Norway 2008 – Tromsø

3 years ago, when I was returning from a photography trip in Svalbard, my plane stopped at Tromsø for a customs check. On the approach to Tromsø, I was struck by the beauty of the area – green hills and numerous islands, and promised myself that I would return someday.

Finally that time has come, and after a rather lengthy flight, which took me through Copenhagen and Stockholm, I met up with friends Fiona and Ivo for a week’s camping trip starting in Tromsø, driving through Lofoten and ending up in Bodø.

In the event we didn’t stay too long in Tromsø itself, just the one night. It did, however, give us time for a tour of the local brewery – Mack, which boasts of being the northernmost brewery in the world. (In fact, since 2000, this honour has been taken by another brewery, but this fact doesn’t seem to be acknowledged by Mack). Perhaps the most surprising part of the tour (apart from the clothes we had to dress up in) was not the brewery itself, but the fact that the brewery is a producer of coca cola, amongst other soft drinks, and that this is their main source of revenue.

Before leaving Tromsø we had hoped to do a whale watching trip, however arriving at the jetty first thing on Tuesday morning, we were greeted with a sign announcing that the day’s trip was cancelled. We decided instead to start our journey south and travel via the Vesterålen islands, taking a ferry from Gryllfjorden over to Andenes.

By the time we reached Gryllfjorden, the good weather had turned to rain, so we sat out the wait for the ferry in the car with our sandwiches. Two frenchmen in the car ahead were rather more adventurous – they took out their camping stove – a tin of carrots, and a tin of Bog stew and set to making their lunch, clad in raincoats. From where we were sitting, the result looked rather like cat vomit, but they seemed to enjoy it!

The ferry ride took a rather rough hour and a half, and everyone was pleased to reach the other side. On arrival, we drove straight up to the local whale watching company to try and book a tour for the following day. Again, it looked like we were to be disappointed – the trip was already fully booked. Slightly disheartened, we put our names on the waiting list and went to find a camp ground.

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