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Northern Lights Trip report

Paris of the North

Tromso waterfront
Tromso waterfront

We arrived in Tromsø on Tuesday evening, just before 20:00, having changed from the train from Abisko at Narvik – meaning we’d been on or waiting for transport since midday. Luckily, our hotel was 50 metres from the bus stop, so we checked in, had dinner and fell into bed.

The hotel – Clarion’s The Edge – is new (it opened in May), very modem and comfortable. We have a room on the 10th floor overlooking the fiord and the mountains to the east, including Mount Storsteinen (which has a cable car to the summit, 421 metres above sea level). Nice.

We’re told the hotel has been ranked as offering the third best breakfast in Norway. It’s certainly extensive – smoked salmon, gravlax, mackerel, pickled herrings, little prawns in dill and mayonnaise, eggs (scrambled, fried, boiled or as an omelette, pancakes, bacon, sausages with mushrooms and onions, baked beans, a dozen different kinds of cold meats/charcuterie, pastries, bread, half a dozen different kinds of cheeses, fresh fruits, and cereals. Most importantly, espressos are included (you make your own from a push button menu).

At around 9:30, the strange blue of what constitutes daylight is struggling through the dark and at 10:30 the sky to the east behind Mount Storsteinen has a faint yellow-green tinge, which will only get a little stronger and that is as much of the sun as we’ll get to see. Civil twilight.

It’s pitch black at about 14:00, so around an hour and a half to two hours earlier than Abisko.

We spent Wednesday wandering about the town. The maximum yesterday was -1C, so I was back in my pea coat (way too warm for my parka). It was snowing when we left Abisko on Tuesday but that had turned into rain by the time we got to Tromsø and, even though Wednesday was a clear day, we spent much of it trying to avoid sliding on the icy foot paths. At one point, we gave up and headed back to the hotel to change into our snow boots which have better grip (and that helped).

We visited the Polaria – which includes Norway’s northernmost aquarium. It was nice – especially the bearded and harbour seals – but not a patch on Sydney’s.

Tromsø is an interesting town. It’s a working port (havn) – the largest fishing port, and one of the largest cruise ports, in Norway. It’s also the logistics hub for the country’s Arctic zone. While it’s reasonably big, it feels a bit like a sleepy fishing village – possibly because of the architecture. According to Wikipedia, Tromsø has the largest number of old wooden houses in northern Norway, the oldest dating from 1789. They give the place a quaint feel.

This morning, after a lazy breakfast between 9:15 and 10:00, we jumped in a taxi to the mainland and took the cable car up Storsteinen – absolutely breathtaking views. We’re getting picked up to go to Lyngen (pronounced sort of like ling-yen) Lodge at 13:45 – named for the mountain range it overlooks – with hopes of further aurora activity. It’s a two and a half hour trip, with two legs by ferry.