“Elvis didn´t show up, but I got membership of The Royal Polar Bear Society”
HAMMERFEST, NORWAY: When the world’s northernmost city is on your bucket list, be aware of a couple of essential warnings. You can experience storm and sun on the same day and will most likely join the world’s largest membership club. Both events have its own unique charm. The weather up north is so unstable that sometimes turns out to be the real attraction. Don´t be afraid, every storm runs out of rain, just like every dark night turns into day. Except some summer days in the Arctic, the only place where the day is never-ending story.
My visit to Hammerfest in July was blessed with the sun shining day and night. Yes, you got it right, this part of the world has Midnight Sun from May to first week of August. And the dancing Northern Light during the winter.
Facts about Midnight Sun
North of Norway is one of the most famous locations to witness the midnight sun. During summer weeks from May to August, you can experience the “polar day”, meaning the sun is visible 24 hours. It is celebrated with festivals and events, and people almost never sleeping because of the constant daylight. Summer up north is perfect for activities like hiking, fishing, and enjoying the landscapes.
There are no true sunsets or sunrises during this summer weeks. Instead, the sun appears to move horizontally along the horizon. No doubt, this is a memorable and extraordinary experience.
World´s biggest Club
The Polar Bear Society, founded in 1963 in Hammerfest, the world´s biggest membership club. Only Bayern Munich football club has more members, but there you can join by registration online. Unlike the polar bear club where you have to meet up in person to become a member.
The idea was to create a unique memory for guests of the World´s Northernmost city. A polar bear is also the city’s coat of arms and was therefore chosen as the society’s logo. The strength of the mighty polar bear reflects the willpower and survival skills necessary for living in the Arctic.
The club has more than 280,000 members, from royals to world celebrities. In the late 1960´s the famous Elvis Presley tried to become member but he was rejected
“Unfortunately, we have to decline your application for membership!” Elvis Presley received this message after he applied to become a member of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society.
The refusal was connected to the fact that only a physical visit to the club premises gives membership. Nobody knows whether Elvis was particularly interested in polar bears or exclusive clubs, but the well-known expression “Elvis has left the building” took never place at the club located at Strandgaten in Hammerfest.
An exhibition shows equipment about arctic fishing, as well as polar expeditions. The club has approximately 100,000 visits a year.
Hammerfest is not the most exciting city when it comes to activities. Except exploring the nature there are few attractions to enjoy.
Such as Meridian Column, which marks the exact spot where the first official measurement of the Earth`s exact size and shape took place.
At a museum you can learn about the history and reconstruction of the region after World War II. Hammerfest Church is worth a visit, known for its architecture and views of the area. Near the city is several natural parks.
Food and nightlife
Hammerfest has plenty to offer when it comes to food like pizza, pasta, sushi and more international style. But I´m sorry to say that the city´s offerings of food like fish and seafood is not good enough to captivate any enthusiast searching for local specialties. Explanations are that people make food and eat fish and other local dishes at home, and then go to restaurants to get something completely different. The explanation is accepted, but with subject to reservation.
If you find yourself in this far northern corner of the world, don´t miss the chance to party and socialize with the people of Hammerfest.
Life in the Arctic
I experienced the nightlife in Hammerfest like having a good time. Mostly about a celebration of life in the Arctic, where people come together to share a good laugh and lasting memories. As a guest, expect to be greeted with open arms and a friendly “Skål!”
No storm lasts forever. After the storm the sun will shine again, absolute in Hammerfest. After every storm the sun will smile, and so will the locals.
They all have their own brand of humor that adds a touch of quirkiness to a night out in the world most northern city. This arctic joke is synonymous with the sense of humor:
“Why did the locals buy an umbrella..? To protect themselves from that rare thing they call “sunshine!”