoon.
Here in 2004 Shark Reef Marine Reserve was established, an example of sustainable and efficient ecotourism.
An international team of scientists is constantly engaged in research on animal species that live in this area of ​​the Pacific Ocean, the world capital of soft coral.
You cannot think of protecting sharks if you are not also working on habitat conservation.
The companies that manage the marine reserve, in agreement with the government, carry out a sustainable economy project with local fishermen (who have a huge increase in fishing outside the reserve) and with the community (many of them work as underwater guides or as guardians).
Part of the money earned is also spent on education, infrastructure, equipment and waste recycling.

 

Fiji Islands - Pacific Harbour

 

PREPARATION

Once my madness is decided, I immediately think of how to do it.
I watched a lot of videos on Youtube, read the stories of divers in specialized sites and contacted hostels and hotels until I found the center that organizes sharks dives.
There are limited tickets so you have to book in advance.
Two dives with equipment reanta cost about € 150,00.

After booking, I spent the time I needed to review the theory, do some diving in Sardinia and watch videos to be mentally ready for what I would find in the Beqa Lagoon.

Then came the day of departure. It took almost 24 hours to reach Nadi from Cagliari and exiting the airport I immediately found a van to Suva with stop in Pacific Harbor.
Almost all guests in this area are divers who will participate in this show.

On the fateful day the tension is palpable and even the most experienced divers have a lot of emotions.
Someone has thousands of euros of equipment, I simply have a bathing suit, mask, towel and gopro.
Talking to someone I notice their amazement because I have only about twenty dives and have not experiences with “easier” sharks.
But I’m like this, I don’t like the middle ground and I have to go immediately beyond the limit.

A van takes everyone to the port. After the bureaucratic formalities, wetsuits are put on and we are divided into two boats.
To reach the place of the dive it takes about 20 minutes of navigation in which the technical briefing is held.
With clarity and great excitement, the guides explain what will happen down there and how to behave, both underwater and in case of emergency on board.
Then suddenly the boat stops, we quickly check ourselves and go in the water.

THE FIRST DIVE

Almost everything that can go wrong in a dive happened to me in the first dive.
I don’t have much experience so I go into the water among the last ones, so I saving air.
We are about 30 people but, unexpected for me, we have not formed couples to go down safely.
So we all found ourselves in a row near the boat until the words that started the dive: “let’s go down as quickly as possible to -100 ft“.
This was not the signal I expected.

I start to descend slowly but quickly, soon finding myself alone around -65 ft.
I search one divers to continue safely but at least 20 people have already reached the established point, the others are above me with difficulty in go down.
While I ask me if it’s safer to end the descent on my own or wait for someone to reach me, I see a shark about 30 ft away.
Don’t ask me what shark it was, don’t ask me how many ft it was big… It’s the first sharks I see and I hadn’t imagined seeing it this way.
I go down as fast as possible thinking only “let’s go, before it sees you!“.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

But once I arrive at the established point, “the Cathedral”, I have more problems.
Because the videos you see on Youtube (but then I’ll do similar one) show perfect situations, calm breathing, stable images, serene divers resting on the coral reef.
The reality is damn different..

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

I thought to find a stable reef but there are only rocks on the seabed.
And at -100 ft sea current is very strong.
Maybe the situation or because lack of experience, but no one keep the structure and stay still.
When one moves, he moves at least 5 divers.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

That’s while a lot of sharks are feasting a few inches from us.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

When the situation has become too dangerous (or perhaps when the shark meal is over, I don’t know) the guides show the way to the second part of the dive, swimming countercurrent.
We are about -50 ft.
Here I find a better location. But the calm finishes soon.

On the right side, the current is visibly stronger and if I and others are repaired, the divers in that area have so many difficulties.
They cannot stand still and are swept from one side to the other, to practically involve the whole group.
Now, like inside a giant washing machine, there is chaos: it’s impossible not to inadvertently give and receive elbows, kicks and shots of scuba tank or lose something (cam but even worse the air source)..
Impossible not to end the dive and bring everyone back to the surface.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

But every diver, even the most experienced, knows that the main danger is always one: the air.
In a similar dive, even if it only lasted 25 minutes, can happen what you imagine: someone finish air in the scuba tank.
I have seen at least one other person with this problem.
Yes, another one, because I finished my air, at about -30 ft.

