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Driving Tour - Arlanda to Uppsala and Sundsvall in Sweden

July 2 and 3 - Andrew Fernando

We boarded our cruise vessel Princess Maria well on time. We got a similar Premium cabin, but we wanted a better one. Our cabin had two narrow beds, hardly the luxury room we expected. We went to the reception desk inside the ship and asked whether it is possible to upgrade our room. Surprisingly, there were upgrades. We paid extra for the upgrade, and we got a room on the sixth floor with a big double bed. We had a good sleep that night.
We met Fiona again and had dinner with her. She was on her own and could not make a reservation for a table. We asked the reception to add her to our table. We got a good table with window seats.
When we came out of the terminal, Fiona met us to say good bye. Strangely, her hotel Scandic was right next to our hotel Crown Plaza. We were taking a taxi to the hotel. We invited her to come in our taxi and all three of us came in the taxi. Fiona, thanks for your company. I am sure our paths will cross again in the future.
Our hotel, Crown Plaza, was very ordinary compared to other Crown Plaza hotels we have been to. It is supposed to be a four star hotel, but it was three star material. We have asked for an upgrade when we initially booked the hotel on line. We did not get it. We requested again for an upgraded room on our second visit. The receptionist, a young boy, agreed to give it, but for a higher price than the on line upgrade. When we asked the reception, their reply was that to get the lower price, we have to request the upgrade on line. That was exactly what we did when we booked the hotel in the first place. So we asked to talk to a manager. The manager, a woman, came out and decided to go through our booking record. At the end she agreed to give us the upgrade for the lower on-line price.
We checked in and later went to the city centre in a tram. Then it started raining making us to stay in one department store for more than two hours. We have already seen the city and all the attractions during our previous visit. We came back to the hotel hoping to enjoy the evening food in the hotel lounge. The lounge food was hopeless and was compounded by rather poor service. One person came and left two food baskets on the table and went away. In other hotel lounges, we found people serving you, pouring drinks for you and making cocktails and coffee for you. This was a poorly managed hotel doing everything to drive away the clients.

Our Rented car Volvo V70

Our Rented car Volvo V70

Next day, on July 2, we had our flight from Helsinki to Stockholm in the afternoon. Helsinki airport is a small airport not bigger than our Katunayake airport. There were a couple of small restaurants serving cold salad sandwiches. I was reluctant to eat cold food. We found one place where they serve hot dogs. We had hot dogs and coffee for lunch. Our flight was on a small Finnair plane which took only forty five minutes for the trip. There was no immigration counter coming from Helsinki. It was more like a domestic flight. We collected our bags and walked out through “Nothing to
Declare” exit. A free airport shuttle took us to the Hertz Depot where we had to collect our car. We have booked an automatic Volvo V70 wagon and we got exactly what we asked for. It was a black diesel powered Volvo wagon, quite roomy and very long. We had no problem in putting our luggage in the boot. There were too many features to learn about. We mastered the basic features, then connected out Tom Tom navigator to the car and started driving. Mala was driving the car. I was looking at the navigator and telling her wherwe to go and which turn to take etc. Mala is used to driving the car on the right side of the road. The car was fine, but the seats were not comfortable. This would be a problem when we have several days of long driving almost six to seven hours behind the wheel.

Clarion Gillet Hotel Reception in Uppsala

Clarion Gillet Hotel Reception in Uppsala

We have booked out first hotel, Clarion Gillet Hotel, in Uppsala only about forty five kilometres from the airport. A sudden unexpected downpour made our drive slow, but we came to the hotel and checked in. We had to park the car in a private parking station just below the hotel. There were many restaurants close to our hotel. We have been eating Finnish and Swedish food for a cweek and we needed a break. We went to an Italian Restaurant and had Pasta. It was very well prepared using fresh ingredients.

One of many Bicycle parks in Uppsala

One of many Bicycle parks in Uppsala

On July 3, Sunday, we got up early and had early breakfast in the hotel. We had to cover a little over 300 kilometres on our way to Sundsvall. The weather was beautiful, sunny and bright. We brought too many warm clothes expecting cold weather. We may still need them when we go to North Cape.
On our way to Sundsvall, we stopped at a few places, once to put diesel to the car and once to have lunch. Petrol stations are all automatic and accepts only he credit cards. You first insert your card and ente3r your pin. Then the machine validate the card and your pin and allow you to fill diesel or petrol. First petrol station refused to accept my cards both Visa and Amex. It somehow recognized I am from a foreign country. We went the next petrol station which was not very far away. It accepted my Visa card. We decided to fill the tank every two to three hundred kilometres, because in some remote areas, the machines may not accept my cards.

