Sleeping In My First Snow Hotel

Have you eSnow Hotelver wondered how you ended up here… right now?

I do.

Often… and last night was one of those times!

It was 11:08pm and I was completely cocooned in my sleeping bag on my ice bed, in my -4C bedroom inside the Snow Hotel at Kirkenes, Norway.

I’d layered up from thermals to extra socksCocooned-A but also decided to add the extra extra socks and balaclava the hotel offered.. yes, that special touch, just for the crazies who thought this might be a good idea! My trusty, old long mittens were stretched to my elbows and I’d pulled my beanie over the balaclava… just in case! The hotel then proffered a huge sack like sheet… just like those ones we used for sack races when I was a kid, only bigger and softer… with the instruction to slip into it before slipping your sheet and self into an outdoors survival sleeping bag.

Our clothes for the next day had been rolled and placed into the foot of the bag so they’d be warm and dry in the the morning and my toes now reassuringly felt for them through the ‘layer-up-on-layer’ of socks. We’d also been advised that those that couldn’t make it through the night could head up to a heated lounge room at any time… but I wasn’t going to disappoint myself by even considering that as an option!

My-room-in-the-Snow-Hotel-1So here I lay in my Nordic cocoon peering out at the soft red glow.. reminiscent of Amsterdam windows.. of the backlit, princess ice sculpture etched into the snowy walls of my ice cavern room.

Why was I here?

Why would a moment of insanity convince me this was going to Ice Bar warmerbe fun?

Well, I believe that moment is caused by BBC…yes, Baby Boomer Consumerism… but we now have a newly adapted version!

My generation no longer collects material objects for instant gratification but instead, we collect experiences!

Yes, we do!

Who over 45 doesn’t have a Bucket List?

But this nRelief Ice Sulptureew BBC is more ideologically sound, reinvented and adapted to be guilt free. We are taking on the world and typical of BBs, it is bigger and better than ever and I have named it our ‘Boomer Idealogical Guilt Free Adapted Reinvented Consumer Experience’…

Yess! It’s finally here!

…it’s BIGFARCE!

We don’t need to have a problem with this change from objects to experiences at all because now we collect our experiences with responsibility so we are able to contribute back to society. We can learn from all our experiences about how other cultures live and  think… by walking in the shoes of strangers and tasting the temptations within their lives; by understanding and caring about their back stories and not just their backlights; by identifying our strengths or biases we can develop our intercultural capacity and contribute back to the good of humanity and our collective growth.

So here I was,Snow Hotel entrance lying on my ice bed determined to sleep there for the whole night and contribute this latest experience in my collection.

  • I was feeling the cold on my face and gauging my strengths.
  • I was developing our intercultural capacity by wondering how many shots were consumed in an ice bar by the crazy Norwegian who first thought this would be a good idea.
  • I had informed friends on social networks for the benefit of our collective growth.

But in the dark, what I truthfully realised was…

…. I was just ticking off #9 on Fiona’s Bucket List!

Onboard a Working Ship

Stopover According to legend, the name Norway comes from an old norse word Norðrvegr and means “the way north”.

This name was given to the long, craggy coast because it was largely ice-free in the wintertime.

Yesterday, we joined a Hurtigruten ship for a couple of nights cruising across the Arctic Circle from Tromso to Kirhurtigruten-route-map arctic circlekenes. These ships have been carrying local passengers and freight between towns and villages since 1893 and they’re still considered an integral part of Norway’s coastal life. Since boarding we have also been closely following the coast and at various times I’d wake throughout the night and peer out my cabin window and across the icy water to just look at what I imagined would be an empty, icy wasteland… but to my surprise, I saw lights, fairly regularly… yes, people living here!

Can you imagine?

CoastlineI might be making one of those crazy cultural assumptions… like someone who visits Australia and expects to see kangaroos hopping down our city streets.. but when I look at this amazing coastline, I’m guessing it must be one of the most inhospitable and harsh environments on our planet, and yet, people are thriving here, healthily and very happily.

Our ship, the Kong Harald, is apparently a working ship and so I thought we should commit to this new found, Nordic ethos and work hard too… because as all good Aussie Baby Boomers know… life wasn’t meant to be easy!

Fiona Welcome drinkOur first task I set us on board, contained several sections: find a bar; decipher all the unknown choices on the wine list; contrast a lighter Portuguese red with a slightly heavier Italian; make a choice and finish our first welcome drink onboard. Tick.

Our second task was much harder because of all the decisions needed to struggle through and complete it fully. Should I have salmon again for the third time today? Are pickled herrings really a Norwegian Masterchef moment? How many unknown, runny, ripe cheeses can one fit on a platter? How many laps of a ship are mandatory to fit in any of the deliciousness lying in wait at the dessert bar? Yes, you can only imagine how hard we worked at this… but we managed. Tick. Viewing Deck

Our third and final task was thankfully a little easier: find our way to the viewing deck; snare two really comfy lounge chairs together in front of our own huge window; put our feet up; order a well deserved nightcap and discuss our excursion tomorrow to the North Cape. Tick.

 

In the beginning, there was Tromso!

Well isn’t Tromso in Norway a delightful little surprise!!
I had never heard of this pTromso northern lightslace before (well, have you??) … but after being inspired by yet another travel show, I found so many reasons to visit:
* I wanted to catch a slow boat north to see the awesome coastline of the Vikings.
* I thought it would be fun to say daily “Winter is coming, John Snow!”
* I needed to visit a place so contrasting to where I have lived my entire life and know that others live quite happily never seeing 40C on a temperature gauge.
* I wanted to know what it’s like to stand amidst the giant, healthy, blonde skiers who win at the Winter Olympics.. just like Aussies used to do at the Summer ones!
* It seemed a good idea to literally chill in a happy land of never ending, snowy Christmases imagined from old English postcards
However, mostly, I just wanted to see the Northern Lights and Tromso is our starting point to see them but before we board our slow boat tomorrow, I thought we should explore and find out more about this buzzing little metropolis.

Tromso Facts we found out today:
* It’s a lovely, modern little city with about 72000 friendly people living here. This friendliness was proven today by the quietly spoken, local peacemaker who courageously interrupted our argument at the bus stop to offer the correct directions.
* It’s the ‘ArFiona and Arctic Cathedral 2ctic Gate’, frequented by heroes like Amundsen and just over 2000 kms from the North Pole… that’s Sydney to Townsville or Adelaide to Brissie and quite a doable road trip with good music, good company and a good red!
* It has the world’s most northerly university, beer brewery and cathedral and toarctic cathedralday we visited two of those on the number 34 and 24 bus.
* It’s ‘Arctic Cathedral’ is the most famous landmark in town and is a masterpiece in the shape of an iceberg. It is often referred to as the ‘opera house of Norway’ comparing it to the Sydney Opera House… I’m now feeling very ‘at home’.

Takk Tromsø
Thanks Tromso!