The ringing in our ears the next morning indicated that we hadn’t died in our sleep. Hurrah! And to top off the overall success of our night in the arctic, the fire was still roaring away (thanks to the only guy in our tent, Tim, to whom we are forever grateful). Feeling rather proud and perky, we wrestled ourselves out of our cocoons, pulled the boots on over our PJs, and stomped our way to the haven of warmth (aka, the bathroom with heated flooring). After layering and snow-suiting it up again, we headed to the sami tent for a spot of breakfast and a much-needed shot of caffeine.
10am. Dog sledging o’clock.
Vicki asked if we could drive our own sleigh. They agreed. This seemed like a great idea at the time. And then we had our tutorial which last approximately five minutes and concluded thus: – “If you tip the sledge over – and it happens a lot – if you tip it over, do not for the life of you let go of the sledge, because the dogs will continue running and your partner will be dragged with them until they reach the furthest corner of the mountains or the edge of the world. Understood? Good. Off you go then!!’
ERM… and then a little metaphorical poo happened in my pants. Mainly because I was the one sitting in the sledge, and Vicki was the designated driver. Not that I didn’t trust Vicki or anything, but it’s a wee bit unnerving when your life is in the hands (literally) of a driver who freely admits that her hands are numb before the sledging commences. And you’re going to hold on how?!
Anyway, as it turns out, Vicki had to drive the sledge uphill for the most part of her husky experience, which resulted in the following speech pattern:
– “I’m getting tired now!”
– “I don’t think I can push this thing anymore!”
– “It hurts!”
– “I don’t think I can do this anymore!”
– “I can’t… I just can’t…”
Yep, those lines were on repeat for a good half hour. I sat smugly in my snuggy sledge as I took in the sights but, inside, I was shitting it about my turn and tried to convince Vicki to continue as she was doing such a great job:
– “Vicki, do you want to drive back?”
– “F*ck off, Jo!”
Yeah, that didn’t work.
And, as fate would dictate, my drive was all downhill… which basically meant I spent half hour screaming and I’m pretty sure there would have been tears if my tear ducts hadn’t frozen over. Not that I’m a total wimp or anything… but, believe me, it is beyond terrifying when you feel the sledge slowly pulling to one side, seconds away from catastrophe, as you stand with both feet on the brake, desperately willing the death-contraption to slow down, before realising your body weight won’t cut it, the five dogs are stronger than you and that your and your partners life is in their paws.
Was it fun?! Yeah totally! But it was the kinda fun you get from the exhilaration of a close call… like para-shooting, bungee jumping, free-falling, or abseiling… the latter being the only thing I’ve done (at a Girl Guides camp). To toast yet another survival, we had lunch. Finnbiff. I didn’t just sneeze. This a traditional Norwegian dish and looks a bit like this:
Reindeer, mushrooms, creamy sauce, berries, mash potato… It was very tasty and just what the doctor ordered. Warmed our cockles, it did. But… and perhaps this was something to do with the thought of eating a second cousin of Bambi, as opposed to the actual meal… but soon afterwards, I was as sick as a husky. (Fully aware I need to ‘man up’).
Anyhow, we returned to Tromsø sentrum for our final night stay at the Quality Hotel Saga (which was perfectly located, right in the centre, and served the best breakfast of the holiday)… and once I had finished de-reindeering my system (d’oe, oh dear, I hope it wasn’t a female dear), Vicki and I went out to paint the town as red as our little faces. It turns out that all the best restaurants in Tromsø get fully booked way in advance… so, a little heads up here, book a day or so prior. We eventually went to Steakers by the port but by the time we could get a table (9.30pm), we were pretty plastered… because our pre-dinner bar crawl involved the following hip ‘n happening joints: SOLID, Bastard Bar, Blå Rock, and two more that I’ve forgotten. We did not go to Victoria Fun Pub because it did not look fun. Anyway… we had a cracking final night out, even met some of the local film buffs and celebrities who were part of the Tromsø International Film Festival (most of whom were found nurturing a beer at Bastard and Blå).
So would I recommend a Norwegian adventure? Yes, yes, I would. We crammed a lot into the four days but we wouldn’t have done it any other way. The memories will stay with us for a lifetime. We saw the Northern Lights, a shooting star, a hotel made of ice, three hundred huskies and some of the most stunning landscapes the world has to offer… it was like a trip to Narnia, only better. Go! Prosper! But pack thermals!