Present/future Tom here: As you may’ve noticed it’s been a wee while since I’ve managed to get an update out. Internet on the Topdeck tour continued to be dodgy, and I’ve been super busy since then with Moot and Moot by-products. I’m now in Zurich (without my bag, but that’s a story for later) and still busy, but at least have half an hour to sit down with some internet and get a bit of photo uploading done. Now back to the past/present.
We left Norway and headed South into Finland, the second half of the trip had more concentrated driving days, without anywhere super exciting to stop. The focus was mostly on making progress towards Helsinki and Tallinn. There was still pretty scenery, but it wasn’t as ridiculously stunning as Norway. This, combined with long days on the coach, led to people getting a little stir crazy. Fortunately at every site we stayed there was a chance to sneak off and find somewhere peaceful.
The last couple days of the trip things got exciting again. Helsinki was an incredibly walkable city, and after a brief coach/walking tour we had plenty of time to wander around through the markets (where we spotted heaps of Aussies) and town. We even stumbled onto an exhibition all about and sex and identity. It sometimes almost always pays to wander down the cool looking alleyways.
For the evening in Helsinki the whole tour headed out to a bar. It was a nice reminder that I can enjoy clubbing under the right circumstances/with the right people, even when not drinking. Helsinki looked gorgeous at night, especially on the walk back as the sun was just starting to rise.
Our final day of the tour was over in Tallinn in Estonia. Just a short ferry from Helsinki then we were free to explore (or recover) before a walking tour into old town and dinner. Dinner was near the centre of old town, and included a swordfight as mid meal entertainment. Tallinn’s a lovely little city, and was an absolute highlight, especially as I had very few expectations going in.
After dinner it was on to bars and more clubbing, there was a really cool science themed bar that served all the drinks in test tubes and had interactive lights under the tables. and out tour leader got us into the VIP section at a club. Again the night was capped off with a wander through town back to the hostel.
And then all of a sudden it was over. It was an incredible two weeks, seeing some ridiculously good looking scenery in Norway, capped off with two gorgeous cities, all while hanging out with some of my favourite people and getting surprisingly close to new friends. Packing up and heading out from the hostel was a pretty emotional experience, especially as half the tour was carrying on still. But it was on to the next adventure in Iceland!
Fair warning, there’s one or two panoramas in the photos below… As always check out the captions for an update on what I’ve been up to (and maybe some info about the photos).
We’re now on day 9 of our Topdeck tour, our last full day in Norway, and boy has Norway put it on. My friend Caitlin has written a really good post here weighing up the merits of package tours vs DIY travel, and so far for me prepackaged has been ticking all the right boxes. I’m super glad to not have to think about the plan for each day, but more importantly to not have to drive. The scenery we’ve been passing through is absolutely incredible and my eyes have often been fixed out the windows.
Next up is Finland, and hopefully somewhere to actually upload this post…
The first two nights of our Topdeck tour were spent in Oslo at a campsite only a short walk away from this absolutely gorgeous lake.
After starting to get to know everyone on day 0 (we were joining a coach part way) the tour kicked off for us with a day in Oslo, first stop was a sculpture park that explored the human form.
There were a lot of really interesting sculptures…
Looking back at the park.
Looking back at the park.
Keeping on the ship theme we stopped at the Fram Polar museum, lots of info about the first Antarctic expeditions meant I ran out of time to read all the signs and see all the things =(
After lunch we were set loose to explore town, this was one (allegedly of several) mini public art setups highlighting how public space could be better used.
The inside of the Town Hall was fairly amazing, cool art all over the walls, including some surprisingly surrealist portraits of royalty #zombieking
There was a whole corridor displaying official gifts that had been given to either Oslo or Norway. Lots of fancy metal and glassware, and plaques and shields, and then these two little fullahs.
The Oslo opera house is possibly my favourite building I’ve seen. The roof is walk-able and open to the public at all hours, and the whole building is designed to look like an iceberg, with the people on it as penguins.
The view from the top of the opera house. There were a crazy amount of cranes in Oslo. with 10-15 of them outside the right of this shot.