Fountain Sculpture in Vangavans park in Sundsvall, Sweden

Fountain Sculpture in Vangavans park in Sundsvall, Sweden

Sundsvall is another big town we have to stay for one night on our way to North Cape. The shops were closed early on Sunday. There was a factory outlet like a place called Birsta City about seven kilometres from the city which was open till late. We went there and spent a few hours and came back to the hotel for dinner.
Sundsvall is a remote town. All the roads are paved with cement bricks and there are not many cars on the road. Most people use bicycles and there are special parking places for bicycles. I have seen this in many other European countries. Europeans are very conscious about smoke pollution and avoid using cars.

Posted by fernando65 08:26 Comments (3)

Rovaniemi, Santa's Home town

Finnish city near Arctic Circle , July 5, 6 - Andrew Fernando

We were now driving smoothly, towards North of Sweden, not spending much time on our way to Rovaniemi. We did not want to drive too long and get tired. We tried to keep our daily drive under 450 kilometres. We selected two busy towns with good hotel facilities as overnight stop overs. First one was Sundsvall. After Sundsvall, our next stop was Skelleftea. The driving distance was a little over 300 kilometres. Skelleftea is a nice town in Sweden with a population of about 32000 people. We selected Aurum hotel for our stop over. It was a very nice hotel with friendly staff. Our hotel rate included both breakfast and dinner.

Ouitside playing area in Hotel Aurum

Ouitside playing area in Hotel Aurum

There was free parking in the hotel grounds. We could walk in to the hotel restaurant any time and eat a piece of cake or make a good coffee on their coffee machine. There were free apples kept near the reception. The hotel also had a kids playing area and a kids pool.
We have been eating heavy breakfasts with Bacon, sausages, ham and salami etc. On top of that, we were having three or more cups of strong coffee. Without realising , we were taking too much salt and fat. We needed to have a healthy breakfast for a change. At the Aurum Hotel breakfast bar, we decided to have their cereals. Their cereals are made out of healthy seeds and fruits and very tasty. Their fruit juices are freshly prepared juices from fresh fruits.
In one of the earlier hotels, we had fruits coming from canned tins. In all the other hotels they had fresh cut fruit pieces.
Pineapple and Orange pieces came with the skin.
We only had one problem in the Aurum hotel. The hot water tap in the shower was stuck and could not be adjusted. We told that to the receptionist when we came down for dinner. She was a young girl, and she wanted to come to our room and have a look. She couldn’t fix it. You obviously needed a plumber to replace it. Anyway, the end result was that she moved us to a bigger and better room on the second floor.

The next day, Tuesday, the 5th of July, we resumed our drive towards Rovaniemi, about 380 kilometres from Skelleftea. We decided to have early breakfast and leave early. The weather forecast for the day was not good. The sky was overcast and gloomy and even before we started from the hotel , it started raining. In Sweden there are no road tolls. We knew we have to pay road tolls in Norway. There are no manual booths to pay tolls. You simply go through the toll gates. Your bill will automatically come to the owner of the registered vehicle, in our case to Hertz. We wanted to avoid this. We registered on line, giving our details and the car rental period. Bills will come to our email address which we can collect and pay with our credit card.

Long Bridge on our way to Rovaniemi

Long Bridge on our way to Rovaniemi

The freeway E4, on which we were driving, had one lane, with overtaking lanes appearing from time to time. You drive behind the slow vehicles and overtake them when there is an overtaking lane. Driving was easy, but overtaking slow long trucks in rainy weather was challenging. They sprayed water on your windscreen while overtaking. There was hardly anything to see, other than the pine forests and lakes. Once we passed a very long bridge.

We drove about 200 kilometres without stopping and took an exit to a small town called Kalix.

Swedish Cheese Burger in Kalix, Lyktan Cafe

Swedish Cheese Burger in Kalix, Lyktan Cafe

We found a small restaurant on the side of the road which looked interesting from outside and walked in. It was full of people. We were not sure what to order, but after looking at their menu we decided to order two Varm Ost. We expected them to be something warm. We were correct, we got two Burgers with cheese and ham. Later we found the girl at the counter could speak English.

