Author Archives: Tracey

Day 9: Tennevoll to Tromsø

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Today we travel from our little cabin near Tennevoll to Tromsø, the second largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Because we are not far from our destination we decided to take a detour and drive out to the island of Senja, the second largest island in Norway. It is meant to be diverse and beautiful. Why not? It did not disappoint! The fjords, mountains and rivers were as magnificent as any we have seen so far.

World’s Largest Troll (we didn’t pay to go inside $$$$):

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Bergsbotn:

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Lunch in Hamn i Senja:

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A lake with ice:

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Tungeneset:

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There were deserted beaches, craggy rocks, waterfalls and on and on. I don’t even know where the day went. So much to take in. We had to catch a ferry from Botnhamm to Brensholmen or drive all the way around. We missed the 3:15 ferry but made the 5:00 one.

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This would take us to the island of Kvaløya. Part of Tromsø sits on this island. The rest of it on Tromsøya (øya is the ending for island). The ferry was a pleasant ride. We didn’t see any sea life aside from the usual birds. We had a quick bite to eat before heading over to our hotel. We debated whether or not to take the cable car but the kids were done for the day so off to our hotel. Trims has an interesting underground system of roads with roundabouts and even car parks. Love it. We checked into the Radisson Blu in the city centre. Tom went to park the car and I took the kids up to get ready for bed.

Tom went out late last night to watch the Hurtigruten ferry come in (this is part of the coastal ferry system we took last year) and to catch the sun at midnight.

Tomorrow we will spend the day exploring Tromsø and then take an evening flight from here to Longyearbyen up on Svalbard .

Day 8: Nyvågar to Tennevoll

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Today was another of those days that it didn’t seem like we did much. There was a bit of driving (so we don’t have to do so much tomorrow). Let me back up. We packed up our bags this morning and said goodbye to our cottage at Nyvågar Rorbuhotell and its majestic surroundings. We didn’t drive away until 11am. Our journey today will take us back on to the mainland after being on the Lofoten Islands. The area is remote with very little in the way of towns. What made up for that was the waterfalls, mountains, snow-covered mountainsides, fjords, lakes and so on. We made one stop along a beach with snow-covered mountains in the distance. We skipped rocks and picked up sea urchins, scallop shells and all sorts of other treasures. The kids loved it! Our next stop was to use the toilet and have a snack. The moment we stepped in the shop Sofia had a strange look on her face and it was all I could do to get her outside to be sick. Car sickness. We sat in the grass on the edge of a river taking in the fresh air. She was fine to get back in the car and had no trouble the rest of the way.

Our accommodation tonight is one of the more rustic places we will stay. There isn’t much choice around this area so Tom booked us a cabin at a camper park. It is actually really cute and has beautiful mountains all around. But it is also one of those places that doesn’t even supply you with a bar of soap and you have to hire sheets and towels.

I took the kids to play at the playground for a while and then we all decided to find some dinner. After driving through some villages we realised we better stick to dinner at our place…nothing else around us. Tom and I ordered salmon, potatoes and salad. Alex and Sofia shared a hamburger. Sofia ordered meatballs. When it arrived she wanted to know where was the spaghetti?! She did try a few bites but skipped the stewed (mushy) peas, cranberries and potato. I shared some salmon with the kids since I got so much of it. Ice cream for dessert.

The kids showered while Tom made up the bunk beds for everyone. They got ready for bed and went to sleep around 10. It is now 10:20 and I am looking out the window at the snow-covered mountains across the highway. The sun is still shining brightly and we don’t have blackout curtains tonight.

Day 7: Storvågar, Nyvågar, Kabelvåg and around

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Epic sleep for us all. Tom struggled to stay asleep, getting up several times this morning. The kids and I slept until almost 9am! That was 11 hours of sleep for them and 9.5 for me. Wow. That doesn’t mean their behavior has improved. Perhaps some time apart might help? We are not used to all spending so much time together coupled with jet lag, lack of sleep and whatever else.

After breakfast Tom went into Svolvær to see about an adapter (success) and something for Alex’s birthday. I took the kids to the Lofoten Aquarium right next to the hotel. It is a small aquarium but nice for the kids to have a look around without losing interest. We saw seals, salmon farming, tanks of local fish, starfish, anemones, crabs and so on. There was also a display about co-existing, people with animals and industry, etc.

