Yesterday was our last night of camping with Oliver, before returning to Tromso. It was a warm, balmy evening, and no-one on the campsite seemed to want to go to bed, except Howard and Oliver, that is. I sat up for a while typing my blog, and then realised it was nearly midnight. A soft pink glow enveloped the camping ground, and I couldn’t resist going to check it out. I walked the short distance down to the water’s edge, and stood with some of the other campers. The sun was blazing, well above the horizon, casting a bright orange glow across the sky. It looked absolutely incredible – the best display of the midnight sun we had seen during our time in the Arctic Circle. I scurried back to Oscar, and asked if anyone was awake. Both Howard and Oliver stirred, so I coaxed them out to see the sun. Truly memorable!
At about 3 am, the wind picked up. I peeped my head outside Oscar, to see the awning flapping around. I woke up Howard, who decided we should take it down. Oliver remained tucked up asleep in his tent in the middle, whilst Howard and I struggled to dismantle the awning. Norwegians staying in the hut next to our van were still up drinking, and were vaguely amused by our antics. They asked if we were leaving, and I explained that the wind was too strong for the awning, but also mentioned to them that they were making a hell of a noise sitting outside their cabin, laughing and joking, at 3am. I think they got the hint, because within the next wee while they retired to their beds.
This morning, we were all a bit bleary eyed after our late night, but knew we couldn’t hang around, since we had a ferry to catch, or to be precise, two ferries. We had opted to cut the corner on the long drive back to Tromso, and save ourselves a hundred kilometres or so by catching ferries straight across the fjords in the heavily glaciated Lyngen Peninsula. As on our drive northwards a few days earlier, the scenery was amazing. As we drove along Lyngenfjorden, tall snow clad Lyngen Alps and glaciers emerged straight from the fjord on the western flank. Truly stunning, and all the better for the glorious sunshine that was still upon us.
We caught the first ferry with literally minutes to spare. We sat out of the deck in the warm sun and admired the fantastic views of glaciers in the distance.
After disembarking, we stopped off to buy bread rolls for lunch, and then headed across Lyngen to catch the next ferry. As we drove along the fjord, we could see the ferry in the dock. Howard sped up, for fear we would miss it. However, it was another twenty minutes or so before it eventually started boarding, giving just enough time to make our cheese rolls and eat them. The second ferry crossing was a lot quicker, and barely gave us time to down a cup of coffee, before it was time to disembark.
We then had just under an hours drive into Tromso. Approaching from the east, we stopped off at the Ishavskatedralen, or Arctic Cathedral, built in 1965 with eleven triangular concrete arches, covered in white painted corrugated iron, giving it a glacier-like appearance. On dark winter’s nights when it is illuminated, I’m sure it looks absolutely stunning, but close-up, in the by now cloudy sky, it looked less than spectacular. One of the draws of the cathedral are the series of nightly midnight concerts throughout the summer. We enquired at the desk, and managed to bag some tickets for the concert later that night.
By the time we had checked in to our accommodation in Tromso, the weather had changed completely. First a heavy cloud layer built up, obliterating the sun, and then within an hour, it was raining. We had a quick walk around town, until the rain became so heavy, with accompanying thunderclaps, that we retreated back to our rooms to dry off.
If we had experienced weather like this when we were away camping, it would have been truly grim. We could only count our blessings that we had managed to bag the best spell of weather in Arctic Norway that they have seen for a long time.
Once dry, we walked into town again for supper, before heading off to the Cathedral concert. I made the critical error of suggesting that Howard and Oliver grab a quick beer or two beforehand. We arrived outside the cathedral with Howard singing, ‘Take Me to Church’ by Hozier. A bit of an error of judgement on my part!!