Tuesday 29th June 2010
With a long and helpful sleep, I have awoken fresh and recovered from yesterday's slept deprivation. However, this will be another long day with the going down the hill to catch the Hurtigruten coastal steamer, at around 11:30 pm.
In the late morning I headed off down the hill for the day's activities. I have packed the thermal long johns and left the down jacket behind. Now it is back to the fleece jacket and no merino layer. The sun's warmth was noticeable although my computer weather software indicated a cool 10 degrees outside. It certainly felt a bit warmer than that and the day's high estimate of 13 degrees seemed to exceeded as the day wore on.
A quick visit to the post office to send some CD's and a DVD home together with some souvenirs. I had a helpful counter assistant, which always helps make posting home easier.
One of the highlights of Tromso is the University of Tromso's Museum. It includes a exhibition of Sami. While I was waiting for bus 37 to take me there I wandered around the stalls at the Market Square. Most were the same as last week but there were some additions such as the truck selling fish and the Thai food stall. Both of these stalls were doing a steady trade but some of the other stalls were just as unvisited as they had been last week. I wonder how people make a living from apparently such a small number of sales.
The bus ride to the University cost 26 kroner. It wove its way around the main streets before heading up the hill and travelling along the narrow residential streets. There was a mixture of older homes and more modern ones. Trees were plentiful. It seems strange to be back amongst trees after being in Svalbard.
Suddenly I noticed that the bus stop we had reached said Tromso Museum. So I grabbed my back pack and hurried off the bus. The museum was around the corner and a couple hundred metres walk. I was just walking up the path to the museum when I realised that I did not have my camera. I was sure I had it on the bus but not now. I was just checking inside my pack when a bus tooted. I looked around and behind me was my bus with the driver holding out the camera with a smile. The bus had done a loop back to find me. I was so thankful. What a good advertisement for the kind of people who live in Tromso.
The museum was certainly worth a visit. It had sections of the geological history of the area which included several meteorites and sample sections from others. There was a section explaining the Northern Lights. I took the opportunity to watch the 10 minute slide show of Northern Lights photographs in the theatrette. The photos were often breath taking. It certainly must be fascinating living in a 'lights' area. These shots certainly made my one observation in Canada last year pale into insignificance.
The upper floor was mostly given over to displays on Sami culture and a photographic display on the struggle for the preservation and acknowledgement of their identity and culture. Outside amongst the trees there is a Sami Gami or mid walled hut. A local Sami university graduate mans the hut and will discuss the culture with you. Inside it has exposed thin birch tree trunks shaped a bit like a teepee, but curved over at the top. There were also some snow curved trunks joined together to form a supporting arch. The trunks were lined on the outside with birch bark before the earth was piled up on top. The hut has already been standing there for over 30 years. On the floor, small birch twigs and branches had been laid down as insulation and reindeer hides laid on top. Sami would rest on this for their bed. One other person and I had a great conversation with this young Sami, but once the German tour party arrived, it was time for me to leave. I knew that more would follow. Out in front of the museum were eight tour buses with yet another arriving. The remaining exhibition halls were crowded.
The Sami informant had been preparing coffee on the open fire inside the house. However, I decided that rather than wait I would buy coffee at the cafe.
Back in the museum, there was an interesting collection of photographs which had been taken be a school teacher who had taught in Sami schools during the 1950's. His photos now provide an important collection of visual documentation of the Sami way of life in the early Post-War period. The museum now has a project underway to photograph contemporary Sami life to supplement this older collection. In time the new pictures will be just as significant as the original teacher's collection is today.
Other exhibitions included religious art which was mostly old altar pieces and wooden statuary from churches. A small but interesting collection. Another was about the establishing of an off shore gas field near Tromso.
A bus back to the Sentrum and then I waited around for the next bus which would take me up and over the impressive bridge spanning the harbour. It seemed to be quite a steep climb up the city side of the bridge arch. We reached the top and because of the shape almost as quickly started descending on the other side. Once back on land, we drove past the Aortic Cathedral. This is a tourist attraction in its own right. It is white and looks a bit like a series of ice blocks pointing upwards to the sharply peaked roof. A bit like young fold mountains perhaps. You pay to visit so it would have been a good idea to get there around 2 pm when the organ recital was on each day.
But I was going further. My target was to ride up the aerial cable car to the top of the mountain. I have been able to see the cable car's cutting through the bush as a sort of scar on the hillside, from across the harbour. Now I am going to ride up it.
I have always been apprehensive of travelling on transport such as this. However, this time I did it without a thought. There are two little yellow cars attached to overhead cable. They have standing room only and would carry say, 20 at a time. From their rounded design and from the general look of the building, I deduced that the cable cars have been in existence for a long time.
The ride up the mountain side give a bit over 400 metres rise in altitude. When I got out at the top and went into the visitors' centre that you flow into, I realised that the top of the mountain was a bit higher up but hidden from below. There were various tracks which people were walking along round the mountain and up to the summit. What I had done in my ride was to rise above the tree line and I was now in an alpine tundra area.
From the viewing platform, in fact from anywhere, the view was great. I looked out across the harbour, across the island which Tromso is situated on and across more fjord areas to the mountains behind. There was still quite a bit of snow cover on them. However, at the hotel there is a large panorama taken from this spot. It shows Tromso on a winter's day. It is covered in show and it all looks very attractive. Well I was in the right spot, the view was great but the snow was mostly missing.
The restaurant – yes there has to be one at the top of a cable car- had tables set out on the viewing platform. I guess it would be great to dine outside with the clear cool air and bright sunshine and snow all around. However, my feeling was that the restaurant prices were high for what they offered. I mean, the equivalent of NZ$12 for a hot dog, even if it did come with fries, did seem expensive to me.
I went to catch the 7 pm cable car down and found it was full with six unable to fit in. However, although the next car down would have been 7:30 pm, once the up coming car reached the top, it loaded us in and went back down again. That was nice.
There was only a ten minute wait for the bus and then back across the bridge to the city. I collected some bananas, water, cheese and bread rolls for the trip tomorrow from the supermarket. Then back up the hill to the hotel to pack and get ready for the next stage of the journey.
I a month's time I will already be back in New Zealand.