Mala standing outside Cafe Lyktan

Mala standing outside Cafe Lyktan

We filled the car with diesel from the same town and resumed our journey. After another 50 kilometres, we passed a big town called Haparanda which is on the border of Sweden and Finland. Ninety minutes later, we were in Rovaniemi. It was still raining when we arrived at our hotel, called the Arctic Light hotel. I got out of the car and ran quickly to the reception leaving Mala in the car. The receptionist, a young man, checked me in quickly and told me where to park our car and also gave me an umbrella to go back to the car. When we parked the car and came to the reception, he was there to greet us. The rain has stopped briefly. He volunteered to go to our car and bring the bags to our room.
Out hotel, Arctic Light Hotel was the best hotel we have seen so far during our trip. The room was bigger and nicely decorated. It had a separate sitting area. The walls of our room were decorated with pictures of Sami People wearing their costumes. Sami people are the indigenous people of Finland and considered to be the original settlers of Finland.

Our bed with a welcome message, in Arctic Light  Hotel

Our bed with a welcome message, in Arctic Light Hotel

Rovamieni is the Northern most city in Finland, You only have to travel another six kilometres to cross the Arctic Circle. We have planned to spend two nights in Rovaniemi. It is the capital of Lapland in northern Finland. It is recognised as the official home town of Santa Claus.
Rovaniemi is a very pretty town. It is at the confluence of the two rivers Kemjoki and Ounasjoki. Most of the city centre roads are paved with cement bricks. You can see many people either jogging or walking their dogs along the river bank. There are others who ride their bicycles. There are more bicycles than cars on the roads near the city centre. In Summer, Rovaniemi is like any other city full of people. In Winter, the buildings in the city are transformed into snow covered ice palaces. More tourists come to Rovaniemi in Winter than in Summer.
Weather in Rovaniemi is very unpredictable. One minute, you will see sun shine and the next minute, the sky opens up with a heavy rain.
On the 5th evening, when we arrived in Rovaniemi, we had to stay inside the hotel for about one hour. Then the rain stopped and we could walk along the busy shopping street, that was very close to our hotel. We were planning to have Rein deer steak, which is something you are expected to do, when you visit lapland. Then we saw an Indian Restaurant called Rang Mahal on the road. We have not eaten any spicy food for nearly two weeks. The temptation was too much to miss the chance of having rice and curry. We ended up having dinner in the Indian Restaurant.

Santa with Andrew and Mala - Photo taken by Santa's photographer

Santa with Andrew and Mala - Photo taken by Santa's photographer

On our second day in Rovaniemi, we went to visit Santa. Santa’s village is about eight kilometres from the city. It was very similar to the one we saw in Fairbanks, Alaska. They also have a Santa Claus Village and a live Santa. In the morning, we were talking to the girl at our hotel reception asking her about the best places to visit. She is the one who gave us directions to go to Santa’s village. I casually mentioned that we have seen another Santa in Alaska. She said the one in Alaska is a fake Santa. The one in Rovaniemi is the real Santa. We did not want to argue with her. I am sure Santa lives in both places. With his chariot, he can easily shuttle between the two places.
We visited Santa and took a photo with him. We told him about our two grand children Elinore and Morgan. We told him that they are waiting to see our photo with Santa.
Our hotel, Arctic Light Hotel was chosen the eleventh best new hotel on the planet by the Travel+ Leisure magazine. That makes it the best new hotel in Europe in 2016. It is always fully booked in Christmas time and in Summer. The Aurora suites on the top floor have large windows to allow guests to view Northern Lights from their beds.

Breakfast bar in Arctic Light Hotel restaurant

Breakfast bar in Arctic Light Hotel restaurant

We came back to our hotel in the evening and walked around the city streets doing a bit of shopping and then walked up to the river bank. They say the mid night sun can be observed from the iconic
Jatkankynttila Bridge. The sky was covered with rain clouds and we did not go out to see the Mid Night Sun. We may be able to see it in Alta.

A wall hanging in our hotel room showing Sami People

A wall hanging in our hotel room showing Sami People

There are Rein deer farms and Husky farms in Rovaniemi. We did not have the time to visit them. Reindeer farms and herding of reindeer can only be done by Sami People. Sami people have been doing it for generations. They mark the ears of Reindeer so that they can be identified and are released to roam about. It is said that the owners can recognise each and every one of their Reindeer by checking their ears. Reindeer is used for transport, but mainly for their meat.
We decided to taste Reindeer on our second day and went to the Nili Restaurant, next door to our hotel, for dinner. I ordered their special Reindeer stake while Mala order another Reindeer plate. It tasted very different to other meat we have eaten. The flesh was very soft and tender.

