Imagine a cave, made of snow. As you step in, it literally feels warmer than the freezing temperatures outside. You see benches carved out of ice with reindeer skin on them. Around you are statues of famous Arctic explorers... All made of ice!! Feels like a dream doesn't it??
That, everyone, is Tromso Ice Domes for you!! Though the place is named after the city of Tromso, it's nowhere close to it. Based very close to the locality of Senja, this magical hotel is an experience of a lifetime.
I'll be very honest with this one. It does make a dent in your pocket. An overnight stay costs you a staggering 12500NOK(i.e $1468). 🤯 You also have the option of doing a day trip which costs 879NOK per person. But the experience is well worth it.
Our trip started from Clarion The Edge Hotel. We gathered for the bus that would take us through breathtaking landscapes to the Ice Domes. Since Tromso is like every other Arctic city, your heart simply craves for chances to get out of the city. The temperature drops like crazy. 2kms outside the city limits and the temperature would have dropped to -15° from 0° on a bright sunny day.
As we drove away from the city, the expanse of the fjords and frozen lakes started becoming more apparent. Panoramic views of frozen lakes with snowmobile tracks right in the shade of steep mountains, it all seemed so surreal. Frozen waterfalls had created Stalagmites and stalactites everywhere. The sad part is that you can only look at one side of the bus. Both my wife and I were under the impression that the other person had better view on his/her side.🤣
We drove for 2hours before reaching the ice domes. Snowmobiles were parked outside and I just had to click the mandatory photograph with a snowmobile. The temperature outside was a numbing -25°!!
Our guide assured us that it will be a whole lot warmer inside and boy was she right!! We were told that once you make a house with snow, naturally the temperature inside becomes -5°. That's how the Eskimos, the Inuits survive. Only 3days back, the temperature outside had dropped to -35°. The Finnish border is only 40kms from there where it drops below -40°.
As we entered, there were large benches made of ice with reindeer skins on them. We watched a show on the construction of the Ice Domes and it was fascinating. Every year the dome is erected from scratch. Snow gets deposited on large inflated balloons until it becomes as thick as a wall. Then the balloon is deflated and the interiors are designed with extreme precision right down to the last inch.
Next up was the booze... We had our complimentary ice vodka shots!! 😜 There was this amazing bar completely made of ice. On the walls were snow carvings of reindeers. There were also ice statues of famous Arctic explorers of the region.
Then we were up for the surprise of a lifetime. We had a chance to visit each one of the rooms, lie down on the ice beds, take photos. The best part about the rooms was that every room was different from the others. I lied down on each one of the beds on the soft reindeer fur. We came to know that the visitors were given sleeping bags to stay in those rooms since -5° is also quite unbearable. The staff told us that that the hotel may not be constructed next year due to lack of visitors. Due to the staggering costs of the rooms, the occupancy is very low and the company is not even able to recover its expenses.
Having explored every corner of the hotel, we went into the adjacent cafe for some hot chocolate. The girl at the counter was running low on change and my wallet was ripping apart coz of coins. I handed over all my coins to her for currency notes and the smile on her face said it all. All she could say was "You saved my day, sir!!" and... She offered us complimentary cookies as a token of gratitude!! 🤣
Then we got onto our bus, and there was this sinking feeling in my heart coz in the next 24hrs we would have left this 'piece-of-heaven' country and be on our way back to India. All of a sudden this day full of fun had turned on its head for me. Our honeymoon was over. So were the plans I had made for the last 2years. I had lived a lifetime in these 11days.
• I went to Lofoten
• I had seen the Henningsvaer football pitch.
• I had travelled by the Hurtigruten cruise.
• I had been to Tromso- Paris of the North.
• I had seen the Northern Lights 😍😍
• I had seen the Tromso Ice Domes
• I had travelled beyond the 70°N latitude.
• I had taken 5flights in 36hours!!
• I took perhaps the best photos of my entire life.
I donno if this is an exaggeration, but I was feeling like Jon Snow returning to Winterfell!! I had achieved an impossible feat against all odds, all the banter, all the discouragement!! I had accomplished a tailor made trip to a place which most people had only read of.
But trust me I'm not done yet. I'll go back to Lofoten again. Someone seems to have asked me, 'How is your thirst for adventure?', and I said, 'Unquenchable!!'