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Canada, Mexico, Europe, oh my! RTW here we go.

Drakecula

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Another day of wandering and exploring. Am really enjoying the city. People are a little pushy and impatient, especially at train stations, but I'm trying a little French and most people appreciate it. Thankfully the friend we are staying with is handling the tricky stuff.

We saw the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, Pantheon, the National Library and stumbled upon the house Marie Curie lived in.

We had the most delicious lunch at a cafe, I dived right in and forgot to take a photo. It was a cheesy, creamy, veal with potatoes and mushrooms dish. Mmmmm!

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Drakecula

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I think I've missed a day, oops. Having too much fun!

Two days ago we had a look at the catacombs. A sign said that the bit we saw was 1/800th of the actual underground system, which is crazy to think about. It was quite eerie, and kind of odd since we only saw arm and leg bones (I'm assuming) and skulls. The more fiddly bits like ribs, feet, hands, etc must have been more crumbly so they didn't use them the way they did to line the tunnels.

Afterwards, we went to Montmartre, saw Sacre Couer, had dinner then went to the Moulin Rouge. I was unsure about going, thinking it would be a bit tourist trappy, but it was fantastic. The costumes and dancing were great.

There was an Australian bar near the catacombs entrance which we were amused by. We didn't go in, but the menu outside had chicken parmie listed, so seemed authentic. Haha

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Drakecula

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Yesterday we went to the Louvre! We saw the Mona Lisa quite easily, despite there being a small crowd. Saw the Venus de Milo easily too. Guess it's not as busy during winter, lucky us.

It's such a maze in there. So much to see, I know we didn't see it all and we were in there for hours.

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Drakecula

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So today we're in the airport waiting for yet another adventure to begin. We're off to the Arctic Circle!

Of course, our flight is delayed, but we're lucky because it hasn't been cancelled. Today is a national strike across France affecting public transport, the airport (many flights have been cancelled), schools and probably more.

The friend we were staying with told us in advance so we spent last night in an airport hotel to avoid the chaos. We got to the airport easily, had to wait to check our bags as the counter wasn't manned yet, then after security the lounge wasn't open yet, but we're finally having some lunch while waiting for our delayed flight.

Flying SAS, three flights, two connections. Let's hope nothing goes wrong!
 

Drakecula

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Okay, so there was a bit of a delay for our flight leaving Paris, then we were stuck on the plane for nearly an hour waiting for a departure time. Air traffic controllers were also part of the big strike. But we made it to Oslo with about 30 mins to spare (instead of 3 hours). Then the Stockholm connection was fine and we made it to Kiruna!

So much snow! :D For our first morning in Kiruna we visited Ice Hotel to see the sculptures. Amazing! I can't imagine sleeping in one of the ice rooms, it was cold enough just walking through taking photos!

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Drakecula

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Yesterday we went on a snowshoe hike which was fun. We saw a lot of animal tracks like fox, hare, moose, ferret and lemming. Didn't see any animals though. The sun isn't up long at the moment, so we left in twilight and came home in the dark even though we were only out for about two hours. Not many photos because gloves and phones are tricky.

Last night we went up to the Aurora Sky Station for a lovely four course dinner and with hope in our hearts that the snow clouds would clear and we could see the northern lights. Alas. It was still nice up there and the chairlift ride was fun.

The skies are meant to be clearer tonight, so fingers crossed we see something.

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Abisko Sky Station is about an hour out of Kiruna if that is an option. I was lucky enough to see the lights five nights out of seven there on two seperate trips. The locals told me that Lapporten nearby apparently helps keep the sky clear.
 

Drakecula

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Abisko Sky Station is Aurora Sky Station. We were there, but nothing but snow clouds :(

It's clearer in Narvik tonight, so fingers crossed.

That's right, we're in Norway. Tonight Narvik, tomorrow Tromso. We're moving quickly, a bit too quickly for my taste, but we're seeing amazing scenery. The train ride had some great views.

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Drakecula

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We got to see the Northern Lights last night! Faintly, but they were there! We were up on our hotel's balcony on the 16th floor. So there was a lot of light from the city to compete with, but still very cool :)

Please enjoy my blurry photos as evidence :p I played with my phone settings to try and get a good shot, but I'm not sure it helped...

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Drakecula

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From Narvik to Tromso yesterday. We had a voucher to use for the cable car, except it was closed, so a bit of a fail from the tour company. But I assume they bought a ticket when we'd booked the tour and they didn't realise it would be closed when we traveled.

So we wandered around for a couple of hours before our bus to Tromso. Not too much to see or do, but the view of the mountains was great.

We got in to Tromso late afternoon and ventured out for dinner. It's a bigger town than Narvik.

