Sweating bullets in Tromsø, Norway – Part I

I felt like I was in the Bahamas this weekend, it was so warm.

No, just kidding. It wasn’t quite that warm. But given that Stockholm last weekend was about 20 degrees Celsius (some 35 degrees Fahrenheit) colder than the temperatures I experienced this weekend, the weather this weekend felt positively balmy.

Thursday night Kim and I caught the last high-speed train to the airport and slept over there. For some inexplicable reason, I was excited to sleep over in an airport.

I was no longer excited the following morning.

I managed to sleep, but I definitely didn’t sleep well. It’s not comfortable sleeping on a cushioned bench when you’re clutching all your belongings so they don’t get stolen. It’s even worse when you suspect the airport staff turned the heat off during the night. Let me tell you, I was freezing when I woke up.

When we woke up, we checked our bags, went through security (I did not set it off this time–huzzah!), then went to our gate and fell asleep there. We woke up just before we were to start boarding, when the airline attendant announced, “Now boarding flight xxxx to Bergen.”

Wait a minute… Bergen?

We weren’t going to Bergen. I would love to go to Bergen, but not this weekend.

We were going to Tromsø, which is in northern Norway. It’s not even close to Bergen.

We freaked out then quickly found the gate we were supposed to be at, which must have been changed while we slept at the gate. Luckily both flights left at the same time, so we didn’t miss our flight or anything.

Since I didn’t sleep well the night before, I slept for the entire flight to Tromsø. It was a little unfortunate since I had chosen a window seat specifically to look out at the landscape, but oh well.

We landed in Tromsø and walked outside to catch the bus to our hotel. Let me tell you, IT WAS WARM. I believe it was 8 degrees Celsius warmer than in Oslo, which of course makes no sense since Tromsø is in the north and Oslo is in the south. Normally Tromsø is much colder than Oslo but we lucked out with the weather this weekend.

Actually, not really, but I will explain that later.

(Click on the map to see where Tromsø is compared to Oslo).

It took us a while to find our way to the hotel since we needed to change buses and it was very confusing. Eventually, though, we made it.

Man, the Norwegian guy working at the reception desk was good-looking. He was also very friendly, and when I asked him what there was to do in Tromsø, he pointed out all the places of interest on a map for me.

We then took the bus into the city center (Sentrum). It’s a very cute town; it reminded me a lot of Anchorage, Alaska since it’s surrounded by mountains and the water. We walked around for a little bit then went to Polaria, which shows a few short films and has seals. The seals were cute, especially the bearded seals–they appeared to have lots of whiskers. I really wanted to pet a seal. Or rub my face against its whiskers.

Obviously neither of those things happened.

By this time it was dark out so bought groceries (bread and Ramen noodles, since that’s all I can afford) then headed back to the hotel. I ate my Ramen noodles like drinking free coffee provided by the hotel. The coffee was excellent, too, since they had a machine that makes all sorts of drinks including cappuccinos. Within the period of, oh, about twenty minutes, I drank four cups of coffee.

I really don’t know what came over me.

I then drank two more cups of coffee.

I mean, I like coffee, but I’m not crazy about coffee. The fact that I drank six cups of coffee within such a short period of time was highly unusual.

After drinking my six cups of coffee, I took a nap. Amazingly I had no problems falling asleep, although I woke up because of a Charlie horse.

If you’ve never had a Charlie horse before, consider yourself lucky. I’m always proud when I manage not to yell out because of the pain.

That night we planned on going outside to look for the Northern Lights. Since Tromsø is within the Arctic Circle, it experiences high levels of Northern Lights activity. Unfortunately that night it was cloudy and raining,

which meant the skies were far too overcast to see the Lights. Hope still remained though, since we had two more days.

Time for random bits of information!

1. “Where should we hobo it out now?” What Kim said upon learning we had to move while sleeping in the airport so the custodial staff could clean the floors.

2. People in the north of Norway are much friendlier and outgoing than in the south. My Norwegian friend who I met while volunteering is from the north, and she’s commented on how people are more friendly where she’s from. She’s definitely right. Kim and I asked a woman to take our picture and she took several different shots while telling us about the town. Then on Saturday we were lost, so we were standing on the sidewalk staring at the map. A man stopped and asked us where we were trying to go. SO NICE!

Map credit worldtravels.com

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