We met back at the cottage and had a little party for Alex’s 4th birthday. Tom got some little cupcakes and a card and gift (model ambulance) for Alex. It must be hard to have a birthday without friends, a party or gifts. He will have a party and some gifts when we get back home next month.

After getting organized and getting everyone in the car Alex declared, “I am sick!” Tom left with Sofia and I took Alex back to the cottage for some relaxation. He has a really runny nose and some red spots in his mouth. No idea what is wrong with him. He is sitting on the sofa playing the iPad with a sick bag near him but now doesn’t feel sick anymore. Naturally. I was happy to sot and finish up a book I had started.

Alex and I were feeling bored and decided to go out for a walk. We walked past the aquarium and stopped near the museum to look at the pretty horse that wanders in the field there. After a little pat we continued on down the road which has very little to see and do. Alex asked me to call daddy since it had been three hours since he left with Sofia. They were on their way back and said they would be only about 10-15 minutes so we waited by the side of the road. Alex was happy to watch a few cars go by and just chat. They picked us up and we made a quick stop back at the cottage before heading out for a couple of hours again.

We drove through the little village of Kabelvåg to have a look around since it is the closest little area. There weren’t many eating choices so we went up the road to the larger Svolvær. This was a great little place for dinner. Things stay open later in these villages. The Hurtigruten ferries come in day and evening which, I imagine, brings extra business. In the square was a stall set up selling Norwegian sweaters so we let the kids each pick one for themselves. Sofia chose red and white and Alex chose white and black (what was I thinking?)

After dinner we stopped back into the Coop in Kabelvåg for a few supplies and headed back to our cottage since it was already past 8pm. The kids didn’t end up in bed until almost 9:30 again! I want to stay out and enjoy the perfect sunshine at 10pm. In fact, it is 11pm now and I am sitting at the table looking at the beautiful mountains and water out in front of here. The sun barely dips behind the mountains so it isn’t providing as much heat as much as it is providing bright light still. I find myself feeling so awake and resisting bedtime like a little child.

I have just washed up the last load of dirty clothes at 50NOK/load. I don’t even want to talk about what that costs in $$$. At least we have clean clothes for the next week and more. Tomorrow will be about three and a half hours of driving with many stops along the way to get to our next hotel. I stayed up to get our bags organized so we aren’t messing around in the morning trying to get ready. Sleeping in is really a bad thing for us right now. In the wee wee hours of Monday morning we have a 4:40am flight. I don’t even want to think about that. And it is a tricky day having to connect in Oslo going on to Hamburg. The connection will require us to pick up our bags in Oslo and then go all the way to check-in and start over again. In one hour.

I am working on getting some photo to put up here hopefully in the next few days.

Day 6: Bodø to Moskenes on the ferry and on to Nyvågar

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As suspected, we were up early. Tom and I were both up just before 5am and the kids not long after that. They are sleep-deprived and it shows. Foul behavior. We got ourselves dressed and had some breakfast. We packed up bags and headed out to see about an adapter. Nobody knew where to get one and we were out of time since we had to check in for the ferry 45 minutes before departure.

Once loaded on to the ferry we settled into some seats for the short journey. The weather is cold, cloudy, windy, and slight sprinkles of rain on departure. Further out the rain stopped and clouds seem to be clearing a bit. The wind and cold continue though. Worries of seasickness have subsided as it is a fairly smooth journey through the deep blue waters. The ferry isn’t overly crowded which gives us a chance to move around and see everything from different areas.

Once we got about 20 minutes from shore we had the blessing to see a small pod of Orcas/Killer Whales feeding right off the side of the ferry. How awesome!

We landed in Moskenes and had a short wait to drive the car off of the ferry. We headed east towards the village of Å to have a look around first. These islands are famous for their dried cod and we were lucky enough to see some racks of dried cod being cut down and stacked. These islands are spectacular with rocky islands, tall peaks, snow on some of the mountains, water everywhere. And cool/cold in the summer. I love it.

We spent quite a bit of time stopping for about an hour just to take in all of the magnificent views. Finally we were on our way to our Rorbuhotell at Nyvågar which is not far from Svolvær. We checked in to our room which is a two-bedroom cottage right on the water overlooking the mountains.

The kids played outside at the little playground and ran around. I did two loads of laundry which should get us to Tom’s Mom’s house in Charlotte with clean clothes. The midnight sun plays tricks on the brain. It is so high in the sky at 8pm that you would swear it was lunchtime. Suddenly at 8pm we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner. The kids were so hyped up that they were not going to sit in a restaurant. We drove to Svolvær and picked up sandwich fixings, cereal, milk and fruit.

