…. go out in the winter dark. Apologies to any fishermen reading (*waves to Ian Banks and Mark Nash*), but really they must be some of the craziest, most dedicated people alive. We have seen them ice fishing on frozen lakes where they have to use big ice drills to cut a hole in the ice in order to fish, and today as we were driving out of Tromso, there they were standing on the bank of the fjord with the temperature hovering around -15C. I can’t even imagine how they managed to stand still for more than a couple of minutes, let alone put tiny pieces of bait on a hook when it’s that cold. I do admire their dedication though.
So we spent a couple of nights in Tromso, but had no luck finding any Lights. The first night, we drove across to Kvaloya Island and found a dark spot with views across the fjord, but didn’t see anything. Last night we didn’t even bother going out looking …. and of course there were some Lights where we’d looked the night before, but only for 30 minutes or so, so even if we had gone back out, we might have missed them. It can be a very frustrating pursuit, trying to find these darned Lights.
We liked being back in Tromso, especially as we didn’t get a parking ticket this time. But parking in a parking station for a couple of days cost nearly $40. Cheap hotels don’t have parking, and the least expensive hotel that did have parking was an extra $100 per night, so using a parking station was the best option for us. We wandered around the city centre yesterday morning, browsing in an electrical store and a sports store that had a winter sale. We don’t need anything, but it was interesting to see just how many different kinds of thermals they sold. Merino thermals were around $40, which seems cheap compared with Australian prices, but we already have 3 sets each and I’ve been really happy with the polyamide ones we got at the Columbia sale just before we left. Much more comfortable than the polypropylene ones I’ve had for …. almost ever.
The Tromso library is a magnificent new building that has great views over the fjord and looks across the water to the beautiful Arctic Cathedral. The Library is 4 or 5 storeys with a glass front to take advantage of the view and the light. As always when I’m visiting a library in a foreign country, I headed to the English language section and looked to see how many Tim Winton books they had …. only one, Dirt Music, but I was happy to see that. The library is open every day and has lots of spaces for sitting, reading, using computers , accessing newspapers and magazines and, of course, borrowing books. It’s right next door to the local cinema.
We fly to Dubai on Wednesday, so we have a couple of days left before we have to take the rental car back and catch a plane. We’re spending them in a tiny cabin at Birtavarre (you can see some photos here), which is at the end of a fjord 170kms east of Tromso (much less as the crow flies …. those pesky fjords!), and about 80kms north of the Finnish border. We drove through here on our way to Nordkapp, but don’t really remember it as it was just another tiny village on the edge of yet another fjord. We’re the only ones in the campground and it’s the usual Norwegian cabin set up – a couple of single beds, small table, 2 chairs, electric hotplate and this one also has a fridge which is a bonus, although we don’t really need it as we have our own, and it’s still -15C outside. There is a huge mountain right behind us, and one of my first thoughts when I saw it was ‘oh, I guess they don’t have avalanches here’. There’s not much snow on the mountain at the moment anyway. Our host, Christian, is a very helpful man who speaks excellent English and has told us quite a lot about the Lights and where to find them around here. He was born on the property when it was a farm, and has spent most of his life here, apart from a few years in Oslo. He and his family also own a house in Italy and they spend time there as well. He still farms some of the land, but the campground and cabins have taken over from farming as his main occupation.
It’s currently cloudy outside, but we’re hopeful ….