Air Temperature: 10° C
Pressure: 1010 hPa
Wind: 28 km / h
Tromso, the beautiful and largest city in northern Norway crept into view in the early morning hours today. By 5 am we (the few of us who were up and about) could see the city buildings and bridges and by 7 am we were safely tied up alongside the pier. Yet again, the sun was shining brightly, though temperatures had dipped just a bit lower than we had experienced so far and there was a nippy wind blowing.
Shortly after breakfast the birders set out for their morning of bird watching in the countryside near the city and the rest of us hopped into buses heading off to look at the highlights this fascinating city had to offer us. Our first stop was at the beautiful and modern arctic cathedral. Built in 1965, it is probably the most famous landmark of the city, and can be seen from miles away. Its modern architecture was designed to resemble the folds and curtain-like shape of the aurora borealis, which can be viewed here in winter. Simple, yet elegant and allowing for maximum sunlight to enter we were impressed with its beautiful design.
Our next stop was to the Polar Museum situated close to the center of the city. This fascinating small museum showed many different aspects of life in the arctic – from the life of hunters and trappers as well as wildlife found in the area, to historical information and artifacts to do with the life of Norway’s most famous polar heroes – Roald Amundsen and Fridjof Nansen.
Next on the tour was a visit to Lake Prestvatn where we took a short stroll along the lakeside to admire the wildflowers blooming and the many bird species encountered which included many ducks with chicks of various sizes following their mother on zig-zag paths through the grasses growing at the water’s edge.
Last on our morning’s tour was a stop at the botanical gardens – the northernmost in the world. The plants that can grow at these high latitudes are quite astonishing in their diversity and we admired the variety of colors and shapes and the hardy attitudes of these species that manage to survive the harsh cold winters. The bright blue Himalayan poppy was quite spectacular to see with its very vivid and bright shade of blue. Strolling among the various sections of beautifully laid-out garden was pleasant in the sunshine and all too soon our time to board the buses was once again upon us.
This was our last stop on mainland Norway and after lunch we lifted the lines from the pier and headed out to sea once again in a northerly direction, but this time with our next destination as Svalbard! Slowly during the course of the afternoon the peaks and snowy mountaintops of Norway faded into the distance and we looked back at this wonderful land until it was a mere speck and then gone…..