We left Rovaniemi on the Seventh morning for our next adventure. We are driving West, crossing the border again entering Sweden.

Posted by fernando65 14:17 Comments (0)

Kiruna, Alta and Nordcap

Visiting Northern most point in Europe, July 7,8 and 9 - Andrew Fernando

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Rovaniemi. The rain prevented us from doing more things, but we managed to visit Santa and see the main city attractions. Looking at some of the pictures taken in Winter, we could imagine what the city and Santa’s Village would look like in Winter. When we were in Rovaniemi, there was no snow anywhere to be seen. The temperature was around 20 C, quite pleasant. We did not need our warm clothes. The rain was a nuisance and we ended up buying an umbrella to deal with it, while in Santa’s village.
We left Rovaniemi on July 7th morning, after breakfast in our hotel. Our next major destination was North Cape, the Northern most point in Europe. We were planning to have one night stop over in Kiruna and then two nights in Alta. While in Alta, we would do a day trip to North Cape.

Kiruna is the Northern most town in Sweden. It is a fairly big town with a population of about 18000 people. There were other smaller towns on our way, but we could not find good hotels to stay. While driving to Kiruna, we had to travel more towards West from Rovaniemi.

A wild reindeer on our way to Kiruna

A wild reindeer on our way to Kiruna

We were expecting to see some wild animals. There are brown bears in Sweden, mainly in Northern Sweden. But not common like in Canada or Alaska. They are rarely seen by human beings even in areas they are supposed to be living in. The road signs showed us that in some areas there were mousse and deer. We drove for a long time without seeing any animal. Then suddenly we saw a Reindeer on the road, and later another group of three. I managed to stop the car and take a picture, but they are not friendly and do not wait in one place while you are taking pictures.

We crossed Finland and entered Sweden in one place. The old border crossing offices are still there, but they are closed. You simply drive past them.
We stopped in a small town and had a hot dog and coffee in a small restaurant. These small towns have only one or two eating places which are open only in Summer. We stopped at another restaurant, but it was still not open for Summer.

Hotel Vinter Palatset in Kiruna

Hotel Vinter Palatset in Kiruna

We came to Kiruna around 2:00 PM and went to check into our hotel Vinter Paletset. Checking in time was supposed to be and our room was still not available. We left our baggage in the hotel and went to the town centre and had lunch in a small restaurant. Our hotel was a popular small hotel, but more like a Bed and Breakfast place. We were given a key to our room and also a key to the front door. The reception is available only till 11:00 PM. If you decide to go out, you use the key to the front door to come inside the hotel.
Kiruna is situated above the Arctic circle or north of the arctic circle. In Summer, the day time temperature can exceed 20 C, but when we came to Kiruna, it was only 11 C due to rain and windy weather. In this part of the world, the hotels do not have air conditioners. They only have heaters.

We left Kiruna in the morning and started driving further north to our next destination Alta. We were planning to spend two nights in Alta. On the second day, we would do a day trip to North Cape and come back to our hotel in Alta. The drive from Kiruna to Alta was more interesting. Kiruna is in Sweden. We crossed the border to Finland for a short while and then crossed the border again to enter Norway. The old border crossing offices were closed. The land scape changed when we entered Norway. Norway is greener and prettier. On the way, we stopped at a few places. We saw a herd of reindeer, but could not stop to take a picture. In one place, we saw a decorated vehicle and three people, a man and two ladies wearing some kind of costumes. We stopped the car and talked to them. They are originally from Germany and selling fur materials to people who are passing by. They spoke good English. We took a few photos with them, though we did not want to buy any animal products knowing our custom restrictions.

Wearing costumes and posing for a picture with us

Wearing costumes and posing for a picture with us



On our way to Alta, the sky was overcast, but there was no rain. We enjoyed the good weather, but not for long. We were able to check into our hotel Scandic Alta, but could not walk around the city. It started raining again. The Scandic hotels are fairly modern hotels. They are used by most of the tour groups. When we were in the hotel, we saw many tour buses coming and unloading groups of tourists. The hotel restaurant arranges buffet dinner on the days they get tour groups. We decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant on the first night.
On our second day, July 9th, we drove to North Cape. North Cape locally known as Nordcap, is the Northern most point in Europe. The drive itself was very nice part of the journey driving in a mountainous terrain and part of it along the coast. We passed many scenic areas along the road. We saw some houses with green roofs. Later we realised that it was green moss that makes the roof green. We were not sure whether the owners purposely allowed this to happen. My guess was that these houses are occupied only in Summer and in Winter they are not maintained causing the roofs to get covered with moss. We passed several long tunnels the longest one being closer to five kilometres.

