Norway - July 10 and 11 - Andrew Fernando
We have achieved our objective of visiting the Northern most city in Europe. It was now time to move along the coastal Norway and enjoy the spectacular scenery. We have planned our trip to visit the major cities which are popular among tourists and well known for their natural beauty. Tromso is one of the major cities visited by the cruise ships. It is situated about 350 kilometres above the Arctic circle or North of Arctic circle.
We left Alta on Sunday, July 10th morning and drove towards our next destination Tromso. We decided to take the shortest route to Tromso via freeway E6, but we also had to take two ferries on our way.
Tromso is considered a big city compared to other smaller towns in Norway and Sweden. It has a population of over 72000. It is one of the biggest cities situated above the Arctic circle. The city centre is in an island called Tromsoya.
It is connected to the main land through a very long bridge called Tromso bridge and a tunnel called Tromsoysund tunnel.
We drove along the coast passing many snow capped mountains and waterfalls coming down those mountains. We had rain coming down from time to time, but we could maintain a steady speed. In one area, while driving through a valley in the mountain range, we had to pass through a patch of thick fog. It cleared after a few kilometres. The first ferry was from Olderdalen to Lyngseidet. This was the first time we were taking a ferry in Norway. The ferries are run by a private company and you have to pay before your car gets boarded.
We were lucky to arrive at the ferry station right when a ferry arrived and started loading. The ferry trip took nearly forty five minutes. We had enough time to go down to the restaurant in the ferry and have a coffee. The second ferry was from Svensby to Riksveg. That trip was shorter and took only about 20 minutes. We would have to take more ferries when we travel to other cities.
We came to our hotel “Clarion Collection” around 3:00 PM. The hotel is in the city centre which is in the Tromsoya island. We had to drive through the Tromso bridge to arrive at the hotel. The hotel was right near the water and facing the harbour. We talked to the girl at the reception and asked whether we can get a room with a good view. There was one room that was going to be vacant, but we had to wait till 4:00PM to get it.
The hotel provides free coffee and dinner to all the tenants. We went to the restaurant and had waffles and coffee while waiting for the room to be made.
We could see the boats in the harbour and the Tromso bridge from our room window. Tromso bridge was built from 1958 to 1960. It is 1036 metres long and at the time of opening, it was the longest Cantilever bridge in Northern Europe.
The Arctic cathedral in Tromso is considered a landmark building in Tromso. It was designed byb the architect Jan Inge Hovig. Due to its shape, it has come to be known as the Opera house of Norway and many people compare it to our world famous Opera House in Sydney.
We had only one night in Tromso. Next morning, July 11, we left Tromso and drove to Narvik. It was a long drive, but we stopped in small towns and took regular breaks in between. We were careful not to exceed the speed limits in town areas as well as the winding roads through mountain ranges.
We passed many water falls, fjords and fast running rivers and drove through some very long tunnels. In most places, the freeway had only one lane. More than 50% of the vehicles on the road were caravans.
On our way to Narvik, we stopped near the Narvik war memorial museum.
Narvik was a major battle ground between Germany and friendly forces during the second world war. Germany suffered it first major defeat in Narvik during their battle with British, French, Norwegian and Polish forces.
We have booked the Grand Royal Quality hotel in Narvik for one night. It was a good sunny day, and the sky was clear after a long time. We knew that Narvik is above the arctic circle. This could be a good chance to see the mid night sun. Unfortunately, the city is surrounded by a wall of mountains . You cannot see the horizon from the ground level.There is a cable car facility in Narvik. It takes you up to the top of a mountain which has a good view of the surrounding area. We thought we might be able to see the mid night sun from the top of the mountain. We went there to check the facility and found the cable car is not functioning due to a problem. They are trying to fix it. We were asked to come close to mid night and check with them again. There was a notice saying the people should wear proper shoes so that they can walk down if the cable car fails to operate after reaching the top. We were not going to take a chance and go up in a faulty cable car and then get stuck at he top.
There was another viewing station on a high place where you can see the city. We drove up there and took a few photos. But you cannot see beyond the mountain range. The mid night Sun occurs at the sunset. The sun goes below the horizon for a short time and comes up again. There is sun light through out the entire 24 hours of the day. This phenomenon can be seen when you are above the arctic circle.
We came back to the hotel and luckily for us , our room was facing North and we could see the evening sun from our room window. The distant mountain range was covering the horizon. But it was something better than nothing.
Weckept on watching the Sun from our room window. At 11:00 PM, the Sun was still above the mountain range. At 11:30 PM, the Sun slowly disappeared below the top of the mountain range. I managed to take a few photos. There was day light throughout the night. Then around 2:30 AM, the Sun reappeared above the mountain range.