Hitchhiking from Northern Sweden to Norway: Abisko-Tromsø

Well, well, well. It’s been a while (!) since I last wrote anything here – all my writing energy was spent on my Bachelor’s thesis. But now that I’ve wrapped up that project, it’s time to finally finish the grand Kungsleden saga. At the end of our hike, we hitchhiked from Abisko to Tromsø, where we rested for a couple of nights before flying back home to our beloved Turku.

Day 7 Continues: Hitchhiking from Abisko to Tromsø

Due to its sparse population and even sparser traffic, it’s easy to assume Northern Sweden would make for terrible hitchhiking territory. However, in our experience it was quite the opposite: our journey from Sweden to Norway was smooth and comfortable. It is possible to catch a train or bus from Abisko to Narvik, and a connecting bus from Narvik to Tromsø. The total price would be around 45-60 EUR per person, and there’s only a handful of daily connections. We managed to save both time and money by hitchhiking.

In the afternoon we left the Abisko mountain station and positioned ourselves by the only road (E10) leading to Narvik, Norway. It didn’t take long for us to catch the first of our four rides, when a father-daughter duo picked us up and dropped us off at the next village, 10 km closer to our destination. In Björkliden we kept our thumbs up for twenty long minutes until a young Norwegian woman stopped her car and told us to get in. Right before the Norwegian border, we stopped for some last-minute grocery shopping before continuing all the way to Bjerkvik, Norway.

There’s a perfect hitchhiking spot right next to the Esso in Bjerkvik, where cars heading north slowly exit a traffic circle to get on the E6. Before we knew it, an older Norwegian gentleman had picked us up and taken us all the way to Nordkjosbotn. On our way he stopped for gas and bought a coffee for Chef and, upon hearing I’m not a fan of coffee, a chocolate bar for me. :) At this point, Mister D. texted Chef to let us know he had made it to Abisko and was ready to party. Sorry D., too late! We were long gone by then. We did invite him to visit us in Turku so we could celebrate again together, but so far he hasn’t taken us up on our offer.

IMG_4287Hitchhiking views in Nordkjosbotn – Santa biking in the river?

Our final hitching spot was where the E6 ends and meets the E8. Again, we were soon picked up by a man from Tromsø who took us all the way to the campground parking lot! His own house was located a bit outside the city, but he said he was happy to make the extra five-kilometre drive for us. He had also used to hitchhike when was younger and wanted to pay it forward. Feeling extremely grateful, we accepted his offer and finally made it to Tromsø Camping, where we put up our tent in the dark. Our plans for the rest of the evening only included a meal and a hot shower, oh the luxury!

Day 8: Touring Tromsø

During the past week, our towels hadn’t completely dried up even once, and on the eighth day our clothes, too, began to exude a hint of an exotic aroma. We decided to make full use of the campground facilities and do a load of laundry while having breakfast. Washing one load cost a whopping 10 EUR, but a clean set of clothes would be worth it. Unfortunately, the price didn’t include any washing detergent! Figuring that a wash without detergent would be better than no wash at all, we put all our textiles through the washer and dryer. Another mistake! The rotten aroma of dirty towels emanating from the dryer filled the entire room and lingered in the air long after we had already slinked away in shame (I checked later). Sorryyyy.

IMG_4335View from the Tromsø bridge connecting the mainland to the city centreIMG_4339Arctic Cathedral

Unwilling to let the laundry disaster discourage us, we set out for the sights and walked a couple kilometres from the camping to the city centre. Chef had managed to break the frames of his glasses, so we visited the first optician we spotted on our way. They just happened to be celebrating 50 years in business, so we got to enjoy some cake and refreshments while waiting for the glasses to be repaired. Perfect timing!

IMG_4328Hustle and bustle in the city centreIMG_4332Feathered street patrolIMG_4330

The cake made for an excellent appetiser before lunch, which was our only chance of eating out budget-wise. We chose the cosy-looking Emma’s Dream Kitchen, where Chef got a taste of whale and I ended up with a fish dish. After this welcome break, we rolled on. Literally.

emmasEmmas Drømmekjøkken

IMG_4308Lunch à la Polaria

The obligatory sights in Tromsø include both the aquarium Polaria and the beer hall of Mack brewery, and naturally we checked both off our list. At Mack’s, Chef ordered the tasting menu which included six (I think?) varieties of beer, while I focused on emptying my pint of cider. Fortunately, we made it to the pub about half an hour before a busload of loud Germans arrived, otherwise it would have been nearly impossible to look around and take in all the decorations.
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mackBetter advice for Norway: “keep your life savings, drink water”. Compared to the price list from 1939, the cost of getting wasted had risen ever-so-slightly :)

To finish off the day, we headed to the final, obligatory tourist destination: the Fjellheisen cable car takes visitors to a viewpoint 421 metres above the sea, which boasts terrific views over the city and the surrounding mountain ranges. Once again, our timing was perfect to enjoy the glorious sunset. Unfortunately, I’m not good enough at photography to really do any justice for the majestic natural spectacle we got to experience, but it was definitely worth the price of the cable car ticket (~19 EUR). An excellent end to an excellent trip!

IMG_4350Happy campers. Notice the snack chocolate peeking out of my pocket :D
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