Emmas Under, Tromsø

Today is the last day of our 3 days’ stay exploring Tromsø-Kvaløya-Sommarøy area. During this period we only ate out at one restaurant Emmas Under as we stayed in a self-catering apartment outside of Tromsø.

We shortlisted where we wanted to eat based on 1 key criteria: must serve a Norwegian cuisine – reindeer meat. If you had read up on what a typical tour is like either reindeer-sledding/dog-sledding or chasing Northern Lights etc., it will usually include a visit to a Sámi camp to understand their culture and food. During the tour, guests will get to savour reindeer stew if meal is included in the tour package.

On the last day of our trip in Tromsø before heading to the airport, we visited the city centre for our lunch at the casual eatery branch of Emmas Drømmekjøkken restaurant (They are located in the same shop unit, with the casual eatery on the street level). We arrived at about 1.30pm but the place was full. We were told to leave our name and return about 30 mins later.

The eatery was strategically located right opposite the Tromsø Lutheran Cathedral and near to the Storgata pedestrian shopping street. We made use of the waiting time to buy some souvenirs.

When we returned, there was a table for us. Time to chow down our lunch quickly so that we have sufficient time to reach the airport. Although the airport is just 9 mins drive from the city centre (or maybe it should be called town centre instead) we were extremely conscious of time after our near-miss in Stockholm. The ever-changing weather conditions posed a huge unknown factor…

Began our lunch with the Chef’s Fish Soup in starter portion. The fish soup here presented in a white creamy chowder texture was on-par with the soupy Swedish version (Kajsas Fisk, Stockholm) that we had a few days ago.  Suffice to say when you are in the Scandinavian, you wouldn’t be disappointed with the quality of fish soups here.

For side we ordered the eatery’s signature dish of Emma’s Fish au Gratin Fish, shrimps and macaroni in bechamel sauce, bacon, carrot salad and potatoes. Underneath the crispy top layer was a great combination of tender seafood with creamy and flavorful gravy.

Here’s what we came for – Braised Leg of Reindeer Mashed potatoes, lingonberries, broccolini, cream sauce. Though I expected the reindeer meat to be slightly gamey, it was very well handled and very palatable. The portion was huge enough for us to share it.

To give you an idea on the cost of living in Norway, this meal cost us around S$100 (US$70). I wouldn’t consider it to be exorbitant since Singapore‘s meal doesn’t come cheap either in a serviced eatery…but if you hadn’t booked a self-catering or full-board accommodation- be prepared to spend on your meals.

Photos taken during our 3 days’ stay in Tromsø-Kvaløya-Sommarøy:

We almost missed our flight from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport to Tromsø as the airport bus schedule was delayed and travel time extended due to an accident that caused heavy congestion on the expressway… Total travel time tripled from the expected 35 mins to almost two hours…Made it in time just by a whisker to check-in our luggage after further issues with the unmanned self-service counter…Rushed to the boarding gate to see flight delayed by 30 mins…. What a emotional roller-coaster ride!!!

Recharged ourselves on the short 2-hour flight admiring the landscape from the window. When we arrived in Tromsø at around 3+pm, the sun was already setting since it’s winter. After picking up our car, we made our way to the city centre.

Using our phone google map, the signal went dead after we were led to a tunnel. I tried to keep calm – It’s ok we’ll get the signal back after exiting the tunnel. Lo and behold, we had to navigate through a maze of underground tunnel expressway that has multiple roundabouts~ First time experiencing such unique (& bizarre) infrastructure layout…And as expected, one wrong turn and we found ourselves having to enter a parking garage?!

Finally made it to the city centre, in time (before total dark sky) to capture this beautiful coastline with the Arctic Cathedral – the striking structure is one of the iconic landmarks of Tromsø.

From there we crossed the bridge that links Tromsø with the mainland to take a ride up the Fjellheisen Tromsø Cable Car. The view up the mountain ledge Storsteinen is the best way to see Tromsø. At 6pm (in Feb), the sky was already pretty dark. The city of Tromsø was glistening as we admire the gorgeous night scenery.

While the Northern Lights was not strong for human eye when we were up at Storsteinen, we managed to see it by capturing it on our camera – “Just because you cant’ see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.” Despite having first seen the Northern Lights  a couple of years ago (in Iceland), I’m still excited to see the faint glow at Tromsø,  everyone else at the viewing platform seems pretty indifferent about it.

