The Capital of the Arctic – Tromso
You’d think that spending 8 hours asleep on a seat in Oslo airport would be reminiscent of hell on earth. But to be honest it was less than half as bad as expected. We slept most of the night and it actually went pretty quickly. The short flight to Tromso, in Northern Norway was spectacularly beautiful and a good taste of what was to come.
By 10am we’d sold a kidney each and booked ourselves into dog sledding for later that night and were making our way up through town to our hotel. Tromso is an awesome town, it’s the biggest Norwegian city in the Arctic Circle and is a small island surrounded by towering mountains. Everything is covered in snow and the air is so clear and cold it stings your face. We love it! It’s small enough to walk just about everywhere in a short enough time that your face doesn’t fall off. Unfortunately walking on icy footpaths is not something Jono does best much to the amusement of the local folk. He has hit the ground twice and I have caught him once, which has earned me the non-flattering nickname ‘Stablor’, I am not encouraging its use and will drop him next time. All the locals here wear a reflector wrist strap and wrap their prams with a reflector belt. This must be so no one hits you at 3:30pm in the dark.
At 4:45pm, long after the sun had set (it rises about 1030am and is gone by 3pm), we were picked up in a coach and driven an hour and a half into the frosty wilderness. When we arrived it was a balmy -20 degrees C!! Luckily they equipped us with some delicious and attractive winter suits and snow boots. We had our own husky team, which for the good of mankind I declined to drive, with 5 dogs. They were pretty scary at first especially when our team took us for a quick detour through all the other dog’s kennels. One of the dogs had had a litter the day before which were super cute. The path took us up through stunning moon lit mountains and snow covered valleys. As the dogs turned the sled for home (luckily they knew where they were going because they were in complete control, no offence Jono) we saw something in the sky we’d been hoping to see. Aurora Borealis.
We weren’t exactly certain it was the Northern lights when it first appeared as it was pale white and looked like thin cloud but it gradually got stronger. After a hot meal in a Sami tent with a toasty open fire someone gave a shout from outside. We all rushed out into the cold and looked up at the most amazing display! What a sight! The pale white had become fluorescent green and it danced across the sky swirling into figure 8’s and changing into columns and separate swirls.
It’s our second day in Tromso today and we spent awhile exploring the Polar Museum. The museum was great fun, dedicated to explorers and hunters of the Arctic. We’ve now seen and touched almost every type of stuffed arctic animal you could imagine; seals (7 different types including babies), walrus, polar bear, arctic fox, ptarmigan, puffin, bear, reindeer, some kind of yak thing and huskies. They skin just about everything here. Our favorite was what some genius decided to do with the sealskin below. You can also buy sealskin handbags, belts, boots and jackets (for the low low price of NOK 15000, AUD$2600).
We are sitting in a little café, sipping a $7 coffee (!) writing this blog. We’re about to head home soon and cook up our salmon fillet and veges for dinner. Tonight we’ll walk up the massive bridge to the mainland and capture the island ablaze with lights in the arctic night. This really is a special place. Svolvaer and the Lofoton Islands tomorrow.