A house on our way. Roof is covered with Green Moss

A house on our way. Roof is covered with Green Moss

We also saw some fast running water streams and small water falls. We saw many cars stopping and doing fishing in these streams.

One of many Water Falls

One of many Water Falls

When we were getting closer, the area got enveloped in a thick fog. It gradually got thicker making driving very slow. At one point, we could see only a few metres ahead. We arrived at a small town called Honningswag. Cruise ships come come to this town and the town is popular among tourists. We then drove further and stopped at Nordcap tourist hotel. We had a snack and a coffee in this hotel. When we drove further to the North Cape the famous North Cape rock and the surrounding area was totally covered in Fog. The fog was so thick that we could have cut pieces out of it. It was disappointing because we could not see anything clearly and we were not able to take any pictures of the rock.

Thick fog covering the road and the entire area

Thick fog covering the road and the entire area

Driving through thick fog

Driving through thick fog

We talked to the owners of Nordcap Hotel and asked them whether the fog would clear off. A few days ago, the area was bathed in sun and they could see the rock and the surrounding area. The fog or the thick mist can last several days or clear up overnight. No one can predict the behavior of nature. The owners a woman and her brother open the hotel in Summer, but closes it and go away after September.

Name board of Nordcap Tourist hotel

Name board of Nordcap Tourist hotel



We waited for a while and then drove back slowly, behind a string of caravans. The road was narrow with just enough room to pass two big vehicles. Overtaking slow vehicles had to be done very carefully, only when the road was straight and clear of vehicles.
When we came back to the hotel it was already time for dinner. The rain has started again. We had our umbrella and we decided to walk in the rain and go to a close by restaurant. One restaurant was fully booked and smaller cafes already closed. There was a bar and a Pizza restaurant, but we wanted something different. The only other restaurant that was open was a Chinese restaurant which was run by a family. We had dinner there. We found the food tasty.

Posted by fernando65 22:18 Comments (1)

Driving along Coastal Norway, Tromso and Narvik

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.

Distant snow capped mountains, partly hidden in Mist

Distant snow capped mountains, partly hidden in Mist

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.

Driving out of the Ferry

Driving out of the Ferry

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.

90_Clarion_Co..h_in_Tromso.jpg

Stuffed Polar bear, near Clarion Hotel reception

Stuffed Polar bear, near Clarion Hotel reception

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.

View from our hotel room window, can see the bridge and the Arctic Cathedral far away

View from our hotel room window, can see the bridge and the Arctic Cathedral far away

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.

Famous Tromso Cantilever Bridge

Famous Tromso Cantilever Bridge

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.

Having coffee in a small restaurant on our way to Narvik

Having coffee in a small restaurant on our way to Narvik

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.

A village and Houses near the edge of waters

A village and Houses near the edge of waters

Mala at the Quality hotel Grand Royal reception

Mala at the Quality hotel Grand Royal reception

On our way to Narvik, we stopped near the Narvik war memorial museum.

War Memorial near Narvik

War Memorial near Narvik

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.

Quality Hotel Grand Royal from outside

Quality Hotel Grand Royal from outside

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.

Bright night sky in Narvik at mid night

Bright night sky in Narvik at mid night

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.

Sun still above the mountain range at 11:30PM

Sun still above the mountain range at 11:30PM

Sun emerging from the mountain range at 2:30 AM in the morning

Sun emerging from the mountain range at 2:30 AM in the morning

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.

Posted by fernando65 00:04 Comments (2)

Moving South from Narvik to Mo I Rana and Trondheim

Norway July 12 and 13 - Andrew Fernando

We left Narvik on Tuesday, July 12 and drove to Mo I Rana. We crossed the Arctic Circle on our way and moved down to this town which is below the arctic circle.
The drive from Narvik to Mo-I-Rana took us through some beautiful scenic areas. We drove through snow capped mountain ranges and fjords.

Snow and Mountains merging with clouds

Snow and Mountains merging with clouds

Mountain view from a long bridge

Mountain view from a long bridge

There were many small villages with small but beautiful and colourful houses. They have coloured the walls with bright colours mainly Green, Red and Yellow.

