Midnight sun...

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
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Trip End Jul 07, 2006


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Thursday, June 29, 2006

I spent a night in Bodo after getting the ferry back from the Lofoten Islands, and it was sufficient as it was just a normal, run-of-the-mill town. It was more a stopover because my flight to Tromso was booked for the 27th, which as it turned out, wasn't as scenic as I'd hoped due to those pesky clouds again...

I had two and a half days in Tromso and I really enjoyed it, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I met some really nice people in such a short space of time, beginning with my dorm mates on the first night. One of them was a rare Spaniard who was a nervous wreck ahead of the Spain game, but he was so friendly and we talked a lot about football.

Of particular interest to me was a Finnish guy who'd just had two weeks in Svalbard and seen thirteen polar bears, although he was more enthusiastic about the birdlife on the archipelago as he was a Ornithologist. In fact, he didn't even take any photographs of the polar bears, but had hundreds of the different bird species he'd seen!

It was great to hear about his journey, although I was envious because the likelihood of me seeing a polar bear in the south/west is pretty slim...you need to do a week long cruise (1300) to get to the real polar bear land in the north/east. That's one for the future...

I'd briefly got talking to an English couple in the TV lounge (Anthea and Gordon) after detecting their accents, and we ended up doing the same trip the next day, so I spent a fair bit of time in their company. The trip in question was by anybody's standards (and particularly Norway's!) a bargain. It cost a measly 40 and involved an outward bus journey through the Lyngen Alps, and a return journey aboard the luxurious (and normally very expensive) Hurtigruten, a large cruise liner that sails up and down Norway's west coast.

I claimed the last window seat on the initial coach and was soon joined by Asgir, a friendly Norwegian guy who acted as my tour guide and did a good job of interpreting the bus driver's occasional ramblings. He was with his wife and I actually bumped into them again the next day, and he gave me his email address for if I'm ever in his neck of the woods. A nice couple...

The four hour bus journey was punctuated by two thirty minute fjord crossings, so it was a good opportunity to stretch the old legs and take a few pictures. Of course, I got on the wrong bus when it was time to return to the vehicles, although at least I realised my mistake which is more than can be said for some others - suddenly there were a couple of empty seats on our bus for the next leg!

The highlight of the trip though, without a doubt, was the four hour cruise when I was mixing with the upper end of society! It was nice having Anthea and Gordon around so that I wasn't on my lonesome the whole time, and they turned out to be a very interesting couple as we talked about Gordon's trip to India, and Anthea's trip to Cambodia. They do a lot of volunteer work and speaking to them has reignited my desire to do something too, as they said that it really changes the way you look at life.

I particularly enjoyed the last hour of the cruise because the clouds really did disperse, and we got a great view of the (nearly) midnight sun. Anthea even had a dip in the jacuzzi on the top deck, while everyone else looked on at the sun and mountains as we sailed back into Tromso. It was one of the highlights of my trip, although it was a pity we had to depart the boat just prior to midnight. Regardless, after sharing a taxi back to the hostel, and some difficulties pronouncing the Norwegian word for 'hostel' (vandrehjem), we managed to get some great shots of the post-midnight sun as we were elevated above the city.

This cruise aside, I did my usual wandering around and exploring, visiting the Polaria museum at the harbour which featured a dazzling 20 minute panoramic film on Svalbard. It really got the juices flowing, as did my visit to the interesting Polar museum that detailed various expeditions to the Arctic.

I've not been this excited about going somewhere since I set off for New Zealand, some 18 months ago...
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