Walking up to the Palace. Super stoked to be travelling with these two.
Day 2 we were on the move, this was a quick snack in Lillehammer on the way to…..
…the bobsled track!
It was summer, so no real bobsledding, instead we got to go wheel-bobbing. Just over a minute to get down the track pulling up to 3.5gs!
Our bus is pretty photogenic. Maybe Topdeck will start paying me to take photos for them.
This was a cute little church we stopped at. We didn’t go inside but the grounds were adorable. Pretty good view too.
This was our campsite near Trollstigen (Troll’s Pass). There’s a bunch of reasons for the grass on the roofs (super common in Norway) including insulation and sound proofing, but my favourite is that it helps increase happiness in the population because it looks cool.
We had a couple nights in Trollstigen, with a day trip out to see the iconic road and Geirangerfjord. The weather wasn’t particularly playing ball (this became a bit of a thing in Norway).
Fog rolled in pretty soon after we got there. So instead of view photos, I got some nice not a view photos.
There was a stupid amount of pretty to look at. The coach shifted between shocked silence and oohing and aaahing, pretty much no-one knew where to look. Photos really don’t do it justice.
But I’m going to post them anyway. Looking down at Geirangerfjord.
Absolutely gorgeous (scenery).
Pretty much couldn’t stop grinning for the main ferry ride. So much pretty to look at. Waterfalls and mountains all over the place. And the low cloud sitting on the hills just added to the atmosphere.
There were a lot of comments being made on the similarity to NZ, I think the biggest difference is how steep the hills are and the solid rock they’re often made of.
There’s a casual massive waterfall running through this tiny town.
More water and rocks.
Definitely helps to be travelling with other people who are just as excited to be in freaking Norway!
Can I have a Topdeck job now please?
Campsite had a fire bucket. We couldn’t not.
This is Jeff Plank.
Which day are we on? This was a free library in Trondheim.
Just across the road from a little bar, that had blankets for the outside seats. Which we needed when it suddenly started pouring #goodtimeforabeer
Most the places we went in Norway had different manhole covers. I’m pretty sure this one in Trondheim is the only one I remembered to take a photo of.
Stumbled across a photoshoot in Hell.
View from one of the campsites we were staying at. The owner forced us all to play petanque for two hours in the rain. 1/5.
Ancient carvings. This was by far the clearest of the four we “saw”.
If you look just to the right of the left-hand water, below the main crack, and squint you might see a bear…
Found a couple cool forest trails on the way back.
It’s pretty great travelling with this dork.
Caught a boat out to see a glacier. The scenery on the way was incredible. As was par for the course in Norway, lots of water and rocks and mountains.
Pretty great travelling with this dork too.
I strayed a wee bit from the track on the way up to the glacier. I kept seeing hills and wanting to know what the view was like from on them.
The climb was always worth it.
Some of the others from our Topdeck group.
Slightly sad to see the 1976 marker for the glacier edge.
This was more of a mountain than a hill climb. 100% worth.
Coming down was way harder than going up. Lots of water around so it was pretty slippery.
Low cloud is still just adding to the mood.
One of our group had an injury on the way out, so Caitlin and I stuck around to help her out.
The boat did not wait for us… fortunately there was another one not too much later (and our amazing friends left us chocolate and a note).
The weather started having the odd clear moment. This is midnight at one of our campsites #midnightsun
Another photo with water in it. In my defence there’s a lot of it in Norway.
The view everyone was looking at. Can you blame us…
Went the Polar Park, saw lots of animals. Didn’t take many photos but saw this wolf just chilling as I was about to leave.
We heard there’s usually a really good view from here.
On the way to Nordkapp, the northern most point in Europe to see the midnight sun. Cairns were all over the place at a lot of the tourist spots.
Almost the midnight sun. We were super worried about the weather on the drive up, but it turned out amazing.
About to watch the panorama film for Nordkapp.
Which showed people sitting on top of the globe. And there were no signs saying not to so I had to give it a shot. We later ended up with about 15 people in the globe.
The midnight sun.
This was such an intense and spiritual experience. Partially the lack of sleep, partially the amazing people I was with, partially the Valhalla we’d found at the bottle shop, and partially the absolutely incredible surroundings.
