Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tromsø, Norway, Days 1 to 3

17th January

5:15am Woke up to catch the 6:14am bus to the train and then caught the train to Gardemoen where I arrived at 7:05am with plenty of time to spare.  My flight was at 8:15am.  I mostly sat around waiting, and hanging around the ark bookstore.  Didn't have anything to check in as I was only going away for a few days so I packed pretty light.

10:15am Arrived in Tromsø airport.  I thought I'd just missed the airport shuttle but thankfully there was one.  I arrived at the hotel about 10:50am, and my friend and his wife were waiting in the lobby for me.  Well I tried to check in but there were no clean rooms yet, so I dropped off my stuff in their room. My friend asked if I wanted to "have a rest" but there's no way I'm resting, so we headed off straight out.

Welcome to Tromsø!

Tromsø was pretty much the same way I remembered it two years ago.  Population around 70,000 and the average age is 30.  Mountains.  Still the same streets.  We took a walk to the information centre and I selected x-country skiing for 1pm till 4pm and a northern lights chase for 6:30pm.  I pretty much dictated the day's events. :)  Which is fine with them.

Information Centre.

Well at this point it was close to 12:30pm, so we decided to buy some quick takeaway (I took some curried chicken with bread and a bottle of water) at a bread shop then took a walk to the ski shop where we were going to pick up skis and go ski with the help of an instructor, whose name was Sebastian and Swedish.  Oh I've noticed that the Norwegians in Tromsø speak with a different accent from those in Oslo. It's definitely not as tonal, and more flat, if that makes sense.  Also I tried to speak Norwegian to Sebastian but since no one else will be able to understand it was better to switch to English.  Anyway, so we went to the ski shop, picked up the skis, sticks, and then we picked up some British guy.  It seems like he wants to work as a guide in Svalbard or something along those lines and he was asking Sebastian how he would approach that.  We took a minibus up to the mountain, where we ski'd around the area close to Prestvannet lake.  My friends had never ski'd before in any way shape or form so this was quite the experience for them. :)

Cross country tracks.

We took a break near the lake, and by that I mean we sat on some tree branches and used that as a sitting bench.  My friend then asked if people actually lived here, he was surprised, because we were close to several houses.  I consider that normal now of course!  And Sebastian taught us some general ethics on staying away from the tracks if you're not using them. :)  We had hot chocolate and some cinnamon rolls which were really good.

Prestvannet, now frozen over. 


So shortly after our break, we ski'd a bit more then Sebastian taught us how to do a 180 degree change while walking on skis.  And he made a mini obstacle course that we went through.  We ski'd a bit more then it was photo taking time and then back to the ski office where we dropped our skis off and took more photos.

Me on skis.

Skiing is fun, really. 2 people agree. And spot our instructor.

After we dropped off our things we went back to the hotel, picked up our tripods and other misc, then went back to the lobby where we met up to have dinner.  I had a 5 minute look at tripadvisor and decided on sushi, so we took a walk to Rå Sushi bar.  Apparently this place is ranked #3 out of restaurants in Tromsø.

5ishpm Ordered our sushi and just waited.  Our food didn't arrive till 6pm, and we were supposed to be waiting at the hotel lobby, Rica Ishavshotel by 6:30pm!  Eventually it was a mad rush to the hotel, and we arrived just in the nick of time before the bus left.  There were 31? or 32 of us on the bus altogether.

6:30pm From this point on it was mostly driving and waiting to get off the bus.  The weather was simply awful, clouds everywhere.  We went to one place, I'm not sure of what the name is, but that didn't turn out so well.

Car lights to the left, northern clouds up in the sky, but alas, no northern lights!

We then went to Brennfjell which was supposed to have some higher chance of seeing them but there was nothing there either.  Which is a real shame because the solar activity that day was the highest in 5 years!  But the weather was equally as bad so we didn't see anything.  The guide said we could try again the next time and it will be cheaper (800 nok vs 950 nok, pretty crazy prices to begin with), and even a third time which will then cost 700 nok.  We had our hot chocolate and cookies then the bus drove back to the city.

2am Arrived back in Rica Ishavshotel and took a walk back to our hotel.  I didn't sleep till half past even though it's been a really long day. We decided to meet at 9am at Egon restaurant for breakfast the following day.

