Thursday, 31 October 2013

In praise of Slarty Blartfast

Despite our late night we leave early for the short walk to the jetty to catch the 10.15 Boreal ferry service to Finnsnet. It’s a dank and dreary morning and the outward leg is by express catamaran so we don’t pay too much attention to the scenery as it whizzes by. We pay on the boat, 713KR for all 3 of us, which is around £75. It’s a comfortable service, much like the London river buses, with free wifi and a small snack bar.

We arrive in Finnsnet on time at 11.35 and exit through a modern terminal. The Hurtigruten cruiser MS Finnmarken dwarfs the catamaran and is due to leave in 10 minutes. There’s only time for a photo of the “Welcome to Finnsnes” sign before we board. We buy our tickets at reception, the exact same price as the outward leg. Alex is impressed to find himself unexpectedly on a cruise ship; Hurtigruten is the iconic shipping line of Norway, operating a service the length of the country that offers both cruises and ferry services as well as delivering mail and freight.
Simon installs himself in the observation lounge while Alex and I go in search of the swimming pool and Jacuzzi. We find them at the stern, where there are also changing rooms and a sauna. It’s raining – and the rain is very cold – so it’s a surreal experience luxuriating in the warm pool watching snow-topped mountains drift by and feeling the cold rain on our faces. I dry off in the sauna, which unusually has windows so I can enjoy the scenery, and rejoin the boys. We eat our picnic lunch and watch Norway go by, then I go on deck to take photos. It has stopped raining, but the mountain tops are still wreathed in cloud.

We arrive in Tromso around 2.30 and go back to the apartment for a pasta lunch and by the time we’ve finished eating, it’s dark. We were thinking of going to the photography museum or the gallery but by the time we get our act together it’s closing time. Instead we pick a few restaurants from TripAdvisor and go to see which one we’d prefer to eat at tonight. The most picturesque one, Aunegarden, in one of the oldest buildings in Tromso, looks cosy but has a fairly limited menu with main courses at around £30 each and it’s at the far end of town. It's raining and we're tired so in the end we decide to stay closer to home and eat in the ground floor bistro of De 4 Roser, a few doors down from our apartment. The food is really excellent and not bad value by Norwegian standards. We're really happy with our choice.

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