Sunday, September 16, 2012

No Trouble in Tromso

This year, after my annual July business trip to London, I planned for a trip with my husband to Europe somewhere so we could celebrate with travel our 30th wedding anniversary on July 10.  He wanted to retrace our honeymoon which was a three week trip.  I could not take that much time from work and I proposed we just go to Paris.  He did not want to go museum hopping so I proposed Grenada in Spain to see Alhambra and possibly a side trip to Morocco.  He hemmed and hawed about that proposal, in part because of the heat.  So next I suggested Scandinavia and we agreed we would go to Norway to see fjords.

I also wanted to see the midnight sun so I located a city in northern Norway called Tromso  Tromso is locate about 250 miles above the Arctic Circle and seemed to have decent hotels, midnight sun and events for a 24 hour in the light life style. In particular I wanted to go to the Arctic Cathedral which had a midnight concert everyday and is bathed in light through the many church windows.  My husband thought that would be fabulous, although I discovered later that he thought the cathedral was made of ice.  His interest waned when I told him it was a regular building.

We left London for Tromso on July 13, a Friday for those of you who believe in that sort of thing.  After five days of rain in London, and the beginnings of a cold,  I was not too keen to see the weather report of rain for the entire time we planned to be in Tromso.  So much for the midnight sun, I thought.
But the Nordic gods smiled upon us because when we arrived in Tromso after traveling all day (it is over a 1000 miles from Oslo, where we had to change planes from London) the sun was trying to emerge. 

Our hotel, the  Rica Ishavshotel, sat right on the water and is built to resemble a ship. The waterway outside the hotel eventually leads to the Arctic Ocean.  It is a prime landing place for cruise ships.
Rica Ishavshotel


Here is our view from our window at the Rica Inshavshotel at 9:00 p.m .


The sun was out just at about midnight. This was the view from our room at 1:00 am:


The church to the left in the above pictures is the Arctic Cathedral described above and the light from the midnight sun in the west shines through the windows into the church.
Arctic Cathedral

We missed the concert because we went up the cable car on the lower hill to the right in the pictures above.  From there we got views of the midnight sun in the west, as shown below.  The pictures above are looking east.

View of Tromso and Midnight Sun

Looking north at glow of Midnight Sun
We woke up for breakfast which was an amazing buffet feast but could not stay awake thanks to the return of the dreary rain.  Late in the afternoon, when the rain had stopped for a while, we finally dragged ourselves out to see some sights in Tromso.  We visited Polaria, which has as its claim to fame, bearded arctic seals.  We watched a short film about the northern lights, which do not occur during the summer due to the position of the earth around the sun.  Otherwise electric impulses generate the green tinged northern lights near the Northern Pole, which is not too far from Tromso.  Then we spent some time with the seals, who were much more fun to watch than I expected.

Polaria

Bearded Seal

Clean shaven seal

Seal at play

We finished our time in Tromso having dinner at Aunegården, which features a cafe and restaurant in a historic building that was a butcher shop.  We got into the restaurant without a reservation by promising to vacate our table in an hour which turned out to be a challenge even for us, the original speed eaters.  I tried their vegetarian dish which was not that good but my husband had fish soup and some other fish that he proclaimed fabulous.  It is hard to be vegetarian in Tromso because there are not great vegetable dishes but there are wonderful fish dishes.  I did have one of the proclaimed cakes which met its reputation. The atmosphere was wonderful, including the large pictures from the early 20th century on the wall.

Interior of Aunegården

Aunegården Restaurant

Picture of entrance to what is now Aunegården

Aunegården building on left



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