Instead of staying in Tromsø, we chose to stay on an island about an hour’s drive away from the city centre. Along the way we stopped by Eide Handel – a fine food store selling locally sourced seafood, fresh fish, meat, cheese and vegetables. We picked up some groceries to fill us for 2 days as we would be staying in an apartment with a kitchenette.

They also stock a good range of local craft beer. However do note that Norway has very strict drink driving laws – much stricter than other European countries. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is extremely stringent. So don’t ever drink and drive! Else you could face hefty fines and/or be jailed.

As we continued our journey towards our accommodation, we began to spot people with their cameras pointing to the sky in parking lots along the road. Something must be happening~ Excited by the prospect we also pulled our car into an empty parking lot. We sat in our car for a while for our eyes to adjust to the darkness before we saw a faint glow. Thereafter it was a frenzied moment as we scrambled to put on our jackets and braved the chilling wind to set up our tripod. Thankfully, by then the spectacular light show was just beginning to warm-up.

We were engulfed by darkness as we stood in freezing temperature with howling wind to capture this magical moment. The lights grew so strong that we could see it with our bare eyes and even managed to capture it on our iPhone (albeit not as discernible as on DSLR).

Having witnessed this fantastic light show on our first night’s stay up North has already made our trip worth it~ Not forgetting that it’s first day of Chinese New Year back home. What a way to ring in the Lunar New Year! 

As it was already closed to 11pm by the time we settled down in our accommodation for our meal, this was probably considered Supper.

Never would I have imagined that I would wake up the next morning at 9am to be greeted by this fabulous sight with a dreamy sunrise at Sommarøy Island.

Loving the pine wood panelling in the Fishermen’s Cottage – creates a serene feel.

We stayed in one of these Fishermen’s Cottage at Sommarøy Arctic Hotel.

Other than loving the cold chilly weather, another reason for loving winter is the chance to see sunrise. Being a late riser, I seldom get to see the sun climbing up the horizon. Happy to see this!

We didn’t have any specific plans for the day other than driving around Kvaløya to enjoy the scenery. While driving out of Sommarøy Island, we caught sight of Haja Island. It is the highest island around the area. It looks like an enormous rock protruding out from the sea and was even said to be the inspiration for the Arctic Cathedral design in Tromsø.

The only specific spot I had in mind to visit was the Ersfjord. This is the first of the many impressive Norway‘s fjords that we would visit on this trip.

We drove around on Kvaløya hoping to spot any wild reindeers while uncovering hidden spots. Only saw some folks on a dog-sledding adventure instead of reindeers though…

Stopped our car by the parking bay for a shot when we caught sight of this view at Kaldfjord with gentle flowy water ripples against the backdrop of the rock-hard mountains.

Another wonderful view captured of Grøtfjord. This area is popular during Summer for the stunning beaches.

Chanced upon this amazing scene at around 3.45pm when the sun was beginning to set…

Finally…we spotted our first reindeer on Kvaløya. Someone stopped their car along the roadside and we suspect they were probably onto something. We pulled alongside only in time to see this reindeer trod deeper into the forest.

With the sun setting, our hopes of catching sight of wild reindeers was dwindling fast…We were really grateful to receive a tip-off from a local and were lucky enough to see a reindeer when we stopped our car at a parking bay! Four Leaf Clover on Apple iOS 12.2

Shortly after we started to hear sound of cars slowing down along the road and spotted this darling walking calmly on the road. Deer on Apple iOS 12.2

After crossing she stood there by the roadside, posing for us…or so we thought…Until we realised she was pooping while waiting for the rest of the herd… Face With Tears of Joy on Apple iOS 12.2

Fun fact: Both male and female reindeers grow antler. But the males shed theirs in winter leaving him without antlers until the following spring, while female reindeer keep theirs until their calves are born in spring/summer. Therefore scientists explain that Rudolph the red nosed reindeer is actually a female.

The whole procession only took less than 10 mins before they all disappeared into the woods… Therefore we were really counting our blessings to have met this herd. Folded Hands on Apple iOS 12.2

Caught sight of the Hillesøy Church while on our way back to Sommarøy Island. The white, wooden church was built in a long church style in 1889.

This single lane bridge is the gateway to the lovely Sommarøy Island. If you are lucky enough you can catch sight of the Aurora dancing above the bridge on those special days.

For us, we could even capture the Northern Lights from the balcony of our accomodation. No need to be exposed to prolonged period of extreme chill as we could retreat back into the living room every now and then. I woke up a few times at night during our 2 days’ stay hoping to see her dance.

Last but not least, we enjoyed breakfast with a view and cooked fresh local Mussels with Chili Crab Sauce for dinner.

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