Near me there is however one of the guides and at the classic signaling gesture, I immediately receive the emergency air source (regarding the videos at home I’ll see that obviously there were various safety tanks in the water).
The ascent continues without further problems.
Once on the surface, I jump on the boat, realizing that I have lost my gopro.
Resigned, I notice one of the guides who descends without hesitation, recovering the cam (and also ending the video with sharks near him).

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

On the boat I need a few minutes to recover serenity. I’m not terrified but I think everything happened in the deep.
Others have not seen beautiful momentis. Someone has seen anything.
As mentioned, some divers at the beginning of the dive immediately found themselves in difficulty and, feel panic or isolated, come back on the boat.

THE SECOND DIVE

With a cup of hot tea and something to eat, the moment of an important decision is approaching: do the second dive or stay on the boat?

I admit that I have long chosen the second option.
Too many things have happened down there, I don’t want to relive a similar experience, once I was lucky but I don’t know if the second would have the same result, I saw the free sharks in their habitat and maybe I’ll get a video from other sub…

But then I think the worst has already happened and it can’t happen again after a few minutes, I saw the sharks but I didn’t really admire them, I’m here, having lost and recovered my gopro means that I have to reuse it.
In short, I decide to do the second dive but to change my strategy.

I prepare well in advance and go into the water third.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

This allows me to go to -100 ft with the guides and choose the place sheltered from all currents.

I see the first curious sharks who observe us moving very slowly.
Now it must be all right and I just think not to get upset because everything depends on me.
While the rest of the group finishes the descent and settles down on the seabed, I’m relaxed, with the perfect set-up, I concentrate on slow breathing and my gopro is stabilized.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

Thousands of fish color the water and the number of sharks increases quickly.
They are curious, come up to a few centimeters and then change direction when I start to think that they are banging on me.. They are wonderful and it’s a very strong emotion to see them free, a dream come true.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

Then it’s time for lunch: a bin full of fish opens slowly and the sharks show all their power. They move more frantically and the water becomes cloudy.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

I enjoy an incredible show. I’m inside one of the many documentaries seen on TV.
About 100 sharks are close to me, almost caressing me, we can look each other in the eyes.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

In the meantime thousands of fish are hurtling in all directions, perhaps to recover the crumbs left by the owners of the oceans.
We are guests in their home. Privileged guests.
I was mentally prepared for this dive so I live it with total relax.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

The bin is moved horizontally so that all divers can live the same experience. I live what I was unable to see in the first dive.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

After about 15 minutes the guides repeatedly beat the air tank: it’s the signal that the dive must end and we have to begin the procedures for ascending to the surface.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

I don’t know if something went wrong with other divers but I think it’s likely.

However, I’m happy to have lived this experience and my video will excite me every time.

CONCLUSIONS

Diving with sharks is a difficult experience to explain if you don’t live it.
I wrote in the simple present tense to involve you in every moment and in every emotion.

Probably I risked a lot because my little experience but also divers with much more experience come back to the boat unable to get off quickly and others have still had difficulty managing the current.
Perhaps safety has not been impeccable but diving in Beqa Lagoon started a lot of years ago and no one has ever been killed or seriously injured.

However, you are surrounded by large sharks, potentially lethal predators that must be respected.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

I think that animals which lives in this area of ​​the Pacific Ocean are now accustomed to divers and to receive the daily, certain, predictable and punctual meal.
We could also discuss how ethical this is, but I think that is important not to harm animals, and this happens, as shown by all scientific research.
These activities also guarantee the protection of sharks because they allow local communities to live thanks to the thousands of divers (amateurs, professionals, scientists, biologists, film directors etc.) who go daily to the Fiji Islands to live this incredible experience.

You should try it at least once in your life.

 

Fiji Islands - Beqa Lagoon - diving with sharks without cage

 

ISLA HOLBOX: THE ISLAND OF RELAX

My first big disappointment

In Isla Holbox I had the first big disappointmen in my travels.

