Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Final Stretch

Our journey was coming to an end.  In the wee hours of the morning, the ship docked in Murmansk and our captain shook hands with us as we disembarked.  Earlier we asked him, via interpreter, if host Russia would win the World Cup.  He said no, claiming they were better at hockey.  The next day, Croatia knocked them out of the tournament.

We had enough time to tour a bit more of Murmansk before heading to the airport.  It was warm and sunny with blue skies, and the locals were soaking it up, no doubt enjoying every minute they could during their short summer.  We visited a memorial dedicated to the sailors who died when their nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea in October, 2000. 
A lighthouse overlooking the Kursk Submarine Memorial (still from video)
A picture-perfect summer day in Russia's northernmost city (still from video)
This time we had no trouble moving through Russian passport control, and our charter flight to Helsiki landed ahead of schedule, which allowed us time to tour parts of the city we hadn't previously seen.  Like in Murmansk, the weather was perfect.  That evening we had a final, celebratory meal, and the next morning we departed for home sweet home, Chicago.
Also a nice day in Helsinki!
It will take some time for us to process what we've experienced over the last 16 days.  We've found that writing this journal has helped us keep things in perspective.  Now we'll begin going through our images and will add some to our posts.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks for embarking on this journey with us to the North Pole!