Norway ~ Tromsø

29 February 2024

Dog sledding near Tromsø was the highlight of the trip!   
Southern Norway had been breathtaking. But this year I wanted to go far north of the Artic Circle to the Tromsø area, promoted as the world's best place to see the Northern Lights.

I spent three days in Tromsø before joining 20 Brits on a cruise through the beautiful Lofoten islands.

The nine days did not go according to plan, but let's start with the good news!
Tromsø (pop. 80K) is a cute little town with lots of good restaurants, shops (esp. selling winter clothes), and museums. It has a handsomely austere, wooden Lutheran Cathedral and a modern Arctic Cathedral, plus many friendly people.

Above is a morning view of Tromsø from my airplane when departing, and below is a night view from Mount Storsteinen via the cable car.

Some creative sculptures dot Tromsø. Like my favorite one above, most of the sculptures are smooth with minimal detail but still representational not abstract.

This cold windy February day had sunshine and whales all around us. Most were sperm whales, plus some humpbacks.

Wind and sleet prevented the intended zodiac adventure through Norway's short but famous Trollfjord, but I ventured out on the deck to get this one photo of the fjord.

Of course almost everywhere you look in Norway the vista is scenic.

We visited the Lofotr Viking Museum which has, along with exhibitions, a reconstructed Viking longhouse (aka chieftain's house) that is 272 ft (83 m.) long. Here we are about to be served a delicious, hearty stew.

I should be candid and mention the trip's abandoned plans and disappointments. Bad weather was largely to blame, but we often wanted to echo the scream of Norway's Munch.

  1. No visit to the indigenous Sami's village.
  2. No visit to Nusfjord, a famous fishing town.
  3. No zodiac trip through Trollfjord.
  4. Saddest of all, no real Northern Lights.

One night we took the optimistically named "Northern Lights Train" from Narvik into the mountains near the Swedish border.

Upon arrival at the camp in the mountains, for nearly two hours we waited around the fire in vain for shimmering green waves to appear in the sky.

After unsuccessful attempts in Canada and Iceland, this was my fourth failed attempt to see the Aurora Borealis! I thought surely that spending nine days around Norway's alleged best location on the planet in 2024, an optimal year in the solar cycle, would yield several nights of neon green dancing across the sky. No such luck.

At one point — as a celestial rebuke to my hubris — the skies teased me with this small thirty-second glimmer near the horizon. Yet, this brief little glimpse of floating green was just phenomenal enough to be tantalizing and enthralling — and keep me craving to see the real thing.

I don't think this fleeting scrap was sufficient to say that I actually saw "The Northern Lights," plural — maybe a "light" singular. So, the quest continues.

Let's end on a happier note with a photo below with my entire team of five energetic dogs. I had loved riding with the sled dogs in Kamchatka, but we were only allowed to be passengers. This time, however, getting to be the actual musher in Norway kicked the dog sledding experience up to a whole higher level!