We spent last night in at the Scandic Hotel in Tromso, our first night in a hotel on this trip. It gave us a chance to hang wet washing all over our very own bathroom and walk around in bare feet without worrying about them getting cold and wet, and only unpack a couple of small clothes bags rather than half a ton of camping gear. Such a difference from last year in Portugal and Spain, where we spent every night but one in hotels or the very occasional auberge. The hotel is a few kms out of the town centre, close to the airport. It has a great view of the fjord, and looks across to ‘the mainland’ and the mountains beyond. Most of Tromso is on an island, including the town centre, the airport and the university. It connects to the mainland via a very impressive bridge.
We went out for dinner last night, to Aunegarden. It’s a cafe/restaurant in a beautiful old wooden building that spent most of its long life as a butcher’s shop. There are lots of rooms and little nooks and crannies. We were taken along hallways past a couple of other rooms that were set up for dining, to a room with 4 or 5 tables and a lot of large old photos of downtown Tromso that were probably taken early last century. The menu had lots of choices, but we were really only there for one thing … the reindeer. Anyone reading this with young children, please don’t tell them we ate one of Santa’s helpers!. It was a fillet of reindeer, served with mashed potato, red cabbage and lingonberry sauce and it was delicious! Lean, tender and not too ‘gamey’. The meal cost as much as the hotel room, but we both really enjoyed it. Best (and only) restaurant meal we’ve had in Norway.
But then! We walked around the main streets of Tromso for a while – lots of lovely old wooden buildings and interesting things to look at … got back to the car and found a parking ticket on the windscreen. For $150. Damn. I had paid for parking and mis-read the instructions. I thought it was free after 9pm, but actually the rate is reduced overnight. So I paid until 9pm, and we got the ticket at 9.30. Annoying, expensive and a good lesson to read instructions properly even if they are in another language. The worst thing about it is that the only way to pay is to do a bank transfer. I spent ages trawling the internet last night trying to find out if I could pay online with a credit card, but couldn’t find anywhere to do so. I have found out which bank is on the bank transfer details and we’ll go to the Tromso branch today and hopefully I’ll be able to make an over the counter payment.
On the bright side, we stayed up late enough to see the sun at midnight … well actually it was on the other side of the mountains, but it was definitely still there, shining.