July 17, 2018 is indeed a memorable day.
I have to admit that I forgotten about the main reason until my good friend Ken reminded me. It is exactly fifty years, today, since I had to report for National Service (17 July 1968) and on that day I became a soldier. Included in my two years of military service was one-year of active service in Vietnam. Wow! How those years gave flown. On that day I had to report to the Army Engineer’s Depot in Swan Street, Richmond and once all the paperwork was completed, Ken and I were put on a bus to the Puckapunyal Army Base, some two hours north of Melbourne. Te military personnel were very polite and kind until we arrived at the Puckapunyal Base. Then they started shouting at us! We had no idea what lay before us, but it certainly changed our lives.
Now, on the July 17 this year (fifty years later), I am heading off on another adventure, but this time, I have a fair idea of what lies ahead of me. We are leaving for a five week trip to drive around Iceland and along the north Norwegian Coast.
This is more than half way around the globe for us. I checked it out on a website that enabled me to make a map of the antipodes – the point on the globe at which you would come out if you tunnelled directly through the centre of the earth. I thought that point might be be somewhere near Iceland but the point directly opposite Melbourne, Australia is in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean to the west of Portugal. Iceland is many thousands of kilometres to the north..
We will collect a car in Reykjavik and spend fourteen days driving around Iceland’s Ring Road. The distance of this trip will be about 2000 kilometres with stops in eleven locations. The challenge for this trip is that everywhere we are going is unpronounceable. Places such as Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Skútustaðir, Patreksfjörður and Brjánslækur are very hard for me to get my brain around; let alone my tongue!
Once back in Reykjavik, we take a flight to Oslo (via London) and then take the very scenic train to Bergen in Norway from where we collect a second rental car and drive north to the arctic city of Tromso. This will take us another 24 days travelling by car and on a number of ferries that will take us to the outlying areas that we will be visiting. I understand that this northern part of Norway is quite remote, so this should be an interesting adventure.
I’m fascinated by the apparent unevenness of the Earth. The Arctic (and Antarctic) Circle denotes the latitude at which the sun doesn’t set in the summer solstice, nor appear in the winter one. It’s at 66.30 degrees north and the same latitude south for the Antarctic Circle. There is a much larger landmass in the northern hemisphere. Tromso, our most northerly destination is just inside the arctic circle, yet to cross the Antarctic Circle, you would have to be on a ship in the deep south of Antarctica and surrounded by nothing but ice. Yet, there is still a relatively large amount of land mass even to the north of Tromso. Strange!
Stay tuned for regular updates and travel news/ I’m anticipating some very picturesque scenery, quaint villages and interesting food.