I have always associated Mexico with the EZLN and the Mayans but when I started planning my trip I looked for everything that might interest me.
Among the various possibilities, I discovered that the waters of Holbox Island are frequented, at certain times of the year, by whale sharks.
Up to 62 ft lenght and weighing 93,000 lb, it’s the largest non-cetacean animal in the world.
It’s not dangerous for humans (unless you get hit swimming too close) because it feeds mainly on plankton.
So I decided to spend two nights on the island to see this giant of the seas in its natural habitat.

But the weather disagreed.

 

Mexico-Isla-Holbox-road

 

Isla Holbox greeted me with a heavy deluge and the rain fell almost uninterruptedly for 4 days, stopping boats and chance of seeing whale sharks.
I canceled my reservation in Cancun to stay and wait for a better weather but it didn’t change.
With many regrets, I had to leave the island to fly to Cuba.

When you don’t go to a zoo, you risk not seeing the animals you were looking for.
For the first time since I started traveling, I had to deal with nature.

It also happened to me a few years later in Fiji, when too much wind kept the giant manta rays away.
But I must also say that I was lucky to see penguins in Patagonia, polar bears in Svalbard Islands, elephants in Laos, pandas in China, sharks in Fiji and whales in Tonga.

 

A goodbye is a new beginning

Certain places will remain forever linked to some fundamental decisions of our life.

Trolley or backpack? Sooner or later we all think about this question.
The answer is often determined by the type of trips and experiences.

I started traveling with a trolley because it’s easy to choose the comfort of the wheels compared to a weight to carry on the back.
But is this still valid?

Have you ever had to carry your trolley with all its weight on one side of your body, unbalance, up an infinite wooden staircase, then walk under a deluge for 2 km on an island where there are no asphalted roads but only sand, with the wheels that lock and become an additional slowing down while you’re completely soaked?
Yes, all this happened to me in Isla Holbox!!

Here, for this reason, I decided to say goodbye forever to my trolley and start my life as a backpacker traveler.

And I never regretted it.

 

Mexico-Isla-Holbox-hostel

 

WHAT TO DO IN ISLA HOLBOX

I escaped in advance from the eternal crazy fun of Cancun to arrive in about 3 hours in the slow and calm Holbox.
The whole island is pedestrian zone so you could walk in search of the best souvenir or Mexican restaurant with the best tacos, lobster or ceviche.
Excluding work needs, the only means of transport are bikes and golf cars. Yes, just the electric cars used at the golf courses.
In the evening, residents and travelers go in pubs or in the main square, where there is live music.

The beaches are long stretches of fine white sand, with shallow water that degrades very slowly.

 

Mexico-Isla-Holbox

 

Holbox is part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve and is a natural refuge for various endangered species.
Most of the inhabitants are interested in keeping this ecosystem intact and participate in sustainable tourism projects.
From May to September it is usually possible to swim with whale sharks but, as mentioned, unfortunately the weather was not my friend and I was unable to live this experience.

If there are whale sharks, it means that there is also their favorite food: plankton.
Fireflies are the first animal we associate with the emission of light.
This phenomenon occurs thanks to some chemical reactions that take place in their body and involves many living organisms. Among these there is also plankton.

These organisms are unable to actively swim and are therefore transported by waves and currents.
And when the plankton shines in the dark, you see a spectacular sea of ​​stars.

 

Isla Holbox - Mexico - plankton bioluminescence

 

According to some scientific studies, bioluminescence is a defense weapon used by these microorganisms.
The intensity of the lightning flash at night annoys various predators, often photophobic, and also makes them visible to hunters of a higher trophic level.

At night, especially in the western part of the island, it is therefore possible to see the bioluminescence of plankton.

Besides total rest, other possible activities are kayaking in the mangroves of the lagoon and the observation of animals such as flamingos and pelicans.

 

Mexico-Isla-Holbox-boats

 

 

Pelican-mexico-isla-holbox

TRIP TO THE MAYAN CULTURE

HISTORY AND AGRICULTURE

I’m Sardinian, descendant of the Shardana warriors, people of the sea that nobody has ever known how to fight and nobody defeated them.
That’s why ancient civilizations have always fascinated me and my trip to Mexico could only include a few days to dedicate to them.

