Thursday 31 May 2012

Morning Has Broken On Sea

What a nice day we had yesterday on the Faroes. All passengers loved the stay and the activities, specially those who had the wonderful boat trip to the Vestmanna Bird Cliffs.

After leaving the port of Torshavn, the captain brought the ship to the narrow magnificent sunds with high and step mountains in the northern part of the Faroes. Around 7.30 p.m we reached the Cape Enniberg, which is the second highest sea-cliff in Europe after Hornelen, in Norway. During the famous fashion show in the observation lounge we could see the beautiful high cliffs of the Faroe Islands for hours on our way to Iceland .
A day at sea, good time to relax after powerful days. But also good time for the multiple activities aboard.
Our lectures are busy preparing and doing their lessons. So we learned from Friederike about the
Atlantic-History. Or one could attend a humorous lecture by Klaus, about Iceland and the Islanders.

And the third lecture was about Iceland today after the crisis 2008 by Sabine. Last not least Anja
was given interesting informations to the excursions in Greenland. In the afternoon our bartenders in the
panorama lounge lured us with freshly waffles added with music in the air from our famous pianoman
Antonio. But not enough, after Dinner there was movie-time with a documentary about the poles.
The wonderful seaday ended with a radio-feature on the icelandic novel "Bankster"enjoying the
view of the lovely waves.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Welcome to the Faroe Islands

Early in the morning the MS Fram passed the most southerly islands of the Faroes. A lot of passengers were on the outer decks or viewing the islands out of observations lounge. The sea was calm and the visibility was good. The MS Fram docked at the piet in Torshavn, the main city of the Faroes at 11 a.m..
Gaelic monks from Irland settled the Faroes in the 6th century. According to the Færyinga Saga norwegian vikings settled on the Faroes in the 9th century and they are still there! Very friendly inhabitants. Today the Faroe Islands with a population of about 50.000 people are a self-governing over seas adiministrative division of Denmark with a strong impetus towards independence.
Torshavn is by far the largest town in the Faroe Islands and it is also the capital. The cute and smal houses of the old town is a cosy place where people want to live. Close to the harbour is the Løgtingid, the Faroese parliament. The Nordic House on the top of the city was visited of some of us. It is the most important cultural institution in the Faroes.
Some of the guests visited the smal village of Kirkjubour a former episcopal residence for the Diocese of the Faroe Islands and as such the spiritual centre of the society until reformation. Others were on the western island of Vagar on a round trip and many of our guests took a boat trip to the magnificent Vestmanna bird cliffs.
Bye bye Faroe Islands, my home for nearly 30 years.

The Shetland Islands – Island of superlatives

The Shetland Islands are an archipelago located between Scotland/Orkney, Norway and the Faroe Islands. They are the northernmost part of Great Britain. Perhaps you can even say the islands lie in the middle of nowhere between the North Sea and the open Atlantic. The climate is mild and wet and influenced by the Gulfstream. 

People settle on the islands since more than 5000 years what makes the island so very interesting for historians. All over the islands you can find relicts from former houses or settlements. So is for example the so called “Mousa Broch” - something like an old stone burg out of the Iron Age - very well-known.

But most tourists visit the islands as they are famous for their wild life. It is still springtime so far in the north. The sheep got just their lamb, the Shetland ponies their foal and the flowers just start to bloom. 

And what are the birds doing? Of course they have their spring feelings too. Some are still mating but most are sitting on their nest for breeding. That is the best time of the year to watch sea birds. The sea around the Shetland Island is very high-producing and that is the reason why so many different species of birds are breeding in the steep cliffs. 

In the water next to the coast we were watched by a Grey Seal. On sandy banks we could watch Harbor Seals relaxing in the warm sun. 

For the naturalists under the passengers the day was like heaven. Especially as it was so sunny and warm most of us didn´t want to leave the islands.

But tomorrow is another day that will be filled with new experiences. We are heading forward to the Faroe Island where we expect to be tomorrow in the late morning. The sea is still calm and we have just enough wind that the huge Northern Gannets and Northern Fulmars can join us in a spectacular evening light.  

Monday 28 May 2012


Last night we left Aberdeen and this morning FRAM reached the port of Kirkwall, Orkney Islands at 7.30. The outside temperature was already 9°C and the weather improved during the day.

With a population of 8500, Kirkwall is the main town and capital of the Orkneys. St Magnus cathedral –owned by the people- and the Bishop Palace, rise over a town surrounded by rolling hills.
Nature and the elements dictate the place of life here. Spring and summer bring a flush of green and agriculture is still the main activity, while the fishing industry comes second.

First mentioned in the Saga in 1046, Kirkwall and the Orkneys are a place of history. Here you will find some of the most famous archaeological sites in Europe like the Skara Brae, the Standing Stones of Stennes or the newly discovered Neolithic Temple at Ness of Brodgar. Many of us enjoyed a guided visit to some of those historical sites.

Others went for bird watching to a place called Marwik Head, a nature reserve managed by the RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds), Europe’s biggest society dedicated to the protection of seabirds. This is the place where the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea meet: here thousands of guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and puffins raise their chicks on the cliffs.
On their way they all enjoyed a stop at the “Loons”, a wetland with a very good viewing platform: swans, geese, ducks, curlew and other waders were spotted. Before returning back to town a stop allowed them to see the peat bogs, peat being still a mean of heating the homes on the island.

