I took the trekking party to the end of the road in Tromsdalen in two groups. This took rather longer than I had anticipated and hence made me late for a meeting with Zhenya, one of the two people we are liasing with, so that she could show me where to return the room keys to and where to register so as to get a temporary UiTø username for net access via my iBook.
I managed to get all the red tape out of the way by midday (though I will have to collect my user details on Monday) so came back to base for lunch.
This afternoon, as the brighter weather looked as though it was to the south west (i.e. the Atlantic coast), I decided to have the round-tour of the island originally planned as a minibus trip before we found out the cost of hiring a minibus.
In total, including lots of stops to take photographs and a long stay at Sommarøy, it took about four hours, mostly due to the very low speed limits that Norwegian roads have. The maximum speed is 50mph with much of the road under a 40mph restriction or far less for long stretches.
The weather was indeed far better on the coast with very broken cloud which became blue sky with clouds as time went by. By the time I’d got back to base Tromso had got the blue sky (and clouds) as well but it obviously hadn’t had for long as the roads were still wet. It’s flippin’ nippy out where-ever I was though. It was 10C with a biting south westerly wind. Next time I’m taking my wooly hat with me if I’m going to be walking outside the car!
This evening’s been quiet. Too quiet really. I think the two women who are staying here whilst they do a midwifery course have both gone back home for the weekend and the rest of the group are now spending their first night in the DNT huts. I imagine that they got pretty well soaked this morning and were glad to see the sun later in the day, even if it didn’t provide much in the way of warmth. I do hope that the hut is not full already and that they have all managed to cram themselves inside to get out of that wind and keep warm.
I’m pretty bored as there’s not much viewable on the telly except “The Simpsons” and an old episode of “Charmed” as I got dinner. The quality of the american imported shows has steadily decreased as the evening has worn on. I can’t wait until Monday when I get a net connection again. At least there will be one more diversion to be had.
Went into town with Nigel and Linda. (Scott and Isabelle just beat us to being the first out today.) We did final bits of shopping for the trip before catching the bus for the Tromso University Museum, where we had lunch.
I had to leave before the others as I had to go and collect my hire car.
In the end, I got to the Europcar place about half an hour before my appointment. However, it seems that I was the only person collecting a car today (the manager/mechanic had to open the office for me and there was only one folder on the desk) and so that was no problem at all.
The actual driving on the right is fine, it’s just the roundabouts and turning left which are rather weird and unnatural at the moment. I’m sure that I’ll get used to it.
This evening we went out for our final night out together as another two of the party were flying home via a 2 day stop-over in Oslo. Much to everyone’s delight we didn’t go to Peppe’s Pizza but instead a rather more traditional establishment. Nice food.
The cost of eating out is probably about 1.5 times that at home, though Peppe’s Pizza is as cheap or cheaper if you take into consideration the size of the portions.
It was a relatively early evening to bed.
The cold was a lot better so the group of us, the normal forward party of Isabelle, Linda, Nigel and myself, went into town to the Polar Museum. The rest of the group followed on somewhat later after managing to raise themselves out of their beds.
After the museum we popped over the bridge and searched for the camp site the trekking group will be using on their last night. We found it and there will be no problem with getting and plots according to the managers.
In the evening we all went out and had another pizza at Peppe’s Pizza. This has been a recurring venue for our group.
I’ll give a more detailed summary of the whole trip when I get back but so far I’ve been on an 8 hour evening bus and cruise ship round trip, seen and photographed the northern lights, got lost on Tromsbuss, been up a cable car and walked to the top of the highest point on Tromso Island.
The low lights have all been to do with the cold I picked up. It’s meant that I’m not currently walking over some mountains, which is a blessing in disguise as it’s tipping it down with rain.
I spent most of the day in my room with a very nasty cold. I did manage to go out in the morning to the city centre and sat in the cafe of the Radisson Hotel chatting on Bullet and looking at the web via WiFi. The weather was foul, wet and horrid.
The rest of the group went off for a hike as a warm up for the main hike later in the week. Apparently, up the top of the hill the rain wasn’t so bad.
In the evening I ran a quick slideshow of all the photos taken so far as Leila Battison was flying out the next morning.
The weather started off wet. This didn’t stop the usual, crack commando team from staging an advanced strike into the centre of the town before the remainder of the infantry followed later at their own pace.
