Europe, norway, Travel

Norway: Harstad in A Day

We´re back from our overnight trip to Harstad and having a bit of a rest day after a couple of long days full of activities. We are watching Frozen in bed and eating lasagna like it’s our job and relaxing as much as we can before we start another couple of hectic days of  our Northern Norway Mini Adventure 🙂

As I mentioned in a previous post we took the bus from Sortland to Harstad and arrived in Harstad early enough that while shops were open, the city was still quiet. Harstad is a city in Troms County and has about 25 000 inhabitants, making it bigger than Sortland, but still very small.  Wandering through the city there is a mix of quaint old houses and new more functional built ones which gives the city an eclectic feel. In between two concrete blocks there is a small shop window from the 1960s and many places street art by some of Norways finest street artist can be found. It’s an odd mix of times and cultures in many ways, but Harstad feels authentically quirky, not really a big city, not really a small town, but containing the best and the worst elements from both.

After exploring the city and enjoying a late lunch at the pizza lunch buffet at Egon Harstad (very reasonably priced at 108NOK per person, and if you think that’s unreasonable – everywhere else was more expensive) we headed out to the Trondenes Church. The church is a 20-30 minute walk from the city centre, but there is also a bus (number 12) if you’re not in the walking mood. The day was lovely however so we walked and was treated to some lovely views on our way.

Trondenes Church is the northernmost and oldest medieval church in Norway, dating back to the 1200s. During the day the church is open for visitors, but we got there too late and spent the evening wandering the church grounds instead. For me this was also a walk down memory lane as I used to live in Harstad as a child and have fond memories of the place. The area around the church was used as a prison camp for Soviet soldiers during WWII as well, and the remnants of the camp along with the war memorial were heartbreaking. During the war Hitler tried to build his Atlantic Wall along the Norwegian coast and the Nazis had a massive presence all over Norway, including Harstad. Due to the fortifications of one such post of the Atlantic wall there are several enormous cannons, aptly named the Hitler-Cannons, not too far away from the church. As we walked around the ruins of the prison camp, reading the information boards and seeing photos of the actual camp it hit us how many small battles were fought that the history books don’t talk about. The church and the visitors centre are well worth the visit if you’re in the region!

The walk back to the hotel we were staying at for the night, the Scandic Harstad, seemed longer than the walk there and we were two tired explorers that headed to bed early, getting ready for an early morning. Yesterday we took the 8.30 southbound Hurtigruten from Harstad to Svolvær and a post about that is coming tomorrow!

Goodnight, lovlies! Xxx

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