I had seen many photos of these places, but being there was a great emotion, a point of arrival.
Previously I had already seen the Great Wall but they are too different, not comparable works.
But I can do it with similar sites: the Aztec city of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is equally beautiful.
The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia, are what most amazed me in all my travels.
I know to be one of the very few people in the world to think that, compared to the world heritage just mentioned, for me Machu Picchu is one of the most disappointing and overrated places.

But let’s go in order:

Archaeologists believe that the appearance of the Mayan civilization dates about back to 2500 BC.
Over the centuries they have become phenomenal astronomers, studying perfectly the movements of stars and planets.
They used these discoveries in agriculture, following the rain and crop cycles.
And this knowledge is still use in Chiapas by indigenous peoples and Zapatista communities.

THE MAYA CALENDAR

The Mayans were among the first in Mesoamerica to write with a logosyllabic alphabet and still leave scientists marvel because their sophisticated and complex astronomical calendars.
The calculations were so perfect that they are still more precise than we currently use.
In fact, the Earth makes a complete turn around the Sun in 365.242189 days.
For the Mayans, one year lasted 365.242036 days while in our gregorian calendar 365.2425 days are considered.

 

Mayan-calendar

 

The Mayans used 3 intersecting calendars:
– the religious calendar (tzolkin): it combined 13 numbers with 20 names, thus creating a period of 260 days,
– the civil calendar (haab): like ours, composed by 365 days but divided into 18 months with 20 days each, plus 5 “additional” days,
– the long cycle: indicates the number of days since the beginning of the Mayan era and is the most complex system, using a mixed base-20 / base-18 mathematical representation of a number.

I try to explain it.
It consists of kin (1 day), uinal (1 = 20 kin), tun (1 = 18 uinal = 360 days), katun (1 = 20 tun = 7200 days, about 20 years), baktun (1 = 20 katun = 144,000 days, approximately 394 years)

Kin, tun e katun are numbered from 0 to 19, uinal from 0 to 17.
On the numbering of baktun, there are different opinions.
There are those who limit it to 13 and from this was the theory that the Maya considered December 21, 2012 as the date of the end of the world.
According to the Mayan calendar, that date would have been 12.19.19.17.19 i.e. 12 baktun, 19 katun, 19 tun, 17 uinal, 19 kin.
The next day it therefore became 0.0.0.0.0 or 13.0.0.0.0
Other scientists instead consider the limit of the baktuns at 19 and in this case the day 19.19.19.17.19 of the long cycle will be in the year 4772.

According to these calculations, the day 0 of the Maya, or better the day 0.0.0.0.0, would be August 13, 3114 BC.

 

ASTRONOMY

The Mayan world revolved around a celestial map.
The cities were built in such a way that the buildings allowed observation of the sun, moon, planets and constellations.
Some astronomical object are visible exactly in the center of a window during an eclipse.
The day of the equinox of spring and autumn Sun creates a play of light and shadow that draws the image of the Serpent God moving along the stairs of the temple.

 

Mexico-ceiba-tree

 

The ceiba was the sacred tree that united the 13 heavens, the Earth and the 9 levels of the realm of the dead.
This large structure operated according to the laws of astrology and the worship of ancestors.
Another fundamental aspect for the Maya were cardinal points: east (the most important because it indicates the sunrise and was represented with the red color), west (on the contrary indicates the sun that disappears and is therefore represented with black), north (from there the rains come, color white) and south (yellow like the southern sun).

 

GAMES AND SACRIFICES

An area dedicated to the “ball game” is clearly identifiable in all Mesoamerican cities.
It can’t be called football, but maybe it looked a lot like it.

 

Mexico-Mayan-city-pelota-game

 

Often it had a real religious meaning: the result decided some choices.
It is also almost certain that at the end of the game one or more players were offered as sacrifices to the gods.
In all cities there were one or more playgrounds.

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Yaxchilan

 

DISCOVERING MAYAN CITIES

The Mayan citieshave left me speechless.
They built imposing cities thanks to the abundant lime stone available.
The rulers built increasingly majestic temples, giant pyramidal structures dominated by a thatched roof building.

 

Mexico-Palenque

 

Some buildings are funerary monuments, inside which there were the tombs of the great Mayan rulers.
I didn’t expect such large and perfectly organized cities.
This not only for the beauty of the buildings, but for the nature that surrounds, hides and protects them.

