Finally we slept. We set the alarm for breakfast and sadly rolled out of bed for this. Then we showered up and decided to explore Tromso. PS our hotel has heated floors in the bathroom...this is a must add to our house!!! We first walked to the Polaris museum...which is kind of like a small aquarium, but learned about the research they are doing here in the Arctic circle and the devastating effects of global warming and plastic. And we saw some cute seals getting fed.
Next stop was Ølhallen, the oldest pub in Tromso and it used to be the furthest north in the world until recent establishment of a pub in Svalbard, Norway. I had a flight of beers, and my Deeter went with his Pilsner and we got into a heated game of war.
Then we just wondered around the shops in town and grabbed some delicious fish and chips before taking a little nap before tonight’s tour. I’m really starting to enjoy this siesta life style we have adapted since being on this trip.
We were up and at em and again put on all of our clothes for a trip to a nearby Sami village. Sami people are the native Norwegians here and are known for their reindeer herds.
We hoped on another bus-all of these Norwegian tour guides actually make you wear your seat belt so safety first-with our Romanian friend from the previous night and headed to the inland valley. The houses along the way, just like last night, have these huge, beautiful windows, and always have a light on in them. We discovered that in the fjords this was to guide sailors away from the shore to stay safe in their travels. It was also a sign of hospitality for any weary travelers who were cold, hungry, in need of hospitality. Beautiful scenery was lit by the moon when it would break through the clouds. We arrived and put on our snow suits and headed out to say hi the sled dogs nearby as well. Throughout our stay we would hear a howl start and fill the night with their singing voices.
Our Sami guide...I cant even being to pretend to reproduce it. Deeter likes to refer to him as Sami tutu as his original garb resembles a dress that hits just below his bum with a bit of a tutu appearance. He had on traditional reindeer skin leggings and Sami shoes. He showed us his other shoes made of reindeer skin and said that when they are filled with grass they are so warm they make our sorrel boots basically look like crap.
We headed out into the moonlight and each got a reindeer. Ours was named Pinky Pie...named by his daughter after a TV show...he was a young male of about three years and he was a SPIRITED young fella! He was a white reindeer and his fur was sooo much softer than I thought it would be. And apparently Pinky Pie gets feisty with the others sled reindeer. Everyone got their reindeer, apparently Rex if you don’t control him he will control you, and Max you gotta watch out for his antlers! The reindeer got attached to their sleds and we were off! Pinky Pie was perhaps not the best trained sled reindeer, but he sure was the fastest! He was ready to go and kept going so fast he was side by side with the sled in front and looked like he was ready to jump in with them! He looked a lot like Murphy when we put his leash on in the house and he just peels out on our wood floors until we get him outside! Needless to say, Pinky Pie won a very special place in my heart.
We toured around the snowy valley and watched as the moon peaked out from behind the clouds and would illuminate a different mountain surrounding us. It was pretty amazing. Too cloudy for any Northern lights, though I did keep imagining an axe murderer following us...turns out it was just a sign that appeared differently based on the shadows from the moonlight.
We walked Pinky Pie back to the reindeer area and said goodbye before we headed off to learn about the Sami people. We gathered in a teepee like structure that had a wood stove in the center and glass roofing at the apex and our Sami guide proceeded to tell us about his people. His dress has specific detailing on it that tells where he is from. These traditional garb is different for women in that it is a little longer and there is a detailed scarf that they wear and when they put this garb on, they are looking good!
The Sami language is unique in all different tribes and he likened them to a different dialect. His sister in law is a Swedish Sami and they have to speak English or Norwegian in order to communicate. He said in the Sami culture, family is very important and they have very large families. He couldn’t answer how many reindeer he has in his herd as that is like asking how much money you have. They transport the reindeer to different areas of the country based on the weather and what is best for them. He said they are all now Christian because it was either believe in your old religion and die or become Christian, so he said they are all alive and well and Christian now. He also said that as times progressed, the oppression of religion changed and they are now free to believe what they want and that their old religion has been incorporated into their culture. Their old religion was very much based on nature and multiple gods. He said that even now if he is going to camp a night he first asks permission to stay there. If he wanted to build a home somewhere, he would go there and spend the night and ask permission to build there and if he was told no, he wouldn’t build there as it would cause long term problems for him. He is a reindeer herder, as is his father. They “brand” the reindeer by making a small cut on their ears and everyone has their own unique mark...his wife, his children, him, everyone. He showed us his reindeer “coat” and Deeter put it on and was instantly sweating. He also demonstrated the Sami traditional songs...which sometimes tell a story and sometimes are just noises that allow those herding with you to know that you are still there, safe and continuing to watch over the herd. This is called Joik. It was very pretty.
After he was done sharing with us we enjoyed a warm meal...not reindeer stew as advertised...but it was tasty. We made the ride back to Tromso and kept our eyes peeled for the lights. While we were riding back, my Deeter asked me if Pinky Pie was gonna make the blog and I was like, um, do you even know me? Pinky Pie is gonna be the focus of this installment!
We made a stop at local pub and decided to enjoy the music and the local people. And man we made some friends. There was a very drunk Norwegian man who made friends with thePhilippine gentleman sitting in front of us and they had a serious brochacho fest going on. Then the dudes from the the Philippines were encouraged by the Norwegian drunkard to try and sing with the guitar player performing and somehow we all ended up in a Norwegian, Philippine acoustic sing along to Paul McCartney’s Let it be. Sadly, then our Asian friend departed and the Norwegian man became Deeter’s best friend...it all started by the Norwegian man looking strangely at Deeter and then asking him if he was Rupert. Our Norwegian friend refused to believe he wasn’t Rupert, the music distributor. THey bonded over others music, the Dead Kennedys. our new friend was saying how most people got mad at him for being so drunk and he was surprised when Deeter/Rupert said he wasn’t upset because the guy hadn’t even hit him yet! That prompted a very one and awkward head rub that included the guy rubbing his chin on Rupert’s bald head. They parted ways only to be reunited on the dance floor as our Norwegian friend was cutting quite a rug with his new found lady friend and felt the need to have Rupert join them! All the while, there were a couple other drunkards falling off of bar stools and an angry poet circling and trying to hit on the ladies as well. All in all, it was quite comical and highly enjoyable. We likened our Norwegian drunk friend to the pilot from the movie The Secret Life f Walter Mitty and hope to run into him again this trip! We laughed so much all night...it is not an evening that I will soon forget with you my love!