Saltstraumen and the Norwegian Aviation Museum

At our next port, Tom and I took at shore excursion to see Saltstraumen and the Norwegian Aviation Museum.  The ship docked in Bodø (pronounced like Buddha) and was our last stop in the Arctic Circle.  We chose the Saltstraumen shore excursion because it is a 490 foot wide channel through which 110 billion gallons of water flow four times a day.  Norway claims it as the world’s strongest tidal current.


Our tour was timed so that we would arrive at Saltstraumen at high tide.  In order to get there at that time, 1:06 p.m., we headed to the Norwegian Aviation Museum first.  Tom and I weren’t particularly interested in this.  But, like most museums, it drew us in and we learned a few things.  The museum is shaped like a propellor with two wings:  military and civilian.  Both sides told their history of that kind of aviation.

The museum had lots of interesting aircraft displayed.  Tom and I were most impressed with the interactive displays that helped me understand things such as lift and the controls in an airplane.  I enjoyed doing the hands-on things which I wouldn’t have been able to get close to if there had been any children in the museum.  My favorite thing I saw in the museum?  This poster.

After some time in the museum, we got back on the bus and headed for Saltstraumen.  The Visitors Center was closed, so we had some apple cake in the hotel as part of our tour.  Then we headed down to the channel to watch high tide at Saltstraumen.  The tide was especially high because we had a full moon last night.

It was fascinating to watch the swift current flow through the channel.  The current can reach up to 25 miles per hour.  We watched a fishing boat drift through the channel, gaining speed as it went downstream.  Whirlpools and eddies formed around the current.  The whirlpools can be up to 33 feet in diameter and 16 feet deep.  Interesting fact:  the word maelstrom is the Scandinavian word for whirlpool.  Norwegians refer to this place as Saltstraumen Maelstrom.

You can see one of the whirlpools underneath the mountains

We had 30 minutes to watch the tide, which was about the right amount of time.  Pictures can’t do the place justice.  You can’t see the water moving or the whirlpools forming and moving downstream.  But the hundreds of people at the viewpoint were mesmerized, myself included.  Beautiful, impressive, and wild.

All too soon our guide told us it was time to get back on the bus.  We didn’t find much to see in Bodø, except for the museum, but Saltstraumen is a highlight of our trip.