If you are ever in Tromsø, be sure to try their local beer. It was sparkling and quite yummy. Sadly, at roughly $10 a bottle, we spaced ourselves and only drank one each evening we were there. Notice the print on the bottom of the bottle: 69 ° 39′ 07″ N 018° 57′ 12″. Certainly on the list of the northern-most breweries in the world (over which there apparently is an ongoing competition if you believe what you read on Google!). Skål!
Traveling to Tromsø is almost like traveling to the top of the world. It is home to the northern most university in the world and is the largest city in northern Norway. It lies 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is quite proud of that. It has strong links to North Pole expeditions, which is over 1,400 miles away. Perhaps it’s most distinctive man-made structure is the Arctic Cathedral (above), which has the largest stained glass window in Europe and was designed to resemble an iceburg. Tromsø was also very active in the Norwegian Resistance during WWII, being just 60 miles as the crow flies to neutral Sweden.
The two-plus hour flight from Oslo took us over some breathtaking vistas. Norway has many glaciers, this one near Straumen (according to my handy-dandy iPhone geodata).
For two months every summer Tromso enjoys sunlight 24 hours a day. Conversely, for two months every winter the area is immersed in darkness. Those that live there “go with the flow.” Homes usually have light blocking shades or curtains on bedroom windows and hotels always do. It really is amazing to see this phenomenon first-hand. The photo of Deb, Barb and Joy was taken late in the evening, as you can tell by the shadows.
Shopping in Tromsø is no different than any other big city. We found several yarn shops, a couple thrift shops, restaurants with a sense of humor and tulips still in bloom as we walked over 10,000 steps on our “free” day in the city.
Any visit to Tromsø is not complete without a ride up the mountain in the newly upgraded cable car. Once on top you can wander above the tree line and spend time on your tummy taking photos of flowers and plants or enjoy the longer views. To help orient you to the daylight situation, these photos were taken at about 11 pm. Following our trip up the mountain, we went to the Cathedral and enjoyed a midnight concert. A spectacular end to our very full day.
One of the best parts of visiting Norway for me is seeing all the craft everywhere. Wood carving, metal work, glass work, painting, drawing, knitting, weaving, crochet, sprange, etc., etc. The appreciation survives and is being renewed. The “old” way began to disintegrate in the late 1800’s and before it was entirely gone, a group was formed to save the traditions. Today, the results of this work can be found in most medium-sized and larger cities. They are the Husfliden stores. There are also small shops catering to the crafts, such as Almankås, the one we visited last week in Bø.
Here are some close ups of the work they do and the yarn they use:
It was so special to go to a shop where there were people actually working by hand with needle and thread. Applique, buttonholes, intricate pleating, embroidery and such. You could tell that these women do it for love. It is more than just a job. Arnhild showed them a band I wove for her using sewing thread–a miniature of the center piece of her bunad belt. The shop ladies gathered around and wanted to feel it. They then pronounced that I would be just fine weaving my brikkeband (card weaving in Norwegian). Made me feel good. At left is a photo of my band and below photos of their working space in the shop. Working here would be almost as good as working at the museum.
I have a long tradition of writing of my adventures while traveling. I have done it on many trips, with my first being when I was in high school and an exchange student in Greece. Of course, then it was called keeping a diary and the only pictures were created with words. Being able to blog and have photos included is really quite a huge leap forward.
The air travel was smooth “sailing” except for suitcase separation anxiety. Love being selected for TSA Pre-Screening. Makes the trip so much more pleasant to begin with shoes on and carry ons packed.
This photo was taken as we began our descent into Amsterdam. A field of windmills in the sea. It rather looks like a watery cemetery. Wonder how the sea critters like it?
Arnhild met me at the airport and we drove to her daughter’s and got caught up–visiting, knitting, chasing down the lost suitcase and before I knew it it was bedtime (even tho’ it was still full daylight!).
Our first adventure was a short train trip to Oslo via train for lunch at the Library Room at The Bistro. Simply lovely. What is there not to like about a shrimp sandwich made with shrimp caught fresh from the harbor? Follow it with a Napoleon and, well, a little bit of heaven on earth. Our sightseeing took us to the Husfliden Bunader store that has “the real thing” when it comes to fabric, thread, silver, shoes, bands and more. Handwoven belts, such as the one on the mannequin above were available for purchase, as well as the apron belt band hanging under the belt. Lovely.
We were also anticipating to go to a performance of the King’s Drill Team, of which Arnhild’s grandson is a member, but it was raining. So, we returned home, a little soggy, but well-fed!