Trip Tromso – Lofoten (18 February – 1 March)

I went with 5 other girls, Elena, Luca, Wil(lemijn), Sara and Maike on a 12 day trip to the North of Norway, specific to Tromso and the Lofoten. It was magical!

The preparation for our trip was a lot, because we were going for 12 days and we all had different opinions. We also didn’t have a long period of time to really prepare everything properly. We booked our flights and our accommodation for the beginning and the end, because then we knew we were going to be for sure in Tromso. We also rented two cars in Tromso to ride easy around in the Lofoten and get around with all our stuff. The rest we didn’t decide at that moment, because we didn’t know our exact plan where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. We got some ideas, like going to A, Reine, Senja, visit some fjords and beaches, but that was about it. We were going to live a bit day to day during the trip. The one thing we knew for sure was that it was going to be an expensive long roadtrip.
We also had to make an expedition route card for our three day forest field trip. Therefore we used some handy websites, like dnt, ut and karverket. We could so figure out which routes where suitable to do every day, how we can split these up in legs and what where possible escape routes.

Thursday 18 February:
Finally time for departure! After our class we grabbed all our stuff and headed to the airport. Our flight got delayed, but we made our transfer in Oslo (that was also delayed) and landed safely (and not sick!) in Tromso. We took the bus to our hostel in Tromso, where we were going to stay. When we arrived, there were some complications with our booking and our room but they helped us really fast, so we could check in and go to our room. A thing that I immediately recognized was that all the locals were so friendly and ready to give you advice about the city and what to do and see. Lovely! In our room (really hostel like room) we were all pretty tired. We discussed what we were going to do tomorrow and went to bed.

Friday 19 February:
The sun raised and so did we. Time to explore Tromso! First we walked through the city and saw some nice buildings, churches and views over the river and with all the mountains. We visited the library, which also had a beautiful view, the famous church and some giftshops, like a typical Tromso giftshop but also a shop where they had all kinds of comics and lego stuff. Really cool!
After that we walked up the mountain ledge Storsteinen, where also the cable car is going. After a short, but steep walk we got rewarded with an amazing view over Tromso and the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. We saw the sunset and then warmed up some time in the café until it was completely dark. It was beautiful to see Tromso up there at night with all the lights. Suddenly a man came in the café and said the northern lights were visible. We ran as fast as possible with all our stuff outside. It was phenomenal to see the northern lights in real life! Unfortunately I couldn’t make some good photos with my camera from the northern lights, because of bad settings. Luckily Luca could take amazing photos with her phone! Even better photos then all of us could take with our professional camera. We stayed up there for some time to enjoy the northern lights and when it was a little bit less clear we went back down with the cablecar. We went back to the hostel to eat something and warm up again. At 11 o’ clock we decided to go back out for the northern lights. This time we went to a lake close to our hostel, what was recommended to us as also a really good place to see the northern lights. We were lucky, still a clear sky! Already when we walked there we saw the northern lights again. At the lake we just laid down and looked at the northern lights dancing and even changing color, green to purple. What a crazy day! We all went to bed exhausted but so grateful.

Saturday 20 February:
We got our car today and drove away from Tromso. First we made a stop at a small husky farm. Unfortunately the weather was too bad, really windy, to go husky sledding. We still had a nice time there cuddling the huskies and getting some more information about the huskies and the sledding. After that we drove to Senja, an island in the direction of the Lofoten, where we rented an Airbnb. I sat in the car with Luca and Maike, switching as drivers. I took the job as DJ on me.