I left laundry going when we went out. After having a bite to eat, getting the kids ready for bed and tucking them in I ran over to the laundry room to grab the last load. When I returned they were all sleeping, even Tom. It was 10pm, mind you. The kids need to go to bed earlier but the sun really plays tricks on the brain.

Views from our cottage:

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Day 5: Manchester to Bodø, Norway

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Most of today was quite unremarkable, really. The kids ended up sleeping quite well and getting up early (5ish) but not in the middle of the night. We ordered breakfast to our room which arrived at 7. Tom had scheduled a meeting for 10 at the hotel with a work colleague. We checked in our bags and then lounged around while Tom was at his meeting and then met him at security once he was done.

We had two short flights today. One from Manchester, UK to Oslo, Norway nod then on to Bodø from there. Flights were on-time, coffee and tea were free and that was about it flying SAS in economy today. It was a bit of a kerfuffle in Oslo having to pick up luggage when we landed and then taking them out of the secure area back into the check-in area to recheck them. That meant waiting in queue for security again. Luckily they have a family queue that went a bit faster but still annoying.

Flying into Bodø was spectacular though. The glaciers sitting on mountaintops, rocky islands, glowing sunshine. Memorable. Everything smooth picking up luggage and rental car. We had a quick drive around town taking in the vistas and finding our place for the night, Rica Hotel. We randomly stopped at a place called ‘Du Verden’ advertising burgers and sushi so we figured we could find something for the kids. It turned out to be the yummiest food we had had in ages. The burgers were juicy and spiced perfectly with bacon, onions and lettuce. And the fries were a perfect match. Yum. The kids even loved the food.

We are having a bit of a problem now that we are in Europe. Tom failed to pack an adapter. This means no charging anything–iPads, phones, Tom’s work computer, camera battery. Going even more remote isn’t hopeful either. The front desk let us use one for our phones…but we had to return them.

The sun was so bright and so high in the sky at 10pm the kids refused to believe they needed to get to sleep. After convincing them to put on pajamas and get their heads down they were asleep immediately. Tomorrow morning we are taking the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes in the Lofoten Islands. Off to bed, the kids will not sleep late in the morning.

Day 4: UK and adjusting to jet lag

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We landed in Zürich around 6am in the same terminal we would need to catch our next flight. After a quick stop to the empty Swiss lounge we boarded our flight for a short hop to Manchester. Our Fokker 100 was nearly empty, not surprising for a 7am Sunday morning flight.

After a long wait in immigration and picking up our bags we walked over to the Radisson Blu Airport hotel. Our room wasn’t ready so we sat in the bar and had a cup of tea while the kids played in the iPads. After an hour we checked in and I got a much needed shower.

With only one day in the UK and the fact that we were now nearly halfway around the world and the sun was shining…it was time to get out and enjoy the day. We started out with a pint and some Sunday roast at the Unicorn in Wilmslow. The kids ran around and played in the garden. Sofia built a snail house in the dirt with bricks and sticks. The sun actually got too intense but we didn’t want to complain, it could be raining. We thought about going down to Buxton in the Peak District but last minute chose Llandudno, Wales, about an hour and a half away. Alex had a short nap in the car but Sofia wanted to stay awake and watch out the window.

Llandudno was heaving with people as the sun was shining. Brilliant. Car parking was in short supply. We found nothing all along the waterfront but ended up parking illegally with several other cars for a while. Llandudno is a great little destination. We visited here more than ten years ago with Tom’s sister and mother. Alex was lethargic and feeling unwell with a cold and even declined ice cream. Sofia was all over and ice cream though. We wandered around for a while then drove along the tolled Marine Drive and discovered the Great Orme tramway. The kids were super excited about this find. We purchases round-trip tickets and boarded the next tram. It runs in two stages up to the Great Orme headland. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Orme_Tramway

The kids were worn out and completely passed out in the car which worried us. We didn’t want them to sleep too much and be up at 2am. We got stuck in traffic due to an accident on the A55 in North Wales. They shut down the motorway and redirected traffic into the countryside. The kids slept most of the way back to the hotel. I took the kids upstairs and Tom returned the rental car to the airport. The kids immediately wiped out on the bed again once we got in the room. I managed to get half of their pajamas on an meds into Sofia. I decided to go to bed early and worry about packing up in the morning.