Our last full day in Tromsø. It feels like the end of the trip, but we’re only at the halfway point. This is the longest trip we’ve been on by only two days, but it feels like so much more. That’s probably because on both our trip to Spain and our first visit to Norway, at least one full day was dedicated to travel. This time around, we have just three hours’ worth of flights to get to the second leg of our tour in Bergen. It’s weird how just a few short days here and there seems to make an incredible difference.
Today, we checked out of our hotel. It was an accident on my part, booking this hotel for four nights instead of five. To be fair, their booking system and the currency exchange conspired to confuse the shit out of me. On the bright side, we found a room for our final night here in a different hotel for $60 less than what we were paying here. Savings!
I took the bus to the airport early to pick up our rental car. We thought it would be fun to explore the surrounding countryside on our own, seeing as we’re right in the heart of so many mountains and islands. No definite plans, but I grabbed a map when we arrived and made note of a few routes that looked promising.
Once I arrived back at the hotel and picked up Sara and our packs, we were off to Sommerøy, an island right at the edge of the Norwegian Sea. Only 45km away from the city, it gave us plenty of time to explore and take our time. That turned out to be a stroke of genius, because we were pulling off the road every few minutes to take pictures of the stark, intimidating mountain ranges and bleak but beautiful scenery. The granite monsters rise out of mossy fields and bogs like fists and elbows, sharp and blunt and immediate.
Sommerøy felt like the end of the earth. Mostly because of the gale force winds that nearly knocked us sideways when we stepped out of the car. The ocean was a supernatural shade of blue-green, almost like someone had dumped food dye into the water as a goof. Waves roiled and thrashed against the coastline.
At one of our stops along the road, Sara got out at ahead of me and was making her way to the sandy beach (yeah, among all of these rocks and mountains and in the middle of such foreboding terrain, there were pristine white sand beaches) when she let out a screech. I turned just in time to see a massive bird fighting against the gusting wind just above where she was standing. It was a white-tailed eagle. The cousin to the bald eagle, they too are endangered and protected by the government, and we can both say with certainty that they are every bit as large as a bald eagle. It had been munching on a cod when Sara literally stumbled within a few feet of it. With a wingspan of 6-8’ and standing waist-high or taller, it was a bit of a shock to have one take off right in front of your face. I give Sara credit for not sprinting back to the car, because, damn…
Once we got back to the city and settled into our new digs, we rested and grabbed a bite to eat. It was only mid-afternoon and I decided that we should make the most of our car rental and take another short jaunt in a few hours. With unlimited daylight, why not? We rested up (still not a lot of full nights sleep, remember) and then headed back out, this time to a different part of the coast.
We came upon a small huddle of houses, behind which was a beautiful waterfall fed by a stream coming off a frozen lake. We got out and wandered around the mossy, boggy, stunted-tree filled landscape for about an hour, just taking pictures and exploring.
The next day, we got up early, grabbed our flight to Oslo, then to Bergen and arrived in the early afternoon. The sun was out and the city was alive. We met up with the caretaker of our apartment, got a quick walkthru, settled in, and then hit the streets to re-acquaint ourselves with Bergen after five years away.
Right now, we are still scrounging for wifi (none in our apartment, yet…supposedly) and having a great time. Updates may be a bit more sporadic in the coming days, but we’ll try our best to keep it up. Tomorrow is the 17th of May, Norway’s Constitution Day, and the celebration that accompanies it is supposed to be pretty crazy, not to mention that it culminates literally right outside our front door. We’ve been seeing crews putting up partitions and preparing for the massive influx of people since we arrived. Go ahead and do a Google search for “17 May Norway” and you’ll see what we’re going to be in the middle of. It should be exciting to say the least and exhausting to boot.
We’re off to grab a bite to eat before we retire for the day. More on Bergen soon.