One place I’d always wanted to visit in Norway was Tromso. It’s one of the highest places you can visit – not just in Europe but in the world, so much so that it’s in the Arctic circle!
Unlike other parts of the Arctic circle, there’s no chance of you running into polar bears here (thankfully), which means you can enjoy the other great gem of the Arctic circle – the Northern Lights, without worrying about parking up your car and setting your tripod in some remote location in the middle of the night. But I digress…
On our way over to Tromso, we stopped off in Oslo for a few hours (the first for Georgia and Chris but a return visit for Lloyd and I) and by the time we picked up our car and headed into town, it was already starting to get dark.
As I was writing this, I was thinking to myself “I remember arriving in the early evening while it was still bright so how did we end up driving to our hotel in the dark?”, then I remembered why – the airline had lost all of our suitcases! Or maybe they were just misplaced? I don’t know – point is, the suitcases didn’t arrive in Tromso with us.
This lost luggage would have been fine if we didn’t arrive during a long holiday overlapping a weekend, a holiday which meant that no one would be working even in the airport and as such we would have no access to any of our stuff. In freezing temperatures too!!!
And to think, I’d packed pretty much everything (winter coats, tripod, underwear…etc) into that suitcase. I didn’t even have proper clothes with me because I had my “comfy travelling clothes” on.
Once we found out there was nothing to be done about it, we headed over to the Sommarøy Arctic Hotel, which we would be calling home for the next few nights to check in and get some decent food (and drinks).
Checking in, I very quickly remembered I didn’t even have pyjamas with me (I find it so uncomfortable to sleep with – such a mundane little detail but one which bugged me as I never sleep as comfortably without my PJs).
All thoughts of this disappeared though once we realised the Northern Lights were out!
I had no tripod and had to lean my camera against a pole to stop it from shaking while taking the photos (hence why they’re not great) but the amazing thing about the hotel is that you don’t need to go anywhere else to see the Aurora Borealis – you can just stand on the deck outside (or indeed from the bar inside) and see them.
Seeing the Northern Lights so early into our trip was incredible and the lack of PJs didn’t even cross my mind once I plonked into bed, absolutely knackered but utterly thrilled at being able to see the Northern Lights!
The next morning, we awoke to some real Norwegian generosity!
After explaining to the lady who checked us in that our suitcases hadn’t arrived, hence why we had no luggage to check in (and why we borrowed the fishermen’s gear to keep warm in instead of using our actual coats), she’d told a few of the locals about our problem and they’d done a quick whip around and got us all clothes to wear! Right down to jackets!
This kind of generosity and kind-spiritedness is what we soon found to be commonplace in Tromso! Everyone seems to look out for each other here and we even got to meet some of the locals who had borrowed us their clothes (us, who were total strangers to them at the time they did that whip-around for the clothes).
Oh, and I bet you’re probably thinking, why didn’t you just go to the shops to buy new clothes. Well (like I mentioned earlier), it was a big holiday so not a single shop was opened! The shop owners had also left for other parts of Norway (or the world) to have fun on their holidays.
Dressed in clean warm clothes (and having made new friends), we headed out for a drive to check out Sommarøy (and Tromso a bit better).
Even in the cold, the beaches here are absolutely beautiful! We’re talking clear blue waters here and fine sandy beaches (not pebbly or gritty).
The coastline is also pretty here and dotted with mountains and the odd reindeer which make you stop and get out of your car (alas, I didn’t have my zoom lens with me – instead, I had the wide-angle lens so I couldn’t get any close-up photos).
The rest of the afternoon was pretty much just spent ignoring the maps and aimlessly driving across the island (my favourite past-time – I can’t even remember what we did for lunch that day).
We only stopped driving when we got a message from the hotel saying that they managed to find a convenience store owner who was still in Tromso and that she’d offered to open her store for a couple of hours so we could get some stuff that we needed (toothbrushes, hairspray, deodorants, socks, underwear…etc)
With that (and in sheer delight from my 3 un-toothbrushed companions, I managed to brush mine because I always pack a spare toothbrush in my hand luggage), we decided to call it quits on driving around and head back to the hotel for dinner, some wintry hot-tub sessions and to generally relax and ready for a potential evening with the Northern Lights! 🙂
So far, Norway and Norwegians, in general, had managed to find ways to impress me even further and I looked forward to seeing what other delights Tromso had in store! 🙂