Exploring Norway: Part 2

I'm late! But as promised, here's a recap of the last few days of our visit in Norway. There will (fingers-crossed) be a final installation, featuring the final days of our trip which were spent in Sweden with dear friends.

 View of Tromsø from Storsteinen

View of Tromsø from Storsteinen

Tromsø

As the largest town in Norway above the Arctic Circle (3rd in the world behind Murmansk & Norilsk in Russia), Tromso is still a remote place to visit and required a flight from Ålesund back to Oslo to fly up North again (on our budget at least!). The fact that it lies in the Arctic and offers views of the Northern Lights from the start of Fall through the end of Winter was our drawing point when committing to the journey to this remote Norwegian city.

 Beautiful, traditional Sami Reindeer boots hanging in our Host's dining room window.

Beautiful, traditional Sami Reindeer boots hanging in our Host's dining room window.

 The sweetest friend we made in Tromsø

The sweetest friend we made in Tromsø

 View to the South West, leaving  the main island for our Apartment in Kvaløysletta.

View to the South West, leaving  the main island for our Apartment in Kvaløysletta.

When we arrived the sun was still up, and the sky was clear offering us a view to the North from Tromsoya, the island home of Tromsø's city center and University, to where we would stay in the neighborhood of Kvaløysletta. Our hosts weren't home when we arrived, but we were greeted by the Family cat who was more than grateful for some petting and hello's (I wish I could remember her name). The sky was cloudy when we made our way back from dinner in the town that night, so if we had any hope of viewing the Aurora Borealis it would be the next night.

Although we only made room for one full day in our itinerary to visit the Arctic, Tromsø's city bus system (a given throughout Norway, blessed Scandinavian Design) allowed us a jam packed one: a Museum trip, a cable car ride, hiking, yarn shopping, and dinner before making it back to our Air BnB to wait for a show of lights in the sky!

Tromsø University Museum

My favorite exhibit from out whole trip was by far the collection of Sami clothing and handmade wares in the local Museum's permanent collection. Akin to the indigenous Eskimo population of North America, the Sami people have a rich tradition of thriving in the harsh Arctic climate spanning from Norway to Russia. As I walked through the permanent exhibit that held archives of their history during the expansion of Norwegian territory into now Northern Norway, they're history seemed all too similar to the Native American's struggle within America. It's a story of forced assimilation into a newly established Norwegian culture, and rejection of their language and lifestyle. Thankfully there have been major strides in recent decades with the creation of an independent Sami Parliament which works to secure their rights as a separate people with their own institutions and traditions.. The University Museum has done an excellent job preserving and displaying the beautiful, skillfully made tools and crafts that represent the Sami of the past so all who visit Tromsø can admire the rich history that helped establish the area.

Click the featured images for a better view!  I loved the precious mementos and scaled models of traditional huts and homes, but of course, the hand-knit items and weavings were my focus.

Intricate colorwork, hand knit mittens on display.

Knit natural rope or jute.

A photo of Sami children wearing traditional "kofte" clothing, surrounded by detailed illustrations.

A Sami ceremonial skirt and hand woven belts.

An array of colorful headwear and hats.

Storsteinen

After leaving the Museum, we stocked up on snacks to bring with us to our next destination and took a bus across the water to ride the Fjellheisen (the exact translation is Mountain Elevator) in Tromsdalen.  I can't remember the last time I road a cable car before this trip, but the gained perspective of Tromsø and speedy elevation gain up to the mountain ledge Storsteinen were thrilling. From the top, we were treated to panoramic views of the surrounding Islands, Mountains, and Fjords. I was grateful for all my knitted accessories, especially my Mustard Mitts, which I finished in Oslo, since the exposure on the Mountain made for cool temperatures.

In the last several years I've truly enjoyed the trips I've taken, and I know part of the reason is that I've learned the art of keeping fewer expectations. Not forming such a pre-defined idea of a place I've yet to visit, and getting lost in my dreams of things I've yet to experience has allowed my travels to unfold how they may, bumps and all, and relish the journey as I go. It's taken practice, and I'm  certainly not perfect at it - trust me!

Hiking up the Storeinen presented an array of Autumnal colors I was charmed to discover. Although I'd planned the majority of our trip, figuring out lodging, booking flights, trains, coordinating with friends, I didn't delve into the offerings of each city we'd landed on going to. Due to Tim's research and curiosity about the Geography of this Arctic town, we'd made our way to the top of Storeinen. The location brought me a sense of magic with the unraveling of the unanticipated beauty of the ground cover plants. Sites of raspberry shaded leaves, lime-mint colored sprigs, ocher moss, and speckled, slate stone scattered the rolling Mountaintop against a cerulean sky. Geirgangerfjord was majestic and overwhelming in its grandness, but this terrain was just as striking in its details and subtleties.  We spent a while sitting on a quiet patch of mossy boulders, taking in the slowness and view. I feel inexplicably grateful to have someone by my side to share beauty and moments like that with, and this last year we've had many together!

Since our trip fell right on the edge of the shift between Summer and Fall, we lucked out with the sun still staying up till a decent hour - 6pm to be exact. Visiting a yarn Mecca like Norway got the better of me a few times on our trip, as it was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT. Between the Museum and our hike on the mountain, I'd been able to squeeze in a visit to Bundingen, one of the amazing local yarn shops, to snag a sweaters quantity of yarn for Tim's Fort Pullover. But while the light was starting to fade up on Storsteinen, I realized my last window to scope out Norwegian wool before we flew to Sweden was about to close with the shop at 6pm. In the end, we missed our prime viewing spot to watch the sunset, as we rode the bus back into town, all the while making it back too late for me to shop for more yarn. We can laugh about it now, but man did I pay for missing that sunset! I definitely came home with half or more of my suitcase filled with skeins and ball of amazing Norwegian yarn, so that last shop stop wasn't necessary after all...

Back at our Apartment, after dinner we started packing for our early (7am) flight back to Oslo the next morning- which began with a trek on foot from Kvaløysletta, across the bridge to the Airport in Tromsoya! (Running with suitcases down streets was a theme for us on this trip.)

Just before midnight, when the sky was dark enough, we ventured back out into the cold Autumn night. In our remaining window of time, the Arctic worked its magic in a display of wispy, undulating, green streaks above our heads. Almost as though it was teasing us, the light shifted with the blink of an eye from one form to another, like gentle ribbons tossed into the dark sky. It was a perfect cap to our short trip in the North, a place of harsh weather and gentle beauty.