Welcome back follow nomad to another wonderful week in the heart of Lapland where the Northern Lights are visible to the naked eyes. I just entered into the Arctic Circle and I can really say that is freezing even now. 🥶 Looks like Santa and his fellow companions, the reindeers, are getting ready for Christmas – just in time when I get back home.
I booked on AirBnB a private room in a beautiful villa that is located just over the river in Rovaniemi, Finland. The views are just spectacular, with lots of wood-made houses, lots of 24h shops and during nights if feels so much different and already smells like Christmas 🎅
There was no other better way to starting off the day than checking out the local library and get some work done.
Spent a few productive hours from that cozy place and then I went to get some lunch. Was craving for some asian food and guess what I found near the library? An all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant selling lunch for just €11. The food was absolutely amazing and I was stuffed with so much wok I couldn’t even move. 😂 I would’ve taken a photo, but my phone camera was cracked and forgot my Nikon in the car… That was the moment when I realised that having a phone with a working camera is a necessity for this trip.
The city is not that big and you can easily find anything around in about 10-15 mins walking distance. I found the central Mall and was quoted €300 to repair my iPhone. Didn’t want to pay this price when I know for sure I can fix it home a lot cheaper. So I decided that I should buy a new one. Got to Elisa, a local network provider and got a budget phone, Samsung A32 for just €180 which does the job just fine.
Went back to the library to set it up and move all my data from one phone to another and tested out the camera.
In the evening I wanted to try something local to eat and I found this amazing restaurant called Nili Restaurant where they serve only Finnish traditional food. They were celebrating their 15 years anniversary and had a set menu which included a starter, soup, the main dish and dessert for just €40.
I installed a few Aurora forecast apps and I got a notification that I might be able to see it in about an hour. Was full of energy and ready to go a Northern Lights hunt. Spent a few hours going back and forth to different places in Rovaniemi to Santa Claus Village and then on top of Ounasvara, but it was too cloudy and couldn’t see anything.
It was funny at some point when I got to Santa Claus village – I was distracted by some colorful lights on my left hand side and pulled over in a gas station and rushed to take some photos. I took the new phone out, my Nikon and was really struggling to find the best position. Until a local asked what I am doing there and I was telling her it’s the first time I am seeing the Northern Lights and wanted to get some shots. She then told me those are the airport lights which were diffusing with the clouds…. I felt like a fool tourist for the first time in my life 😂
Woke up super inspired and active this morning and spent another hour in the morning to fully adjust with my new phone and transfer the remaining data & apps on it from the old broken one.
During the process, I checked the prices for the next location and I kid you now – they are begging to get a a lot higher. To get an entire flat/studio starts from €110/night on both Booking.com and AirBnB for something close to the city centre and slightly go down to €90/night outside the city. Really didn’t expect to get that high and I was on a budget. So I had to go again to get a private room in a private villa and was lucky to find it available for the next week. I needed somewhere stable to work from, get some sleep and check out the surroundings without too much hassle. And it only costed me about €65/night, which is really not bad comparing with the current market.
The whole day I was Netflixing and chilled over several pots of infused apple-cinnamon tea. There was a new TV show released called Squid Game and I was so addictive that I couldn’t stop watching 3 hours in a row.
After that much TV time, I got a revelation about what to do in late Spring next year. I wrote a post about here and if anyone is interested to join, DM me in a comment below or on my Insta.
The rain stopped in the evening and for my last night in Rovaniemi I really wanted to see the Northern Lights. So I got some snacks, dressed properly for -2 degrees and went directly in the woods on Ounasvara and waited there for 2 hours. I was just about to give up but in the end, was able to see them for about 20 mins lighting up the skies.
Woke up so happy for being able to see the Northern Lights and tick that off from my lifetime goal list and started to pack my bags. Set my Waze to Tromsø, Norway and mentally prepared for another long road trip.
The road was slippery in the morning and I constantly got warning messages from the car saying “Risk of ice” and to check the tire pressure. Well, it was cold in the morning, starting from -2 degrees in the city to -5 in the forests. I took that road because it was the fastest way and I was lucky to see some packs of dears & reindeers pulling off the road 🦌
A few hours later, I pulled in a gas station to get my last Finnish brunch, filled the tank and checked the tire pressure.
