Hei Verden. Jeg er forelsket i Norge!
(Hi, world. I am in love with Norway!)
Honestly the only thing I could type with out using google translator in that sentence was hi, but that’s okay because obviously I’m not Norwegian (yet).
This country is breathtaking. Although I will probably be finishing this post when I have returned to my cozy room in Dublin, I’m beginning it as we wait for our flight from Tromso to Oslo and the gallery below is my current situation. Have you ever heard of people wind skiing? I haven’t, but I’m watching it happen right now as I eat my wasabi peanuts and Ashley sips her latte from the warm comforts of the airport cafe.
I’m starting this post a bit premature as we still have another 24 hours or so to explore Norway, but with all my visitors coming to Dublin at the same exact time as all my assignments are due for my classes, I figure I better make the most of the little free time I happen upon.
When Ashley and I revealed our plans to travel to Norway a few weeks back we received the same warning from multiple worldly sources: Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Wish we knew that one before we booked our flight but our flights were cheap and we were determined to see those Northern Lights, so we bought some snacks from the Dublin Tesco and we were on our way.
We arrived in Oslo, Norway late Thursday night. We got a taxi to our hostel and quickly went to bed. We had an early flight the next morning to Tromso which is renowned as one of the best places the Northern Lights can be seen. When we arrived in Tromso at about 10 am we had some time to kill before we were able to check into our room at 3, so we explored the city and I am completely smitten. Tromso is a small Norwegian island in the Arctic circle. Although it has the same latitude as other freezing arctic locations, it’s temperatures are much higher due to its rare relationship with winds coming from the gulf coast. From the 21st of November to the 21st of January the city doesn’t see the sun at all. Although it’s not pitch black all day everyday for those three months, the sun doesn’t visit again until January 22nd and only hangs around for about half an hour to an hour; but it stays a little longer each day until about May 21st. When May 21st arrives, the sun is there to stay 24/7 and doesn’t begin to disappear again until July 21st. The wildlife here is supposed to be surreal during those winter months. Our Northern Lights tour guide told us of one tour he was on last January where they stopped the bus to view the lights and while they were taking in the beautiful sights of the lights, they could hear the whales breathing in the water.
Ashley and I walked around this cute little arctic town for a couple of hours and never really found ourselves bored. There was always a beautiful sight to see or beautiful street to walk down. We went to a pretty authentic Norwegian restaurant for lunch. I got something I was told was a shrimp sandwich but ended up looking like this
While Ashley ordered the “pickled herring” sandwich which came with mashed potatoes:
Each were somewhere around $20-25… Insert cringe here. But we were warned that Norway wasn’t cheap so we sucked it up and sucked it down. Although Ashley’s meal wasn’t as appetizing as mine, we were proud of the fact that we experienced a bit of Norwegian culture. The Herring fish is very common in the oceans of Tromso and their migration patterns are what brings about the large amount of whales to Norway every winter.
Once we finished our meals, we grabbed a latte and attempted to find something to do that didn’t make us weep at the act of pulling out our wallets. We stumbled upon a free photo gallery featuring an Italian artist from the 50’s-70’s. We really enjoyed it. We did a bit more sight seeing, I took some pictures of some really cool looking boats for my dad’s sake, and then we headed to check into our hostel.
After a bit of rest from the nonstop travel, we started preparing for our journey to chase the lights. Two different wool socks, and a pair of alpaca socks squeezed into my Uggs, two pairs of outdoor wool lined running pants, two cold weather shirts under a Northface jacket liner, under my Northface parka along with a pair of earmuffs and a souvenir Norway hat (which was cheaper than my sandwich..) and a scarf and gloves and I was ready for our journey.
We met outside a hotel around the corner from us and boarded a bus that would take us away from the city lights and onto a “base camp” where the lights were most likely to be seen. There you had the option to purchase a hot meal, but they also had free hot chocolate, Norwegian cakes (I have no idea what they were but they were absolutely delicious) and hot coffee. They also had a fire pit and two heated rooms available if the temperatures became too much to handle.
While we were waiting around the fire pit for our glimpse of the lights, I met a couple from Dublin. The woman told me her sister was a speech pathologist and while there wasn’t much of a demand for it in Ireland, a company from Australia flew her there and pay her massive amounts of money to go work with the aborigines. As soon as I get some wifi I plan on doing a bit more research on jobs like that and spell checking aborigines.
The camp ground we were situated in turned out to be a bust. The clouds were so thick even the stars were hiding, so we decided if the lights weren’t going to come to us we were going to go to them. We boarded the bus in search for some clear skies. After about an hour drive some stars started to appear through the clouds and we found a place on the road to pull over and look for the lights again.
Unfortunately conditions weren’t ideal, but we got luckier than some. The lights appeared, but were very scarce and difficult to see behind the clouds. With some special setting up of Ashley’s Nikon we got some pictures that actually made the lights easier to see than in person. The group was a bit disappointed with the display, but Ashley and I decided we weren’t supposed to experience the full beauty of the northern lights quite yet.
I’ve decided that as soon as I can figure out what an English speaking speech pathologist can do to afford the prices of food in Norway, I am moving to Tromso and raising an adorable blonde haired blue eyed skiing champ family. Or atleast spending my honey moon there where I can take the time to really try to find the Northern Lights.
We arrived in Oslo Saturday evening. We took the subway (I now know the Oslo public transit system better than Atlantic City’s or Pittsburgh’s) to our apartment style hostel in the eastern side of Oslo. The transit systems have places where you can buy tickets but we found ourselves getting on and off subways and busses for free without issue. Our hostel was in a bit of a shadier part of the city but it was cozy so we were okay. We grabbed a delicious raw-fish free dinner at a very hipster-style restaurant and cringed at our bill again. The next morning we explored the city and obsessed over the incredible architecture. We took a bus to a peninsula with a weird name that I’m not going to even attempt to spell. It had a lot of cool museums and beautiful sights of the sea. Apparently it’s also the location of the king’s summer home. As you’ll be able to tell in the pictures it was a bit of a dreary day, but we still enjoyed it. Oslo seems it’d be a much more breathtaking experience come the summer time when their green parks are in full bloom. Alas Tromso will forever have my heart and I’m already planning my second trip back (I wish).
All this talk about money and expenses always brings a bit of worry and anxiety to any normal college student. I just wanted to take the time to give an extremely heartfelt thank you to my Favorite partner in Paleo crime, Uncle Eddie for making all the amazing things I’m lucky enough to experience over these four months possible. Anytime there’s even a little bit of hesitation in considering a pricey activity he’s there to say “don’t worry about it Nell, go ahead. Whatever you need.” I don’t even have to ask. I am so lucky to have someone like him whose only worry is that I am safe and having the absolute best experience that I can. So thank you thank you thank you thank you to my amazing Uncle Ed. Who would’ve thought 15 years ago when I was making egg rivers out of my dippy eggs and French fries that’d I’d now be living in Dublin and traveling the world and so much of it is thanks to you! In return for your kindness I will make sure that when your so old that not even your Paleo diet can save you, you will have the hottest hospice nurse in your nursing home. 🙂 But seriously I really am forever and ever grateful to have you in my life and so very excited for you to get here in just one short week!
Talk to ya’ll next week with updates on my visits from Aunt Jackie, Brittany, Ashley, Uncle Ed, Momma and Poppa!!
Inntil neste gang! xxxx
(Until Next Time!)