My home for the 3 nights in Tromsø was the Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora, booked as part of my Nordic Choice Unlimited Nights package.
The hotel is perfectly situated, right on the picturesque harbour front.
The rooms are comfortable and functional in Scandinavian style.
The stay included breakfast and like all Clarion Collection Hotels, an evening meal. As this was my first stay at this particular brand, I was a little unsure of what to expect from the evening meal. I was however, pleasantly surprised.
Each meal consisted of a soup of the day and a main course. There was only one choice of main course, but I can honestly say they were all decent. Examples included pork neck and chicken cacciatore. I have pretty universal tastes in food, so I was very happy with it.
There was also a nice salad bar.
Water, orange juice and coffee were included and other drinks were available for purchase.
Breakfast, however, was somewhat of a let down. Most of the cooked dishes – bacon, sausages and meatballs – were stone cold on all three mornings of my stay and the milk ran out within about 20 minutes.
Breakfast aside, I was generally satisfied with my stay and it was superb value as part of my two month Nordic Choice pass, at a cost of €3,000 for 58 nights, which works out at a little under €52 per night.
Following Tromsø, my next destination was Bergen, necessitating another flight.
The only direct flight between Tromsø and Bergen is operated by Widerøe, an airline I had never flown before.
Other options are Norwegian and SAS, but bot require at least one change if flight in Oslo.
With this in mind, I decided to give Widerøe a go.
The ground experience is very basic, with self service bag drop and no security fast track or lounge.
The on board experience is also basic, but no more so than economy class on just about any other carrier operating within Europe.
At an even six feet, I found the 29-inch seat pitch rather tight.
A buy-on-board menu is offered, although this short 10:35am flight was a little too soon after breakfast and not quite beer o’clock, so I settled for the complimentary coffee.
Overall, this experience was comparable to the better low cost airlines in Europe, such as easyJet. Given the convenience of the direct flight I was satisfied with the experience, although at around £225 or $270 it was rather pricey for what it was.
After four very enjoyable months in Stockholm, I decided to see a little more of Scandinavia and headed off to Tromsø, a little more than 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle.
Considering the distances involved, I decided to park my car at Oslo Airport and take an SAS flight to Tromsø, where I spent three nights.
Tromsø is a unique and truly breathtaking city, combining snow capped mountains, crystal clear fjords and the somewhat surreal phenomenon of the midnight sun.
My first experience of Tromsø was a stroll around the pretty harbour and across the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral.
The real highlight of the day was a ride up to the Storsteinen mountain ledge of the Fjellheisen cable car.
The cable car makes the 421m ascent in just four minutes and the breathtaking views are simply not to be missed.
The following day, I decided to take things a little easier and stroll along some if the beautiful fjordside paths out to Tromsø Folkeparken and the Southern Beach.
As it was amazingly 27°C on the day of my visit, the beach was too crowded for me to get any photographs, but suffice to say it is a unique experience, with views across the fjord to the snow capped mountains beyond.
The only regret I have about my visit to Tromsø was not managing to take the midnight RIB (rigid inflatable boat) cruise. These run for three hours from 10pm to 1am when the midnight sun shines on Tromsø. After two very full days and with an early start on the third day, my heart was willing but my body was not.
As my tour of Scandinavia continued to the Arctic North, I decided to leave my car at Oslo Airport and fly to Tromsø, rather than take a three day drive each way.
There were several options for this route, including Norwegian and Widerøe. However it turned out that the best deal was on the direct afternoon flight with SAS.
The flight was quite expensive for a domestic one-way at €226 for the most basic hand luggage only ticket.
I, however, chose to upgrade to the SAS Plus fare at €270, including checked luggage and access to the SAS Domestic Lounge at Oslo Airport.
This proved to be a good choice, as the American Express lounge to which I would normally have access was located after customs controls and therefore not accessible to domestic passengers. It also allowed me to check in my small rollaboard rather than fighting for overhead bin space.
The lounge was pretty basic in terms of its food offerings, but offered wine and both draught and canned beer and provided a comfortable place to sit while waiting for boarding, so it suited me fine.
The on board experience was not up to the standards of even intra-European Business Class, in that middle seats were not kept free and refreshments were limited to a snack and drink. However, given the short length of this flight and the small premium that I paid, I was perfectly happy with it.
Overall, this was a nice, easy little flight and “upgrading” was worth it in my very specific case.