Postcards from Alta: Let’s Take the Bus

Traveling through Scandinavia by bus is possible, and it is especially popular in the summer. Many people travel by tour coach, of course, but they have their own driver and a fixed route to follow. It is no trouble at all to get to your destination when somebody else is doing the planning and driving!

A fair number of people arrive here in Alta with plans to use public buses to hop from place to place throughout the region and that, actually, is a perfectly reasonable idea. With a little advance preparation, these kinds of holidays can turn out to be a lot of fun.Bus in arctic Norway

Here in Finnmark county, the bus service is divided into three basic categories: local, special and overland routes. Local buses run at regular intervals along routes in the larger towns, where a “larger” town means “at least several hundred residents”.

Special routes include school buses and other similar services. They follow a regular, local schedule, but they just run now and then and generally not every day.

Overland buses serve the longer-distance trips from city to city. Because of the distances, they do not normally run very frequently.

All of these buses follow their published schedules barring unusually bad weather or a local problem. Route information and timetables are on the web, and the online planner makes it easy to check for service both now and in the future. 

HOWEVER… if you think that the buses here run like a big city down south then this video is for you! You simply won’t find coaches driving back and forth to and from all corners of the map every 10-15 minutes.

“Postcards from Alta” is a brand new video series that Jon is building. It covers a range of topics, from daily arctic life to tourism and travel up here at the top of the world. In this episode, “Let’s Take the Bus”, you will learn more about the transportation network here, and what to expect. It’s not a detailed guide – it’s just a postcard! Get in touch with us if you have questions that are not answered here!  (You can reach Jon directly if you like at jon@northadventure.no)

Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition

The aurora borealis – the northern lights – is a very popular topic in the area.  After all, Alta is “The City of the Northern Lights”, so it’s no surprise that people would be coming here for a chance to see it in the winter. We get lots of questions every year from people hoping to maximize their chances of seeing the fascinating natural phenomenon.

Aurora Borealis near Alta, photo altafoto.noWe are done with nighttime now – the sky last night at midnight was still a glowing twilight – and seeing the aurora is a thing of memory until next September.  It might seem a little late to be writing about the northern lights, but the planning for next year’s holiday never stops and we’re already fielding inquiries for next year.

So here is a little story, written out in FAQ form, compiled from conversations that I have now and then with travelers.  Hope you get a chuckle.

Q: Hi there!  We want to come to Alta because we really want to see the northern lights!

Great!

Q: Right!  So, what time of year is best?

Well… the problem is that the aurora strength has nothing to do with time of year, and the weather is totally unpredictable. So really, your chances are equal as long as it’s dark enough. Anytime between the end of September and the beginning of April is just fine.

Q: But this will be a very expensive trip, so we really need to maximize our chances.  Just give me an idea of what time of year is best? Continue reading “Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition”

An Arctic Morning’s Commute in Alta

Something about “the simple things”… a reminder about being lucky.  And now in mid-November here in Alta, the fast-dwindling light is beginning to turn blue again – that’s not a trick of the camera!

The morning commute to North Adventure in arctic Alta, Norway

Alta’s city center is just around the corner to the right – another five minutes’ walk ahead would put you right in the “bustling metropolis.” Even with 20,000 people in town, you’re never more than a few minutes from quiet roads that beckon toward the wilderness beyond.

And Then There Was This Belly Dancer…

Sisa1I was out and about on Saturday – I met up with Tanja from North Adventure and her family at the Bossekop Market (a craft-and-food market with a LONG history that goes back to the old days when Sami and Norwegians would gather twice a year to trade for goods).  We stopped inside the Sisa Cultural Center (http://www.sisa.no/wp/), a place that supports the multicultural population here in Alta, and also on occasion serves awesome food with flavors from around the world.

Sisa3It was a great way to spend part of a day off, and a good excuse to eat cake in the middle of the day (my wife was at work, and I tend to eat things I shouldn’t when I am unsupervised). But as an extra treat, we were paid a visit by Ingunn Lyngstad with Alta Magedans (find them on Facebook here) as part of an exhibition of different kinds of dance and music from around the world.

And as usual, even when there is a belly dancer in the room, I also really enjoy watching the people around me.  The reactions to the dancing are fun to see.  Happy weekend!

Sisa2