Travel Into Norway

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Norway (6/1/10 - 12/1/10)

This is part of the sixteenth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from the United Kingdom or read our previous visit to Norway

7/1/10 It wasn't sunrise when we awoke in Tromso at 8.30am. In fact it wasn't even sunrise at noon. In fact the sun hadn't risen in Tromso for many weeks and wouldn't fully rise again here till the 21st of January when the residents celebrate "SUN-day", after not having seen it for nearly two months. Hot chocolate and special buns would be served to celebrate that occasion. The day did lighten significantly though, and street lightingBeautiful snow covered streets of Tromso went off mid morning to leave a grey hue, similar to a cloudy evening after sunset. It wasn't long though before snow started falling. Mid afternoon we wandered into town, wearing rubber pull on crampons on our boots to stop them slipping on ice. It is a lovely town, lit up in the darkness, white snow covered streets, fairy lights in trees, large windows in shops giving the whole place a fairyland appeal.

8/1/10 Due to the North Atlantic Gulf Stream Tromso is not as cold as other places in the world this far north, (just 2000km's from the North Pole). Mid winter temperatures average about 5 degrees below zero, and at the moment it is warmer than London. A frozen covering of snow and ice give a white glow in the darkness. Snow ploughs move around constantly and peopleGetting to know the dogs walk the slippery sidewalks. On our travels we have had little opportunity to be in icy places, riding a motorcycle, so we are enjoying seeing how such places function and as the flight attendant of Norwegian Air said, in Norway this amount of snow, (referring to Gatwick Airports closure) wouldn't cause a problem, it is normal, and when we had landed in Tromso we could see what he meant, ice was on the runway as was blowing snow. We learnt today that although we left Gatwick Airport at 6.30pm on the 6th it again closed at 11.00pm that night and didn't re-open the next day, and only had intermittent (between runway clearing of snow) departures today, so despite our inconveniences we are quite lucky to have arrived in Tromso at all. Arctic Adventure Tours offer a dog sledding experience. 30 minutes out of Tromso their 80+ dogs are housed and after donning padded rubber boots and snow suits we were introduced to the friendly animals. They are Alaskan Huskies, not really a breed, but the descendants of the fittest survivors of the Alaskan gold rush era that demanded every dogs utmost to survive. Following five minutes of instructions, basically where the brake is and to lean into corners, we were each given a Harnessing Kay's dogsteam of four huskies and a sled and headed out after our guide. The dogs naturally follow each other so our main effort was not looking after the dogs but just staying upright on the sled. About a 12km run, we headed uphill first, across a packed snow base topped with 20cm of new powder, taking in the beautiful scenery of snow covered islands and fjords. The trip uphill was uneventful, with riders getting accustomed to their sleds, but when we turned downhill and speeds increased there were tumbles into the soft snow, and on one fast downhill three of the four novices were jettisoned, with a short walk back to their dogs and sled. It was a great afternoon finishing in a timber hut over a log fire, coffee and cake. For us it was a fair workout, unused to the sport, for the dogs, they were just out for a bit of a run, a bit of exercise which like most dogs, they had a great time.

9/1/10 Snow had stopped falling overnight and it had warmed to the extent that roads and houses, previously covered, were clearing. We decided to stay inside away from the cold and wet, updating the web page and processing photos. The AMI Hotel has free coffee, tea and hot chocolate all day and we had a good selection of warming, duty free, alcoholic drinks. MostTaking our own dogs across the snow of the hotel guests are here to see the northern lights, but sunspot activity is currently low to non existent, and with almost total cloud cover no-one has spotted anything despite night time northern light tours heading out each evening. Other guests at the hotel were here for the Polar Night Half Marathon run, leaving at 3.00pm, and totally dark, the conditions were a bit miserable, raining but with ice on the road, they were running towards the airport and back, in strong winds. Wet and bedraggled runners, although still enthusiastic, perhaps from adrenalin, started returning to the hotel around 5pm, the run, a unique experience for most of them.

10/1/10 Unfortunately the day didn't start any better than yesterday finished, raining and strong wind, washing away more snow and de-beautifying the town to wet and slushy. Sunday is a strict holiday here and few people were out and about with almost everything closed. Luckily Astrid and Svein, a Norwegian couple we met at Gatwick Airport while we were both waiting for our flight, had invited us to their place for Sunday night dinner. They had offered a traditional affair and that is what weHaving a traditional dinner at Astrid and Svein's place. received. A homemade pre-dinner drink of cherry and fig, a sherry like schnapps, cherries picked from their property to the south. Dinner was halibut and prawn soup, followed by halibut, fennel, home grown potatoes and carrots. Halibut is a local fish, similar to sole only much larger, and Svein showed pictures of their family landing a 25kg one, but they get much much larger. And for dessert it was cloudberries and cream. The cloudberries are collected in autumn, once they turn yellow, from wild bushes, the best ones we were told come from offshore islands. It was a lovely evening, great company and food, and all brought about by our delayed flight out of Gatwick. These chance encounters, where we get an opportunity to take a sneak into a local family's life, are rarely offered and greatly valued by us.

11/1/10 It was back to snowing, light wet snow, but the landscape turned a beautiful white again, covering the dirty snow and grit. Heavy at times and as we wandered about town to the Polar Museum we became quite wet. Spent a couple of hours at the museum, which covered hunting in the arctic, arctic animals, Norwegian explorers, perhaps the two most famous,2pm on a snowy afternoon in Tromso Amundsen and Nansen, as well as local hunting and trapping legends. The Tromso world has changed much since these explorers lived nearby, now a major university town, its population continues to grow and modernise.

12/1/10
We accepted that we have been unable to see the northern lights, low solar activity and cloudy conditions, but we realise now how lucky people are who do see them. Having spent considerable time in our hotel on the internet we better realise the phenomenon is quite rare, and often only lasts for a few minutes, if it does occur. Svein generously offered to drive us to the airport in the afternoon and after another gloomy to dark day we more pondered on how people live without the sun for two months or even more further north. The six nights we have spent here is enough for us to be feeling the need of its warmth, mentally and physically, but I guess it is what people are used to. Our flight left, this time on time, even though the airport was covered in snow and ice.

Move with us to the United Kingdom or go to our next visit to Norway
 

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