Wednesday, June 22, 2011
One of Norway's public television stations, NRK, is broadcasting a strangely mesmerizing show: a live feed of a Hurtigruten ferry boat traveling 134 hours up the western coast of Norway! It's a 5 and a half day "minute by minute" event with no commercial interruptions, and multiple cameras capturing images of fjords, snowcapped mountains, and flag-waving Norwegians, and essentially no narrative--mostly just scenery. Yes: 134 hours of non-stop television! Of a boat ride! The ship stops at 34 ports from Bergen to Kirkenes, well above the Arctic Circle, and watching some of their port stops reminds me a little of The Love Boat, what with all the well-wishers broadly and wildly waving their hellos.
As I said, it's strangely mesmerizing, as well as extremely boring. We turned on the TV yesterday afternoon around 3pm to show my visiting in-laws this odd Norwegian television phenomenon, and we were still checking in on the ship around 11pm last night. We turned it again today, as the scenery became more and more spectacular along the northern coast. And, 11pm. . . still watching the ship.
The trip up the coast of Norway is not a cheap one, especially at this time of year, in the land of midnight sun. (I tried to get a quote, but the Hurtigruten server froze on me)*. The newspaper reported that something like 2.7 million Norwegians have tuned in at some point along the tour. That's over half the country of Norway watching this boat ride! It has turned out to be NRK's most popular production ever.
*As newspaper Dagsavisen reported on Thursday, it can cost from NOK 21,000 to NOK 102,000 (USD 3,800 to USD 18,000) for two persons to make the same Bergen-Kirkenes trip in the high season of June and July, depending on choice of cabin and meal plans.