Norway, Part IV
: Tromsø og Svalbard
Last time I left off in our Tromsø hotel, the City Living. We then went walking around central Tromsø for a bit, seeing as there was enough light out to make this pleasant
Tromsø is a nice enough town to walk around, and there are enough sights to see for a couple of days, although we didn't get to see them all... More on that later.
The first night we had wonderful weather... So we enjoyed it to the fullest... The pictures below exemplify some of the scenery around Tromsø.
As for eating, the first night we ate at Pastafabrikken, or something like that, which offered mostly pasta and pizza at somewhere around 120-150 NOK depending on what you wanted on it. My pasta wasn't exactly what I expected, seemed to be a Norwegian spin somehow on the Italian dish. It wasn't bad, mind you, just different. I still ate it all (or almost). Food seemed to be more expensive in Tromsø than in other places, so it's ok. The place comes somewhat recommended, but perhaps I'd try something else next time (if I could find something else, at least). It did its job since we were reasonably hungry that evening.
Afterwards we headed to what I could call museum square—three museums almost next to each other, although they were all closed, since it was getting late, probably 10 pm or so. But as I said before, Norway's probably the place where museums impress least of all, compared to the surrounding nature, so no big deal. The Polar Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art (I think that's what it is) were in close proximity, basically just across the street from one another. Then we headed towards the theater and found a nice pier that extends towards Tromsdalen (where the Arctic Cathedral is located), nice for a walk and for some pictures. Afterwards, we stopped by a supermarket for some supplies and headed to the hotel for the night. Well, not exactly night, of course, with the 24-hr sunlight there.
The next day we did head to an Art Museum, which was free, but not all that impressive, and Tromsø's City Museum, which was quite tiny but was reasonably interesting. It was also free, nice deal, I suppose. We also planned a visit to the Botanical Garden as well as the Arctic Cathedral and the famous Cable Car in Tromsdalen.
Well, we decided to walk across the bridge, which was refreshing... And a bit scary looking down, haha. So, we reached the Arctic Cathedral and there I had a mild annoyance—tour buses everywhere, aaaaargh! The damn place was full of tourists and what's as bad, it was starting to rain! Ah, well, you can't expect brilliant weather all the time when in Norway. After everyone got out of the cathedral and back into the tour buses it was pleasant enough. Then, we decided to keep pushing onward towards the Cable Car, as it wasn't raining that bad (yet). It was a good idea, and we arrived just in time for the next departure. I didn't have my student ID
on me so I had to pay the entire 120 NOK price. Student price is 95 NOK. Anyway, a quick ride later we were at the top of the mountain—and it was quite rainy up there, but we still walked to the rocky outcrop and took a few pictures—and you could even see planes landing at TOS
—soon, the clouds overtook everything and visibility was reduced to around 50 meters, I'd say. Not great, but it was impossible to get lost. With 15 minutes to go until the next departure, we each grabbed a cup of tea for a bit of warmth. A hot tea is 25 NOK here, so on par with other places in Norway. Soon, it was time to go—yeah, it was raining quite heavily now—no more Botanisk Hage for us today, it seemed. We went back to the hotel, pretty much soaked by the rain. Crossing the bridge was particularly fun. Anyway, we achieved our goals for the day, and I even had time to read a couple of trip reports after a quick hot shower.
Next morning we were leaving to LYR—after an hour worth of walking around town we collected our bags from the hotel and checked-out. The bus station for the airport was only one block away and at 10:30 we were there and boarded the bus. In a few minutes we were at TOS
Selling some stuff:
Walking across the bridge:
Seats were chosen the day before—01E and 01F since M had never flown in the first row before. We printed our boarding passes and baggage tags at the SAS Self Service Check-in Desk and dropped off our bags.
Nordavia flies here:
After getting our boarding passes and dropping our bags off, we proceeded upstairs to head through security which, as expected, didn't take more than a couple of minutes. Well, it was still a bit too early and after taking a few pictures of the traffic at TOS
we each got a sandwich for somewhere around 70 NOK. They had several options available at the only restaurant open at 11:00 am, not there are too many to begin with
Well, by the time we finished eating, our 737-800 had arrived from OSL
and everyone was disembarking (those going to LYR as well—you need to pass a passport control, or at least ID
control for Norwegian citizens). Well, soon afterwards we headed downstairs for a gate 20 boarding procedure—this is located in the old part of the Tromso terminal. Passing passport control was quick and painless and we entered the waiting room, where we were advised to take the polar bear threat seriously and that rabies still existed on Svalbard.
Boarding gates (new side):
Hey, it's LN
-WIR, old friend of mine:
Old part of the airport:
Time to board came soon. After seeing the boarding process started, and allowing some people to go first, we headed to the back of the queue. It didn't take too long and we were walking towards the 738. Soon we were on board and immediately got to our seats, 01E and 01F. Well, a Russian guy was already seated on 01D. We put some stuff upstairs and some stuff in the pocket in front of us. The SAS F/A didn't like that, although I've never had this problem on any other airline—not that that's saying anything seeing how much staff in the USA seems to care about their job. They often don't collect all that they need to collect and every once in a while some water bottle flies through the First Class cabin on Delta during takeoff and landing... Anyway, I digress, the stuff in the pocket in front of us was secure. I also did not enjoy the fact that the F/A gave the reason “the emergency exits are right here”. Well, it's not like I'm in an exit row, there's still a bulkhead. Overzealous staff IMO—actually unlike any Norwegian people that I've interacted with on this trip.
