June 21, 2014 Tromso, Norway
Researchers have found evidence of civilization in this area dating back nearly 10,000 years. Tromso is the seventh largest city in Norway today with a population of about 75,000. The city of Tromso is split between an island called Tromsoya and the main land now connected by a bridge. The town was originally built on an island but after the bridge to the mainland was completed in the 1960’s the town expanded to the mainland. Due to its very northern location, Tromso was often used as a starting point for Arctic expeditions.
There is a very large medical university in Tromso where students from all over the world study specialties like hypothermia, sun deprivation and depression, as well as the ordinary subjects.
Our tour took us to the Tromsdalen Church or Arctic Cathedral as it is called, which is located on the mainland. This very modern church was built in the 1960’s and houses Europe’s largest stained-glass window measuring 1,500 square feet and depicting the return of Christ. The window was not part of the original design of the church but was later installed after the morning sun through the glass wall behind the altar was so blinding to the parishioners, they needed to wear sunglasses in church. The pastor couldn’t tell whether or not the people were paying attention.
Next we took the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of Mt. Storsteinen where we got a great view out over the town of Tromso. Unfortunately it was cold and snowing so the views were somewhat restricted. Luckily there was a lovely café at the top where you could enjoy the views from a warm comfortable spot.
Our next stop was the Tromso Museum, which is the largest and oldest research institution in northern Norway. Here we saw a short film about the Northern Lights phenomenon that occurs during the winter months when the sky is clear. These colorful swirling waves of bright colored light appear in the sky when the atmospheric conditions are just right.
Another exhibit was the Sami Ethnography exhibit where we learned about the indigenous “Sami” people who lived in this northern region from Norway, through Finland and into Russia. They believe that the Sami people (formerly called Laplanders but is now not politically correct) were using wooden ski’s with fur pelts on the bottoms for traction some 4,500 years ago. They lived in structures similar to a teepee (like our native Indians) although some of the permanent homes were more substantial including the use of wood for the structure with sod covering it. They used reindeer for pulling sleds, spears for hunting and lived completely off the land.
The museum here also features exhibits on geology, botany, zoology and archaeology that we had a quick look through.
After lunch onboard the ship, the weather was improving and we were able to take a shuttle bus back into town to have a look around. The city center is very charming with a blend of old and new architecture. Since today was the longest day of the year the city was having a summer solstice party including a midnight sun marathon.
We attended a cocktail party in the Crow’s Nest hosted by the captain for those guests who were on the ship for more than one cruise booked back to back. There was a good-sized group of folks in attendance. The evening’s entertainment was a repeat of a show that we had seen last week called “Ace’s High” performed by the Ryndam singers and dancers. Although we had seen it last week we went with friends to see it again.