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Drakecula

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A big day in Tromsø. We went up the cable car to get a great view of the town below. We wandered past the Arctic Cathedral and walked back into town in an increasingly heavier snow flurry which was fun.

Later in the evening we went to visit a Sami reindeer camp to feed and meet the reindeer, have a yummy dinner and learn of the Sami culture. They're the Indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are about 130,000 Sami people, with most living in Norway. It was a great evening.

We also glimpsed the Northern Lights again! A much clearer sky, and a reindeer trough to balance my phone on meant a bit clearer shot, for a phone camera anyway...

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craven morehead

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A big day in Tromsø. We went up the cable car to get a great view of the town below. We wandered past the Arctic Cathedral and walked back into town in an increasingly heavier snow flurry which was fun.

Later in the evening we went to visit a Sami reindeer camp to feed and meet the reindeer, have a yummy dinner and learn of the Sami culture. They're the Indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are about 130,000 Sami people, with most living in Norway. It was a great evening.

We also glimpsed the Northern Lights again! A much clearer sky, and a reindeer trough to balance my phone on meant a bit clearer shot, for a phone camera anyway...

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Magnificent photos 🏆
 

Drakecula

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Currently in Frankfurt, in the Lufthansa lounge. It's quite nice. The lounge at Tromso was small, but not cramped. Bonus points for warm cinnamon buns!

I'm not sure you'd call this lunch, but it was nice. Afternoon tea? Lufthansa business class:

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Next leg is to Phuket with Thai.
 

Drakecula

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Frankfurt to Phuket went fine. The lounge at Frankfurt was really nice, and we got settled in business with Thai Airways quickly with a glass of bubbles.

Pics of the menu and food, apologies for weird lighting, it's quite a purple interior :)

We're at a resort for the next week, ready to relax and recharge after a whirlwind trip. Only three more flights until home.

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love_the_life

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Loved the trip report Drakecula. We took the bus from Narvik to Tromso back in 2010 - it was an hour late and we had no idea whether it would turn up but luckily we met some other people waiting in the bus area (carpark at. the shopping mall) who were going as well so we didn't stress tooooo much. It looks magical in winter. We were there in summer so long days and definitely no northern lights.
Enjoy the r and r at the resort - after that trip you will need the rest. :eek:
 
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You and Mr D really look the part. Looking forward to hearing about it. Loving the photos, thanks.

Yesterday we went on a snowshoe hike which was fun. We saw a lot of animal tracks like fox, hare, moose, ferret and lemming. Didn't see any animals though. The sun isn't up long at the moment, so we left in twilight and came home in the dark even though we were only out for about two hours. Not many photos because gloves and phones are tricky.

Last night we went up to the Aurora Sky Station for a lovely four course dinner and with hope in our hearts that the snow clouds would clear and we could see the northern lights. Alas. It was still nice up there and the chairlift ride was fun.

The skies are meant to be clearer tonight, so fingers crossed we see something.

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Drakecula

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Unfortunately our time at the resort came to an end and we're hanging out in the small Thai lounge at Phuket airport. We were moved to an earlier flight to ensure we made our connection in Bangkok, as our original flight was delayed.

The lounge here is small, but neat, I'd say one downside is that while it's tucked away, it is open to the noise and announcements of the larger terminal.
 

Drakecula

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Flight from Phuket to Bangkok went well, with a yummy chicken and rice dish.

Got to Bangkok with plenty of time to spare for our connection and got to relax in the lounge for a bit. Bangkok to Melbourne was good too. I still think an overnight flight from Asia is rough. Leaving past midnight, getting dinner around 1-130am, sleeping for maybe 4 hours if you're lucky, then breakfast before landing, equals a sleepy me.

Still a good flight. One minor grump about Thai is that you can't use in flight entertainment until after their safety video (they show promo videos of places to visit in Thailand). And then they also cut it out just before landing too, not long after collecting the noise cancelling headphones. I don't mind them collecting the headphones, I think Air Canada did similar, but provided ear bud types so we could continue watching/listening as we landed.

You can sometimes get 20-30 mins into a movie before takeoff, so I felt it was a bit of wasted time. But that's just me.

Tomorrow morning, home to Canberra. I wonder if our dog thinks he lives at my dad's place now...

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Drakecula

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Gee whiz it's smoky. We arrived safely at home yesterday morning. Our dog was very excited to see us.

The bags are unpacked and we spent hours telling dad about all the things. Then we went and saw the new Star Wars movie :)

Washing begins today, as a background activity while we relax. I also need to do some following up with travel insurance about the administration of the tour company I'd used now that we're back.

Thank you for following my trip, happy to answer any questions. Have a good Christmas tomorrow, however you choose to spend it.
 

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