During our recent cruise to Norway we spent a day hiking and grilling at the open fire on the island of Håkøya near Tromsø, with the outdoor guides Astrid and Alejandro and the two sled dogs Ika and Oriana. I talked to Astrid about her job and the natural beauty of Norway.
How does a woman from Denmark end up as an outdoor and sled dog guide in the far north of Norway?
Astrid Elberg Thomsen: I came to Norway to have one year with outdoor education just south of Ålesund. I ended up staying there for two years. One year ago, I moved to Tromsø as I wanted to move to an university city with just as beautiful mountains as they have south of Ålesund – and my home country Denmark had unfortunately become too flat for me. The plan with studying at the university didn’t work out for me, so I got a job as a dog sledding guide.
What makes working with the Alaskan Huskies so special?
All the dogs are extremely friendly and loving, and there is nothing like a dog to make you happy. In addition, you get to work with these dogs in one of the most beautiful places in the world, beeing outside all day long. It’s as simple as that.
What should a first-time visitor to northern Norway absolutely see and do?
My answer would always be to climb up a mountain or a small hill. There is plenty to take from up here, and no matter which one you choose the view and feeling will be so good on the top. Also if you don’t even make it to the top.
Do you like to travel yourself? What are your favourite destinations outside northern Norway?
I have to say that I have really no interest in going anywhere else than Norway at the moment. Besides visiting my family in Denmark, of course. Norway is still enough adventure for me, there’s so many different outdoor activities you can do. Skiing, climbing, kayaking, hiking, etc. The seasons here are so different, so that summer and winter are like two different worlds. And I wanna discover more of the Norwegian west coast in my sailing boat.
Astrid Elberg Thomsen is an outdoor guide at Tromsø Villmarksenter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and is about to start her studies to become a teacher. This short interview completes my travel report “Highlights of a Norway cruise”.