Back to Norway, up to Tromsø

Sick in Lisbon

Well, it’s been another long hiatus here on T&T. The semester wrapped up in December and I had a nice long winter break before returning last week. Unfortunately, I caught a humdinger of a cold right before coming back, which I was quite sick for my red-eye flight from Boston to Lisbon on January 19th. Then, I missed my connection (stupid TAP scheduled them too close together to feasibly make it through immigration) and so had to spend 5 hours in the Lisbon airport, sick as a dog. I thought maybe I’d find a soft surface to sleep on, but there were only the slightly padded chairs with an armrest every two seats—there wasn’t even any carpeting in the whole terminal! They did, however, have a car on display in the middle of the food court, and I actually considered opening it up and sleeping in the back seat, but ultimately decided that probably wasn’t a good idea. So I curled up on the padded chairs, wrapping my knees around the armrest and, using my big winter parka as pillow and promptly drooling as I dozed, much to the disgust of all other travelers, I’m sure. At least I got to try Pastel de Nata, the national pastry, which is really delicious.

Sick in Marburg

I didn’t go direct to Norway, but rather went to Germany to spend a few days with my family there (my grandmother’s cousin Rosie and her partner Freia) in Marburg. I felt guilty that I arrived completely exhausted, and did almost nothing but sleep for my first 24 hours there—most boring house guest ever. But it was great to be in a lovely home and to be fed soup and treated to the full suite of German alternative cold treatments. There was an herbal tea that I couldn’t taste because of my stuffy nose but they assured didn’t taste good, there was a tincture that I was to put 35 drops in hot water and drink every two hours, there was a small dark bottle full of a mixture of menthol, Eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil that Rosie instructed I put seven drops of on a sugar cube and suck on it (don’t chew). At first this one didn’t seem too bad—how Marry Poppins-esque, I thought, but the second I put it in my mouth I felt nearly blinded by the fumes from the oil going up into my sinuses. It was spectacularly unpleasant, and afterwards Rosie said maybe 7 drops was too many. Lastly, there was a breathing contraption where you put boiling water into a container, then attach a top with a reverse funnel sort of thing that you put your mouth in and breathe. Rosie put the dreaded oil in this thing, too, which was just terrible and nearly floored me upon first inhalation. After I sheepishly tried to slink away from it, she called out “you must do it for 10 minutes!”

Luckily, I was feeling slightly better by the time I left a week ago, and I spent a few days recovering in Ås before my next big adventure: Tromsø!

Tromsø

Tromsø (pronounced troom-sah or trum-sah—roll the r’s if you want to get fancy) is a small city in Norway that’s 350km (217 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. It is the most northern city in the world with a population over 50,000, Wikipedia tells me. Despite being that far north, it isn’t as cold as you’d think, because of the same Gulf Stream that makes Boston (at 42° N) have a similar winter to Oslo (at 59° N).

For my three-day weekend getaway with my friend Nick, I had dreams of snowshoeing in fluffy snow while the Northern Lights shimmered above a city that is dark almost all day. In reality, it was around 40° F and raining most of the time we were there, with heavy cloud cover (this was unusual). And, even though the polar night goes until January 14th, I was surprised at how light it was even before the 10:30am sunrise or after the 2:30pm sunset.

Even though there wasn’t as much snow as I thought there’d be going in, the view out the window during the flight definitely made it seem that we were going to the ends of the earth, which I guess we were.

I have very few pictures from the weekend, because of all the rain, and it’s too bad because Tromsø is a cool little city. It’s right on the water, which snow-covered mountains rising up right out of the water. When darkness falls, the city glows golden with lights as the shadow of the mountain can just be made out, looming over.

Dog Sledding

Our one big touristy thing of the weekend was going dog sledding on Friday night, which was super fun. We took a half hour bus ride outside the city, and then were outfitted with snow onesies and enormous boots before being assigned to a dogsled. Our driver was a very friendly young Swiss woman who was in her first season as a dogsled driver. The dogs themselves weren’t as big as I thought they’d be—they were Alaskan huskies, not the burly Siberian huskies I learned are what most people picture when they hear “husky.” We sat in the sled and were off, and it was such a cool experience to be nestled into a sled, looking up the sky (not raining, thankfully, and even so patches of clear sky) or at the dogs pulling us forward. Afterwards, we got to play with some husky puppies, which were adorable, before going to the Sami tent and eating delicious hot fish soup, and then taking the bus home again.

Now, I’m back in Ås where the weather continues to be overcast and balmy. I’m told that there is normally much more snow this time of year, and I hope it comes soon—I want to experience a true Norwegian winter!