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Clare
Clare

Day 2: Narvik

We woke up feeling rested this morning and a bit more enthusiastic about exploring Narvik than when we'd arrived last night xD It was still dark at around 9am when Tim set out to find a shop to buy breakfast.

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It seems like things are slow to get started in Narvik on Saturday mornings, so it took a while before he found one that was open. By the time he'd returned and we'd had breakfast and were ready to set out again, things had got a bit brighter.

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Our apartment is in this red wooden house.

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From our windows we can see this big mountain, with its illuminated ski slope. Hopefully this picture also helps to illustrate how steep the side streets in Narvik are!

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We were prepared for the slippery pavements today though and had our Yaktrax on, which made it a lot easier to walk.

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Our first stop was the local shopping centre, because we wanted to track down Narvik's branch of Vinmonopolet, the state-owned alcohol store. We knew from our previous visit to Norway in 2013 that these shops have restricted opening hours and are often closed at times you might expect to be able to buy alcohol, like on weekends or bank holidays. The good news was that when we found the shop, we were able to establish that it was open until 15.00 on Saturdays, so we knew we'd be able to return later and buy some wine :) It was worth going into the shopping centre anyway to see the Christmas decorations xD

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We headed outside again, walking along the town's main street.

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The mountain we can see from our apartment looms across the whole town.

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There aren't a lot of sights in the town centre, but there are a few strange landmarks like this huge pyramid.

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We realised that we could see down towards the bus station, from where we'd started our uphill climb last night. In the distance, we could also see Narvik's main church.

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The town feels quite large, but it only has a population of 14,000 people so it's actually pretty small by UK standards.

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Our aim was to walk downhill, towards the harbour area, in the hope of getting some views of the fjord.

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It wasn't long before we got our first glimpse of the sea!

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As we walked towards the water, we passed this unusual building.

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Once we got to the far side of it, we realised that it was a church :) 

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The further we walked, the more impressive the views became.

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We began to get better views out across the water.

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In places the side of the road was quite rocky and we passed some incredible icicles.

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I don't think I've ever seen icicles this big before :o 

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Eventually we made it down to the harbour.

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Despite the fact that it is located very far north (the furthest north we've ever been) Narvik is warmed by the Gulf Stream and so the harbour here is always ice-free.

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The town grew up here in the 19th century, when a Swedish mining company realised that they could use the harbour to export their iron ore.

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A significant amount of iron ore is still shipped from here today, and so although some of the views of the fjord were stunning, overall Narvik does have a bit of an industrial feel to it.

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The ice-free nature of the fjord had unfortunate consequences for Narvik during the Second World War, because the harbour was of strategic importance to both sides.

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It's hard to imagine when it all looks so peaceful today, but two naval battles were fought in the fjord in 1940.

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There is a war museum in the Narvik but we didn't go. The views were starting to get obscured by clouds at this point and light snow was falling, so we decided we'd walked far enough around the harbour and turned around to climb back up towards the town centre.

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The Christmas lights in the main square were pretty.

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Walking along the main street in the opposite direction from before, we came across this signpost showing the distance between Narvik and various destinations. It turns out we're slightly closer to St Petersburg than we are to Oslo :o 

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The daylight is quite limited here and before it got dark, we wanted to locate the train station from where we will be catching a train to Abisko in Sweden tomorrow. It turns out that it's actually not that far from our apartment.

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Walking towards it, we had some more beautiful views of the mountain.

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We were hungry by this stage, so we walked back towards the shopping centre, where we'd spotted a pizza restaurant earlier. I went for a tropical pizza, which unusually featured pineapple and spicy pepperoni, while Tim had a chicken burger. The food was filling, and not too expensive; we stuck with the free tap water again, so just had the main courses, and the bill came to just under £30.

We weren't in the restaurant for long, but by the time we stepped outside, darkness had fallen.

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Walking back up towards our apartment, we could see the ski run illuminated again.

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Having explored Narvik today, the apartment is actually in a good location, not far from the train station or the main street. It was a bit of an unpleasant surprise last night to have to do so much walking uphill with our cases (and then not to be able to get into the apartment), but that aside it hasn't been a bad place to stay :)  

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We're spending tomorrow travelling to Sweden, where we'll be staying in less glamorous accommodation, which will hopefully be compensated for by some amazing scenery!



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