a few photos here: http://tinyurl.com/ldwb97p
This is quite long :)
Budget: tried to keep a lid on it without compromising enjoyment (I love cooking so not eating out helped a lot!) but basically did what we wanted to – car hire 3600 NOK, petrol/ferries/bus 2200 NOK, accommodation 11800 NOK (around 850/night for double), food 1500 NOK (but we had quite a few lovely big breakfasts), trips/museums 7400 NOK so 26500 NOK for 2 weeks for 2 people. I thought it was extremely good value for what we did and how much we enjoyed it!
Day 1: We took the Friday evening flight from London Gatwick. Got out of the airport quickly and took the 41 bus to town; arrived just in time to have some food at the hotel (Clarion With) then took advantage of the sunny evening to go up the mountain in the cable car, where we bumped into someone we knew from England! Beautiful views of the midnight sun and Hurtigruten sailing under the bridge; had a quick snowball fight too.
Day 2-3: After a lovely Norwegian breakfast we picked up the hire car (Hertz: 3600 NOK for 14 days which we thought was pretty reasonable) and popped into the Botanical Gardens – even my husband who has zero interest in plants liked it a lot. I think small children would enjoy the rocky paths going up and down and round the planting areas. Really interesting place. Then stocked up with food at the supermarket and set off for Senja. Lovely scenic drive on the E6 – so relaxing driving in Norway – which got even better when we hit the wonderful National Tourist Route. We did the detour to Husøy – quite a surprise to find a thriving village in such a remote location. Wonderful scenery all the way to Hamn i Senja. An idyllic, relaxing place – fantastic apartment with lovely outlook, midnight sun etc but possibly not so good in poor weather so a bit of a lottery (which we won this time). After a night marred only by a noisy drunken group from Bergen at 3-5am we had a beautiful hike up Sukkertoppen and a lovely relaxing afternoon/evening. The sea is very cold but we did have a swim.
Day 4: ferry to Andenes then a trip with Seasafari Andenes to look for whales. I can really recommend them; fantastic trip. They had a call from a local photographer who had seen a humpback in the fjord so we didn’t go to Bleik canyon for the sperm whales but followed this whale along out to sea. They were very respectful of the whale and kept their distance but it nevertheless came to us and swam under the RIB. The Spanish and French whale researchers were super enthusiastic which added to the experience. Great soup and bread on our return. Stayed in Andenes Rorbuhotell.
Day 5-6: Off to Myre via a dentist in Sortland for my husband’s lost filling! She was very good and we were stunned to find that private dental treatment is much much cheaper in Norway than in the UK. We stayed at a charming little campsite in Oppmyre – friendly and clean with excellent kitchen facilities. We had a small double room (bunks) which was only 300 NOK, the cheapest accommodation we have seen in Norway and incredibly good value. We liked the Myre area – peaceful and scenic. On day 6 we drove to Stø and did the Dronningruta hike; definitely in my top 3 hikes ever. Quite up and down and a rocky path so typically Norwegian. Then we went out in a RIB (sunny and very windy) from Stø Bobilcamp to see the birds on Anda island – puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots and more. I would love to return to Stø as it’s a beautiful place and the people are so warm and friendly.
Day 7-8: Kabelvåg hostel. Another scenic drive to Lofoten. We wandered around Henningsvær and Svolvær and booked a boat trip for following day. The summer hostel is in a “folkehøgskole” and very comfortable. On day 8 we did the trip to Trollfjord in the morning with a nice group of Spaniards and caught fish/saw sea eagles etc. Beautiful sunny day helped. After that we walked up Tuva for yet another fabulous view.
Day 9-11 Eliassen hostel. We visited the Krigsminne museum in Svolvær before setting off which was fascinating. The weather started to get a bit changeable so I don’t think Hamnøy appeared to its best advantage but it was still a great place. And I have seen the pictures when it is sunny! We went food shopping then had a bit of a rest. The next day we went up Reinebringen – predictably fab views and really worth the steepish climb. Then on to Å in the sunshine before being picked up in Hamnøy for a RIB trip to Refsvika caves. This was a highlight of the holiday – we had expected a bit of rain but the evening turned out fine and the trip was wonderful. We saw loads of sea eagles, the “maelstrom”, the deserted villages and the caves; our guide was brilliant, the scenery beautiful and the others on our trip were really interesting to talk to. We tasted stockfish (I was surprised that I really liked it!) and were given a kuksa (wooden cup) which I was especially pleased about as I had coveted one whilst in Finland but my OH had talked me out of buying! All in all a fantastic evening.
On day 11 it was rainy but by the time we got through the roadworks it had cheered up. We walked to Mulstoa then on to the hike to Kvalvika beach – stunning location. We went up Ryten, well worth it for the views and a lovely grassy summit, then past Fredvanghytte for a good circular walk. We were impressed with the hytte and think it would be a great place to stay.
Day12-13 Stamsund hostel. Another great location! We visited the excellent Viking museum at Borg en route (axe throwing, bows and arrows etc but sadly not enough manpower to go out in the Viking boat!) and walked by a stormy sea at Eggum (great sculpture) and got a happy phone call from our son to say he got a first in his finals which felt very odd as we were in such a remote place. The weather had deteriorated so we didn’t do our planned hike as it was cloudy but had an enjoyable time pottering around, making cakes, attempting to fish and spent a surprisingly entertaining 30 minutes watching Hurtigruten docking and unloading. We also saw some cars doing the Baltic Sea Circle Rally which looked fun.
Day 14 We drove up to Harstad which although busy (well compared to where we had been!) we liked very much for its setting. I dropped my husband off in town and he had a pleasant time on the quay in the sun while I went to the very interesting Historiske Senter on the lovely Trondenes peninsula. He then joined me for our tour of the Adolfkanonen – amazingly interesting with a guide who was a real enthusiast (80 NOK cash, just turn up in the car park but you do need a car). It’s incredible to see the level of organisation and expertise the Germans had in the war. It had turned cold and windy by then which made me think how harsh it must have been for the poor Russian POWs there.
We stayed at the Clarion Arcticus hotel which was simply excellent.
Day 15 Back to Tromsø – great drive; we could see weather systems coming in but had the sun for a couple of hours then sleet – down to 2°C as we drove through the mountains! I guess maybe typical Norwegian summer weather. Although I gather summer 2014 was pretty good; we picked the 2 weeks with a few cooler days). We had time to shop and visit the excellent Polar museum and MS Polstjerna. The schools had just broken up so it seemed very busy on the roads as people set off on holiday. The 42 bus to the airport took us along the tunnel system – impressive to see a big roundabout underground.
I was sad to fly back south into the darkness - I loved the 24 hour sunlight. Northern Norway is so beautiful and there is so much more to see - a month would have been better than 2 weeks! I hope we will return one day soon.