We were on our way from Copenhagen to Tromso, arriving about 10pm. I decided to get a jump on things by worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong trying to locate our AirBnb.
I had a screenshot of the address and driving directions and when I showed them to our Somalian cab driver, he nodded vigorously, said “Yes, yes, Strandskillet 5, no problem” and hopped into the driver seat. First question, how does a Somalian man end up in Tromso Norway? We asked and he shared his story, ending it by saying “I’m a winter man now!”
Good thing, because there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground and it was coming down pretty good as we drove across the island to our flat.
Our driver pulled into an alley, under a tiny covered parking area, leapt out of the cab, and proudly announced “Strandskillet 5!” with a flourish of his arm in the direction of a wall plaque.
Sure enough, that was the address, mounted next to a door that was very securely locked and labeled “Dentist Office”.
So, approaching midnight on a Friday, we are standing outside a dentist’s office in 2 feet of snow with our duffel bags and no way to contact our host.
Well, to make a long story short, with the unfailing help of “the winter man”, we eventually located our warm and charming flat on the next alley up, and got in. This was the start to a wonderful 3 day adventure.
Tromso knows how to do winter. It snowed every day, and clearly it had been snowing every day for some time. The whole town looked like a story book Christmas village. Snow and icicles hung from the roof tops. Buildings, boats, bicycles, everything was spray painted with snow. Windows glowed with soft warm light.
Days were growing short on the first week in November. The sun came up mid-morning, hung around the horizon for a bit, and then put on a sunset show that lasted for a couple of hours. We were lucky enough to have one clear afternoon to enjoy this lingering sunset over the water and edge of town. The quality of light on the snow covered landscape was breathtaking. These were the final days before Tromso is plunged into 2 months of 24 hour night.
Tromso does not hunker down for dark or winter. The town was lively at all hours. Restaurants, shops and bars were open late, inviting and cozy with warm candle light inside, and big windows to enjoy the snow outside. People bustled about, on foot, bicycle, skis and sleds.
Our only goal was to experience this polar town in winter, so we wandered happily about for 3 days, in sideways blizzards, gentle snowfalls, and one glorious clear afternoon. Some of our favorite spots were:
Everyone was warm and friendly, we felt welcomed and at home everywhere we went. Tromso is an easy place to love, and hard one to leave.