Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tromsø, Norway

View from where my first bus dropped me off - overlooking town
Hello from Tromsø, Norway! I've had quite the adventure here - so can't wait to delve in and share photos! I flew Norwegian Air from Trondheim to Tromsø, which was pretty cheap and only a hour each way. But - you have to pay extra to reserve a seat, so I didn't bother. Little did I know the views of the mountains and the fjords from the plane are amazing; I did get a glimpse of some if the action from the aisle seat. When I arrived, I took two busses to meet my colleague (Susan). Backstory: The National Science Foundation funded 8 scholars to study in Norway through the program I am doing; two of us are in Trondheim, one in Tromsø, and the rest in Bergen or Oslo. When the list was published, I e-mailed some of the scholars and inquired whether they'd like to meet. Susan told me that she loved Tromsø and that she'd let me stay with her, so I easily obliged. Basically, I didn't know anything about Susan besides the fact that she was doing her PhD in Math at the University of North Carolina.
The view from Susan's apartment

However, when Susan picked me up from the bus stop on Friday afternoon, one of the first things I found out was that she went to high school only a couple miles down the road from mine (!) and that she lived in Diamond Bar - just two cities over from my hometown. It was quite strange meeting a neighbor of mine for two decades - but not back in Orange County - instead, in Tromsø. (By the way, Tromsø is 300 miles North of the arctic circle)--brrr.

On Friday night I went with Susan to her office and met a colleague of hers. I wasn't surprised when she told me that the school gave free coffee, breakfasts, snacks, and sometimes lunches (just like my University at NTNU- I didn't like coffee before I came here but the fancy snazzy machine they provide the staff has taken over my life). We went to her colleague's house and cooked a nice dinner, followed by checking out the nightlight (until 4am!) Don't worry, the beer was still $13, so I couldn't afford to get too crazy. :)

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to stay out until 4am - because we were hiking the next day. Not some California trail - like a real hike. Since I had woken up with the morning sun at 8:30am, I knew it was going to be a long day. But - it was so worth it. Tromsø is not as green as Trondheim - or even states in the Eastern US - but instead it is rocky and sort of brown. Some of this is because the season has changed faster here (I could see the changing of leaf colors here more so than in Trondheim). The hike was so beautiful. The highlight was my viewing of the Northern lights for the first time (Sorry, photos don't turn out!). They weren't in full bloom - if you will - but they were bright green and took up the entire Eastern sky. The stars shined brighter than I've ever seen - even brighter than Tucson in places where there is no light. I couldn't stay outside too long, even with my four layers, because it was freezing cold.

We hiked to a public cabin, which Susan told us is never occupied. Five of us went together to hike - and there were six beds. On our third hour of the hike to the cabin, we saw a half dozen people several hundred yards in front of us, and I thought: "Just my luck." I'm a baby and can't do tents or sleep outside, so I knew it was going to be a problem. Oh wait...let me remind you I only slept 4 hours and just hiked 7 miles dodging loose rocks and climbing steep hills. I was dead.

But - turns out the cabin that is usually locked was unlocked, and we joined one student who was planning to stay in the big cabin alone. We played games (in the dark, no light, like I said real hiking) and made some dinner. In the morning, we hiked 13km home, sore body and all.

The entire trip was a wonderful experience and I might just go back to do some ice fishing and see some more spectacular Northern lights :)

Here are some other pics, mostly from the hike we did!

Selfie with my hiking friends behind me

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