While the airplane started its initial descent, I opened the window to what could have been another planet. Endless snow covered jagged mountains escaping drastically from the water, water so crystal clear it could have been the Caribbean. I was on my way to 69 degrees North for a week-long sailing and skiing trip in the Arctic. With no expectations, I was utterly surprised when the town was filled with modern coffee shops, chic hotels and city amenities. To my surprise, this sail-to-ski adventure was a life changing experience in more ways than one.
Eight months later, Tromsø is now a place I call home. Each time I fly back and forth into the Arctic circle the landscape changes colors as if it were a chameleon, camouflaging with the ever-changing weather conditions that come with traveling to the far North. The sun does not rise for two months in the winter, and it does not set for two months in the summer. The equinoxes fill the sky with saturated reds, thrillingly deep purples, and cotton candy pinks.
Though Tromsø eludes raw elegance for such a Northerly destination, the real thrill and romanticism lies beyond the city center. A sail to ski trip is something all winter enthusiasts must experience, summer in the North of Norway is powerful, golden and magical; with never-ending sunlight there are countless and limitless hours to explore.
On a weekend sailing trip with Pukka Travels a group of storytellers gathered for a couple of days of artistic exploration. With each person exuding their unique visions, inspiration began and ended each day, never knowing what would spark in this group of storytellers.
Day 1: Fishing, Gåsvear & Risø
We left Tromsø at 12:00 en route to Gåsvear, an island with white sand beaches, crystal clear water and a magical church located on the center of the island. I had been here back in early spring, but from what I had heard it was even more special in the summer. With an hour of sailing under our belt we chose to stop and fish for dinner, Pukka’s family fish soup recipe was on the menu, so we had to work together and reel in the catch of the day.
Lunch consisted of fresh shrimp, and toasted bread while we got close to Gåsvear. Joonas and I decided to paddleboard into shore where massive jellyfish and seals swam in the water around us. “How old are these jellyfish?” I whispered to myself. The flowers were in full bloom, and a little pit stop of grounded exploration was greatly appreciated before choosing to anchor in Risø, a desolate group of more than 90 islands where we slept for the evening.
Day 2: Bird island, hurricane hiking and the sunset of summer
We started off with an early sail to “Southern Bird Island” in search of eagles and puffins. Very few people get to venture here considering its desolate location, and after our visit, it’s no wonder why birds breed here. Breakfast was served while facing the North Atlantic Ocean. If we kept sailing, the next island we would hit would be Svalbard. After circumnavigating southern bird island, we were keen to stretch our sea legs and went to Rebbensøya, which in theory should have been an amazing hike.
The sun was out when we started, but in classic Norwegian fashion the weather turned with the flick of a dime and we were facing torrential downpours and hurricane-force winds. The ladies persevered and ended up hiking five kilometers and 450 vertical meters.
After drying off, pesto pasta was served by the lovely Sara from the Lost Avocado and we sailed towards Nordkvaløya, one of the best areas in the world to catch halibut. Many reel records have been set here, so we were excited to have the chance to catch the “big one.” Camilla reeled in a monstrous one, but as we went to snatch him from the water he got away, we were all devastated but we kept trying to catch the queen of the sea.
After three hours of fishing we made our way to Toftefjord, a secluded bay near the fishing spot where we would anchor for the evening. The weather was clear and we were all hoping the sun would shine for a true northerly sunset. An hour or so later, dinner was nearly ready and there was a full on sunset party on on deck. The sky lit up with shades of red, orange, yellow, pink and purple. Dinner was cold by the time we got to it, but who really cared? For our group of photographers, we all got the shots we had dreamed of.
Day 3: One last hike
This was one of the most scenic places I have been to, yet we only had two hours to make it to the summit and back again before having to sail home. Hiking with two Norwegian natives was no joke, they set the pace and it was certainly a challenge to keep up, though they were amazing company. We got the shots we needed, enjoyed the sun a bit and headed back down before meeting up with the boys who went out fishing.
Five hours later we were in Tromsø, we talked about life goals, where we see ourselves in the future and of course why we do what we do and what makes us the happiest. As I often say, it’s amazing to meet people from different cultures who are interested in similar hobbies. Though very different, everyone got along wonderfully and had such an amazing time – the biggest message that we like to depict to modern travelers. Tromsø is a place unlike many others, for example, I just came in from an hour of watching the aurora dance in the sky above.