Norway – Tromsø & Oslo

We were originally scheduled to snorkel with orcas in the Norwegian fjords back in November 2020 but Covid restrictions made that all but impossible. Fast forward a year later and US citizens were still not allowed into Norway. Luckily, everything came together in November 2022 and we finally got to swim with these magnificent apex predators. Was it worth the wait? Undoubtedly so, although we didn’t realize when we booked how precious and fleeting daylight hours would be. By the time the trip started, we were getting just over 4 hours of daylight and we were losing over 20 minutes per day as Norway headed into the Polar Night (a phenomenon where nighttime lasts the full 24 hours). This meant we had very limited time to find and swim with these elusive creatures. Thankfully we did get some snorkel opportunities and those memories will certainly last a lifetime. We lucked out with excellent fellow passengers and had a really great time on board the French vessel Latitude Blanche – Polarfront. Other highlights of Norway included playing with reindeer, chasing the aurora borealis (we were incredibly lucky and saw them every night in Tromsø as well as on board the Polarfront), and spending time with Lars and Andreja who were incredible hosts in Oslo and nearby Hadeland. It was an action packed 2 week trip that left us wanting more. We’ll definitely be back in the summer for an extended road trip around Norway as there still is so much left to discover.

Bronze statue of Madonna and child at Tromsø Cathedral Wall mural in Tromsø Tromsø troll museum Colorful mural in Tromsø Harbor Anthony Gormley statue on Kaigata Street in Tromsø Norwegian Polar Explorer Helmer Hanssen, one of the first 5 explorers to reach the South Pole Statue of a dachshund waiting for its owner to return from sea; outside Hålogaland Teater in Tromsø Wall mural on an old fishing shack; Tromsø Hungry pigeons search for food next to Banksy inspired street art; Tromsø There are only 4 hours of daylight in November in Tromsø. Sunrise was 3 hours ago and it is nearly dark again! Tromsø harborfront Dverghjorn owl, a mural painting in Tromsø Children wearing safety vests to school in Tromsø Viewpoint of Tromsø from the base of the Sherpa Steps Hiking 1,200 steps of the Sherpatrappa leading to the cable car's upper station in Tromsø Skansegata 9 Apartment building in Tromsø The Arctic Cathedral; Tromsø Dragøy fish restaurant - a hidden gem in Tromsø offering tasty and fresh fish & chips We got incredibly lucky to see the Aurora Borealis every evening in Norway's Arctic Gateway in Tromsø Our tour guide from Best Arctic took a photo of us under the Northern Lights Sunrise at Stakken Museum, an open air collection of fishermen's huts in Kvaløysletta Dried cod fish head; Stakken Museum Looking back towards Tromsø on a cold winter morning Turf roof fishermen's huts at Stakken Becky at the Ersfjordbotn fjord viewpoint Ice skaters on the frozen lake of Kattfjordeidet Selfie at Sommarøy, an old fishing village Sommarøy is 36 km west of Tromsø and extremely popular with tourists because of its white sand beaches and stunning mountain scenery Wooden bridge leading to a frozen fjord Experiencing Sami culture (the indigenous people of the North) at the Arctic Reindeer Camp Becky feeding some hungry reindeer Compared to their body size, reindeer have the heaviest antlers of all living deer species. Male reindeer antlers can grow up to 51 inches long! Robby strokes a friendly reindeer A fire inside the gamme (Sami tent) keeps things nice and cozy and is the perfect place to warm up after playing with some reindeer! Reindeer walking past a frozen pond Robby next to a reindeer with massive antlers (the reindeer are friendly but you must be careful around their antlers) Two reindeer butting heads to establish dominance Just a few of the hundreds of reindeer cared for by the Oskals, a Sami reindeer herding family Sami reindeer herder whose family has been in the reindeer herding business for hundreds of years Becky next to a very friendly and gentle reindeer as the sun begins to set Sunset over Tromsø Arctic Reindeer camp Lobby view of the Clarion Hotel The Edge in Tromsø The Captain of the M/S Polarfront welcomes us on board our home for the next week as we go in search of orcas to snorkel with Orca crossing sign The Aurora Borealis is visible from the bow of our ship as we head even further north of Tromsø A happy reunion with Rich and Ally on board the Polarfront On board a French boat, the Latitude Blanche - Polarfront The Polarfront is a luxurious small vessel that accommodates only 16 guests After scanning the horizon for hours, we finally see some orcas on the horizon, surrounded by two zodiacs An orca tail slap Yes, we really are going to brave those frigid waters to swim with orcas! Thankfully we are given drysuits to snorkel in Love at first sight - our first glimpse of an orca swimming towards us! The next morning, a pod of orcas was spotted right away Trying to stay warm despite the cold  (Becky, Matt, Rich, Doug, Kal, Carol and Bob) Rich took an amazing photo of the Aurora Borealis later that night! Orca spotting crew Orca swimming towards our ship An orca spy hopping to check us out A bizarre hybrid animal - cod with antlers! Off the boat for an afternoon in Skjervøy