The diary of my first solo trip to Norway

Airport experience

Waiting in the queue for check in on my business class standby ticket and I can already imagine myself sipping from my glass of champagne and asking for “just an ice cream” to replace the birthday cake and trying not be that type of passenger ordering every item from the menu.

I have turned 35 just an hour ago while driving from Dubai towards the airport. Someone once said that “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”  Well…I have decided to give up on that illusion (at least for now) and take a solo trip for the first time in my life, and what moment could be more opportune than my own birthday. A trip to remember I hope.

For now I would like to forget how it all started when my staff ticket to business class was downgraded due to the load and I ended up in Economy, without champagne and ice cream and one step away to miss my flight. Breathless and sweaty but at least one step closer to my dream: seeing the Northen lights for my birthday. Little did I know that “the dream” will remain just a dream.

First birthday present didn’t fail to appear and as soon all the aircraft lights were switched off, my seat neighbor started a snoring symphony that lasted until landing. Meanwhile the headphones provided were faulty in one side and I have turned the volume at maximum on the working side but my neighbor lungs were definitely winning the unfair competition with the technology. I had one wish for my birthday…not to spend the day working in the plane but here I am spending it anyway as a passenger…for me the positive thinking and the universe shit never worked out.

While breakfast was served, the birthday messages started to pop up on my phone. One by one all the hospitals that I have visited in the UAE were sending their greeting on my special day and secretly wishing me to revisit them soon. That was the moment when the truth hit me hard…I am 35 years old and if I am lucky, I have probably reached the half of my journey on this Earth. And I am half way to Norway in the same time.

Landing in Tromso

Flying for 10 hrs with 3 different airlines but I am lucky to arrive safe and sound in Tromso. After the last leg of the flight traveling with the infamous 787 Max8 of Norwegian airline that has crashed twice in the past years due to a system malfunction I must say that being alive it’s a privilege…I have survived the creepy aircraft but my luggage didn’t share the same fate. RIP

PS: to reach to Norway I chose the following route:

Abu dhabi-Frankfurt with Etihad Airways 6hrs and a half- 210DH staff ticket

Frankfurt-Oslo with Lufthansa operated by Eurowings 2hrs -280DH staff ticket

Oslo-Tromso with Norwegian air 2hrs -1000DH full fair ticket

There are weekly flights from Europe direct to London so you might one to check that one if your travel dates are matching.

This time I have done an extensive research before flying to Norway which is so unlike me; however I have missed one important thing: during winter time the day it’s quite short and by quite short I mean extremely short with day light hours from 10 am to 2 pm. The Polar night lasts from 21 November until 21 January and it’s a truly wonder of the nature, in contradiction with the Midnight sun period from June to August when the sun never settles. Everyone else would be disappointed to reach in Norway during the Polar night, however for a flight attendant this is a piece of heaven and definitely my retire place at least during the winter.

Self check in

Once I have reached the hotel I have checked myself in and magnetized my own room key since Norway is highly developed and automatized and human interaction it’s a luxury. Well, I have offered myself a great customer service during check in and I am definitely rating my professional skills with 5 stars at the end of my stay. The hotel room was very small but the location was just perfect, 3 minutes walking distance from the most famous street of the city, Storgata, full of shops and restaurants and the pick up point for all the tours that I have booked.

PS: I have stayed in Smarthotel Tromso for 6 nights: total price 1200 euro, being the cheapest hotel that I have found in the city center. Most of the hotels in Tromso and the surrounding areas were completely booked and I would strongly recommend you to find a hotel well in advance. Most of the tours depart either from Radisson Blu or from Scandic hotel which are located in the city center next to each other.

Tromso city center

The first thing first on the following morning of my arrival was exploring the city by foot, taking advantage of the 4hrs of light.

The city of Tromso is beautiful, extremely beautiful, a shinny gem of the arctic circle. Walking proved to be more difficult than I thought with the streets covered in ice, reason why renting a car had also seemed a bad idea. Believe it or not, even though I am Romanian I have never drove on the frozen streets.

Falling on the icy streets in the other hand, it’s a common occurrence and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. The locals even describe the falling as being part of the city experience, same how the Northen lights are. Spikes are available on every shop and can be placed on top of your boots if you wish to do so (price 25$).

The tours booked

All my tours were booked well in advance from Viator.com since I find this app/website easy to use and you can cancel for free up to 24hrs before your trip. This being said my schedule for the week was as following:

Day 1: Tromso city explore in the morning/ Aurora borealis hunt tour by night-price 207$

Day 2: Husky self drive sledge safari-price 214$

Day 3: Silent Whales watching-price 165$

Sauna combined with swimming in the frozen lake-price and 30$

Day 4: Reindeers adventure and Sami culture-price 137$

But let me bore you no more and follow my future blog post where I will explain in details all those activities.

Good to know information

Bring warm clothes

Before traveling to an arctic destination you must be equipped with few essential clothing items such as:

✔️waterproof winter boots- for ladies I would recommend the Moon boots

✔️waterproof ski jumpsuit

✔️waterproof gloves/socks/hat/scarf

✔️winter jacket

✔️plenty of clothes to be wore underneath

These socks are a must and you can find them in any shop for 15$

Most of the tours will provide you few of those items as they are aware that tourists might underestimate the cold and nobody want to deal with a frozen body on their trips.

Coming from 40 degrees to -15 degrees it has a great impact on your body and you must be prepared physically and mentally to endure the freezing temperatures.

Don’t expect to make friendships

In Norway people are colder than the weather and if you manage to steal a smile from someone you should consider yourself lucky. Human interactions are very limited and you must know that you are on your own; nobody will come to show you the right path when you are lost or help to check your own bag at the airport. You must do it yourself. However, Tromso’s citizens are believed to be the kindest from the entire Norway.

Norwegians respect personal space and you won’t find annoying waiters coming to check if you like the soup even before taking the first spoon. However the foreigners working and living in Norway are really friendly and fun and you will find them most of the time working in touristic activities.

Tipping in Norway

Tours operators and people working in hospitality don’t expect tips from their costumers, however, they won’t feel offended if you offer some. You can always use your card and you do not need to exchange local currency or use an ATM while you are in Norway.

Prices in Tromso

Tromso is considered the most expensive city in the arctic area so be prepared when you decide to visit it. A dish in a regular restaurant will start from 30$, while a beer from 15$. The good news is that you will be so busy with your chosen tours that you won’t have time to eat more than once.

Safety in Norway

I don’t know about other cities but Tromso it’s very safe, you can walk on the streets at any time of the day/night without worrying about your life or your belongings. Beside that, the city is extremely clean and is so enjoyable to explore its streets by foot.

If you wish to travel for longer distances you can book a taxi using Taxifix app or buy a bus ticket online using Troms Billett app. Both means of transportations are clean and safe, however taxi is not really cheap. While for the bus you will pay 3$ for the taxi you will pay 30$. Norwegian people might not be the most hospitable in the world but they are definitely kind and understanding and they will always stop the bus or the car in order to allow you to cross the i

I hope you have a pretty clear idea about the prices in Tromso and you will come with the right budget in order to be able to enjoy the city fully. In the following blog posts I will also recommend you the cheaper alternatives in order to save some money.

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