Bright Orange Engine:
738 safety card:
Soon enough, boarding was completed and we pushed back for the 1h 20 minute flight to Longyearbyen. Not much to say, really, everything went smoothly. After takeoff there were some nice views to be had out the window. Then, the in-flight service started and we each had some tea. Well, at least there's something. No picture as it's literally just a cup with some tea in it
Takeoff and after takeoff:
After what I remember was 45-50 minutes or so, We started to see bits of Svalbard through the clouds. We were now on approach to the northernmost commercial airport on Earth. The pictures speak for themselves here
First pic of Svalbard:
, well, soon enough... or should I say, too soon, we were on finals to LYR in some nice weather, 10C and sunny. We even saw what I believe to be Barentsburg, although it was far away and I didn't check afterwards. LYR was quite busy this day, a SAS B737 as well as an Air Berlin A330 along our 738 on the apron. Well, that A330 was boarding and because they can't separate the fluxes here in LYR, there was no picture-taking allowed. Talk about annoying... I'm not sure why the Air Berlin aircraft was there but I'm pretty sure I don't appreciate that kind of tourism. The no-picture rule didn't help
Air Berlin A330 boarding:
View towards town:
Welcome. Take care of Svalbard:
We disembarked and reached the baggage belt—it's not like you can get lost in LYR! After waiting for a while our bags showed up and we headed towards the antique bus that was to take us into town. We waited for a while, then the guy came forth to collect payment (60NOK for adults, 40NOK for students). No credit cards accepted; although they were supposed to start on June 15th, that part of their information sheet was crossed out with a marker
After no longer than 20 minutes we reached the Guesthouse Spitsbergen in Nybyen (far away from town, but the weather was superb... for Svalbard).
, well Longyearbyen isn't a big city, having just over 2000 inhabitants, but Nybyen is 2.5km away from the city center, and the first kilometer is “in the open”--no houses. This means it can get windy, which in winter might mean an unpleasant walk
Taxis do exist, though, so there's that option. Would I recommend Spitsbergen Guesthouse? Well, it definitely serves a purpose on Svalbard, as it's one of the only 2 budget accommodations on the island... with the other also being in Nybyen. It's not bad, but not great either, and bathrooms are shared unless you get a 4-person room I believe. Double room without bathroom: 915NOK, so yeah, kinda steep. But unless you talk to the people at Svalbard Church and they allow you to spend the night there, you're not gonna have many options on a tight budget!
View of the room:
View from the hotel room:
View from Nybyen:
Little hardy plants growing on Svalbard:
Looking back towards Nybyen:
After we saw the room, we headed out to try and catch the Svalbard Museum while it was still open. It was around 15:00, and the Museum would close at 17. The 2.5 km should take just under an hour, even accounting for all the picture taking. The museum prides itself in having won an European award a few years back. In fact, it is pretty nice, and worth visiting. It's not that big, but larger than I expected. A good experience overall—you have to take your shoes off though
Afterwards we bought a few supplies and a couple of Svalbard souvenirs from the supermarket, which is only open for 3 hours on a Sunday—strange hours, but I suppose that's just how it is around here
There's a shop open for a bit longer, though, if you don't catch the supermarket open, though.
Fear the food in Svalbard? Don't. If you're on a budget you could try the Barentz Pub and Spiseri, where I had a decent-sized and flavorful steak, with a red wine based sauce, some salad and a large portion of potatoes au gratin for 177 NOK (30 USD). Excellent value. And it wasn't just a cheap meal, it really was a good meal. This place was located in the lobby of the Radisson Blu.
Afterwards, we walked around, first to the coastline, and then to the Svalbard Church. Walking between these two sites I suffered a bird attack to the head. Some overzealous and overprotective bird attacked me when I came close to its nest on top of a pole (by close I mean no closer than 10 meters, probably). I wasn't the only one attacked—a guy passing by 2 minutes earlier also had the same fate. Well, after 7 hits to the head I escaped, basically unharmed. I didn't do anything to the bird, of course. It's probably protected by law.
Then, after climbing a hill towards the Church, we entered this building... It was quite nicely decorated and there were brownies available, as well as some tea for 15 NOK. Well, 30 NOK later, we each had a cup of tea and enjoyed the silence of this place. There were some nice looking calendars available but no one to sell them. Too bad. M asked me “aren't there any bad people here?” when I told her the Church is open 24 hours with seemingly no one there. Well, I guess there aren't
A typical Longyearbyen view:
Glacier behind Nybyen:
Longyearbyen equivalent of Fifth Avenue?
The weather's so nice you can see other islands:
Svalbard map inside the museum:
Looking at town from the Church hill:
Towards the church:
Last pic from Longyearbyen town:
We then headed back towards Nybyen and proceeded past our building, to the place where there wasn't any asphalt anymore on the road. Took a few pictures and headed back in, as it was already basically midnight—and our bus to the airport would leave Nybyen at 3:00. Well, as you can imagine, not much sleep, 2 hours or so, which made for an interesting day. Anyway, I'll continue soon, but first I'm preparing for my next trip, leaving tomorrow.
Part V will contain the flight to Oslo, some more pics of Oslo and the return to Bucharest. Possibly even some pictures from the Bucharest Air Show.
Thanks for reading; comments always appreciated!
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