The bi-product of travelling regularly is that you get stacked up with blog material and even start to feel a little pressure to get writing. Having just spent ten marvellous days in Norway, I have an absolute mass of material to write about.
By way of background, I had visited Norway twice before, way back in 1987 & ’92. Those were inter-rail days when I was less than affluent and staggered by the Nordic cost of living. During those trips, I had taken a train/bus/train journey from Oslo to Sweden via Trondheim, Fauske & Narvik. Making the journey for the third time figured high on my bucket list, this time with Mrs Wilbur.
The route was to form the backbone of the trip, this time just going just inside Sweden on the Ofotbanen train rather than all the way to Lulea, and winding up in beguiling Tromsø for my new most northerly visit ever.
I will blog in detail in the coming weeks, but here is a quick summary.
Our Flight Nears Oslo
We started with a Norwegian flight from Gatwick to Oslo and spent a couple of nights in an Airbnb. This gave us a full day in the capital and armed with our one-day Oslo Pass we visited the cathedral, opera house and a trio of fabulous museums featuring Norwegian folklore, Vikings & Polar expeditions.
We also met up with an old friend of mine, a chap called Terje who I had met in Bulgaria in 1991 and last seen in 1993.
Unlike in ’87 & ’92, we let the plane rather than the train take the strain to get us to the former capital of Norway in Trondheim. We only stayed one night and arrived shortly before nightfall, so had to satisfy ourselves with external looks at the magnificent cathedral from a distance and close-up under cover of darkness.
Our 9-hour train journey to Fauske was an epic. My previous visits had been in September and the train journeys on the Nordland train had been overnight affairs sat upright. Back then we had been wide awake at four when it became light and were astonished by the scenery as waterfalls cascaded onto the train windows.
We left this time in early morning darkness, but the sun soon rose to reveal a gorgeous snowy landscape.
We arrived in darkness in Fauske and left next morning before sunrise for our beautiful bus journey to Narvik, which include thirty minutes on a ferry.
Narvik brought back happy memories for me. I was slightly saddened to learn that the youth hostel I had stayed in twice before had shut, but instead we stayed in a very nice Airbnb.
Highlights were journeying on the Ofotbanen train to Abisko in Sweden (90-minutes away), going snowshoeing in the Narvik mountains and looking at the amazing iron-ore trains that carry staggering loads between Kiruna in Sweden and the ice-free port in Narvik.
Our last port of call was Tromsø, undoubtedly the most picturesque setting for a city in Europe that I had ever seen. We had a beautiful Airbnb apartment with a stunning view, which set it all off perfectly.
Highlights included husky sledding, reindeer sledding, taking the cable car up into the mountains and viewing an amazing blood moon.
Did we see the Aurora Borealis? You will have to wait to find out!