The sun has not set since we crossed the Arctic Circle, maybe since before, who knows? The fact is though that since the sky is covered and cloudy at least half of the time, I guess the amount of light is in balance at the end of the week. We do not really have any issues sleeping, even if Christian gets really enthusiastic when the sun shines in the evening, mainly if we are by the coast and it is hard the get him ´home´.
For the rest, the midnight sun has sort of let us down a couple of times. The first time when we are in Alta, trying to photograph the Northern Lights Cathedral in the midnight sun, but it is helplessly cloud and rainy, so we do laundry instead. Of course the Northern light are out of question at this time of the year. In any case the cathedral is quite stunning, with the facade covered in titanium sheets, swirling around like a dancing aurora, at least according to me, Christian is not so sure that this is what it represents. The interior is also quite impressive in its own particular way.
We settle for taking some photos the morning after, and it´s probably a lucky shot, since we get to see a Sami wedding parade walking through town and into de church, with their traditional colourful dresses. Quite unique. We get to talk to a couple of guests that explain what distinguishes the bride from the rest and what is the order of the members of the parade. All pretty structured really.
Our second midnight sun let down is in Tromso, where we are really excited to sign up for the Midnight Sun Concert at the Arctic Cathedral. It promises to be a great combination of sound and light, when the music goes on as the sun filters through the magnificent stained glass window that covers most of the East facade. In our case it is more the midnight cloud concert though, but never mind it´s a very pleasant experience anyway. The sound is just phenomenal, the resonance of the cathedral is gorgeous, it´s almost like the place has been built for music. The concert is simple, just a soprano, a piano and a saxophone, interpreting mostly traditional Scandinavian songs, but so beautiful. Strongly recommend it if you are in the area at this time of the year.
The weather in Tromso is not our friend for the first day and a half that we are there, as grey as it gets and with intervals of rain, so we spend quite some time indoors, staying in ´Polaris´, checking a local cafe and a couple of museums. From those they really have aplenty. The first we visit is Perspektivet Museum (www.perspektivet.no), with free entry and excellent temporary photo exhibitions. Nice place really, founded to understand the connections in life and promote tolerance of cultural diversity. I wished there would be more of those in the world these days. There are 3 interesting photo exhibitions, one called ´Here was´, depicting the overgrown ruins of pre Israel- Palestina war cities; the second ´Homo religious´, describing the many different religions that have coexisted in Tromso over the years and the third, some great black & white photos from Tromso in the 60´s.
The second museum is the totally different Polar Museum, which presents the adventures of the early Pole explorers, focusing in Amundsen and Nansen, and also has a very disturbing exhibition about the old hunting practises for whales, walruses, seals and polar bears. No wonder that these animals were driven to the edge of extinction, sadly.
As the weather clears up on day 3 Christian gets up early and goes out to capture the essence of the city. A mix of modern and traditional architecture,
some street art
and boats in the harbour framed by the city, the snowy mountains and the blue(ish) sky.
We then head, through the mountains and the coast, to the nearby and tiny island of Sommaroy, surrounded by crystalline turquoise waters and even tinier islands, dotted with some scattered housed and little settlements. Quite beautiful, even more so as we ascent the local little mountain that offers views to the surroundings all around (thanks to Silke, for the tip). It´s quite hot and the hill steeper than I thought, so after we descent I thoroughly enjoy my first beer in Norway, in the terrace of the local hotel, bar and restaurant, despite the whooping price of almost 8 Euro (it´s a really, really small beer from the tap). No mercy with the alcohol prices around here.
The midnight sun is almost in our favour this time, so Christian goes out with his camera to capture the evening light.
This means that the morning after we both feel the lack of sleep, but have a repairing breakfast on the beach and then take the ferry to the island of Senja, a hop on hop off, in our way to the Vesteralen Archipelago. The island is quite neat and we find a great lunch stop next to a white sandy beach. As we follow the scenic road towards the ferry harbour at the other end of the island, we discover some magnificent high mountains with vertical green walls dropping straight into the see, covering the waters with green reflections.
The ferry harbour is as small as it gets and even more and it´s at the end of the road that comes from nowhere, however when we arrive, one hour before the ferry arrives, we find such a crowd and such a long line of cars and caravans waiting for the ferry ahead of us, that we fear we will not fit. After us the vehicles keep on arriving, from where? It´s insane. The thrill stays till the last minute, since we are the last vehicle to fit into the ferry, occupying truly the last centimetre. The last queue behind us needs to wait till the day after. We see some ´Room Available´ signs popping up through the windows of some of the balconies. We are confident everybody finds a place to stay, as we wave the impressive coastline goodbye from the boat.