Chris' Previous Journal
September 2, 2010, Tromso, Norway
We were pleased to look out the cabin balcony door this morning and see bright sunshine. However, we knew it was going to be a chilly day - forecast was a high of 44°F. Once again, we layered our clothing, and included our rain jackets and umbrellas (just in case).
There is a rumor that Norwegians don't believe in bad weather - they say the cause of discomfort when outdoors is due to inappropriate clothing!
The ship docked right on time - 11am and we left as soon as the "all clear" announcement was made. The city was offering shuttles into town for 70 Krone (round trip) per person (around $11.00 US). However, the line waiting for the buses was long and we decided to walk. It was about three miles from the port into the city centre.
We like to walk as it gives us the opportunity to see more things, plus it never hurts to get some exercise!
Tromso, established on Tromsoya Island, is the largest city in northern Norway with a population of approximately 64,000. It is located about 220 miles inside the Arctic Circle. The city centre contains the most wooden houses in northern Norway - the oldest house dates back to 1789.
In the 19th century, Tromso was known as "Paris of the North". The nickname came from foreign tourists because they found Tromso to be much more civilized than they expected.
Tromso is one of the world's best spots from which to see the Northern Lights, as it is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone.
The city centre is compact with an attractive waterfront, a city square with the old town hall and in the center, a statue of King Haakon VII, the first official king of Norway.
Two attractions in Tromso that are of interest and seem to be most popular are the Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral) and the Polar Museum.
The cathedral is considered to be the most interesting and modern building in the city. It has a white angular stacked roof atop a white building, and seems to blend into the snow-covered mountains in the distant horizon. Inside is one of Europe's largest stained-glass windows.
The Polar Museum is contained in the old, historic Customs warehouse, dating back to 1830. It's located on the waterfront in the Skansen area. The exhibits are focused on early polar exploration, the terrain and environment. Also included are whaling and sealing exhibits, which are a bit gruesome.
We were very happy we had prepared for rain, because just about noon, the clouds moved in and the rains came.
We decided it was the perfect time for lunch, but several of the restaurants we saw didn't open till 2pm. Finally, on a side street leading from the city centre, we found a quaint little restaurant. There was one table remaining, so we felt pretty fortunate.
Their menu was quite varied - ranging from fish dishes and salads to nachos. John ordered a smoked salmon salad, which looked fabulous. I opted for the nachos - had to get my spicy food fix. They were some of the best I've ever had - anywhere.
By the time we finished lunch, the rain had ceased and the sun was out. We walked around for the city centre for a while and then decided to head back to the ship.
The skies began to darken (again), so instead of walking back, we found a taxi. He delivered us to the port in a very timely manner and a reasonable price.
For dinner this evening, for a change of venue, all of us from our evening table met at the Pinnacle. We had a great time - good conversation, good food and a relaxing, comfortable evening.
Tomorrow we will spend the day at sea heading south to Alesund, Norway, crossing the Arctic Circle again.
We are invited to a Captain's brunch at 11am tomorrow. The brunch is to honor the members of the Mariners Society - the "frequent cruisers" of Holland America.