There was no mouse waking us up last night thankfully – although I did hear the dogs howling at the moon at some stage during the night.
We leave a beautiful sunrise behind us (as well as a cool -13 °C) as we start our journey back to Tromsø today.
The promise of a dramatic sunrise soon fizzles out and settles into a dull, grey day.
Even the tunnels seem to be grey today, with a strange mist hanging in the air.
These red barns with the bridge leading up to the upper floor, are typical Norwegian, and bring back many happy memories of learning to drive – reversing up the sloping bridge, driving down, reversing up, driving down...
And here is the actual barn bridge and car I learnt on, in a photograph from 1975!
This journey from Tromsø to Alta and back has made me fall in love with Norway all over again. Not that I was ever out of love with her, but I guess I was too young to appreciate the beauty of the country and its people when I lived here; and during our visits since, the main focus has been on seeing family. This time I have been overwhelmed by the scenery and charmed by its inhabitants.
The road conditions this morning are not good, with slippery ice covering the surface. Thank goodness for studded tyres.
The roads are regularly cleared, ploughing away the snow and scraping the ice. Those ice scrapers don't do the road surface much good though and by the end of the spring thaw, deep ruts have appeared in the roads – it must be a maintenance nightmare!
The scenery along the coast really is quite delightful. Unfortunately there are not many places for David to stop so that I can get out and take photos. I do manage a few 'drive-by-shootings' though.
As we get nearer Tromsø, we notice a lot more snow on the ground. Not just on the ground: fresh, white snow is hanging heavily on the branches of birch, spruce and other trees.
Where the forest is thickly vegetated, the snowy branches make for a fascinating abstract monochromatic effect.
Each bend of the road brings with it another magnificent vista.
It looks like there might be bad weather ahead...
By the time we get to Sørkjosen, the light is already beginning to fade.
Approaching Oderdalen and the first ferry, we see a string of cars coming towards us and realise the ship must be in port. Just as we head around the last bend and into the holding area by the jetty, however, the boat starts to close its bow. Bugger. It's another hour before the next crossing.
Thankfully the workers on board spot our car, and open the gate again, just for us. Such great service!
We pop to the on board café for a late lunch of 'pølse med brød' – probably the most popular fast food in the country.
I really struggle to order food in Norway – the Norwegian language has no word for 'please'. To my ears it sounds so rude to just ask for “two hot dogs”. I add a “thank you” at the end, but it doesn't sound right.
Although not exactly haute cuisine, the sausage fills a gap and at Kr 35 each (ca £2.70), I can't even complain about the price.
We've been wanting to see elk on this trip and we finally do – in the shape on a photograph by an excellent Norwegian photographer on the wall of the ferry café.
Today is just a day of driving, and once we hit Tromsø, the traffic is awful. I just want to get to my destination now.
This is our last evening, and we have treated ourselves to some rather nice accommodation as a treat. We stop at Eide Handel again to buy a few bits of food for this evening as well as some stuff to take back to the UK with us. We wait here for the owners of Tromsø Apartments to turn up and guide us to the house.
And what a house it is!
Looking quite ordinary from the outside, the interior is nothing short of luxurious. Decorated in a minimalistic retro style, the open living space is stylish and elegant, and the kitchen is a cook's dream!
I love the way the house number is carved into the door and glazed! As is usual in Norway, there is a small entrance hall where you take off your shoes - it is considered rude to keep your footwear on when entering someone's home in Norway.
Just off the hallway is the dining room and from there, the bedroom. The dining room also leads onto a lovely balcony overlooking the Tromsø Fjord. Shame it is cloudy tonight as that would be an awesome place to watch the northern lights from!
A small 'everyday kitchen table' leads us into the spacious main lounge area.
The bathroom has lovely warm underfloor heating!
Finally, the kitchen. A decent size, but at first glance it is just an ordinary kitchen. That is, until we see the built in coffee machine, the enormous corner fridge, built in electric wine cooler and induction hob.
We start opening cupboards and drawers, and soon realise that this is not your average rental 'apartment'. A Kenwood Chef and smoothie maker are amongst the numerous 'gadgets' we find. Shame we are not staying longer!
I rustle up a couple of reindeer steaks for dinner,as you do.
This is followed by 'fløyelsgrøt', a kind of porridge-like dessert made from butter, flour and milk; served with sugar and cinnamon, and a 'smørøye' – 'butter eye'. Healthy it is not, but this dish brings back many happy memories from my childhood.
No aurora hunting tonight, just chilling on our last night in Norway. For this time. We most definitely want to come back!