While visiting Kirkwall, we all agreed on the special atmosphere that comes with this place, a mix of history and modern life, with good shopping opportunities. FRAM left the port of Kirkwall at 21.00, heading for the Shetlands, some 100 nautical miles north of here, and were we will spend another day of discovery.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Whit Sunday and Footdee

Another wonderful sunny day in Scotland! We arrived in Aberdeen early at 8 o’clock, but we are all early birds and most of us stood on the deck, when Benno described the harbour and the first views on Aberdeen. Aberdeen was founded in 1179. Today the town is named “Silver City by The Sea” because of the grey houses built of granite. It was impressive on the city tour to see the different grey buildings and architectural styles. We saw f. ex. St. Marchar’s Cathedral and the old, venerable university. After enjoying driving on a Sunday-morning – less traffic – we drove to the small castles on the country-side. And as always we recognized that the very nice houses are outside center.

Crathes Castle is not only one of the most beautiful and best preserved castles in Scotland, belonging to one family for over 350 years. Today it belongs to the National Trust of Scotland. Besides the nicely decorated rooms we really loved the gardens, which are divided into eight themed areas by Irish yew hedges which date from 1702. The landscape close to Aberdeen is amazing. Soft hills coloured by different greens and formed by the river Dee.

Some of us walked to the nearby beach close to the harbour, but the real highlight wasn’t the sun or the gardens, it is the tiny little old fishing village Footdee (pronounced “Fittie”). The puzzling cottages have small gardens and are colourful decorated. Outside the houses the people enjoyed obviously the life sitting in the sun, playing with their children and having a cup of tea.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Historic Scotland!

Some people say in German that "the angel is travelling with us" when you have sunshine on a trip! If the weather stays how it was yesterday and today- please all angels on board report to the bridge! To make a long story short: The sun is setting right now here in Edinburgh- and it has been a beautiful, sunny, warm and fantastic day...And we were welcomed by a young lady playing the pipes for us.

We arrived the lock at 09:00hours at Leith harbor and enjoyed Bennos commentaries. Most impressive is definately the "Royal Yacht Britannia" that is just berthed next to us. The representative vessel of the monarchy went out of service in 1997- and today you are welcome to sit in the tea room where the queen has been a few years ago and enjoy a high tea.
Organized tours brought us to the town and we had time to explored the town on a city tour, visited the castle or the Queens Gallery. Jean Louis escorted a tour through "Royal Scotland" and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. .
It was time enough to see many sights, even though traffic was a bit crazy due to two demonstrations and the preparation of the Marathon that takes place tomorrow. High Street, the old main street in Edinburgh, was full of street artists, people selling souvenirs while others enjoyed a coffee in the sunshine- or a great pint! It is definately worth to come back here again
We will leave at midnight today and many enjoyed a long Saturday night out. Aberdeen- here we come!

Friday 25 May 2012

A perfect start

Our first day aboard MV FRAM on our way to Leith in Scotland was a sea day. But it was not a normal  day for this region. The North Sea can be so unbelievable rough but we had  nice and calm water under a blue and sunny sky. What a first day for our trip to the high Arctic! We can be sure, that the temperature will change soon; but hopefully the sun will stay with us for a long time!

For those of you, reading the blog anywhere in the world, please do not believe that a sea day like today is a relaxing day. No, no and another time no. Our lecturers used the opportunity to have us all aboard for teaching us in different lessons. So we became nearly perfect Biologists for fish, marine mammals and seabirds. In the evening we had a briefing for tomorrow and so we feel very well prepared for our landing in Leith/Edinburgh.

But to say the truth – we had of course free time too. It was wonderful to rest in the sun, to read a book, have a drink in the bar or talk to other guest. There was also time for little nap after lunch. Let´s say it in a short way: we had a perfect day!

Thursday 24 May 2012


Today we reached Hamburg, the end of our fantastic trip through the Baltic Sea. There is no words to describe the beauty of all the towns we visited under a warm sun. Last night we passed the Kiel Channel connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, and in the early morning sunshine we sailed on the Elbe.
We had three different pilots on board, the first one for the Channel, the second one for the Elbe and finally a third one for the harbour, those guys know how to share a business.

All of us enjoyed the scenery: lots of trees, yacht clubs, nice mansions, the five stars hotel « Louis Jacob » on one side, and the industrial zone with shipyards and among other companies the aircraft builder Airbus on the other side. Benno felt really at home here and gave us lots of insider information about Hamburg and the life in town: art, culture, architecture, business, sports, transportation and more.

Later in the morning our passengers left the ship, and they told us that they were ready to come back again. For the crew, this was a day of hard work as the new passengers arrived in the afternoon.
After check in and a short discovery tour of the ship, our guests were invited to the mandatory safety drill on deck 5.

Fram left the harbour of Hamburg at 18.15, still under a beautiful sun. Hamburg gave us great impressions of modern architecture. After dinner, we all went to the observation lounge for the captains’ welcome cocktail. Captain Rune Andreasen introduced some of the officers and kept us updated about the weather forecast. Our expedition leader Anja Erdmann introduced her team of lecturers and all agreed that we are en route for a great sailing experience, en route to Greenland.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Time to say good bye!

Our last day: that means: a last time lectures, a last lunch, a last time waffles in the observation lounge, a “Captain´s Farewell Cocktail”, a last dinner in the restaurant and …. That sounds a little bit sad, but there are nice things too: meeting with passengers which became new friends during the trip, nice talking in the bar and perhaps the most important thing – nice memories of a sunny trip around the Baltic Sea.

To let everybody know how wonderful our trip has been we will show an abstract of pictures from the whole trip, starting in Stockholm. If anybody becomes jealous, you are welcome at any time aboard MV FRAM!