18th January

8:50am Woke up and went to Egon to have breakfast.  Breakfast was quite good, a variety of breads, meats, coffee, tea, my only gripe was the preserved juices, why can't they have fresh juice?  My friends overslept so I didn't meet them. :)  They didn't get up till close to 10.  At 10:30 I went back to my room and had a shower, and organised to meet them me when ready.  Eventually we met at the lobby around 11am or so, and since they hadn't had anything to eat we took a short walk to a cafe along Storgata and they had their meals there, at a place called kafeglobus.

1pmish We took a walk to the information centre to see what we could do.  Well no skiing since it was really awful (again) and looks like there wasn't going to be any northern lights either.  The woman recommended that was catch a bus to the Tromsø museum so we tried to do that.  First we bought a Tromsø 24 hour card, then we caught the 37 which was supposed to take us there but then we overshot the stop and my friend and I were getting hungry at this point, so we stopped along Karlsøyvegen and went to the shopping centre there but there were no food shops.  Eventually we settled for Pizza Express Lagnes, where I ordered a 30cm chicken taco pizza and gobbled it down with much enthusiasm.

4:30pm We caught the bus 34 back to the city.  Now it was close to 5pm so we took a walk back to Rica Ishavshotel to enquire about the weather.  And it turns out the weather was awful, and it was, it was raining all day, and the girl pretty much told me there was 0% chance of seeing them, and I didn't want to flush 800nok down the toilet bowl so we didn't take up the chance.  Which is okay which me because I'd seen them several times when I was in Iceland/Norway in 2010.  So what we did instead was to go for a movie, since it was the international film festival this week in Tromsø.  We picked "The woodsman and the rain", since that started at 6pm and it was the closest movie that would be starting at that time.  Of course we had to take a walk to the cinema, which isn't that far.  Tickets were 200nok per adult.

Aurora kino Focus

Aurora kino Focus, we sat on the upper floor, circle seats!

Anyway the movie is good and I recommended to go see it.

Now at this time it was close to 8pm.  So we went to have dinner at the grand nordic hotel bar & restaurant along strandskillet.  I ordered salmon and vegetables.  Before we paid I talked to some couple  sitting next to us.  The guy asked if I was from Japan (as usual) but then we told them we were from Singapore.  I spoke to the lady in Norwegian and then she started to tell me her life story about her moving to Tromsø from Finnmark when she was 4.  Seems like she doesn't really like it here. :)  But every July and August she'll go back to Finnmark.  Anyway, we had to go back after that.

10pm We thought we'll take our chances, catch the 34 and see if we can catch the lights at Folkeparken.  Unfortunately that proved to be no avail.  We got back closer to 1am after catching the bus and thought we'll give it a shot again the next day at 6:30am so we decided to meet at the lobby at that time then to have breakfast.

19th January

6:30am Woke up, and got ready to have breakfast.  Just when I was about to leave my friend rang and told me breakfast doesn't start till 8am so we should catch the bus again to Folkeparken and see if we get to see anything.  Well we tried that but there was nothing.  To summarise.

8amish Got back to the hotel, dropped off our stuff then went to have breakfast.  At 10am or so I talked to the guy at the counter who then provided me with instructions on getting to the airport, I was leaving today so yeah.  Had to pack and then check out after having a shower.

11:30am Checked out, and took a short walk around the corner to a cafe where I had goulash.  The person who served me, and asked if I was Japanese and when I replied in Norwegian he said I spoke good Norwegian, in Norwegian.  I'm only a newb so that was flattering. :)  But he told me this story about how he went to Singapore in 1985 and was smoking in a shopping centre when he was approached by a policeman telling him not to smoke and he was surprised as he had been to other Asian countries back then and he was allowed to smoke.

Well after having goulash I took the bus 42 to the airport where I arrived at 12:40pm.

Fishy thingy outside the airport.

The flight was delayed by an hour, I fell asleep in the plane when we boarded and after an hour we were still there!  The plane had to be defrosted, so we just waited.  I didn't get back to Oslo till 6pm, so ends this trip to Tromsø.  Stay tuned for more adventures in February.

On the runway.

Scenes from above.

Scenes from above.


  1. Do they have Narvesen in Tromsø? That place is always good for a pizza fix.

  2. Where does Narvesen not exist here. Don't forget your favourite pølse, you love those things and came here for them.


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