Looking back now, little did we know that our trip to Tromso, Norway would be the last for quite some time and what a great memory to end on before self isolation. Our trip was filled with snow (lots and lots of snow), snowmobiling, hot soups, hot chocolate and hours gazing up at the sky wishing and hoping for the Northern Lights to appear.
Getting There. Flights to Tromso, as you could imagine, are a lot less frequent than other destinations. As a result, we had a very early wake-up to catch our 6am flight from Gatwick airport. On the positive, we landed around 9am in Tromso to a beautiful snowfall, I mean proper snowflakes, the kind for building snowmen and snow-women!
Getting Around. We picked up our rental car, snow tires and chains in tow, and can you guess who did the driving? The left-side of the road driving Australian, not the right-side of the road driving Canadian – logical! This seems to be a bit of a trend for me, as a year ago in Iceland, my Canadian friend Bethany and I also let our Aussie friend Nat do the driving (and we are very glad we did!). Sean did not have an opportunity to drive in the snow in Canada so he was keen to get some practice in, in Norway. And he got lots of it! We did plenty of exploring around the area from Sommaroy (known as the ‘Summer Islands’) to the Lyngen alps. Needless to say, my Mom will be happy I was a passenger and I was perfectly content to stare out the window at the incredible views.
Getting Rest: When we arrived at our AirBnB I took great satisfaction in watching Sean use a snow shovel for the first time, helping the Air BnB host clear out our parking spot. He has also now experienced the snow brush! There was lots of snowfall the first 24 hours so we were constantly brushing snow and ice off the car. We headed into the city to get a good look around and gather groceries for our stay. Tromso is an expensive city, so we did our best to cook dinners and breakfasts in. One cafe we did try and loved in the city was Riso food & coffee shop.
Snowmobile Adventure. Sunday was the day we went snowmobiling and had an absolute blast (despite looking like the Michelin man). We wore full body snow suits, snow jackets and a massive overcoat. Needless to say, the tour company were very concerned for our warmth and comfort! We took the tour with a company called ‘Chasing Lights‘. They have a shop on Storgata making it easy to drop by and learn about the tours on offer. We were so pleased with the snowmobile adventure that several days later, determined to see the Northern Lights, we went on their Northern Lights minibus chase.
We started our journey from Tromso, driving several hours towards a small northern town of Finland, called Kilpisjärvi. The views were very beautiful, every part of the landscape covered in snow. Our snowmobiling journey took several hours and by the end, my fingers were feeling numb! Our main destination was the most peaceful border in the world at the border (Treriksröset) of Norway, Sweden and Finland (marked by the big yellow spot you see below). Part of the way back, we stopped in a wooden hut which had a big fire roaring inside and our dehydrated salmon stew, hot chocolate and cookies waiting for us. It was a small chore just to get off all of our gear to eat our food but well worth it. Who knew dehydrated food could taste so good?
Getting further away. Monday and Tuesday was our adventure to Sommaroy Island where we stayed at Sommaroy Arctic Hotel. The trip was worth it just for the views on the way there alone, with many spots to stopover and take in the surrounding mountains and blue skies. On our way there, we checked out this very cosy shop and cafe (Bryggejentene AS) which we liked so much, we stopped on the way back as well. The soup was delicious, the fjord views spectacular and we even grabbed two bowls to remember or trip.
Northern Lights Adventure. Tuesday evening was the highlight of our trip! We had been looking at the apps all day, the sky was perfectly clear, no precipitation in the forecast. We lucked out and had a perfect formula for a show of the aurora borealis. This time we drove further north in Norway to find a spot away from light pollution. They kitted us up in Sorel boots, snowsuits head to toe and out we went in knee deep snow. After a little while of waiting, we lit our fire, had our hot chocolate, cookies and soup. We were interrupted to what felt like an eternity (more like 30 minutes or so) of an incredible light display stretching across the entire sky. As time passed, they became more vibrant (closer to what you see in pictures) and the shapes were incredible. Our guide explained everything and continue to answer our questions. Most of the time we had our heads up in the sky or some lay on the ground to get the best view. We had reindeer skins to put on the ground to keep our bums warm. Our group could not stop ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ and pointing to different spots in the sky as the lights moved around. After this display, we were all pleasantly satisfied, having ticked off this bucket list item, not to mention very cold after several hours standing outside. Around midnight, we headed back to Tromso with big smiles on our faces.
C’est finit! And just like that, it was Wednesday and our trip was almost over. We spent our final day driving around and exploring the Lyngen alps. In search of breakfast, we instead discovered a delicious local pastry called Lefse here. It is a pastry with cheese inside, fried up on a pan and lightly sprinkled with sugar. Even today, we still have leftovers in our freezer which we eat to bring back memories of this amazing trip! This and our wonderful blue bowls which we eat out of everyday.
What things have you brought back with you from your trips to remind you of the great experiences you had?