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krisek Tromso - A travel report by Krys
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Tromso,  Norway - flag Norway -  Troms
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krisek's travel reports

In anticipation of the midnight sun in Tromsø.

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The sight of the midnight sun was not what I expected. It was a shocker. I had no idea it was going to be so bright. I was expecting just a long, long sunset. It was not. The sun did not even get into its sunset mode. I was exhilarating.

The Midnight Sun
The Midnight Sun
I have been wanting to go up north to see the midnight sun for years. After I became friends with a few Norwegians they told me that organising it could not be easier. Eventually I picked up Tromsø as a place to see it. Nord Cap, continental Europe's northernmost point, was an alternative. However, Tromsø was much easier to get to. And faster - just a non-stop flight from Oslo.

Tromsø lies on the 70th degree north, 350 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle. It has been inhabited since the ice age, and now has about 65,000 inhabitants. The city is actually located on an island. It is connected to the mainland by the Tromsø Bridge and the Tromsøysund Tunnel. On the way from the airport, the network of tunnels, including underground roundabouts, was incredible. I had never experienced anything like that. It was so exotic. And that was my very first time inside the Arctic Circle. I expected it to be exotic indeed, to me and it definitely contributed greatly to excitement and the build up of the anticipation for seeing the sun at midnight.

The beauty of our planet inside the Arctic Circle was overwhelming. (I think many people often forget about it or do not realise.) The clarity of the air and the sharpness of images registering in your mind were phenomenal. It almost felt like an alien planet. It was summer, the day never ended and snow covered the mountains. Very small population living on Earth can claim this as a normal situation.

Favourite spots:
The cable car station
The cable car station
After checking in at the hotel, it was time to identify the best spot to watch the midnight sun. The exceptionally friendly locals happily pointed out a few options, the best one was a top of a hill south-east of the city. It was conveniently connected with the sea level by a cable car.

Not only was the top of the mountain the best angle to see the sun, it was also offering spectacular views of Tromsø below, the famous bridge and the huge vessels passing under it, and the snow-capped mountains around.

There were a few people gathering on the hill for the event, but its sheer size meant that it never got crowded. In fact, there were sections that were completely deserted - perfect for contemplation in solitude. That hill might have actually become the best observation spot I had been lucky to stand on to date. It is impossible to over emphasize its perfection. The people of Tromsø did stress that I was very lucky with weather that day. It can be very unpredictable inside the Arctic.

What's really great:
Tromso centre
Tromso centre
I had seen many photographs of the midnight sun before and on postcards in Tromsø. Most of them, actually all of them, showed great sunset colours, the sun's disc of a deep orange hue, and cloudless sky. This is exactly what I expected to see between 23:30 and 00:30, reserved for one of my life's first of this kind, and one of the most significant, observations. On many occasions the locals told me that I should expect a great view as weather was perfect. There were a few clouds around, but they were patchy and should not prevent me from seeing what I came for.

I kept frantically looking at my watch when I realised that the sun was still very, very bright - light yellow, almost white - and midnight was approaching fast. When was it going to turn orange sliding down towards the horizon giving the sky the colours of the perfect sunset? I kept asking myself. This never came. At the stoke of midnight, the sun was still very bright. I had to cheat my camera to capture it. It was amazing.

The Arctic Church
The Arctic Church
Of course the European Central Summer Time was not in tune with the sun clock in Tromsø. It was slightly ahead of the sun clock. So, the sun was still sliding down past midnight, rather than beginning to climb back. But it never got orange. I cannot say that I was disappointed. In contrary. I was ecstatic to see the midnight at its brightest, and different from all the pictures I had seen before.

Apart from the natural-astronomic sights, Tromsø had other attractions. Its centre is said to contain the highest number of traditional old wooden houses in the northern Norway, the oldest house dating back to 1789. They all looked fantastic were in perfect condition and bore bright colours on their walls.

But Tromsø is famous for its Arctic Cathedral, a modern church erected in 1965, white - looking like two snow-capped steep hills. Very elegant and simple in its form.

Although I am not a museum goer, I found the Arctic Museum, and its video presentation, unique and very interesting indeed.

Tromso travelogue picture
Accommodation in Tromsø was not a problem. There were a few options and almost all had vacancies at that time of the year, and it was a weekend. I knew that it was not going to be cheap, as anywhere in Norway for that matter. It was hard to find anything cheaper than $100 per night. The only hotel below this mark was Ami Hotel (about $90). The rest were business and fancy hotels charging much more, including the chain hotels from SAS Radisson, Clarion, Scandic, and Best Western. most claiming three stars or more in their categories. However, given the white nights and the never ending nightlife, why would one want to over pay for their bed?

I stayed at the ABC Hotell Nord** at Parkgata street. The rooms ($100) were simple but clean and comfortable, and of a good size. The hotel was in the centre, walking distance to all the attractions, the city museum, the harbour, great restaurants and bars. The personnel was very professional and friendly.

