To Northern Norway – August 2017

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 – Tromso to Sorreisa

Distance travelled 244 km

The advantage of breakfast in a large hotel is that you do not have to look for local specialties in the restaurants and cafes, they will come to you by themselves. Although I am a staid Englishman, but I ignored the bacon and eggs I would normally have chosen. instead I helped myself to a plateful of several kinds of pickled and smoked fish. I topped this off with TWO kinds of caviar ! Lucie had also “gone native“ and was happily munching on an assortment herring, salmon and mackerel.

Absolutely stuffed from our breakfast, Lucie did the packing and I walked the three blocks away from the hotel to where I had parked for free.

There was a low cloud above the fjord, but the weather forecast was that sunshine would come. We decided to make detours on the route if the weather was good. Today, although there was nothing to outwardly suggest it would be, we put out trust in the predictions of the Norwegian weather service (which is often more accurate, even in Prague, than its Czech counterpart).

We headed out of Tromso to the opposite side of the E6 highway. After driving through a very complicated underground junction, we continued onward towards the island of Kvaloya. The tops of the hills were still shrouded in clouds, but it was slowly beginning to clear. The landscape around us looked a little different than yesterday.

The hilly hinterland of the island is tundra, which we considered quite boring to look at, but as soon as we reached the coast, the landscape turned into meadows, forests, painted wooden buildings and glistening water. Of course, there were hills of all kinds in the background. Some, even that far south, were still bearing traces of snow,.

Our planned journey was to lead us, initially, to the island of Senja. This, as we found out, was a very popular holiday destination for families with children. When we arrived at the ferry, where there was not even a café, there was a long line of cars.

We noticed immediately that one of the three waiting cars had taken out a camping table and chairs and it was clear that something was wrong. We soon found out that the next ferry was almost four hours away. We were still debating whether to wait, when a Finnish driver came over to us from his camping van to share his depression with us. He had been there on time for the previous ferry, but could not get on because it could only hold fifteen cars. This surprised us a little because all the ferries we had used up until then had been half empty.

The weather was still cloudy and it was not very warm. There was nothing really to think about. We looked at GoogleMaps and planned a different route in a flash. The depressed Finn with his wife and three children, a Dutch family with two children in an Audi and a number of local drivers all probably envied us because they had no choice but to wait. I swung around and headed back the way we had just come and left them all to their sad fate.

Paradoxically, this seeming stroke of bad luck brought us a truly beautiful day. We drove along a fifth-class road that was better than most of our second-class roads in the Czech Republic and probably the bulk of our motorways. We were alone on that road for long stretches, but, after about ten kilometres, we were overtaken by the desperate Dutchman in the Audi. He had probably also decided to go around the fjord.

The sun was shining and it was actually quite warm. I even took the opportunity to do another of my “musts“, the feet in the water shot ! Lucie was slightly more reticent !

We drove through a completely non-touristic area of local farms and along the beautiful rocky beaches that edged the fjords. The panoramas were so perfect they had an almost unreal air. Because it was so warm, the smell of the grass and the meadow flowers was pervasive. It was a splendid opportunity to cruise slowly with our visors up – and we took it gratefully. There were just too many perfect views, we could have dithered all day !

After a while we left the island of Kvaloya by driving under another tunnel and arrived on the mainland. In truth, we know that is what we did, but there is no real indication, at any time, as to which of the two you are on.

We took a lunch break in a pleasant café. We were introduced to the slower rhythm of local life and waited about 15 minutes while they made an espresso and milkshake (they were smiling !). then, we rejoined our old friend, the E6 and reached yet another another bypass and eventually trickled slowly into Sorreisa. We easily found our hotel for the night which was right at the head (the Vik, where the word Viking comes from) of a tranquil fjord.

From the window of the room we could look out straight at the fjord and it was beautiful.

We had the same view as we dined, al-fresco in the evening sunshine. The hotel, which in truth is more like a B&B, is owned by a Swede and his Thai wife does the cooking. There was no real sense of Thailand on our salmon, but it was tasty and the helpings were plentiful. As it was a Tuesday and all our friends would be meeting for TND (Tuesday Night Drinks) without us, we sent them a picture !