Approaching Tromso

Yesterday we crossed the Arctic Circle, the farthest north I’ve been on Earth’s surface. That’s a bit of a milestone. Today we’re approaching Tromso, and our Aurora watch begins in earnest tonight. We’re far enough north that on any night, we may see the Lights. And the nights are long – here in late fall/early winter, at this latitude the nights are 16+ hours long. Working against us is the weather – at the moment we’re completely socked in with clouds, rain and fog. We have three days for that to change.

Lately I missed a UK football game and (I think) another UK exhibition basketball game. And the World Series, again. I hear it’s a good one. But I got to see a little European League women’s rugby and some Euro football (soccer). The rugby was fascinating. None of this crossed my mind when I booked this trip 18 months ago. It was all about the Lights, and I suppose it still is.

I’m anxious to watch the US election results in 2-3 days (exact times escape me at the moment). It will be weird watching the fate of the US decided while far away, on a ship populated by Brits and a smattering of other nationalities, including Americans. Seeing everyone here reminds me that the world is a big place, not simply America, and while our political business is a big deal, it’s not the whole deal.

The sleepless nights (without Internet for a distraction) are doing strange things to my head. I’m getting tons of rest, reading a book every 24 hours, but only weird little bits of sleep here and there. I find myself in seriously deep introspection through the night and even the day. Not quite sure if this is good or bad, but it sure has triggered some serious self-examination.

On a completely separate note, while Cunard seems genuinely dedicated to quality, finding a good bottle of wine here is an adventure. Nothing good on the room service menu. Nothing good from any of the bars. All the house red wines are shit (I can’t say for the whites; I really haven’t tried them). There are some good bottles to be had in the formal restaurants, but you have to work at it. I ordered a 2015 Du Pape and got a 2020 bottle (sent back). We did find a nice 2015 Gigondas/Rhone GSM at a decent price last night – good or good+, but still not great. I have seen some *very* big money bottles on display (a 78 Petrus (!!), several Screaming Eagles, some old Bordeaux), but I can’t quite pull the trigger on more than $1000 for a bottle. Or in a couple of those examples, more than $5000. I enjoy great wine, but I’m not stupid.

I still haven’t downloaded/reviewed my pictures from Bergen and the fjords. I’m worried that my Fuji’s pictures will be noticeably worse than those from K’s new iPhone 14. Based on what I’ve seen so far, that’s a real possibility. Apple’s newest in-phone image processing is spectacular. In the more traditional case, I have to take a good photo with mostly correct settings, then do post-processing to perform the light and color enhancement that Apple does automatically.