Two of ‘the ‘’lucky few’ are sitting in a car park just south if Tromsø overlooking the valley which leads down to the bridge that connects Tromsø with the mainland. We had a choice, pay 360 Nok (about £32) for the campsite 500m away, or free-load it in the graveyard car park, clue is…it’s dead quiet here! (n69.64405 e19.018650) There are alternatives, there’s a car park in central Tromsø, at about 20Nok per hour (8-20) free over night and Sundays, but it looked a noisy place to be overnight and the main Aire is closed during some construction work at the moment, so we are happy here, but before we dive into Tromso, home of the most northerly brewery in the world,* I just want to rewind a couple of days to last Friday. We were on the E6, heading northeast trying to make the journey a little more interesting by taking as many deviations as we could, when we got an email from ourtour crew Jason & Julie Buckley, we’d been in touch for a while via email, as we were getting closer to each other, they were heading onto the Island of Senja, just to our north. Well, there was nothing for it but to pop ourselves onto the next available road north and go party with the legendary, like-minded, experts and fellow free-loading car park dwellers.
We headed north and spent a very nice (free) night in Hamn, a revamped fishing village on the Norwegian-sea-end of Senja. Oodles of free WiFi and a great place to just chill out and have a little R&R (I know you think that’s all we do) , I chanced my arm with the fishing rod, but I didn’t have my lucky T-shirt on, so caught nowt. Next up, Steinfjord, nothing more than a beach and a collection of a dozen summer houses, on route a little park attraction with (apparently) the largest Troll in Norway, standing at 17.9m, the fiberglass double-headed figure of Troll and wife, (Troll-etta [a right-‘looker’]), is enough to give the most stable child nightmares.
But the sun cam out, albeit briefly, just for the afternoon. Jason and Julie arrived, copious amounts of Beer, wine and Quorn chilli were shared out and the evening grew long into the midnight sun. Philosophical points were debated, (that’s before we all had a little too much to drink) and many jewels of traveling experience were shared. Jason couldn’t resist the urge to take a dip into the North Norwegian sea at 23:00, honestly, the sea must be about 5 degrees at the moment, he was shivering when he returned 10 mins later, so we ended up loading as many woollen (Angie’s hobby is crochet and knitting) items as we could get onto him to get him warmed up, complete with hat. My only regret was, I didn’t get a photograph him, but I’ll never forget the mental picture of Jason all wrapped up in woolly blankets and a snorkel hat. Great times, thanks guys, another time, another continent maybe? Pick somewhere warmer please.
Jay & Ju headed off in the afternoon, they are going down towards the Lofotens, lucky them. We should be heading towards Tromsø, so we stay another night at Stienfjord, just to make sure the alcohol has subsided and pealed ourselves away to this, our (aforementioned) parking place on the hill, overlooking Tromsø, Norway’s northernmost city, excluding Svalbard.
Beer tasting at the OLHALL Brewery. The great thing about having cycles (or a moped) is, you can pick a spot a few miles out of a city, jump on a bike and you’re in. There’s no need to pay for extortionate camp site fees or pay-and-display car parks that charge by the hour, as long as it’s legal to park, I will quickly add. So it widens the circle of possible parking places, all you need to do is find a legal parking spot. That done, off with Frankie and into town. We arrived in the nick of time for the Olhall brewery tour, 170 Nok (£15.50) each secures you a 1 hour tour and 2 beer tastings, not too bad when you consider 2 beer tastings would set you back 80 Nok (£7.25) anyhow. As a product of its own success, all the main beer production had to be moved to a larger site farther south, but this site still makes batches of craft beer & lager sold in the original pub next door. Needless to add, a couple more tastings were added to the itinerary.
Polaria : exhibition of Norwegian sea life, covering all aspects of life in the Norwegian arctic ocean. From plankton to seals and bears, the whole story of the food chain and the effects on it. Showing panoramic films of Svalbard and the northern lights, 3 hours later we agreed it was worth every penny of the £10 entry fee. The Olhall pub’s just down the road, so it would be a shame not to call in and have another, wouldn’t it? We had two nights here in Tromsø, one for the beer tasting and one for a walk around and Polaria. Ps. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.
If it wasn’t for the activities, I would be a little disappointed with Tromsø, its restrictively expensive but there’s some great architecture, it looks a little un-cared for in places, a bit of TLC required.
‘Official’ un-serviced Aire in Hamn. A quiet car park with a great view. Great free WiFi. n69.416050 e17.167490 Free
‘Official’ un-serviced Aire in Stienfjord. Another quiet car park with a great view.No WiFi. Right on the beach.n69.456640 e17.347480 Free
Camp Ramfjord: (washing/drying machines needed) Run-down 1970’s camp. Good fishing from pier and VERY quiet. But 180Nok/pn. n69.51640 e19.24740 (1 night only)
Graveyard/Walking Car park, Tromsø (n69.64405 e19.018650) Free
*Claims to be the most northerly brewery in the world-There is a micro-brewery on Nordkapp, and another brewer on Svalbard, but both classed as too small to qualify.
We are off to Alta next…have a great weekend, Cheers… Wayne.