I really like Tromsø, I really, really like Tromsø! Arriving by plane you have a great view of its wonderful location with a backdrop of mountains and the expanse of Arctic Ocean that lies in front. The fantastic thing is that if the Northern Lights fail to put in an appearance you have still seen something breathtakingly beautiful, something special.
The journey down from the airport is short, only 15 minutes by bus, and this is an added bonus for those travellers who have changed flight in Oslo and have therefore been travelling for some time. But hey, this is the Arctic, and surely it should be distant and take a little bit of extra effort to reach?! My hotel, the Scandic Ishavshotel ('Ice Harbour' in Norwegian), has a fabulous location overlooking the ocean with the Arctic Cathedral opposite - except, of course, for the few hours per evening when the Hurtigruten ship docks right outside (see photo). Harbour view rooms are definitely worth the supplement.
Although the hotel has a good a la carte restaurant my guide and friend, G ril, from Northern Norway (Tourist Association), says she wants to take me to a place that has great food and serves the best cakes in northern Norway - the former butcher's shop! Auneg rden turns out to be a real gem. The old butcher's shop has been successfully and sympathetically converted into a cafe and restaurant but retains much of the old shop's original features; meat hooks, keeping cellars and the original wooden and stone walls. Atmospheric in every sense and certainly a lovely place to relax over a glass of wine.......oh, and the food was great too ;-)
A photo of the m.s. Nordnorge, one of the Hurtigruten fleet in Tromsø Harbour outside the Rica Ishavshotel.