Sunday 21 February:
Time to explore Senja! First we visited a small troll village. After that we started driving to some nice viewpoints in the mountains. During the drive to the second viewpoint the weather became bad. There was a lot of wind and snow blowing around. Our sight became bad, we didn’t even see the next white/red pole at the side of the road. We decided to go slowly further and hoped that it would get better after some turns in the road, but it didn’t. We arrived at the second viewpoint, but we knew it was too dangerous to get out of the car to enjoy the view. Luca went for a short time out to help Maike turn around the car. She already had to set some steps in direction of the cliff, because of the wind. The other just saw Luca going in and out the car and thought it was safe. So two of them went out. Luca went back out to tell them it was obviously not safe. They all crawled back to the car and Elena lost her beanie. We decided we couldn’t go further on this road and turned back to go to the national park of Senja. There we did a nice hike in the snow! After that we started driving to Harstad. Normally we would arrive around 9 o’ clock but then we had to stop on the way for a barrier and we didn’t know why. After some waiting and searching why we had to wait we figured out that the GPS changed to the wrong route, namely the route where we had to take a ferry, what was really expensive to do with both cars and all of us in. We decided then to turn around and drive a whole way back to get back on the right road. We came around 11 o’ clock at our destination, the DNT cabin in Harstad. It was cool to see and sleep in a DNT cabin. We putted on the heaters and got some snow to melt, because we didn’t have any running water in the cabin (and the toilet was also just a hole in the ground outside). We were glad that we had the heaters, so we could go quick to bed, because it was such a long drive.

Monday 22 February:
This day was also a drive day. This time to Fredvang, where we were going to do our forest field trip. We were all a bit worried, because of the bad weather the last days. It was above zero degrees the whole time and it was also raining sometimes. This made that the snow was in a bad condition and that there was a lot of avalanche risk, so we had to watch out for potential avalanche terrain. We looked again at the route we wanted to take and saw some potential avalanche terrain. Luca talked with the guy where we rented the cabin from (a typical red cabin! Lovely!) and he referred us to a local woman, who knows all about the surroundings. His opinion was that some parts of our trip, where a risk, but not all. After that we prepared the rest for our trip, like our food and our rucksacks and discussed more about our route. We decided to wait what the local woman would say and then look again at our plans.

Tuesday 23 February:
First day of the trip! We went to the local woman and she told us also that some parts were possible, but because of the bad weather and the rain the most parts where possible avalanche terrain or very slippery. She recommended us some other hikes, that were more suitable at this moment. We went back to our red cabin and looked again at our plan. We decided to mix the new recommended hikes with the parts of our original plan, that were still possible. After lunch we drove to our start point. We were going to do a hike to a beach about 2 kilometers away. First we tried to go up some hills to see what our possible hike for tomorrow would be like, but after a short time we decided to go immediately to the destination of the day, the beach, because the deep snow was really hard to hike in and it was already getting late. The hike to the beach was hard. The path was not visible anymore, because all of the snow. So we had to find our own path, what was really hard in the deep snow. Most of the times we sank until our knees in the snow. There was also a very steep part at the end of the hike, what was a bit scary, because the hill ended in a cliff. We did 2 hours over the 2 kilometers, so that’s crazy. Once on the beach we were glad that we made it and looked for a good spot to set our tents up. We looked at the wind direction and if it was going to change during the night and set our tents up in the best possible place taking all that into account. After we just put our tents up it started to rain, lucky! We all got in our tents and talked and made dinner. I was in a tent with Wil(lemijn) and Elena. It kept raining and we had to go once out, because the rain was coming in our tent, because the tarp was too much laying outside the tent so the rain could slide in. That really sucked, because my backpack was laying in the puddle that was created by that and some things were already a bit wet, because of the rain we had during our hike to the beach. We went to sleep and didn’t had a good night sleep because the weather was getting worse and worse. It started stroming, raining harder, the wind turned the wrong direction and was now blowing really hard on our tents. In the night we had to go out to tighten the ropes of the tents more, but it didn’t make any difference. More things were getting wet, because the tent was moving so hard because of the wind and all the cords were loose.