Skjervøy harbor at night On day 5, the wind picked up tremendously as we cruised towards Lyngen Fjord The M/S Polarfront in safe harbor at Skjervøy Ally and Robby looking for some elusive orcas Rich and Becky trying to stay warm as we cruise around looking for orcas As the sun was setting, we finally spotted some orcas! Mother with baby orca The scene at the surface of the water The scene underwater as a bull orca swims past us Orcas swimming past us in Kvænangen Fjord Rich captured a brilliant shot of 3 orcas swimming by Its a bit hard to make out but we also got to swim with humpback whales too! Our last day delivered as we happily made our way back to the Polarfront to warm up and have lunch Group photo left to right from back to front: Don, Bob, Doug, Robby & Rich; Carol, Amy, Becky, Ally, Matt, Julia, Frederico & Lori; Szymon, Kal, Rinie, Andrea & Jasmin Saying goodbye to Rinie, Szymon and the Polarfront! Polaria is the world's most northerly aquarium. It is housed in a unique building that represents ice floes that have been pressed up on land by the rough seas of the Arctic Arctic eelpout Cold water anemones Bearded seal Atlantic spiny lumpsucker Lemon sole Arctic char Norwegian air - our 2 hour flight from Tromsø to Oslo Reunion with Lars and Andreja in Oslo! Enjoying a drink at Schouskjelleren, a microbrewery located in the basement of the former Schous brewery; Oslo Becky and Andreja Eat, drink and be merry! Traditional Inuit stone carving from Gjoa Haven, an Inuit haven above the Arctic Circle; Fram Museum Polar explorer Roald Amundsen feeding Marie, an orphaned polar bear cub which he took in after his men killed her mother Walrus tooth carving of a polar bear mother and cub; Fram Museum Musk ox on display at the Fram Museum Before the Titanic, the Fram was the most famous ship in the world because of her Arctic and Antarctic achievements The Kon-Tiki balsa raft which Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl used to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1947 Stone figurines on display at the Kon-Tiki Museum Ra II raft on display at the Kon-Tiki Museum. This reed boat sailed from Safi, Morocco to Barbados in 57 days This wooden Stave church from Gol was part of King Oscar II's collection and it was displayed in the world's first open air musuem in 1881; Norsk Folkemuseum Storehouse from Søndre Berdal in 1759 Norwegian sod roof houses at the open air folk museum Horses grazing in a pasture at the open air museum View of the summer dairy farm; Oslo open air museum Slate roof house at the open air museum Circa 1845 farmhouse from Lende The Setesdal farmstead is furnished to look like it did back in the 1700s Known for its richly decorated interior, the circa 1800 Cappelen House has been decorated by Olav Hansson, one of Telemark's most famous "rose painters" The Hallingdal Farm Stead; Norsk Folkemuseum Gas station in the old town section of the Norsk Folkemuseum Oslo's National Theater Not as big as its German counterparts, the Christmas Market in Oslo is worth a wander Churros - a popular snack at the Christmas Market in Oslo Apples smothered in glazed caramel; Oslo Christmas Market Elk and Moose burgers; Christmas Market The Storting Building (seat of Norway's parliament) at night Walking through an archway made of thousands of lights; Oslo Christmas Market Santa hanging out at the Christmas Market in Oslo Spikersuppa ice skating rink in the middle of the Christmas market Christmas market display in Oslo Candied almonds for sale; Oslo Christmas Market Christmas wooden rolling pins for sale; Christmas Market Becky hugs a furry alpaca at the Christmas Market Christmas light display in downtown Oslo Oslo Opera House "Creature from Iddefjord", a massive 7 meter high granite sculpture in front of Oslo's main library Colorful display at the Oslo Library The Tiger sculpture; Oslo Central Station Elk and moose Norwegian tacos for dinner! Lars and Andreja prepare our room at the cabin in Hadeland It's a winter wonderland in pretty Hadeland! Norwegian Christmas gnomes (Nisser) 12th Century Søsterkirkene (Sister Churches) at Granavollen Medieval stone tower by the Søsterkirkene Granavolden Guesthouse The Hadeland Glassverk (glassworks) was founded in 1762 and is a popular tourist attraction only an hour away from Oslo A boy blows his own honey pot to take home as a souvenir at the Hadeland Glassverk Horse cart rides on offer at the Hadeland Glassverk Yield to Moose sign; Hadeland Glassverk Lars and Robby collecting firewood at Nitteberg Cottage Norwegian vintage Nisse doll set (Christmas gnomes) It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! A small sample of Sissel's massive doll collection; Nitteburg Cottage Sweating in the sauna Cooling off in the snow when the heat gets to be too much! Andreja and Lars prepared an amazing Pinnekjøtt meal (traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner) Having fun with Anka, Lars and Andreja at the weekend cabin! A delicious caviar (cod roe) spread for our breakfast toast Andreja spreading wooden ashes on the driveway to help melt the winter ice Bronze elephant statue; Oslo Fabrikkjentene (the Factory Girls); Akerselva River Walk Hjulafossen, a waterfall in the middle of Oslo city! video lightboxby v6.1

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