Wednesday June 11th ~ Tromso, Norway
Commonly called “The Gateway to the Arctic” because of all the polar expeditions that have departed from here, Tromso sits at 70 degrees north latitude, well inside the arctic circle.
Once again the weather Gods are shining on us and after a brisk morning, we were graced with a stellar day. Knowing we were headed even further north, and being completely unprepared for arctic weather we decided to make use of some free time this morning.
Tim picked up a warm pair of gloves and a stretch knit cap as well as new inserts for his boots. I already had gloves, but added a warm fuzzy hat and a pair of boots to my wardrobe. Not sure how or where I’m going to pack them, but I have 10 more days before I have to worry about that.
Tromso is a bit bigger than the last two towns we stopped at, however it did not have quite the charm. Right across the way from where we got off the ship we located a tourist office. They were very helpful. They provided us with a map and instructions as to how to take the bus on our own to catch the cable car up the mountain to take advantage of the clear morning views.
From the main square in town, we purchased the ticket in the corner store right across the street from the bus stop. It will save you a little money. Take bus #26. It runs regularly in season and we only had about a 10 minute wait. Once on board, we drove over the main bridge in town that connects the island of Tromso to the mainland. Our bus driver kindly called out when it was our stop.
The ride to the top of the mountain only takes a few minutes. The views were postcard perfect. There is a platform you can walk out on for an even better view, and a place for a hot beverage. We walked along a fence line a little further up the hill for even better views and to admire the many stacked rock formations that dot the hillside.
Returning to town via the same bus line, we could have hopped off to visit the Arctic Cathedral, but since it was included in our already booked afternoon tour we simply returned to the ship for lunch and to deposit our packages from the earlier purchases.
Our afternoon excursion included two places for sightseeing. The first was Polaris. I was quite disappointed in this tour. At Polaris we entered a small theater and watched a 20 minute movie and then passed by a few small and amateurish aquarium displays before watching four bearded seals swim around in a pool.
From there we drove through town and to our next stop at the Arctic Cathedral. After seeing so many spectacular churches throughout Central Europe, this one left me scratching my head. It just did not have any wow factor, but the end stain glass window was pretty. We spent about 15 minutes inside, took a few pictures and then rode back to the ship.
My recommendation for any one else visiting Tromso: Just do your own thing. It is easy to navigate on the local bus line and you can see all the main sights on your own for a fraction of the cost.
Interesting tidbit of information I found out today. According to Princess Cruise Line, the Vikings used to christen their ships with a human sacrifice. I’m thankful that today they just break a bottle of bubbly over the ship’s bow!
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for finding just the right accessories we needed to keep us toasty warm as we travel closer and closer to the North Pole.