The frigid wind whipped my hair across my cheek. The fleece-lined hood of my jacket kept flying off in the wind, freezing my scalp in the process. I hugged myself to keep warm, but the below zero temperatures were making that impossible. I was standing at Storsteinen, the station 420 metres above sea level that overlooked the Arctic city of Tromsø, far up north in Norway. My friend Brett and I had caught Fjellheisen, the cable car up the mountain to get the best view of Tromsø Island. And we were far from disappointed.
Braving the cold, we stepped had outside from the ‘Fjellstua’ restaurant and onto the viewing platform. Like a scene from Disney’s ‘Frozen’, the view around us was nothing short of a winter wonderland. The Tromsø Island was situated below and was jam-packed with small snow covered houses. If I squinted I could just make out the Polaria Museum, the distinctive building inspired by falling dominoes. Surrounding the island was sapphire coloured water, going as far as I could see. Making up the famous Norwegian fjords, the bitterly cold water sparkling in the sunlight. Beyond the water lay huge mountains, whose white snow complemented the fluffy white clouds floating just above their peaks. Turquoise blue skies peeked through the clouds and the whole scene looked Photo-shopped. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
As I fumbled with the shutter button on my camera, fingers numb despite the two pairs of gloves I was wearing, I eventually gave up. I could take all the photos in the world and still not do this view justice. A self-confessed lover of incredible views, I had already decided this was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Even in the glacial winds, I was more than happy to lean on the viewing platform fence and gaze out at this Arctic landscape. Before this trip I had never heard of this small city, based 350 kilometres into the Arctic Circle, let alone imagine myself being here. Tromsø was a popular destination for witnessing the Northern Lights and when Brett suggested a visit, I jumped at the chance. It was my first time experiencing snow and I had spent my entire time here in a state of elation and awe at my frozen surroundings. We had been Northern Lights hunting, dogsledding and reindeer sleighing, but looking out at this view had been my favourite part of the trip.
“Ready to go back in?” asked Brett. Startled out of my staring competition with the mountains, I turned around to look at him. Hugging himself tightly, his face was mostly covered by his beanie and thick scarf. His breath was visible as he blew out loudly. I laughed at his appearance.
“Bit chilly?” I asked.
“Bloody frozen!” He answered, his deep Australian accent making me smile. After living in the Netherlands for eight months, it was so nice to be back with a fellow Aussie. Clearly my skin had toughened in the cold Dutch weather, whereas he was still used to sunny Australia.
I took a long last look at the landscape below and sighed, releasing the long breath which I hadn’t realised I’d been holding. I put my arm through Brett’s and begin to walk towards the restaurant.
“Okay, lets go. It’s your turn to buy hot chocolate.”