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Pole to Pole

Day 6: Kap Wik to Longyearbyen

Kap Wik, Norway 
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The bathroom at Kap Wik.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWhen I wake, it's half-past eleven. The sitting-room resembles some Viking Valhalla with recumbent Norwegians scattered about and Harald sprawled on the sofa like a warrior slain in battle. Then the telephone rings. Last night my tired brain was so busy romanticizing Harald's existence that I hadn't noticed the phone, or the remote control for the matt-black hi-fi, or the visitors' book, or the collection of Rachmaninov piano concertos on CD, signed 'To Harald from Vladimir Ashkenazy'. Is it all a dream? Have we been hi-jacked in the night to some apartment in Oslo? I stumble outside clutching my toothbrush and there is the reassuring reality of empty mountains and frozen seas stretching as far as the eye can see.

I scrub snow all over my face and neck. A refreshing shock which dispels any lurking hangover. When I get back indoors Harald is off the phone and preparing coffee. This autumn, he tells me, he will be celebrating fifteen years at Kap Wik. He has family in Norway, but they don't visit much. His closest neighbours are the Russians at the mining town of Pyramiden, eighteen miles away. He reads a lot, 'almost everything except religious literature', and hunts seal, reindeer, Arctic fox (a pelt will fetch around £80) and snowgeese. '"Goose Kap Wik" was served to the King and Queen of Norway,' he informs me, with quiet satisfaction.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 6
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Kap Wik
  • Book page no: 21

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