To Northern Norway – August 2017

Monday, August 7th, 2017 – Hotel Gildetun, (130km south of Alta) to Tromso

Distance travelled 160 km

That day our trip really felt like a relaxing holiday.

As I have said, the Hotel Gildetun sits on a hill overlooking a fjord. We started our day with a relaxed breakfast in a dining room with a magnificent view. We could see for a long way, right across the fjord and all the way to the slightly snowy mountains in the distance.

Then we packed and set off in the direction of Tromso. We deliberately took a route that appeared to offer some wonderful sightseeing. Two ferry rides were also in prospect as we crossed an island on the way. A relaxed ride was the intention and in the event we did drive only 160 km during the whole day !!!

At first the weather was was wonderful, warm and sunny. Then, little-by-little, it became overcast and began raining. The rain varied in intensity all through the morning. It was never too heavy, but it never stopped entirely. Sadly, when we reached the ferry ramp at Olderdalen it did become a deluge.

Luckily we did not have to wait very long and the Harley was soon in the dry hold while we were warm and dry upstairs in the passenger lounge enjoying a hot drink and an unusually humorous (for Norway) poster.

On the way to Lyngseidet across the fjord, it became clear again and the beautiful sunny weather lasted until the evening. On the banks of fjord, the towering high rocks were sunlit so that the snow was shining. It was simply beautiful.

After crossing the fjord, we drove 22 km along the coast to Svensby and boarded another ferry that brought us to Breivikeidet. Everything on the map looks like islands, but it is just an illusion. It is still the mainland, but the coastline is just so frayed that it is difficult to know exactly where you are. Inside the fjords themselves, of course, there are many islands of all shapes and sizes.

Access to Tromso is via the elegant span of the Long Bridge.

The city is pleasant, with very little traffic, a port that does not smell and several restaurants and cafes in the centre around the docks. As the weather was so unusually beautiful for the locals that day, the outdoor gardens of bars and restaurants were still full when the sun performed its daily drop. Tromso is at a much lower latitude than where we had been, but the sun still sets very hesitantly, if at all. It was still very light at ten o’clock.

We easily found our hotel, another Scandic, in the quiet streets.

High on a hill, above the ramp of the Long Bridge is an imposing, white, Lutheran church. It is called, for its peculiar architectural form, the “Arctic Cathedral“.

As cheap dining in Norway is impossible, we treated ourselves a bit and dined at a rather classy seafood restaurant (I had mussels and seafood mix, Lucie had halibut and crab) and the dinner was simply fantastic. It cost over 180 Euros, but for food that good, it was well worth it.

A few thoughts on the Norwegian People

They are very nice and quite friendly. They are not overly jovial, but they do smile and, if you smile at someone, they usually say a few friendly words to you. Of course everyone can speak at least a little English usually well enough to talk simply to a stranger. We both agreed that everyone looked fairly content. I did see one beggar (and there would probably be more in Oslo), but generally there does not seem to be much poverty. At the same time, we noticed that there are also no overly luxurious homes, or flashy cars, particularly in the north. We both think that ostentation is a bit strange to the Norwegians, probably due to their Calvinist roots. They are pragmatic, more or less orderly, but in a relaxed way, not in the ”regimented“ manner of the Germans

They seem to smile almost without exception at their work. There are smiling salesmen, receptionists, pump-attendants, restaurant staff and even the truck drivers we met when we parked or coming the other way. Even the lady at the box office at Nordkapp, sitting in a booth that was certainly not very warm, sold us a ticket with a smile. (She probably thought we were smiling back, but we were actually grinding our teeth at the cost.

I have long entertained the fantasy that, if I were a multimillionaire, I would walk around with a bundle of money and give it to those who smile at their work. In the Czech Republic I would probably not have to give much away. In Norway I would be broke in a single morning.