 

Mexico-Palenque

 

PALENQUE

A few hours by car from San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the archaeological site of Palenque, in Chiapas, was the first one I saw and perhaps this is also why I’m am very tied to it.

 

Mexico-Palenque

 

The Mayan city is immersed in the jungle and many of the buildings are still hidden under tropical vegetation.
This doesn’t decrease the splendor we see, but gives a more mysterious and fascinating tone.
You have to stay at least 2 hours to visit it well.

Mexico-Palenque

 

Mexico-Palenque

Palenque was together with Tikal and Calakmul one of the most powerful city-states of the Maya, connected to others through commercial exchange networks or alliances between groups of sovereigns.

The old name of Palenque was Lakamba “place of the great waters“.
In the area there are in fact 56 springs and 9 independent streams, with waterfalls on the slopes of the urban plateau.

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Palenque

 

The Mayans knew how to manage water resources: they had underground aqueducts for residential areas and agricultural activities and prevented collapses and erosion thanks to the construction of canals and bridges.

Obviously, sacrifices to their deities were widespread.
Over a hundred ceramic urns containing resin, shells, food, but also blood and human and animal remains have been found.

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Palenque

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Palenque

 

YAXCHILAN

On the border with Guatemala he archaeological site of Yaxchilan stands instead.
You can get here only by sailing the historic Usumacinta River, the longest and most flowable river in Central America.

 

Chiapas - Mexico - Usumacinta River

 

Chiapas - Mexico - Yaxchilan

 

Mexico-Yaxchilan-ruins

 

Fruit of over 400 years of activity, in an environment characterized by a great biodiversity and the presence of the Usumacinta river, Yaxchilan became a powerful city with about 120 buildings in its central area, distributed between the lower part and parallel to the river and the limestone hills that rise to the south.

Yaxchilan and other Mayan cities in the Usumacinta Province built their temples with large ceilings supported by walls and decorated with wall paintings.
Based on the ceramic materials, architecture and hieroglyphic inscriptions, it has been defined that the city was inhabited since 250 AD to 900 AD, a period in which the entire Mayan civilization collapsed.

The buildings, which seen the hillside location made use of stairs, ramps and distribution terraces, were almost all red, unfortunately now invisible color today.

 

Mexico-Yaxchilan-ruins

 

Mexico-Yaxchilan-ruins

 

These areas are obviously the natural habitat of many animals.

 

Chiapas - Mexico - Monkey in Yaxchilan

 

 

monkey-mexico-yaxchilan

 

Tucano-Mexico-Yaxchilan-Maya

 

crocodile-mexico-yaxchilan

 

TULUM

Its strategic position made Tulum the hub of trade by sea, river and land.
Walls were also built to control local activities and to divide the upper classes from the common people who lived outside.
The facades of the buildings had bright colors and the city, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, was certainly wonderful.

 

Mexico-Tulum-castle

 

This area of Mexico, the Yucatàn Peninsula, emerged only 2 million years ago.
Its surface is calcareous and the action of water gives life to cenotes and caves.

In front of the city of Tulum, in the depths of the Caribbean Sea, there is the coral reef, currently the second in the world in size.

The Mayans from Tulum used the sea as their main source of livelihood, as food and to obtain work tools, utensils, ornamental and sacrificial objects.
They too, however, like the Mayans from Palenque and Yaxchilan, exploited agriculture by growing corn, beans, pumpkins, chillies, tomatoes and fruit and also hunted in the forest.

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Tulum

 

When the Spanish arrived, a cultural fusion began which led to the rapid sunset of the Mayan city of Tulum.
The site is the one I liked least because is impossible to go close to the buildings because of the too high number of tourists, especially from the resorts of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

 

Mexico-Tulum ruins

 

Even the small beach below was so crowded to make activities or rest impossible.

 

Mexico-City-Maya-Tulum

 

After the visit to the archaeological site and a dip in the water I preferred to move to quieter and more isolated beaches.