Had to take some slightly posed photos too.
And then some very posed photos #majesticasfuck
Damn. That photography skill.
To cap off an amazing night, we stopped and saw reindeer up close and personal on the way back to site. Nordkapp is definitely going to stick with me.
More photos from Nord below. I’m now a few days into the Topdeck tour of the Scandinavian Peninsula, but wifi for the last few days has been super unreliable. Check out the captions for a bit of info on how the second half of Nord went down.
Nord banner flying on the way to midnight sailing
Pioneering! This was the sign outside of the Rover Cafe
This was the main entrance to the central square. Rumour has it the boat was already floating there and they built the gate around it so it would stop creeping people out.
Every group had built an entrance way, some more elaborate than others. This one ranks somewhere in the middle.
And this is maybe the best? This group was sleeping in their three storey entranceway!
Another angle, this is actually ridiculous.
So as mentioned in the first photo, midnight sailing was a thing,
Scouts from all over Norway had sailed to Nord with “the armada” and we were able to head out on one of the ships to chase the midnight sun.
It was fricking gorgeous (though also rained on and off an was super cold)
I took way too many pictures of perpetual sunset over water. This is only a fraction of them
The miserable weather almost made it cooler #spot the rainbow
There was a decent amount of concern that we wouldn’t actually see the sun.
Midnight was at 01:08 because of reasons, and right on 01:00 the sun peeked out from the clouds, right on the horizon.
Photos don’t really do it justice. But there was a stupid amount of pretty to look at.
The sun, finally showing itself.
Was shivering a little and rather tired by this point.
But it was totally worth it.
Getting lighter as we pulled back in to harbour.
We had to clamber over a couple other ships to get to the dock.
But they made up for it by looking pretty.
We also made time to head down to the aviation museum in Bodø.
After a little bit of a struggle we got a free guided tour in English.
This plane was super happy to see us.
We also got to check out the old control tower.
Cool ticket, still didn’t keep it.
We had arguably the best spot for the Nord closing ceremony. This is looking back at the square, which was pretty busy at pretty much all hours #midnightsun #nocurfew
And this was the view out to the stage and the mountains! Weather was on point.
The twin to where we were watching from.
Some of the lovely Nord people chilling aroun the fire on the final night.
All the badges from Nord! Centre badge is for the camp (half received on registration half on arrival), and challenge/activity badges from during the camp to make up the rays.
And then it was over. (Trondheim station on the way to Oslo)
I missed my connection in Oslo, which was a little bit stressful having not slept for about 24 hours. But after sorting out another flight and a hotel and sleeping for about 12 hours I went for a wander, and found this lovely lake.
See, isn’t it pretty.
At the lake was a bunch of body weight exercise setups. I tried out all of them ofc.
After checking out I managed to get onto an earlier flight that was supposed to be fully booked. This was the sky leaving Oslo…
…and this was the sky coming in to Bodø.
This is the main stage area at Nord. Norwegians are super into their pioneering (aka building stuff out of poles and ropes). This is not a great example of that, but still looks pretty cool.
This is also not a great example of pioneering. It fell over multiple times and nearly broken someone.
This is slightly better pioneering, hopefully I remember to take photos of the really impressive ones.
Streetsweeping the driveway during a camp with 9000 people is a little bit of an exercise in futility.
Yesterday/today we went for our Rover Hike “totally mild”.
There was a lot of pretty things on the way, like this.
And I guess this lot
I think I took about 100 photos of various views along the way. Lots of mountains in the distance that don’t show up too well on camera.
We had to climb up the steep hill on the left. We assumed this was the “totally” part of “totally mild”
This is the view from where we camped.
More camping shots
And an artsy shot of the sign marking the site
It was fricking cold, so we all squeezed into one tent for dinner.
And more camping shots. Such a cool place to overnight.
More pretty views.
The last/first bit of the hike was pretty exposed, but the first/last bit was a lovely shelterred valley. And the rain even decided to go away.
Fuck we’re gorgeous.
More blue sky, pretty much the first I’d seen since getting here