Some time ago, while we were sitting together at dinner with our families, my friend Massi threw on the table the idea of a trip to Norway in winter. He had already been to that country in summer, years ago, and found it wonderful. I had never been there and, if you know me even a little bit, you know that the prospect of a trip to a place I’ve never been before is like the sirens’ call, utterly irresistible.
Of course, I immediately said yes and we started planning and scheming. Our first idea was to go to the Lofoten archipelago, but that turned out to be a bit impractical, as we couldn’t take too many days off work at that time of the year and getting to Lofoten from Italy takes just too much time: you have to take two or three flights to get to Bodø and then a ferry to Moskenes. The problem is that there aren’t many flights and even fewer ferry rides in winter, so we’d have ended up wasting two days just to get there and two more days to get back home. We will go to Lofoten, possibly next year, but we will need more off days to make it worthwhile.
Having put Lofoten in the back burner, we started searching for alternatives and found out that we could fly more or less conveniently to Tromsø instead. Besides being hailed as the Northern Lights capital of Europe, Tromsø is reasonably close to some interesting places, including the Senja island, about which I had heard great things from my friends Thomas Paris and Lorenzo Montezemolo. We could basically fly to Tromsø via Oslo in the afternoon, stay one night there, and get a fast boat to Senja in the early morning, thereby getting to destination in less than 24 hours. Not exactly a walk in the park, but doable.
We also found an apartment on AirBnb in the small village of Steinfjord, about 50km from the port of Finnsnes, where the boats from Tromsø stop and where we rented a car from the local AVIS office.
The good, the bad, and the awesome
If you have seen any photos from Lofoten, you know it’s pretty darn awesome. If you haven’t, you might want to get one of the books by Cody Duncan. I wasn’t certainly expecting that level of awesomeness from Senja, but I have to say it’s not too shabby. It’s got some fantastic landscapes of its own, to be honest. Check out the photos below for some examples.
They say that Senja is like Norway in miniature, because it encompasses all the landscapes of Norway in one island. I can’t certainly vouch for that, since I haven’t seen the rest of Norway, but it certainly has lots of variety, from gently rolling hills to fjords surrounded by steep and jagged mountains.
We had some mixed luck with the meteo. We only lost one day to bad weather, but when you only have four days, that’s 25% of your time spent inside, reading books, watching TV, and surfing the web. We could have had it worse, though, so I’m not complaining. When we had light, it was the great light of the North I had come to expect.
We also had zero luck with the northern lights. At least, we didn’t see anything with the naked eye, even though our cameras were able to capture something that could be enhanced with a judicious use of post-processing tools.