Northern Norway: Day 5: Alta-Tromso

This was the day when we changed a lot of our travel plans and it turned out to be the best decision of the entire trip. We woke up into a cold and rainy day, so all possible warm and rainproof clothes on and off we go. The idea was to drive approx. 400km from Alta to Tromsø mostly following the coast line.

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Original plan for driving from Alta to Tromso

We took off feeling fine because while it was cloudy, it wasn’t raining.

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On the way
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Mountains

Quite soon we noticed that the clouds were really low.

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Rather cloudy

I didn’t think that mattered for us, but boy, was I proven wrong! The road went so that first it climbs up a mountain and then comes down again. And this is repeated time and time again. While driving close to the sea level the temperature was quite alright and the visibility was good, but when the road climbed high enough to hit the clouds, the visibility dropped to 10-20 meters, the road was wet and slippery, it was freaking cold and the humidity formed a cloudy film on the visor so that you couldn’t see anything. In addition to this it intermittently rained. Let’s just say that with my limited driving skills I had to congratulate myself for getting down from that damn mountain at all and not ending up riding off a cliff. Before this trip I have ridden maybe a thousand kilometers on a bike in total, so these weather conditions combined with the winding roads and bad visibility was something of an experience. In addition to this my hands were so frozen that I could barely feel the clutch or brake levers.

I’ve always been sceptical about buying biking gear because it has some special and amazing feature x, which makes the gear super special, but now I had to admit that there is some truth to it. Before the trip we got me a new pair of riding gloves with a rubber wiper on the left glove for wiping the visor. It was a life saver in the situation described above as thanks to it I could actually see a bit better where I was going.

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Gloves

This lasted for about a couple of hours and we were completely fed up with the entire situation. We stopped for gas and to check how much longer do we have to take this. The GPS on the mobile phone only suggested the road with two ferry trips and didn’t suggest the original route I checked from Google maps at all. Of course we weren’t prepared for this and had absolutely no idea of ferry schedules or prices, but because the road went past Olderdalen anyway, we decided to stop and check whether the ferry was leaving soon and if yes, then we would choose the ferry instead.

Vaihtoehtoinen reitti Tromssaan
An alternative route to Tromsø

So we drove to Olderdalen and just when we were arriving we saw a ferry arriving from the sea. We just drive directly onto the ferry. Afterwards I checked how often do these ferries go and it seems that about once an hour, so we had amazing luck with our timing.

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Schedule Olderdalen-Lyngseidet

So we basically got to drive directly onto the ferry. There were quite a lot of cars and motor homes ahead of us and I don’t think that all of them fit into the ferry. There were a few other bikes and I got a feeling that we were favored in this weather and they let us drive past the line. There was a guy going along the line with a payment terminal, so you could pay for the trip either with cash or credit card. For two people and two bikes the ferry from Olderdalen to Lyngseidet cost 154 NOK (approx. 19€). Overall during this road trip many ferries had special places reserved for bikes, but this one didn’t. There were also no ropes to tie the bike, but the sea was calm and there wasn’t any risk of bike falling over.

When we got to Lyngseidet, we just started driving 22km directly from one ferry to the next in Svensby. We assumed that the ferry schedule would be matched, so that from one you could get to the other on time if it’s not already full. This time we got lucky as well and we drove directly onto the next ferry and there was enough space. There were us and a couple of other bikes, who entered last onto the ferry. This ferry cost for two people and two bikes 122 NOK (approx. 15€).

The schedule for the second ferry is similar i.e. it goes approximately once per hour.

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Schedule Svensby-Breivikeidet

When we got off the second ferry, there were only 50km left and we were really happy that we could shorten the trip by 80km by taking the two ferries. I also felt lucky that we had a hotel booked in Tromsø, so we could get into a hot shower immediately. 🙂

We stopped once on the last leg of the trip and as you can see the weather hasn’t changed a bit and the clouds were still really low.

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On the way to Tromsø

In Tromsø we had booked Thon Hotel Polar, which turned out to be a budget version of the “real” Thon hotel, which situated across the street. Budget or not, the hotel was really good and the breakfast was part of the price. The room cost 895 NOK, so approx. 112€.

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Thon Hotel Polar
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Thon Hotel Polar
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Thon Hotel Polar

I asked the reception about parking for the bikes and for some reason they advised to park in an underground parking 50m from the hotel even though there was a parking garage right across the hotel. We drove to the parking garage advised by the reception, but there were booms and machines, which refuse to accept any of the credit cards we had, so we had no other choice than to back out of that parking garage. There was also an unpaved parking area near the hotel, but we decided to give the parking garage across the hotel a try. It turned out to be very small and over half of the parking spots were assigned, but we managed to find a parking spot and we could fit two bikes into one spot just fine. So the 24h parking cost 100 NOK (approx. 12€).

After a long hot shower we went to find some food in Tromsø. Our goal was to eat at Emma’s Drommekjokken, but it was fully booked for the evening, so we walked around a bit and ended up eating in Grunder Cafe & Bar, which served decent hamburgers. Two hamburgers, a beer, glass of wine and two Cokes cost 648 NOK (approx. 80€), so the price-quality ration wasn’t the best in this case even though the food was ok.

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Grunder Cafe & Bar

We walked around Tromsø for a little bit, which turned out to be a real city. 🙂 A lot of places were closed already, so we decided to go and relax in the hotel after a difficult day and maybe leave sightseeing for the next day.

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Tromsø

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Tromsø bridge
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Tromsø

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