Wednesday 24 February:
In the morning it was still really bad. We were all a little bit worried, because we didn’t know what was best to do. In the afternoon the storm would be getting worse, but the hike with this storm was also dangerous, especially the steep part. We decided we had to leave the beach, because our tents wouldn’t hold the rest of the storm. From the other tent one pole already broke! We packed our stuff and left. From our tent two poles were also bended. We were very lucky on our way back, just when we started our hike back in the rain the wind laid down a bit. We crossed the steep part, without problem. The rest of the hike was also going a lot faster, because we know had an idea of the path we had to take and there was already less snow, because of all the rain fall. After one hour we finally arrived at our car, all soaking wet. We drove to a café to warm up and decided we couldn’t go through with our trip. The main reason for that was that one tent broke down, but that everything was wet and everyone was demotivated, because the storm was still going. These things also played part in the decision.
We drove to A, the end of the Lofoten. We put everything to dry in our new red cabin and tried to clean the tents a bit, because they were full of sand from the beach. After that we explored A a bit. We went to the end of A and walked around in the little village, with some red cabins. (note: still raining all day every day)

Thursday 25 February:
Time to visit some more places in the Lofoten. First we drove to Reine. Reine is famous for the yellow houses and the nice views. After that we went to flakstad beach, what was pretty cool. At one side you saw the ocean and the beach (and some surfers) and at the other side you saw the mountains. What we also saw a lot driving around in the Lofoten was fish (stockfish) hanging on wooden racks to dry, like a lot of fish. After chilling on the beach we went to our cabin in Leknes.

Friday 26 February:
Time for another day visiting more places in the Lofoten. First stop: Nusfjord. Nusfjord was for me one of the most beautiful places in whole the Lofoten. It was a little fishing village, close to a beautiful fjord. We hiked some time there on the hills to get a nice view. It was so beautiful and lovely! Second stop, back at Leknes. We went to a little souvenir shop and bought some wine to have a nice cozy evening. Third stop: Henningsvaer. A little city famous for the football field and the harbor. The football field was a little bit disappointing, because there are a lot of very cool pictures you can find of it on the internet, but in real life it stays an ordinary football field. The harbor was more what I was expecting. It was really nice, because of all the colored boats and houses. I also took this cool picture with the rainbow from the harbor! Last stop for the day Svolvaer. Svolvaer is like Leknes a bigger city in the Lofoten, so we just drove through it to see some nice things, but it is mostly just a city. The other little cities and villages are a lot more nice to visit and explore. After driving around in Svolvaer we went to our cabin, also in Svolvaer and had a nice and cozy game night with wine and good food.

Saturday 27 February:
Our last full day in the Lofoten! We visited the other group from our class, that was also in the Lofoten, Laura, Mira and Deb. It was nice to catch up with them and exchange all of our stories and experiences. We were also glad that we weren’t the only one who struggled a lot during our forest field trip. Every group of the class had it difficult in one way or another, mostly because of bad weather, a lot of avalanche risk and bad snow conditions. After catching up we went to Narvik, the last bigger city in the Lofoten. There we looked around a bit and went after that to our cabin, close to Narvik. In the evening we called again with the husky farm guy to see if it was still possible to go husky sledging. We had a bad feeling about this, because the last days it was really warm and it rained a lot and he confirmed this feeling, sadly enough. So no husky sledging for us on this trip.

Sunday 28 February:
Because we don’t go husky sleding today we looked for some alternatives to do. We found a ice dome, which we visited. It was really cool to hear how they made the ice dome and also really cool to see the different rooms, where you could sleep in. There were also a lot of ice sculptures with a lot of detail, what was really cool to see. After that we drove to Tromso, where I went swimming with Elena, Luca and Wil and Maike and Sara visited a museum. On the way to Tromso, we also saw some tame reindeers. Unfortunately we couldn’t get close, because they were on someone’s private domain. The swimming pool was a nice end of the trip. We relaxed a lot in the outdoor pool and the hottub. After that we went to our Airbnb in Tromso. We thought about going out again for the northern lights, but there were a lot of clouds. This time I realized again how lucky we are that we saw it so long and so clear in the begging.

Monday 1 March:                                                                                                       Crazy that we already fly back to Kristiansand. The days went so fast and were so exciting. Also so exhausting, that I could even sleep on one of our flights. We safely landed, went back to our housing and early to bed, because tomorrow we had again class.