Tromsø has so much to offer and these holidays were not the exception. We had a week full of awesome traditional Norwegian adventures.
Firstly, we had a quiet, but white and beautiful, Christmas Eve. Greg and I ventured ourselves into cooking a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner that consisted of pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs), rødkål (pickled red cabbage), lingonberry sauce and potatoes (see picture above). We completely forgot about mashed rutabaga, and left the pig ribs for another evening in the week. But overall we were extremely pleased with how our dinner turned out. For dessert we made risgrøt (rice pudding), of which – as opposed to cookies and milk like in the USA – we left a plate served for Santa Claus (here Santa is called Julenissen), who was expected to be very hungry when stopping by to leave Evan’s present(s) that night. The evening was made just perfect with clear skies and northern lights dancing around above us.
Then, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays, we also enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience of going on a dog-sledding tour. Just a few miles west of Tromsø, in Kvaløya, ten eager Alaskan huskies took Evan, Greg, the musher (guide) and myself on a sled ride through the quiet wilderness. We tried Evan to yell the huskies “mush mush” (an outdated command for the dogs to move on), but instead he kept asking for more bumps and bounces along the ride. This was early in the morning (ok, not so early, 9am), so it was still dark. But the twilight made its appearance soon after, and thus we got to enjoy more of the lovely scenery surrounding us. After the ride, we got to hang out with the husky puppies (pictured above) and then we were served a delicious reindeer meat soup for lunch inside a traditional Sami hut. Our friends Judy and Connor, who visited us from New York for a few days, joined us in this dog sledding experience, as well as in a spa-hot-tub-boat tour, where Greg, Connor and I very bravely (or dumbly?) jumped into the Arctic waters for a “polar bear dip”. Yes, it was freaking cold, so cold that I couldn’t get words out of my mouth to curse my decision to jump. And I have yet to find a scientifically-based argument for how “good and healthy for you, your heart and muscles” doing this really is, if at all. Would I do it again? Most likely yes because my memory is remarkably bad.
And lastly, we closed 2017. The highlight of the evening was the massive use of fireworks all around the city (including those lit by the neighbors right outside our house!) specially from about 11 pm through well past midnight. The northern lights were visible that evening, yet completely masked by the fireworks. We were told that ‘watching the fireworks’ was the primary New Year’s eve tradition in Tromsø, – particularly those at midnight that are cracked up in the mountain overlooking the eastern side of Tromsø, where the Fjellheisen (funicular) overlook is, and of which we have an excellent view from our house. But we weren’t expecting everyone throughout the city to light as many fireworks as they did. It was very impressive. I have to admit that although it was a spectacular sight, it was overwhelming having so many of them and having them lit so close to us. As a side note, the fireworks made me forget completely of our Mexican tradition (inherited from Spain) of chugging a grape for each of the 12 bell rings as entering the New Year. We ate the grapes another day. But more surprisingly, Evan slept through the fireworks noise! In fact, for the first time ever, he nearly slept 12 hours straight that night! What a gift from our little man!
Happy new year to you all!