Table of contents

2017-07-16 Vampires of the North
2017-07-26 Travelling to Tromsø
2017-07-26 Rainy Tromsø impressions
2017-07-30 Three trips round Tromsø

Vampires of the North

It’s no secret, that blood-sucking vampires exist in Scandinavia. It’s another species then the half-human vampires known from countless fantasy novels and therefore there are some differences:

The bad part: They don’t dread the sunlight, they are countless and they can fly!

The good part: You won’t turn into a vampire yourself when they bite you, they are much smaller and they are easier to kill.

But sometimes you come too late to prevent the vampires attack …

This mosquito died in Miekojärvi between Överkalix and Övertorneå, where Annika and I stayed overnight on our tour to Tromsø.

 

 

Travelling to Tromsø

Sometimes I’m just too lazy to blog and so was I the last weeks. Today however I finally want to write about a great trip to Tromsø, that Annika and I started on 7 July, almost three weeks ago.

Tromsø is in located in the North. Very far north. It lies 344 km north of the polar circle and is the northernmost town of the world with more than 50,000 inhabitants. It has the northernmost university, both the northernmost cathedral and mosque, the northernmost brewery and probably some more northernmost things of the world.

The shortest route by car from Skelleftehamn to Tromsø leads over Luleå, Pajala, Kilpisjärvi (Finland) and Nordkjosbotn (Norway) and that’s the route Annika and I took.  We had a lot of time and planned to stay overnight twice, but didn’t plan where.

The first part of the route, the E4 leading north, is kind of boring. At least you’re allowed to drive 110 km/h – the maximum allowed speed of the whole journey. In Töre we left the E4, took a break and ate in the Restaurang Roady – the first KRAV-certified sidewalk restaurant.

After lunch we continued northwards. After 50 km we reached Holgers Traktor Museum in Svartbyn, which is always worth a visit. Since it was late – we started our trip in the afternoon – we just made a short stop to take a picture and then continued our trip.

Where to stay? Perhaps we could stay with Katharina whom I met last winter. She lives in Miekojärvi between Överkalix and Övertorneå. We tried to ring her, but she didn’t answer the call. Anyway it’s just a detour of 30 kilometres so we just gave it a try. Katharina has round 20 huskies and someone has to feed them. When we arrived at her house, a man left the shed, looked at us and we were quite surprised to meet Sascha whom we met before in Solberget several times. What a lucky coincidence! So we found not only our first overnight stay but great company, too! Thank you, Katharina (abroad) and Sascha for your hospitality!

The next day we continued our tour after a nice and rich breakfast. We crossed the arctic circle and watched the reindeers.

First stop: Pajala, where a big market took place. Here you could buy a lot of things between tradition and modern age.

After two hours we left the hurly-burly and entered the car again. We crossed the Swedish–Finnish border and followed the E8 which was more construction site than main road. We passed Karesuvanto, where I was sure to meet a food store. All stores however are on the Swedish side, in Karesuando. Not a problem, if you have bread with you and then are given butter, cheese and salami as a present on the super-nice camping ground Lätäsenon Majat near Enontekiö, where we stayed overnight.

Next day we passed Kilpisjärvi near the border triangle, where Sweden, Finland, and Norway meet and soon we were in Norway. Norway is my favourite country in summer because the landscape is so varying and beautiful that even I make photos from within the car:

In Skibotn we saw the first fjord – the Lnygen – and made a break. Annika used it for jogging and I for looking around and taking pictures. I love to stand at the shore, the feet in the water, the view either on the shells or on the fjord and the still snow covered mountains. But the seagulls didn’t like me standing there and they flew some feint attacks, luckily in vain. They don’t dare to come really close.

In Nordkjosbotn we ate hamburgers for lunch. It’s not easy to get anything other than burgers and pizza in Northern Norway outside the cities, but sometimes I like fast food, especially when travelling. From Nordkjosbotn it’s only another hour to Tromsø, where we arrived in the afternoon.

Here we would stay for four whole days with … but that’s another story for another blog article. Stay tuned!

 

Rainy Tromsø impressions

Two weeks ago: I’m in Tromsø, it’s quite early in the morning and I cannot sleep any longer. Time to ignore the grey rainy weather, take the camera with the 35mm lens and go out for an hour to make some photos of Tromsø when the weather isn’t so nice, but neither bad.

Three trips round Tromsø

It’s me who is thrilled by the North, who loves to travel to places like Tromsø or Kirkenes. It’s my mother however who has been much northerly than I was. She was in Spitsbergen/Svalbard with a cruise ship many years ago. But on the way back the route had to be changed due to fields of drifting ice and therefore the travellers couldn’t leave the ship in Tromsø. So my mother missed Tromsø on that cruise.

