I wake up in pain, obviously. These are the repercussions of not being prepared and I accept full responsibility. Live and learn, I say. Dad gets up to buy some groceries around 10:30 and finds the store is closed. He walks further into town and realizes absolutely everything is closed, with the exception of a 7/11. They don’t have eggs, butter, or any fruit, so he comes home with just 1L of milk. I struggle to wrap my head around the concept of any city that totally shuts down on Sundays. I’ve experienced this a few times before, and in Ireland it made total sense to me because they have such a religious culture, but I wouldn’t have expected it here. Living in Toronto , this is just never an issue for me. It can be Christmas morning at 8am and I’d be able to find whatever I need within the range of a few subway stops. I take this for granted but I shall make note to appreciate it more in the future.
With limited activity options, we decide to go on a little road trip outside of the city. Mom’s super into flowers, so our first stop is the Arctic Alpine Botanical Garden. It’s the most Northern botanical garden in the world! “Ooooh they have blue poppies! That’s exciting!!” says Ma as we pull into the parking lot.
The gardens are located on the same grounds as Tromsø University, where one of my friends actually lived for a semester. It’s funny, when we had decided to come to Norway I contacted her to see if she’d heard of Tromsø, assuming it was a relatively unknown part of the country due to it’s latitude, and she was like well, yeah. I lived there. She told me that I had to visit the University while I was here, and she was totally right. It’s a beautiful campus. Great view of the mountains, an interesting mix of old and new buildings, and this sign that says fart. What’s not to like?
Severin gets dive bombed by an irate seagull. This is real life. As soon as we arrive at the entrance to the gardens Sev and Dad head towards a little picnic area at the top of a landscaped hill. A seagull, sitting at the top of a lamp post, just DROPS, starts screaming and flapping its wings about 2 inches from Sev’s head. It’s a little terrifying, mostly funny, but we just can’t understand why. The gull goes back to its lookout post when Sev and Dad retreat. Mom doesn’t give a damn and braves the path after the vicious attack anyway, because God knows she wouldn’t let a bird get in the way of her and her blue poppies. A few steps from the top she sees two speckled baby chicks and everything makes sense. It’s a mama gull!!
Mom almost gets murdered by the bird too, but it just threatens her. She scolds it, gets a photo of her flowers, and we move on. I don’t trust angry animals. After being attacked by two monkeys on separate occasions, and a peacock at the zoo as a young child, I don’t fux with that anymore. They’re unpredictable and terrifying.
We continue down a long path through a forested area to the actual gardens. They’re pretty expansive, have a zillion types of flowers, and a nice view of the mountains across the water, which I’m starting to think are visible from every location on the island.
After a stop for lunch by the harbour, we go on a little roadie through the mountains and fjørds. This is ridiculously beautiful. Stunning, really. I feel extremely lucky to have a Dad who can just roll up to a foreign country, rent a car, be given a stick shift by surprise, and drive seamlessly through the streets regardless.
The roads along the fjørds are small and winding to a point where it looks pretty sketchy when another car is coming from the opposite direction, but this only happens a handful of times. It feels like we’re the only ones out here. The landscape is impossible to express through any words. Snow sprinkles black jagged mountains that are enveloped by layers of fog at their peaks. Small glacial waterfalls cascade down the mountain sides, creating splashes of bright crystal blue against the dark ocean water as the waves roll onto the rocky shores of the fjørds.
It looks surreal.
We find a great pub with a lot of personality. There can’t be more than 15 seats in the whole place, tons of cute quirky antique items on the walls, and an old vintage truck is being used as a table. It’s adorable. Sev is extra obsessed with it. He tries to get a panorama which kinda fails but he gets a hilarious selfie of the fam in the process. We order 4 burgers, 3 local beers, and 1 cider. The bartender fixes our drinks then disappears for a minute. Turns out he’s running the whole joint all alone! Cooking and serving. I think that’s epic.