Christmas in Norway – Part 2

Originally I thought I could condense this into one blog post, but I wanted to really do the trip justice so here you go, part 2!

Alta

On December 26th, we headed to Alta, a 30 minute flight inland (east). Our tiny propellor plane had about 8 passengers on board and I thought I was going to be terrified.

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Actually, it wasn’t that bad and because we didn’t go up that high we could see the beautiful scenery the whole flight. We landed at the Alta airport that only had one baggage claim and took a cab to our next destination: Trasti & Trine’s Lodge. Upon arrival, we couldn’t figure out where to go. The place was like a mini resort / B&B set in the woods with several buildings and a huge dog yard.

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Finally we found Johnny the owner, and he took us to our lodge, right in the middle of the action. It had 5 bedrooms and slept a tiny army but it was also perfect for the two of us. And someone had built a cute lil snowman out front.

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Because we hadn’t eaten lunch yet and there wasn’t much around we asked Johnny if we could get lunch at the restaurant. There’s only one item on the menu, reindeer soup, but it was really good. After lunch, to get our bearings of the place, we did a little exploring and walked to the Alta river, which apparently is famous for its Salmon fishing in the summer.

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When we made it back to the Lodge, it was chaos.ย  A cruise ship tour of 42 people was coming to the lodge to do dog sledding and it was all hands on deck to prepare for them.

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It was so fun to watch the guides put the harnesses on the dogs and line them up for departure. The dogs were so excited to go for the runs. Tyler and I retired to our lodge once it got dark around 2pm and Tyler made a fire in the wood burning oven thingy.

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We played some card games and found their copy of Sequence. I got to show Tyler how to play a game that I had played several times growing up. He loved it and insisted we should buy it when we got back to Amsterdam.

For dinner, we walked back across the snow to the restaurant and we were the only people dining. We had halibut with potatoes and veggies with a really good dessert, and of course some wine.

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On the 100 meter walk back to our cabin after dinner, we looked up in the sky and saw the Northern Lights! Right there at the resort.

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We ran inside and put on warmer clothes and grabbed the camera and headed into the woods. It was just as intense as it had been in Tromso.

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This time we know how to work the camera better and caught some of the pink in photos.

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It was so cool to see them again especially when it was unexpected because it was only like 8:30.

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We stayed in the woods for a while admiring the lights and then went back to our cabin to play some more games. We kept glancing out the windows every so often, but the lights didn’t appear again.

The next day was probably the most fun day of our entire trip. For our dog sledding adventure, we were paired up with Jason, a native Englishman as our guide, and it was just the three of us in the -20* C weather. He gave us instructions and set us loose. The first step was assembling our team. Armed with a card with the names of my dogs, I set off to harness the first one. Stephy was a sweet black and brown littler husky and she let me put her harness on with no trouble. Koren and Maisje were equally as sweet and were no trouble. Then I tried to wrangle Roggo. He was the alpha male of the group and all white. He was more interested in jumping up to hug me and get in his harness. I finally got him though and led all my babes to the sled. Which Roggo promptly relieved himself on. They were SO excited. They kept jumping up and barking and wanted to run.

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We took off on a 25km loop around the forest. It was amazing to go through the trees and along the river and through the clearings. The dogs wanted to go so fast and it was a little scary when we would go down hills and you had to put the breaks on so they wouldn’t get out of control. My dogs also kept trying to pass our leader’s dogs because they let us use the racing dogs.

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On one particularly steep hill, I tried to turn too quickly and my sled rolled over. I was still holding on as my dogs started running off. They realized I had fallen over when Jason yelled at them to stop and they started rolling around in the snow.

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After we assembled again it was smooth sailing for a while until out of nowhere came a rock and I was on the ground again. I blame that fall on the fact that I couldn’t feel my hands. We stopped to take a few pictures and because I was afraid of frostbite, we headed back in to warm our bones and have some lunch.

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During lunch, Jason told us all about dog sled racing. He’s taking a team of the younger dogs on a 500 km race in January to train them for the big event, the 1200km race in 2019. They go for a whole week and the owners of the lodge participate every year and have won a few times. He told us that some of the dogs don’t like to race so you have to pick the ones that have the discipline.

After lunch, we suited back up in all of our layers of clothes and the warm suits and this time I put on some serious gloves that looked like oven mitts. By this time (2pm) it was dark outside and we had to wear headlamps. One of my dogs was being used on another tour so Trine told me to take Pudding, who was pissed that she had to go. She wouldn’t get in the harness and on the whole ride she was slacking. Tyler had the opposite problem and got a super rowdy group of dogs that pulled him super fast.

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I think I enjoyed the night ride maybe even more than the day. It was so peaceful out in the woods and the snow sparkled off the headlamps like diamonds. We were just doing loops near the place so we could go back if we wanted to and I started to get familiar with the course, knowing when to lean, when to duck under the branches, and when to put all of my weight on the breaks when we were going down a steep hill. Tyler didn’t get the memo though and went down a hill too fast and tipped his sled over. I didn’t realize he had fallen until his dogs passed me and I had to grab them. We all got a good laugh.

