Tag Archives: Narvik

17 MARCH 2019. NARVIK, NORWAY: WINTER FESTIVAL

By Corey Sandler

We are back in Narvik during the peak of the Winter Festival, the Vinterfestuka. Sundays are always sleepy in places like this, but town very much felt like the morning after the night before.

We did, though, see buses pulling up in town collecting locals heading to church and the parties to follow.

The festival celebrates the construction of the railroad that connects Narvik on the Norwegian Sea to the interior of Sweden at Kiruna about 1900. That railroad was built to haul iron ore from Sweden to the coast and mile-long trains still rumble over the mountain pass to town daily.

The loading station for LKAB, the mining and railroad company that transports iron ore from Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik for loading onto waiting freighters

It was that railroad that attracted the interest of the Germans and the Allies at the start of World War II, and a major naval battle was fought in the narrow bounds of the fjord in town. Nearly all of Narvik was burned to the ground by the Germans when they eventually retreated near the end of the conflict.

Festivalgoers wear special clothing: black trousers and a flannel shirt with vest for the men; a long black skirt and colorful shawl for the women.

Those of us coming from the ship wore our warmest winter clothing, any color, any length.

Here are some more scenes from Narvik today:

From here to there by road. Boris Gleb? That’s a town near Murmansk, Russia.

The ski hill above Narvik, seen from aboard ship

Gravestones of Allied naval and air personnel buried on the hillside at Narvik.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

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11 MARCH 2019. NARVIK, NORWAY: THE END OF THE IRON ROAD 

By Corey Sandler

We arrived early this morning under a stunning blue sky and crisp air at Narvik, one of the locations of the most significant naval battles of World War II.

The reason for the modern port, which was also the lure for the Germans and the Allies, is the railroad that arrives at sea level from the interior of Sweden. More than a dozen mile-long trains carrying iron ore arrive most days to be loaded onto waiting freighters here.

In the runup to World War II, Germany (and the United Kngdom) were each receiving huge quantities of iron ore from Sweden, which remained mostly neutral throughout the war.

Germany sent in a fleet to seize the port and secure the railroad in 1939, and then the British sent their navy to try and displace them. Thousands of sailors and infantry on both sides died, and Narvik was pounded for most of the war. It was also the site of a concentration camp run by the Germans, holding mostly Yugoslavian and Serbian prisoners, most of whom died in the horrific conditions.

I went with a group of guests to the Narvik Krigsmuseum (the Narvik War Museum) to see some of the artifacts of the war and some exhibitions of well-intentioned hopes for peace. Then we made a visit to a cold, silent cemetery holding some of the British, Canadian, French, Polish, German, and others who died here.

Later tonight we sail back out to sea to head to Bergen, the last port of call on this cruise.

A sea mine recovered from the harbor at Narvik.

A prototype of a one-man submarine/torpedo developed by the Germans for what amounts to suicide missions. The British had a similar device which they unsuccessfully deployed against the German battleship Tirpitz.

Inside the War Museum.

A cemetery of Allied and Axis and civilians in Narvik.

Viking Sky at the dock in Narvik.

Aboard ship, from the Explorer’s Lounge.

In a reflective mood, the snow-covered mountains mirrored aboard ship.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

24 July 2018:
Narvik, Norway:
The Iron Road

By Corey Sandler

Narvik is a place of great beauty, a deep port inset into a cove within a blue fjord.

It is also where a thundering railway line hauling hundreds of cars of iron ore comes down to the sea to be loaded onto ships.

Narvik is a place of peace, with works of art set against snowcapped peaks and reflected in still waters below.

But during the early years of World War II, Narvik was the target of a massive military assault, by the Germans and then by the Allies.

Nearly everything you see in town was reconstructed after the end of the war.

The major industry in Narvik, Norway is the port and railway that connects this isolated place up and into the mountains and across the border to iron ore mines and processing plants in the north of Sweden. LKAB, owned by the Swedish state, is the largest producer of iron ore in Europe.

I went with guests on a journey by coach up and over the coastal mountains into Sweden about 75 miles away. There we meet up with a passenger train coming all the way from Stockholm. We rode the final 90 minutes back to Narvik.

Here is some of what we saw:

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018. All rights reserved.

Last night as we sailed out of Leknes on the open coast and headed south and then eat before turning north into the inside passage to Narvik we saw once again the sort of other-worldly light that falls upon Norway. This is the stuff of trolls and gnomes and halls of the mountain kings.

Here’s some of what we saw in the crepuscular islands:

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