Red and Yellow houses-Mo I Rana area

Red and Yellow houses-Mo I Rana area

Yellow and Red houses- popular house colours in Norway

Yellow and Red houses- popular house colours in Norway

We saw some houses and huts with green roof tops. First I thought the grass was due to long Winter weather and the difficulty to maintain them.

Grass on the roof-Near Mo I Rana

Grass on the roof-Near Mo I Rana

Later we found that they actually grow grass on the roof. They prepare their roofs with special sheets and add a soil layer on top to grow grass. They believe these roofs act like insulators and keep the houses warn in Winter and cooler in Summer.

Mo I Rana is a small city with a population of about 18000 people. We have booked the hotel Clarion Collection Hotel Helma for one night. Clarion hotels are very popular among locals.The main attraction is that they provide free breakfast and also a free evening meal. You do not have to go out for dinner. In all the Clarion hotels, the rooms are very similar with good comfortable beds and good clean bathrooms. You can go down to the restaurant any time and have a free coffee and sometimes cake or fruits. The staff are highly service oriented and would go out of their way to see the customers are happy.

Clarion Collection Hotel Helma in Mo I Rana

Clarion Collection Hotel Helma in Mo I Rana

July 12th happened to be one of the exceptional sunny and warm days in Norway. There are very few warm days in Norway even in Summer. When we came to the hotel and walked into our room, we found the room given to us was very hot. The room window was facing the sun and the closed room has become very hot. For the first time during our trip, we were sweating profusely. Mala wanted the Air conditioner on, but there was no air conditioner, only a heater. Most hotels in Norway, do not have air conditioners. They can manage without air conditioners because they rarely have hot days. Mala called the reception and told the girl at the reception, that our room is extremely hot and we need the air conditioner on. The receptionist, a young girl came up to our room immediately. She was very apologetic. There are no air conditioners in the hotel. She offered to open up the windows to get cool air. Air outside was not cool either. That was not going to help. The sun would be falling into our room till about 10:00 PM in the night. She offered to move us to a room on the other side of the hotel, which was not facing the sun. That room was much cooler. She came with us to the room and opened the locked window in case we wanted to open it in the evening.
When we went down to the hotel restaurant to have dinner, the receptionist, came to meet us again. She has spoken to her duty manager about the inconvenience we had to go through. He has sent his apologies and also offered free drinks to go with our dinner. We declined the offer, but she insisted that we have free drinks. It was a good gesture on the part of the hotel and we felt we should accept her offer. I had a local beer and Mala ordered an apple cider. It was customer service at it’s best.

Water Streams with very clear water near the highway

Water Streams with very clear water near the highway



Next day, after breakfast, we started driving along the coast further south towards Trondheim. We are now driving towards Geiranger, the most famous Fjord in the world. It was too far away to drive in one day. We have planned to spend one night in Trondheim.
In Trondheim, we stayed in another Clarion hotel called Clarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet. This hotel was in a very old building built in 1907, but beautifully renovated and well maintained.

Clkarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet in Trondheim

Clkarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet in Trondheim

Trondheim is a big city with a population of about 180,000. It is the third biggest city in Norway. Trondheim has a long history. It was first established by the king Olav Tryggvason in 997. It became famous when the king Olav Haraldsson was killed in a battle and later canonised as a saint. He was buried in the Nidaros Cathedral and pilgrims from other countries started visiting this cathedral when miracles started happening.

Andrew near Troindiem Cathedral

Andrew near Troindiem Cathedral

Part of the Trondheim Cathedral from a distance

Part of the Trondheim Cathedral from a distance

We visited this famous cathedral and took a tour of the cathedral. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the church. We took some photos from outside. There are several tour guides who take you on cathedral tours. Our tour guide, who spoke fluent English was a young girl. She while touring the church, told us the story of Saint Olav and the story of the cathedral. It was destroyed by fire several times and rebuilt each time. When miracles started happening, the church exhumed Olav’s body and found his body remained in-corrupt. Not only that, his beard and the nails have been growing continuously.

Part of Trondheim's old warehouses on the banks of river Nidelva

Part of Trondheim's old warehouses on the banks of river Nidelva



Another important landmark in Trondheim is the Nidelva river flowing through the town. There are old but very beautiful storehouses on both sides of the river. We did not have enough time to visit all the attractions in Trondheim. It is a charming old town and you need at least two days to see all the attractions in the city.

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