Trip Start May 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Norway  ,
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Another bus ride later and we arrive in Tromsö. We got in fairly late but Earl picked us up from the bus stop. He has a nice apartment. We were afraid that it would be cold this far north but the Norwegians aren't fools and they know how to keep a warm house. In fact we were too hot at night and had to open a window.

Earl was the first American we had stayed with and we realized how nice it was to communicate with someone from your native land. Lots of people speak fluent English but there is a certain level of communication you just can't reach without common roots. I found myself using more idioms and slang and making obscure political and social references.

We slightly regretted not taking the cable car to the mountain in Narvik so we did it in here. It was splendid. There was a great view of the city and fjord and snow on the ground. It even started snowing while we were there. Having lived in Texas all my life I'm easily impressed by snow. We watched some paragliders launch from up there as well. Looked fun.

We walked around town a bit and saw the arctic museum. It talked about different arctic explorations. I was most impressed by the captain who planned to ice his boat in and float across the north pole. When he realized he wasn't going to get very close he selected one man and they set out on foot! They didn't make it back to their boat before winter so they made a tent and waited until it got warmer while they lived off of walrusses and polar bears. When they finally found civilization again they had gained 10 or 15 pounds, so maybe Atkins is full of crap.

We bought shrimp fresh off the boat and had for dinner. One lunch we ate at the northern most Burger King in the world.

Here is where we realized that we had really come to Norway too late. Our plan was to take the Hurtigruten (coastal steamer) from Honningsvåg (near north cape) to Kirkenes. We had planned to take a bus from Tromsö to Honningsvåg but the direct line only runs during the summer. Our option was to take the bus to Alta on one day and another bus from Alta on the next. That was going to involve a lot of bus riding and an expensive hotel in Alta (since the hostels are closed after the summer). We wouldn't even get to look around Alta (which sports an exhibit with 3000 stone age drawings) because the bus would arrive late and leave early. Lucklily we found that the Hurtigruten had a special and it would be cheaper for us to take it overnight from Tromsö to Honningsvåg than to take the bus and hotel. And it would be much more pleasant.

It really was nice. It was like a cruise ship without as many acitvities and you have to pay for food. Or it was like a cheap ferry but a lot nicer. In any case it offered a great view of the fjords. We brought food abord and ate it in the observation lounge (where we later learned was not allowed to eat).
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