Made a few stops to gaze over the beautiful landscapes over the lakes, forests and mountains and to fill my energy on a cup of tea with natural quietness.
Before getting to Norway border, I got to see some other reindeers as well and one of the babies was really trying to get close to me, but it got scared when I got out of the car.
At the border control, I got a quick inspection and the Norwegian guy was so polite and friendly and also willing to help me with some advice about good spots to see the Northern Lights around Tromsø.
Now, I really to have that Norway is fucking beautiful. It overpassed Montenegro (my #1 for mountain landscapes & ray nature) and Georgia (#2 in the list).
One minute there were 3 degrees and sunny, 10 minutes later, on the other side of the mountain, it was raining, snowing and -1 degrees, in just about few kilometres.
N.B. Make sure you respect the speed limit in Norway. Most of the roads are 70-80, and I was surprised to see 50 as well in large portions of the highway. Maybe during winter time is more dangerous to pass, I don’t really know why, but if you overpass it with just 20 kms, you get a 3000 NOK fine (which is about €300). If you pass it over 30kms, your license is suspended. Period.
I found out this when I got to the AirBnB – and hopefully Santa won’t leave such a present under the Christmas Tree 🤞
Met Lina, a Gender student, half Thai half Norwegian, sharing the AirBnB house with me who told me about the penalty fees in Norway. She has a YT channel, travels a lot and lives “at the R in Norway”. I didn’t got that at first and when she said it first, it sounded like a Norwegian city, but then when she showed me on Google Maps the letter “R” in Norway, I finally got it then and there 😂
I started to get into this really nice habit of waking up early and feeling energetic to do things. Had to get some work done so I can relax the next couple of days so I planned at staying indoors for the most part of the day and work.
In the afternoon I walked to the city centre for a while and was looking for a restaurant to get something to eat. There is a funny thing that happened to me – I was looking on Google Maps for a decent restaurant to serve some decent Scandinavian food and found a good one just near me with reviews stating the food was great and affordable. Oh well, when I got in, the cheapest price for a meal I could find was 350NOK which is about €35. So about €50 food and a local beer – instantly changed my mind and went to have a burger at Burger King because I was getting hungry and didn’t want to look to any other options at that point. It really is more expensive that I initially thought it would be.
I did some digging and it looks like Norway pays a lot of tax for cigarettes, alcohol and being part of Scandinavia, they charge people between 2NOK to 4NOK on every plastic bottle so you can come with them and recycle.
Did some food shopping to the nearest supermarket and of course, I ended up buying for about €60, mostly on things that I would get back home to eat over Christmas table. 🤪
When I came back to the house, I meet another girl that was sharing the upper part of the villa and all 3 of us bonded quite fast. So I messaged my buddy Joan who happened to be in the city as well, and we all went out on a hunt to see the Northern Lights.
The trip was fun and we had a really good chance to know each other. I think it was really brave for the girls to go on a ride with 2 strangers one whom they met for 30 mins and not knowing anything about the other one. Respect.
We had an itinerary to follow, but it was starting to rain and snow at the first checkpoint, and all decided to get back home to drink and try again another day.
The road we took initially was closed on the way back and Google Maps kept re-routing and we circled around for a bit, ending up to a few dead ends. And that was the illuminating moment, when Lina gave us the best driver advice – “drive south” – as if I suppose to know where South is in the middle of the night, over a dead-end, in a city I drove only once 😂
We went back home eventually by following a bus route and getting back to the city safely and I got to understand that we didn’t have any places to get any drinks since most of the shops are closing after 10-11pm.
Oh well – I had to get the action going and decided to get into Pandora’s Box and get 2 bottles of wine I got from Estonia and Finland. That really didn’t matter – will get those back in a wine shop in Germany – and surely they will be much cheaper there.