We first visited the library to get net access and to read any english language newspaper we could find so as to find out what had been going on in the world. Unfortunately there was only the Herald-Tribune International Edition which didn’t really help. The net connection was better so I managed to get the weather forecast for the next few days and read my Dept. e-mail.
We then walked across town to the Polaris attraction. On the way we passed the Macks brewery and discovered that it contains the British Consulate. Typical!
The Polaris attraction was really a mini aquarium with a largish pool holding four bearded seals. It also had a multi-screen AV-Digital film theatre within we watched a couple of films, one about Svalbard and the other about Antarctica.
Unfortunately the cafe wasn’t open there. This was probably due to the tourist season officially ending at the end of August. So, when we left we popped into the local Spar supermarket and picked up some lunch in the enclosed sandwich shop before attempting to buy provisions.
I don’t know what Norwegians manage to eat as the food in the supermarkets is terrible. Soups all come in dried form, spagetti etc. comes in large tins with very little sauce and end up as a congealed lump. There are all sorts of not very good salamis and junk food and that’s about it. I came out of there with only a bag of rolls, some milk and some sachets of instant hot chocolate.
By this time my cold had progressed to the point where I was feeling really fatigued and the nose was starting to run. At least the sore throat was going away.
This evening we were invited by Julia to meet other members of the International Student Union. It took some engineering but we did finally make it to the location of the gathering, the Sami cultural centre in the University.
The building has an interesting structure, made from rough hewn logs and polished gneiss with a semi-circular glass outer wall. In the centre of the floor is a large pit designed to sit around with a central fireplace in which a large fire was lit.
It was a fun evening and I managed to mostly fight off the cold for most of it.
I’m now, at last, writing up all the events which have happened so far which had failed to do previous nights. I really need to go to sleep now, though I’m not sure how well I’m going to sleep with a running nose.
After a slightly later start Nigel, Linda, Isabelle and myself went for a walk over the northern central hill of the island. It was a fun walk.
My cold had progressed though. The sore throat was in full force and I was starting to feel a bit brain-dead.
After lunch the group was herded off into town in an attempt to go on an 8 hour bus and ferry round tour. When we got to the tourist office, however, we found it closed so we couldn’t buy any tickets. The situation was saved by Isabelle’s audacity. It turned out that we could buy the component parts of the journey as they were required.
The tour was awesome, as were many of the views and very much worth the £40-£50 it cost.
There was an amusing confusion by the person selling tickets on the final ferry/cruise ship. Jonathan Antcliff gave them his University Card to show that he was a student (to get a discount) and the person behind the desk made the ticket out to a “Mr Earth Sciences.” Later in the journey tried some social engineering on the crew to get them to make an announcement asking “Mr Earth Sciences” to go to a certain place on the ship. Unfortunately, the person she asked knew too much and the joke fell flat.
We managed to sail into Tromso just in time to run to catch the last bus back.
There were no aurora though, oh well.
Nigel, Linda, Isabelle and I travelled into the city centre quite early to check things out and to go to the tourist centre, where we picked up a lot of leaflets. Then, on the way back to base we accidently took the wrong bus and found ourselves on the other side of the bridge near the airport, which made for a good adventure. After jumping bus at one of the main interchange points in the city, close to the airport, we did some shopping in a shop called “Rema 1000” and then managed to find our way back via a circuitous route.
Following lunch we all journeyed into town again thence, via another bus, to the cable car up to the top of the hill opposite Tromso Sentrum. Because of the lovely weather, the views were spectacular. The waffles weren’t bad either.
On the way back we stopped in one of the very many pizza restaurants in the city for dinner where we all got stuffed full.
After returning, it was time for bed. I started getting a sore throat, which wasn’t a good sign.
Not long after we’d gone to bed there was a ring at the door bell, but by the time we got there the doorstep was empty. It was only after I looked out of my window and saw the sky did I see what all the commotion was about… The Northern Lights!
The show was quite spectacular, some of which I managed to capture with my camera.
WiFi is 50NOK an hour.. just under five quid. (ouch) But at least it works.
The flight(s) were O.K. and my Sainsbury’s cool bag worked a treat.
More updates as and when I get a chance…
Arrived in Tromso at about 5pm local time and spent a lot of the evening encamped in Tromso airport awaiting the arrival of the rest of the group and Julia Svetskova.