This year we managed to close this gap: three weeks ago my mother took a plane to Munich, another plane to Oslo and a third plane to Tromsø, where Annika and I picked her up from the airport. That’s why we’d travelled to Tromsø by car two days before.

We had four days in Tromsø, I will write mostly about the first two:

Monday, 10 July

Weather was better than forecasted and so the first thing we did after breakfast was taking the car, crossing the Tromsøysundet on the Tromsø Bridge and taking the Fjellheisen on the other side of the town. Fjellheisen is a cable car up the mountain Storsteinen (approx. 420 m), where you have an incredible view over the town Tromsø, the island Tromsøya and the mountain ranges on the neighbouring islands.

We stayed there the whole morning, enjoying the view, walking around, eating ice cream and looking at the arctic flowers that grew everywhere.

Finally we went down with the cable car again driving back to Tromsø and since the weather was sunny and nice we just continued driving, leaving Tromsøya again, this time using the Sandnessund Bridge. We continued our trip on the island Kvaløya (Whale island), Norway’s fifth largest island. At the western end there’s a bridge leading to the island Sommarøya which sometimes looks like like a caribbean island with it’s turquoise blue bays.

Annika and I were very keen to take a bath, but we all were hungry too, so we took a lunch first. While we were eating our fried fish, clouds approached and soon it started to rain. So much to our summer bath plans …

After looking around on Hillesøya (another bridge, another island) we drove back, this time taking the coastal way in the south of Kvaløya. Finally even the sun came back and illuminated the bright yellow blossoms of Lotus corniculatus, or common bird’s-foot trefoil that covered the sides of the narrow road.

Have a look at the beach photo above. It’s not sand, it’s corals covering this beach, which makes them looking even more caribbean – at least as long it’s sunny.

Late in the afternoon we arrived at our hotel after our first day together.

Tuesday, 11 July

After the rainfalls of the night sun came out again. Time for another trip to the surroundings – this time the island Senja, Norway’s second largest island (beside of Svalbard).

The first part of the tour was the same as the trip to Sommarøya the day before, but instead of turning right the last T-junction we turned left to Brensholmen and waited for the ferry to Botnhamn/Senja. Annika downloaded an app to pay the passage, since it was much cheaper than paying cash. As in Sweden it has become quite unusual to pay cash. The idea to start early was a good one, we were one of the last cars to fit on the ferry. Some others were unlucky – they had to wait for many hours or change plans.

Hour plan was to take a round trip on Senja using the roads 862, 86 and 861. In addition to that we planned to take some side trips.

The first side trip was special, since it led through a dark tunnel cut into the rock, that much too narrow for two cars to pass. In addition to that it was curved and bent so that you couldn’t see other approaching cars in advance. There were lay-bys were you could try to squeeze in and let others pass and I was really glad that the regular bus had left the tunnel minutes ago.

But when we left the tunnel we got “Norway in a nutshell”: Wide bogs, birch and pine forests, clear blue lakes, green meadows and fields and most impressive: big snow covered mountains, some of them looking unreachable by foot, so steep and harsh they were.

But it wouldn’t be Norway without the fjords. Sometimes the coast is as rocky as the mountains, sometimes it provides sandy beaches in beautiful bays. And finally we came to our bath, all three of us. Of course the water was cold, but the air was warm and we stayed in the water quite a long time.

We continued our round trip, again some clouds approached and again some rain drops fell. I thought we’d have to wait an hour for the ferry back, the ferry arrived simultaneously. I realised that I looked wrong when I checked the timetable, but we were lucky and found a place on the ship anyway.

On the way back we didn’t stop for taking pictures any longer. First of all the weather had become grey and dull and then we were tired and hungry. So we stopped only at the supermarket to buy some food for the dinner.

The other days

We did it right, making the larger trips in the beginning, because the other two days it was cloudy and rainy. Time for some sight seeing and indoor activities in the city that we hardly touched the last two days.

We visited the Polarmuseet – we went shopping (kind of) – we tried to visit the Tromsø Cathedral (in vain, it was closed).  We visited a photo exhibition in the Universitetsmuseet – we were on board of the seal hunting ship Polstjerna (another museum) – we strolled around in the beautiful botanical garden (hard to find!). We ate lunch or dinner at the harbour – we visited the park Prestvannet – we visited the Hurtigruten ship Trollfjord, the very same ship Annika and I travelled with last winter. Did I forgot something? Certainly!

On friday we started our road trip back to Skelleftehamn were I live, but that’s another story.