Woke up with a bad hangover and terrible headaches…This is what happens when I don’t drink often and one night I am getting 4 glasses of wine. I kept hydrating all morning, got some classic cheesy wrap omelette which really took a long time to cook. I have seen this happening in all the places I have stayed in the past 2 weeks from Finland until Norway so far. The old fashion electric stoved took about 10-15 mins to start warming the pan, but that wasn’t really an issue when I had such a beautiful landscape over the window to stare at 😛
For the next few hours, I chilled over some Squid Game episodes. There was no way I am not seeing at least 2 in a row. It really is addictive to I have seen the trick they’re pulling at the end of each episode. You don’t really realise when you finish an episode until you get the intro of the next one and sometimes they miss putting end and you end up watching more than one in a row 🤪
Later that day, I got out for lunch with my buddy Joan at Skaver Sva. I was looking to get some grilled whale because in Norway is actually legal to eat that, but we were both too hungry to get some and they restaurants were opening at 15:30….oh well…
I got some salty spicy fish stew and a local tap bear and paid €25 for that, which is not bad at all, considering I am in Norway. Was surprised to see the price of a beer is about €10, but that’s the way things roll here.
I wasn’t really feeling great after last night hangover and the beer didn’t really help. So I went back home to recover over a long waited TV show that was just released that day: You – Season 3.
Got up on a healthy breakkie at home to save some money and be able to spend some more over the day and the evening. 🤪
Went early in the morning on the big bridge that connects both parts of the islands and I had such a wonderful view of the mountains, lake and both sides of the islands.
From there, I returned to the eastern island where everything is happening and walked along lake side looking for something to eat. Got a ham&cheese panini from Naversen and continued my way into the city. On a weekend, is funny how the restaurants are actually opening after 3pm and I chose to get some groceries done and get back home to continue my book until the afternoon.
Someone approached me on the street about an event that evening about how Gaza and Tromso where celebrating 20 years of friendship. I was curious at first about it, and even more curios when they mentioned free food & drinks.
Lina joined me that evening to the event for the same reason I joined 😂 and that was to celebrate the union – surely not for the food. It was a bit boring in the first 30 mins and we couldn’t see any food or drinks so we actually left earlier and decided to go for a pizza.
We shared a large pizza which we couldn’t even finish it. There was no surprise to pay €50 for a vegetarian pizza and 2 beers – very normal in Norway. That evening I also find out I couldn’t get any alcohol at home from the store, because apparently there is a law in Norway which forbids the store to sell any alcohol after 6pm. The only way you can get any alcohol is from pubs – so yeah, lesson learned. Guess who will see me next day at 9am in the morning looking for wine & beer? 🤷♂️
This day I had a really chilled Sunday morning over banana porridge and Netflix. Somehow I managed to finish the whole Season 3 of You in the last 3 days (and that is 3 days since it got released). After so many TV shows, I had to go pack re-planning my whole journey and finally decided that I will be back home one week earlier.
I have planned for a little to many days to stay in Tromsø (about 10 days), but so far 6 days is more than enough to cover pretty much everything in this little town. So far I wasn’t able to see the Northern Lights here, as bright as they were adverstised, but there is nothing we can really do against weather. At least not this decade – who knows how the technology might surprise us later?
It was such a unique feeling to be able to witness such colorful lights on a clear sky and cold weather. I was getting hungry after such a view and found a cozy restaurant open – it was the only one opened in Sommarøy and I was so happy to hear they serve grilled whale. It was on my bucket list to try it. As far as I know only in Norway, Iceland and North Korea you are legally able to eat it and the hunting season starts in late October until late January.
Common Phrases in Norwegian
|Good Morning||God morgen||(gu morn)|
|Good Evening||God kveld||(gu cvel)|
|Sorry / Excuse me||Unnskyld meg||(valitan)|
|Please||Vær så snill||(var sha snil)|
|How Much Does This Cost?||Hvor mye koster dette?||(cvo mie coste dete)|
This week I spent €782 out of €700 budget which wasn’t that great! In this budget I haven’t added my new phone, but this is Norway, and is very normal to get a beer here for €10 at the pub and a meal starting from €15.
Thank you for reading thus far and see you soon in my next weekly post!
October 18, 2021 @ 17:46