 

Mexico-Tulum-sea

 

 

MAGDALENFJORDEN: LIKE AN EXPLORER

Before start this travel, crossing the geographical limit of the 80th parallel North was one of the objective of my trip.
At Magdalenfjorden you can swim in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. That’s why I was looking forward to this day of expedition on the Hurtigruten. Read more

SVALBARD ISLANDS: TRIP TO THE NORTH POLE

I have always liked geography and I often find myself digging into memories looking for unusual and unknown destinations for future trips.
It is in one of these researches that the Svalbard Islands have become the enlightening destination.

The islands under the Norwegian flag, often even hidden by the arm of the earth’s axis in the globe, are the northernmost inhabited lands on our planet..

Read more

HOW TO BE THE NORTHERNMOST PERSON IN EUROPE

We think that North Cape (or Nordkapp) is the northernmost place in Europe, beyond which we cannot go.
This could be true if we did not consider some islands and lands covered mainly by glaciers.
But even in this case the name pushes us to error.

If you are in the balustrade near the famous globe’s sculpture and look the sea thinking to find only the infinite sea in front of you, you will be very surprised.

Read more

HOW TO GET TO NORTH CAPE (FOR TOURISTS)

The name North Cape immediately suggests that reaching it represents a fundamental stop in our life, or at least in the experience of travelers.

Imagining yourself here at the end of the world can be true, even if only in part.

Read more

CRUISE IN THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS AND SVALBARD

As an islander I have always seen ships as a means of transport to reach what in Sardinia we call “the continent”.
My style of traveling is very different from seeing a ship as a comfortable hotel/restaurant on which to spend most of the time, as if the portu cities were only a secondary interlude between a meal, a dance, a karaoke song, a dip in swimming pool and well-deserved rest at the end of the day.

The Hurtigruten can be used in both ways, so I have chosen it.

Read more

NATURE AND LEGENDS OF THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

NATURE AND SCIENCE

The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO heritage site since 1986, is an expanse of about 40,000 basaltic columns, mostly hexagonal, up to 28 meters high.
Science teaches us that over 60 million years ago, a submarine volcanic eruptionbrought to the surface a large lava mass that, in contact with wind and sea, cooled quickly, solidifying, contracting and generating the cracks that gave rise to these particular columns.

This is the Giant’s Causeway, constantly changing because column movements.

 

The Giant's Causeway - Ireland - basalt columns

 

The Giant's Causeway - Ireland - basalt columns

 

The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

 

 

 

Ireland - The Giant's Causeway - Giant's foot

 

 

THE LEGEND OF THE GIANT

Obviously this particular place can inspire a lot of legends.
One of the more known is about Fionn mac Cumhaill (name often Anglicanized in Finn McCool).
The gentle Irish giant built the road to reach Scotland and fights against rival giant Benandonner.
After building the causeway, tired from the great work, Fionn fell asleep.
he next morning, Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, found her husband snoring and heard the thunderous sound of Benandonner’s footsteps crossing the causeway. He was really huge and Fionn would have no hope of defeating him.
So Oonagh decided to put a nightgown on Fionn asleep to make him look like a child.
When Benandonner arrived home, he asked to meet the cowardly rival but Oonagh asked him not to scream or he would wake his son.
Benandonner, seeing the size of the “child”, worried about how great Fionn could be and so, frightened, he fled to Scotland destroying the causeway behind him.

 

if the chimneys are smoking The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

 

Humphrey the camel - The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

 

Humphrey the camel - The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

VISIT THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

The entrance fee costs £ 10, including the multilingual audio guide necessary to understand the origin of this particular site and the legends that surround it.
You can reach the columns either with a panoramic walk or with a bus (for a fee).
At the Visitor Center, sustainable and with an original structure that brings back to the basaltic columns, there is a bar and a souvenir shop.

 

beach - The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

 

HOW TO GET

Car

Outside the visitor center, big parking is available

 

Public transport

If you don’t have a car, public transports are a great way to come here.
Spending £ 17 for the iLink Zone4 allows to use trains and buses for 24 hours.

The city of Coleraine is the hub of connections with Belfast (buses 218) and Derry (buses 234).
From here you get on bus 172, direction Ballycastle, and get out at The Giant’s Causeway stop, 150 meters from the entrance to the Visitor Center.

 

Wind on the cliffs - The Giant's Causeway - Ireland

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