I left base just after 9am and headed into the city centre. Having arrived and found a car park (~£2 an hour parking fee!) I wandered in the direction of the tourist information centre so that I could find out more information about the near-by war museum. The place was closed, but would open at 10am so i decided to wander into the main shopping precinct to see if there were any other shops to look in… no. Nothing, it seems opens until 10am, I think the Norwegians like a lay in. Anyway, the cafe we (Isabelle, Linda, Nigel and myself) had visited on Wednesday was open so I popped in there and had a latte.
It was now just after 10am so I walked back to the tourist information place and found the leaflet I was looking for. As it turns out, the museum is only open on Sundays at this time of year (as the tourist season finished on the 1st September officially) which was a stroke of luck as it was tomorrow that I had planned to go to see it!
Having left the tourist information place I sat in the Radisson Hotel cafe area, took out my laptop and got net access for the first time since Tuesday morning. I spent almost an hour just catching up with e-mails and news items. However, I totally forgot about checking the weather forecast. Still, it’s likely to merely say the same… more rain. (Rain and low cloud is not conducive for photographing high mountains and grand vistas, as you can imagine.) Oh, did I mention that it was mostly wet and misty today?
Anyway, I had decided to check out the “big” out of town shopping centre out by the airport. It has what it boasts as “the biggest megastore in northern Norway.” Well, let’s say that the total floor area of the “CO-OP OBS!” store would probably fit within that of the Tescos on the Oxford ring road with room to spare. Within the shop was what was basically a rural Safeway sized food and groceries section with very little choice plus all sorts of other stuff such as clothing, camping (including big knives and rifles) electricals, gardening etc. Why do I sound a little unimpressed?
Now, I’m sure that the sizes of the sections are a reflection of the Norwegians’ priorities… and food seems to be one of the lowest. Other than two waist-level freezers full of frozen pizzas there was very little else other than a few sausages and cheese. They did have a number of flavours of bread, including frozen baguettes pre-stuffed with… pizza sauce!
By the time I’d got back to base the morning was over so I got some lunch and decided what to do this afternoon. Seeing as the weather wasn’t playing nice I made up my mind to check the area where I will be picking up the group on Thursday morning and see how long it would take for each of the ferrying missions.
At this point I have to diverge and give an explanation of the speed limits in Norway. Basically, they are annoyingly slow. The majority of roads within about five miles of a built up area and some within the towns are 60km/h, that’s about 35mph, and these zones seem to go on forever. The majority of roads within a town are 50km/h, about 30mph, which is fine. But there are also large stretches within towns of 30km/h. Where it gets silly is in tunnels and on bridges where the speed limits often go UP to 70km/h or national speed limit (which I think is 80km/h). It’s hard to find stretches of road with the national speed limit unless you’re way out in the countryside, even on trunk roads.
Anyway, back to the plot. It turns out that it’s going to take me about 45 minutes each way for the ferry journeys as a great deal of the 25 mile long road is stuck at 60km/h. Joy! That’s going to be really annoying for the second wave who will have to sit at the side of the road like lemons.
At the far end of the road I sat in the rather large car park which is at the very far end of the path the group are taking and just watched the clouds drifting over and around the hills. I hoped that I might see a reindeer or two but even though I sat there for more than an hour (and I must admit fell asleep for about 15 minutes) I didn’t see anything. So at about half past three I started back to base again (as I’d forgotten to pick up a bottle of water).
Having got back I rushed in, grabbed the water and went straight out again. This time I was going to drive along the other side of the sound towards Hansnes.
I took an early left turn once on the island of Kvaløy up to Lyfjord. The road climbed steadily up to about 1000ft (according to my GPS unit) before plunging steeply down through a new (mostly built) tunnel down to the little ferry port itself. It would be very picturesque in the sunshine I’m sure.
I took a couple of pictures to prove that I’d been there and retraced my steps back to the main road and turned north-east again.
After what seemed like a long journey on a winding road full of brimming puddles I decided that at 6pm I would turn back where ever I was at the time. It was then, at about 5:50pm I came across a picnic site with tourist information and decided to turn around there. The mist had cleared enough to actually see some landscape so I took another few pictures and headed back.
The journey back seemed to take almost no time at all and I was back at base before 7pm. I did see two reindeer, however. They were strolling across the road in front of me just on the outskirts of Tromsø’s suburbia. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to my camera as I was driving. They were two, full grown adult males with big antlers.