Tromsø and beyond :)

I was really excited to get an opportunity to visit Tromsø.  It’s well known for being a great place to see the Northern Lights and get involved with various winter adventures.  We only had a weekend there but I was excited to see what we might do.  Not only that but I’ve never been that far north before.  All around, there was potential for great fun 🙂

I spent the first day in Tromsø walking around downtown.  I read about an interesting cafe just a few blocks from the hotel.  It’s called Risø mat og kaffebar (food and coffee bar).  They have a really interesting way of brewing coffee.  It’s hand brewed.   They slowly pour hot water of coffee beans into a small coffee pot for a customer. A bit mesmerizing…  Even though I am not a coffee drinker, I enjoyed watching the process and smelling the lovely coffee aroma.  That said, I enjoyed a chai latte and a pumpkin soup for lunch.   The chai was served in a separate tea pot and really tasty.  No sugar added which is nice as you can make it as sweet as you like.  The soup was really smooth and had a nice pumpkin flavor.  I added just a little salt and thought it was perfection.

It was a really slick outside and so I decided to take it easy.  I did some Tromsø research and headed back to the apartment for my husband.  That evening, we skated our way around the city, saw the waterfront at night and headed to Casa Inferno for pizza.  We enjoyed a starter of bresaola.  The dish featured delightfully salted, dried beef with a salad of arugula, lemon and parmesan.  We then decided to order two personal pizzas.  I ordered the capricciosa pizza (which had tomato, mozzarella, cooked ham, mushrooms & black olives) and my husband ordered the special which was a white pizza with onions, gorgonzola and parma ham.  Both pizzas were cooked really well and had a nice balance between pizza toppings and pizza crust.  We finished with tiramisu to share.  The food was really delicious.  The restaurant also had a nice vibe – very steampunk.  The waiters even wore steampunk inspired goggles as a “bowtie.”  Fun vibe.  Great food.

The next day, we enjoyed walking around the waterfront in downtown Tromsø.  It was really picturesque.  From the downtown, you could see many boats, the water and the snow capped mountains in the distance.

Next, we found our way to the Polaria museum.  It was fun.  Definitely a great place if you have (adventurous) kids.  I say adventurous as they have a tank where you can feel some sea organisms.  I didn’t have the courage to stick my hand in the tank but it did look cool.  My favorite part of Polaria was the seals.  We spent a good of time just watching them swim around.

After Polaria, we went to a bar called Macks Ølbryggeri.  It was a nice break from the cold weather and the beer selection was really large.  We both opted for local beers in the BIG mug.  Yum 🙂  A perfect spot for a break.  Plus, I really enjoyed listening to the locals tell tourists that the polar bear in the bar was alive.

For dinner, we went to have a nice fish meal at Arctandria Restaurant.  We slipped in between appointments so we ate well (and quickly).  I ordered the parmesan gratin cod and my husband ordered the stockfish meal.  The parmesan gratin cod was lovely – it was salty and cheesey and the fish was nicely flakey.  The stockfish had a lovely sauce and a ton of bacon.  Need I say more?  My husband recommended this place as he went here on a previous trip to Tromsø.  We both enjoyed our meals.

That evening, we drove around the Tromsø area and found our way near Finnes to look for Northern lights.  We weren’t sure we would be lucky but were tracking the chances on norway-lights.com.  It said we should “Go” so after sitting for a bit in a dark area outside of town… we saw them.  They were faint – but we saw the northern lights.  Really pretty and quite an interesting phenomenon.  The longer we sat, we could see them slightly moving until the clouds came in and covered the sky.  I was glad to share that experience with my husband.  I also hope we can see them when the colors are stronger one day.  You know – sometimes people see them in Oslo.  So, a girl can wish 🙂

The next day, we decided to do something we don’t do often.  We bought tickets for a group travel event.  This is normally not our “thing” but it gave us an opportunity to see reindeer up close so we gave it a try.  We booked the Sami and Viking Experience though Tromsø Arctic Reindeer Experience.  The experience started off with an introduction to our Sami hosts and then went out onto the property to feed reindeer.  I was a little scared at first as they do HAVE antlers but they turned out to be more scared of us.  Once they saw the food, they warmed up to us.  It was pretty amazing.  Reindeer are beautiful, powerful and sweet animals.  We then returned to chat with our Sami hosts in their tent called a lavvu.  We sat around the fire with the other participants, ate reindeer stew, and learned about Sami culture.  My husband got to practice lasso throwing and some folks paid extra for reindeer sledding.

We, however, had opted for the Viking experience.  We were driven a short distance from the reindeer ranch to a location where we met a very nice Norwegian gentleman.  He loaded us onto his snowmobile (with sled).  My husband got on the snowmobile and I got to share the sled with another couple.  Kinda weird but they were very nice.  We became quick friends (as you might expect).  Our guide showed us around to the various cabins that his family built.  Many of the cabins had Viking era replica items.  Our guide was also well versed in Viking and Norse history.  He made us a lovely fish soup (which was made creamy with sour cream).  Also, he shared with us some aquevit and some house-made liquors.  All in all, it was a nice trip.  Because it was snowing so much, we did not get to try other things with the Viking Experience.  Apparently, you can learn archery and other activities.  Therefore, I’m not sure it was worth the amount of money that we spent.  While we enjoyed it, it was quite expensive.  If we had booked the reindeer experience separately, it would have been 895 NOK.  With the Viking Experience, it increased to 1999 NOK.  In hindsight, we probably should have just booked the Sami experience with the reindeers.

Finally, we returned to downtown Tromsø and had dinner at Hukon Pub.  This bar is highly rated on tripadvisor in Tromsø and is an incredibly small bar.  It has about 20 seats total.  We actually tried to eat here the night prior and it was really packed.  Luckily, we got a table this time and ordered.  My husband had the burger and I ordered the baked potato with bacon.  This is truly pub food.  Greasy and tasty.  They also offer a series of savory or sweet crepes so we had a strawberry crepe with chocolate for dessert.  After this, we had to head to the airport and return to Oslo.  Our Tromsø journey was coming to an end.

I hope to find another opportunity to visit Tromsø.  The people in town were really lovely (and helpful – particularly with ideas on how to find the Northern Lights).  I highly recommend a trip to this northern Norwegian town.

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