Tromso from the mountain
Tromso from the mountain
Going out at white nights in Tromsø was really weird. Good weird. The body did not know when to stop as the sun kept shining and shining. The very low levels of the melatonin (the sleep hormone), which does not rise due to the lack of darkness, makes the body to go for hours and hours without feeling tired. I did not even realise that it was 4 o'clock in the morning as I just warmed up for the party. I almost had to force myself to sleep. Fortunately, the hotel had thick drapes, so it was possible to make the room completely dark.

Tromsø was great for partying. The most popular club was Bla Rock Cafe at Strandgata 14, right in the centre (all of the best places were in the centre actually), but the Mack brewery (the northernmost in the world was an excellent bar, too. In fact there were very many bars in Tromsø, almost on every corner and everyone was in a great mood and very friendly. And of course everyone spoke English. Other spots were: Rorbua Pub, Apen Bar, Le Mirage, Meieriet.

Summer arctic snow
Summer arctic snow
Of the ultimate hangout of Tromsø was the top of the hill with the cable car. It was permitted to take some picnic, including any type of drink, and sit anywhere enjoying the views.

Places under the roof good for snoozing and relaxing were plentiful in the centre. Some were more rustic than others but all were decorated in a style that did not let you forget that you were about 350 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle. Most of them were based in those extremely picturesque wooden houses.

I did not come across a dodgy cafe or a bar in town, although the artificial train station called simply Jernbarnestasjon (there is no railway in Tromsø), was a bit rough later in the evening. Some of the good cafes/bars were: Markens Grode Wine and Coffee Bar, G., Kaffe a Lars, Driv Cafe, Kaos, Fun Pub, Abboteke, Grand Baren and a few more.

Tromso's city centre
Tromso's city centre
In Tromsø, for the first time in my life I tried seal. It came as an appetizer. It was sliced very, very fine. It was red, almost brown meat, and it was very salty. It did not taste very fishy at all. I find it difficult to compare to a taste of some more common meat or game. It tasted almost like beef or veal, but oversalted and overcooked. It was not chewy, like beef would have got, but tender. I think the trick was to slice it very fine. Three or four slices came in the appetizer and it was almost just like a teaser. The Arctandria was the restaurant that served it. It was based on the top floor of an old wooden warehouse, right in the centre, and it looked like a museum inside. Very atmospheric and the candlelight added additional ambiance. The venue specialised in seafood. I also tried the mussel soup, which was perfect, and baked cod, which was divine. Food of the highest standard. Yet the Aunegaarden was considered the finest restaurant in Tromsø. I have not eaten seal since.

Other recommendations:
Beyond Tromso
Beyond Tromso
The scenery around Tromsø was the the most beautiful and the calmest I have ever seen. The most spectacular was the Senja Sazza island, and the places around Brensholmen and Bothhamm were breathtaking. Our planet was extremely beautiful there, pristine and pure, beyond belief, beyond imagination. It is impossible to describe it. The absence of humans there had been serving our globe well. Exceptionally well. The air was so sharp and clear that standing on a hill, one could see for hundreds of miles. The roads number 862, 861 and the tiny wilderness beyond the hamlets of Laukvik, Baltsfjord, Husøy, Berg, Hamnvika and Torsken were the best. Many seagulls loved the area nesting in the low glass and lichen. This island might not be the most beautiful in the area, but I did not venture to see too many others. It also had its own fjord - Gryllefjord. Perfect!

The neighbouring islands of Kvaløya Sallir and Sommarøy were also stunning, green, blue, white, gray with conical hills. Awesome!

Published on Sunday November 30th, 2008

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Wed, Jun 30 2010 - 11:13 AM rating by manolimartos

Hi there!!!!
Just wanted to THANK YOU for all the tips and references you provide in this report. Even though it was written in 2008, it was tremendously helpful for me and my boyfriend, who went to Tromso last week.
And it was thanks to you that we chose Tromso as the location to watch the fantastic midnight sun.

Sat, Mar 28 2009 - 10:07 PM rating by shubh

It is still a dream for me to go up north to see the midnight sun for years. Great information and thanks for sharing your experience.
Travel.justluxe adviser

Sun, Dec 07 2008 - 11:14 AM rating by rangutan

A treasure, unusual trip.

Tue, Dec 02 2008 - 03:42 AM rating by bineba

What a fantastic experience. And great photos, as always.

Mon, Dec 01 2008 - 10:09 AM rating by davidx

Excellent report. The sight of the sun going down late in hte evening as a huge ball, seen from the Hurtigrute boat in either direction late at night is another splendid sight.

Sun, Nov 30 2008 - 11:00 PM rating by robynallen

The landscape pictures are stunning and i enjoyed the read. What date is the midnight sun able to be seen?

Sun, Nov 30 2008 - 07:37 PM rating by pesu

Krys, you find it impossible to describe the beauty you have seen but you've found a very good way to do it! It's thrilling to read your description about your waiting for the 'sunset'. The pictures are so stunning - best marks for all of them. There is only one thing I miss in your reports: Could you tell us when you have made these incredible experiences?

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