Tramping around Tromsø (part 1)

Day 14 Tromsø arrival

I skimmed over the days in Tromsø, so I want to go back and revisit them.

On the ship at dock in Longyearbyen, we were up for a 6:30 a.m. breakfast, having got our suitcases ready at 6 a.m. for disembarking. At least we weren’t in the group that had to disembark (with their suitcases) by zodiac about 1 a.m. because they had early flights to catch. The rest of us hung about in Longyearbyen – it was rather cold and a bit rainy so not condusive to long walks – and caught up with our emails (there had been no internet service on the ship) or did some last-minute shopping, then a bus took us to the airport for the 90 minute flight to Tromsø. The Arctic circle officially starts at 66°33′N so, as Tromsø is at 69°65′N, we were still within it.

It took positively aaages to get through the passport-stamping line after getting off the plane from Longyearben. There were only two officials doing everything by hand. This was in stark contrast to other airports where everything was done electronically and speedily. It didn’t help that we Aussies are not part of the Shengen agreement so didn’t have the fast-through option.

The waiting bus then took us to our very swish hotel (Clarion @ The Edge) at the waterfront and handily witihin a short walk to the centre of town.

Now we were back to a group of 14 Aussie ‘gardeners’ rather than an international group of 80-ish wildlife enthusiasts. While the others went for a pizza, I went for a stroll around the town – I’d rather use such time being what the French call a flâneur, especially since the sun was virtually up all night and the shops didn’t close till late. The town was quite touristy, as is to be expected. There were souvenir shops selling more or less the same ‘cute’ (ugly) trolls, some Sami stuff (the indigenous people from the north, a few of whom are still reindeer herders), and a lot of knives with reindeer-antler handles. Wooden spoons also seemed to be hot sellers – I guess they are light and easy to slip into the suitcase for presents. And ‘Viking helmets’ with horns – urgh, Hollywood has a lot to answer for. The helmets of the ancient Vikings definitely did not have horns.

I find restaurant  and cafe menus interesting for what they can tell you about local eating habits – the flavour of the place, so to speak. Since whale is sustainably fished in Norway, one would expect it on a menu. I wasn’t disappointed. Having eaten whale in Japan – I wouldn’t dare insult my hosts by refusing to eat it as they had bought it especially for me – and not being impressed, I wasn’t going to try it here. Divide by 6 to get the Aussie dollar equivalent at the time.

By the way, the Egyptian foul (below) was not foul – it is the legitimate name for a dish with fava beans.

Day 15 Tromsø botanic garden

Next morning, with overcast skies, we were taken by bus to the Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden, the most northerly botanic garden in the world. This amusing ‘Fasten your seatbelt’ sign was in the bus. My Norwegian is limited to ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ so it wasn’t until I looked up the relevant website that I found out what it was all about, and also that the fine for not wearing a seatbelt was then 1500 kroner (about A$250).

Here’s an explanation from the Nettbuss website:

                 Without a belt, you will be the elephant in the bus

“Few know how dangerous it is that the others on the bus do not wear a seat belt. What we often see in accidents is that passengers are thrown around in or out of the bus. In this way, passengers can do great damage to both themselves and each other,” says Jon Molnes in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

Take the test – check how heavy you get in speed here

You enter your weight, and find out which animal you will be at 80 km/h. While your child may become a moose, you may even end up as a much larger animal.

“Few people want an ox on their neck. We want to make passengers more aware that they not only fasten their seat belts for their own part, but also for those they travel with. Fortunately, there are few accidents with buses, but the potential for damage is great if something should happen,” says Molnes.

The gardens are neatly divided into sections, displaying alpine and Arctic plants from mountainous regions all over the world. Each plant has a label. I wonder how they survive in winter – my relative who lives in Oslo has to replant her garden every year after the winter snows have killed everything off.

Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden

Being spring, many were flowering.

As well as areas covering families of plants, they had plantings of mixed plants under the headings such as ‘fragrant plants’, ‘aphrodisiacs’, ‘native traditional plants’ and, my favourite, ‘witchcraft plants’. I just love the Norwegian word for the last: trolldomsplanter.

Naturally, with Mark on the case, we just had to see some orchids.

I’m not a botanist as such, but I really enjoyed these plantings. After lunch, we were due to go on a walking tour of the city, which I’ll cover next time.

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4 Responses to Tramping around Tromsø (part 1)

  1. Prue Gargano says:

    Lovely orchids in particular. And what a memory you’ve got! (Aided by a diary?)

  2. Christa Schwoebel says:

    Hello Joy, With Lismore being in the “border bubble” will you still find time to continue your arctic blog or are you heading across to lap up culture and see friends? It must be interesting to go back to your memories, your notes and photographs. I liked the information on becoming the elephant on the bus. Never thought of that effect before. With everything else, it feels a bit like being a flaneur with you. Especially checking out the menus. Nothing new here. Life is a mixture of small political actions like knit-ins with the Nannas, selling books (still going well), going for walks and a bit of gardening. Didn’t paddle recently, because the group went to the river mouth where it is too windy, too many waves, too much hard work to get back to the ramp. Oh yes, something very new. I’m invited to a wedding. Two guys. I only know one of them. Seems to be a bit of a posh affair and I’m struggling with shopping for clothes. I’ve only ever been to one wedding in Australia. That was about 35 years ago and a casual gathering in the couple’s garden. Cheers Christa


    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Christa. I’ve had some invites to go over the border but will leave it until after the school holidays and then wait probably a couple of weeks to see if there are any covid developments. No point going there if I suddenly can’t get back! I’m enjoying revisiting my Norway trip – it’s travel, if only vicariously. I do enjoy wandering without an objective – you never know what you’ll find. I’ll write some more – one more on Tromso and then Bergen at least. The Bungabbee State Forest over the ‘hill’ from me is about to be logged, so there’s a campaign mounting against it. Enjoy your wedding – well, not yours but theirs – you can get some really nice clothes in op shops these days. Or you can just be a bit creative with what you already have. (I’m obviously the style guru – not!)

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