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North Norway.

The geographical region of northern Norway, consisting of the three counties Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.

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Snow, mountains, lights & reindeer

  • Apr 6, 2010

As the comments of this community show, there is so much more to a hotel than a bed, and this review hopefully highlights the point.


The venue was up inside Arctic Circle, the bed itself is in a relatively small cabin onboard a working ship. Life on board is not glitzy or glamorous, think large ferry boat rather than extravagant cruise, but it’s what you will experience on the journey that counts.


During a tremendous snow storm and wrapped up in more woolly jumpers than ever before, we joined MS Trollfjord in Tromso (the capital of Arctic Norway), just in time for her 18.30 northward sailing.


As a bit of background, similar mail ships have been traversing this seaway for years, delivering food, supplies and of course mail, to the remoter coastal outreaches of Northern Norway. Hurtigruten (the shipping line) has maximised this essential service and now offers passengers a unique insight into a completely different lifestyle and climate.


Our ultimate objective was to view the ever-so elusive Northern Lights, but as the weather had other ideas, we spent the first night snug and warm in the bar. Sadly, the next day wasn’t much better, but the jaw-dropping mountainous landscapes passing the huge windows more than made up for the permanent snow blizzards.


Our arrival in Kirkeness, the most northerly point in Europe (just miles from the Russian border) was greeted with cloudless blue skies and watery sunshine. We ventured further north and visited the real natives of this wilderness, the reindeer! Having never actually touched one, I was surprised at how soft and fluffy their coats are; no wonder Santa loves them so much.


After departing Kirkeness, still under cloudless skies we headed southward, where we were able to see a lot of the villages that we had passed going north, but the dark and/or the snowy weather had rendered them invisible. The white snow, the high craggy mountains, the blues (both sea & sky) made for a very memorable and romantic sunset.   


That same night and not really believing our luck, we were fortunate enough to view the Northern Lights. Again wrapped up in more wool than the average sheep, we braved the sub-zero temperatures (-17’) and ventured up on deck into an almost pitch-black night (when the aurora is imminent the ship turns off its deck lights).  


Craning our necks at what initially appeared to be nothing more than an orangey cloud, strange green shadows slowly danced into view, within about 20 minutes the entire space taken up by the cloud was now made up of a continuous green/black gossamer-like threads, which moved playfully over our heads.


I can’t really describe the phenomena, which was simultaneously eerie, emotional and greatly inspiring, but it kind of changes your perceptions forever; it’s little wonder our ancestors thought that the lights represented the souls of the dead – but not in a macabre way.


Other than some of the most spectacular scenery ever seen and the magnificence of the aurora borealis, what hits you the most about North Norway is its incredibly friendly people, nothing was too much trouble and everyone always had a spare smile, which to be honest, was wonderful given the climate, the limited appearance of the sun and the huge amount of snow.



Snow, mountains, lights & reindeer Snow, mountains, lights & reindeer Snow, mountains, lights & reindeer Snow, mountains, lights & reindeer

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October 17, 2010
Wonderful! What a great experience! I've been to Scandinavia but never this far north, though I'd really like to
April 10, 2010
This sounds magical! What an adventure! It must have been quite the experience staying on a working ship. Were there many other travelers on board with you? How fun actually see and touch a reindeer! Very cool. Thanks for sharing this.
April 06, 2010
Snow, mountains, lights and reindeers?  I like all those things!  I've been to many parts of Europe before, but never Norway.  Sounds too lovely to miss out on though, so I must some day.  Thanks for sharing, Janet! :)
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North Norway or Nord-Noreg, is the geographical region of northern Norway, consisting of the three counties Nordland, Troms and Finnmark, in total about 35% of the Norwegian mainland. Some of the largest towns in North Norway (from south to north) are Mo i Rana, Bodø, Narvik, Harstad, Tromsø  and Alta. North Norway is often described as the land of the midnight sun and the land of the northern lights.

The region is multi-cultural – housing not just Norwegians – but also the indigenous Sami people, the Norwegian Finns (known as Kvens) and Russian populations (mostly in Kirkenes). The Norwegian language dominates in most of the area; Sami-speakers are mainly found inland and in some of the fjord areas of Nordland, Troms and particularly Finnmark - though ethnic Sámi who do not speak the language are found more or less everywhere in the region. Finnish is spoken in only a few communities in the east of Finnmark.
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