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On our night ride was saw a moose that was maybe 20 meters away. We saw it quickly, so we did another loop and got a better look at it. Later Jason told us he was afraid the moose was going to charge at us. Glad it didn’t.

I wish I had more pictures because it was truly an incredible experience to zip through the trees on the snow with the bright moon and stars overhead. Sometimes you even get lucky enough to see NL, but we didn’t on this trip. I was fine with that though because I enjoyed it immensely. Once we got back we took our dogs back to their houses and spent about an hour playing with the other dogs.

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I became best friends with Slippers who kept jumping up to give me hugs.

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We also met the latest group of puppies who were 6 months old: Brad Pitt, Channing Tatum, George Clooney, and… Bacon.

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Bacon was unplanned.

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Bacon was unplanned.

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We finished the night with a three course dinner of duck, reindeer and chocolate in the restaurant with a night cap of more card / Sequence playing.

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We woke up well rested and played with the dogs before going to the nearby ice hotel to do some reindeer sledding. Reindeer sledding is nothing like dog sledding. The reindeer are not well behaved and they do not want to be pulling sleds.

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The guy that was pulling ours we nicknamed Trouble.

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He kept trying to run ahead of the sled in front us us and tip us over. We knew from the start we were doomed when he refused to put his harness on. The guide later told us that Trouble was new at this.

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It was a short, but hilarious ride to the lavvu where we met a Sami. Sami are the indigenous locals of Norway and other areas of the north.

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He was dressed in a traditional outfit and we sat around the campfire inside the teepee asking him questions about his culture and job as a reindeer herder.

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I thought it was cool, Tyler thought it was weird.

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We weren’t there for too long before we had to get back into our reindeer sled to head back to the hotel. Trouble was a little better behaved on the ride back, but still reckless.

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After the reindeer sledding, we wandered around the ice hotel. It was one of the first hotels made entirely out of ice in the world and each year they redo it with a different theme.

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The theme this year was vikings and there were very intricate sculptures.

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Included in the hotel was a chapel where you could get married and of course and ice bar.

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I don’t think I would have wanted to stay in the hotel because it was cold AF, but some of the rooms were pretty incredible.

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For our last night in Alta, we enjoyed a dinner again at the restaurant and settled in to play more cards. Tyler checked the radar and saw that the skies were clear, so we went in search of one more night of lights. We walked along the road to an area of the woods that was dark. We saw the lights again.

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They were really intense and we saw them dance across the sky one last time.

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It is truly a magical experience that you should go see for yourself!

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We snapped a few more pictures before we got too cold and headed back to the lodge.

Oslo

Our last stop of the trip was Oslo. Unfortunately, we were only there for a short one night layover because of flight options, but we plan to go back to Oslo during the summer when the sun is up until midnight. It was nice to get back to civilization, and we checked out a few cocktail bars, one of which made the Top 100 Cocktail Bars in the World list, Himkok. It was a funky bar with serpent heads everywhere. And apparently it’s also a distillery and they make their own Vodka, Gin, Aquavit and mystery liquor.

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We had one last fancy dinner to cap off our trip at an old Monastery, called Klosteret.

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It was another preset tasting menu which several delicious courses. No reindeer this time.


I really liked what I saw of Oslo and it kind of reminded me of Copenhagen. I’m excited to explore it more on our next time around.

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I’m excited for all of the trips to come this year, but it’s going to be hard to top this one!

Recommendations:

Tromso:
Pukka travels – we booked all of our tours through Pukka. They were really helpful and provided a good mix of different options. When they had to cancel the snowmobile they let us book the snowshoe tour for no extra cost. They also were upfront and said that we wouldn’t be able to see whales on the tour and rebooked us with a larger boat. Definitely do a Northern Lights excursion while here, or rent a car and check it out on your own!
Huken – gezellig little pub

Alta:
Trasti & Trine Lodge – this was seriously one of the coolest places we have ever stayed. It was a family run B&B and they were very accommodating and the food was always delicious. If you want to stay closer into town, that’s also an option, but then you should really come to the lodge and do a dog sledding day, you won’t be disappointed!
Ice hotel – very cool (literally) to visit, but the food wasn’t great and from what we heard from some of the guests, I wouldn’t recommend staying there. We did the reindeer sledding through the ice hotel and it was an adventure!

Oslo:
Grand Hotel Oslo – beautiful hotel with amazing rooms and bar, it was a shame we were only there for a short time
Torggata Botaniske – cute cocktail bar with vines growing across the ceiling
Himkok – the serpant bar, listed in the top 100 cocktail bars in the world

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My mom always likes to see pictures of the different currencies, so I thought I’d pop this pic in here.
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