Snow Hotel

Well here we are back in Oslo for the night before flying to Copenhagen. Must teMll you about the Snow Hotel. A massive structure built entirely out of snow. You enter a large dome shaped space with armchair  built of ice with a reindeer hide thrown over. after, it was -10 outside and a pleasant -4 inside, it felt quite warm. There are 25 rooms, all about 5 metre domes and all have different themes, and to satisfy OHS requirements, all have working smoke alarms. They walk you  to the end where there is a door and warmth inside and issue you a sleeping bag, which is good for -30 they tell us, and a cotton liner, for hygienic reasons.

We had a 3 course meal, the entrée was reindeer tartar, which was a first for me, and I couldn’t finish. Then a local fish dish followed by, you guessed it, ice cream. We were ten invited to the snow bar for a drink before heading down to our rooms.

After the dinner room it was quite cool in our bedrooms. Kay undressed and climbed into her sleeping bag and I climbed into nine, after the photo. It was cool and claustrophobic, with just the nose exposed. Soon it warmed up but the snug fit made it almost impossible to move around. It took a while to get accustomed to the tight sleeping bag, and would not have been suitable for a bit of the you know what. We somehow managed to survive the night, and I don’t know how we held on for the whole night, but hang on we did, staying there along with most of the other guests until 7am. Had a light breakfast and coffee before catching the bus back to Kirkeness. It was certainly an experience but wouldn’t do again even if I had the opportunity, and for free.

Northern lights 04
Northern lights at Snow Hotel
Kay at the entrance to snow hotel
Pre dinner drinks in the comfortable ice chairs
Room 25 The Marilyn Munroe Suite
Kay about to enter room 18
Room 18, the Viking Suite, home sweet home
I’m still a little bit doubtful about it all
Kay about to call it a night


Could have spent the night in one of these



Our second day on the Nordkapp, stops at several ports along the way, why anyone would live there beggars belief, but I guess someone has to keep the north functioning.  endless vistas of snow covered granite outcrops  plunging into the Artic ocean and the occasional dwelling.

After dinner, about 8 pm an announcement that northern lights have been sighted. There is a mad scramble for cameras etc and rush onto the deck. Words cannot describe, or photographs do justice to the amazing sights. Across the whole sky were the northern lights, cross one off the bucket list. Moving veils of green fill the sky, new splashes appear and disappear in quick succession to the ooohs and ahhhhs of the passengers, ignoring the icy wind and ice covered decks.

The photographs do not reflect the scale or majesty of what I witnessed. To take time lapse photo on a moving ship is going to result in out of focus images, but you do what you can.

The main thing is that we actually experienced the northern lights, and it was sensational.

The next morning we arrived in Kirkenes, 2.5 sq km, pop about 4000, and thousands of Japanese tourists, 400 km north of artic circle, 7 km from Russian border and 30 km from Finish border and we were welcomed with a temperature of -12 degrees. Can’t wait to try out the Snow Hotel tomorrow,

A couple of Chinese tourists trying to photograph northern lights
Northern lights 1
Northern Lights 2
Northern Lights 3
Fishing boats on the way to Kirkenes
Town in northern Norway
A port on the trip to Kirkenes, every one has its own snow showfield
Kirkenes as viewed from hotel Thon window
A street in the shopping centre of Kirkenes

Tromso and Nordkapp

Artic Superior Cabin
Artic Superior Cabin on 6th deck

After the very sad event we have decided to continue with the blog of our trip. I know mum would have wanted us to continue and I’m dedicating the rest of the trip to her memory

We caught a flight from Oslo to Tromso, leaving an hour late and after a 2 hour flight we arrived in Tromso about 3 pm, around sunset. We had a few hours before meeting our driver and 3 other adventurers to catch the northern lights. It was cloudy around Tromso so our driver headed inland. After a couple of hours we arrived at the Finland border-still cloudy so we pressed further. Another hour and the sky cleared and we saw stars. We stopped and noted the temp was a brisk -26, a couple of degrees cooler than your average freezer. It was very difficult to operate at this temperature and the tiny green light we saw was very disappointing. We gave up after and started the 3 hour drive back to Tromso arriving after 3am.

We slept in and after breakfast walked around Tromso and enjoyed a few refreshing drinks before catching the Nordkapp, one of the Hurtigruten line of ships that ply up and down the Norwegian coast. Those of us who remember Douglas Adams novel “the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” will remember Slartiartfast as the designer of the fiords of Norway. I must say that he has created a fabulous coastline

Cabin was OK but rocking motion took getting used to. Breakfast was delicious and the view were stunning. More to follow.

Tromso harbour view
View of Tromso harbour near our Hotel
Our transport for the trip North, the Nordkapp
The Local burger. At 6.15 K to the A$ it worked out at about 19 bucks. 24% GST.!!!!!!!!!!!
Tromso across harbour view
Across the harbour from our hotel
Kay heading North
Kay looking forward to the trip north just leaving Tromso

Pat Czochara 1925-2016

This morning I received some not unexpected, but still very, very sad news. My dear loved mother, at 90 years died peacefully at the home in which she was cared for the past several years. It’s devastating to lose your mother, like someone cuts away a piece of you. I saw her just before we embarked on our trip. We said our goodbyes even though she wasn’t aware of her surroundings or who I was. Nevertheless I felt that she acknowledged and recognised my presence, and that we wouldn’t see each other again in this world. Now I am not religious and personally do not believe in a God/Creator, but mum was a devoted, rusted on catholic, and for her sake I hope I’m wrong and that the god that she believed in and served in this life is now looking after her. Mum is gone but we who knew her and have memories of her she is still with us. Rest in peace.

Wally & Mum


Mary and Mum

Kay and Mum

Norway and Oslo

Banksy on the quay

Alarm went off at 3.30 am for a departure from Dubai at 7.15 am. 7 Hour flight to Oslo across Iran, Caspian sea, southern Russia and Sweden to arrive at 11.30am to a balmy 2 degrees.

Oslo, population of 700,000 has a railway from the airport to the centre of the city, which we took and arrived at hotel; in about 15 minutes. Walked around town and reacquainted ourselves with the main drag after about a 15 year absence. Everything is ruinously expensive. The exchange rate is 6.15 Kroner for an Australian dollar. There is a 24% GST applied to everything, which adds a great deal to the cost of items, including food. Everyone we have met speaks English fluently, puts most of us to shame with our single language culture.

It snowed on the Monday from about lunch time, only a gentle portend of things to come further north. We are moving onto Tromso on Wed morning, a two hour flight and hopefully the northern lights.

yours truly in front of palace
Kay in the main street, Karl Johans gate
Oslo tram
View from Hotel window near National theatre station
Grand Hotel where Nobel prize winners stay