Tag Archives: Tromsø

29 June 2019:
Tromsø, Norway:
Churchill’s Northern Obsession

By Corey Sandler

Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

It is the second largest city within the Arctic Circle, behind only Murmansk, Russia. (Some of you may be preparing to look up the population of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Let me save you the trouble: Reykjavik is a sizeable city about twice the size of Tromsø, but only a small slice at the northern end of the entire island nation of Iceland is within the Arctic Circle.)

Back to Tromsø. Please don’t expect Paris.

Even though at one time this city of 50,000 or so did claim the nickname “The Paris of the North.” It earned that title because successful merchants in the late 19th and early 20th century developed a relatively significant trade with France and brought back a few of the niceties of Paris.

Today I went with guests to see the striking Arctic Cathedral and then to ascend the cable car to the mountain above for a view of the island city. Finally, we visited the Polar Museum, filled with artifacts, photos, and charts of the early explorers and hunters of the far north.

Just as I had promised the guests, we had all four seasons in the course of one day. Starting with rain, moving to a brief glimpse of sun, then snow squall, and back to gray skies.

Silver Wind at the dock
The Arctic Cathedral
The Polar Museum

It is still a very remote place, quite cold and dark in the winter and chilly and not dark at all in the Midnight Sun of summer. Summer solstice came a week ago, on June 21 so locals and visitors will not see the sun fully drop below the horizon for another month.

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø was a major base for Arctic expeditions. Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile and Fridtjof Nansen picked up supplies and often recruited their crew in the city.

As the Germans advanced northward in 1940 early in World War II, Tromsø briefly served as the seat of Norwegian government. Tromsø escaped the war without major damage, although this part of Northern Norway was one of the most closely watched places in the world.

It was just outside of Tromsø the great German battleship Tirpitz was finally bottled up and destroyed by the Allies after serving as the northern obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill because of the threat it posed to Allied convoys and military vessels in the area.


Big sky in Tromsø.
Tromsø in winter, on a previous visit.


All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

21 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ, NORWAY: LAST CALL FOR THE WINTER

By Corey Sandler

Although it snowed a bit during the night, hints of what pass for summer in northern Norway are evident: patches of asphalt that have been white for months, slush on sidewalks, and even some bare skin on the walkers and hikers in Tromsø.

We are preparing to head south to our last two ports of call in Norway before returning to the River Thames and London.

We went for a walk in balmy 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) today:

Back aboard ship, the huge LED screen in the Atrium displayed some photos of the Northern Lights. Some guests, I am told, may even pose in front of the photo and try to pass it off as the real thing. Nice try…

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

20 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ, NORWAY: A SIDE TRIP TO FINLAND

By Corey Sandler

Back in Tromsø, we spent all day looking at the dark and gloomy sky, wondering how–or if–we were going to catch a glimpse of the Aurora once more. The skies never cleared here, but off we went nevertheless, with a guide promising cloudless skies two hours away…just across the border in Finland.

Sounded like a deal too good to miss. I have been in Southern Finland many times, in and around Helsinki on the Baltic Sea and in Karelia, just above Saint Petersburg in Russia. But we were headed for the region of Storfjord, near the town of Skibotn in far northern Finland.

Sweden was neutral during World War II, although the nation traded with both sides. Finland began the war fighting the Soviets in the Winter War with some success, becoming a proxy of Germany for a while. Later Finland fought against Germany, with the Soviets pushing them in that direction. By the end of the war, Finland was once again fighting–and losing–to the Soviets.

The Germans used the region as one of their land gateways to fight the Finns, and this was the only part of greater Tromsø that was not all but burned to the ground by the Germans.

Today it is a very, very remote place with mixed populations of Norwegians, Sami, and Kvan peoples.

And us. As promised, the skies were clear on the Finnish side of the border. Unfortunately, the bright supermoon  and a weak solar wind gave us only a glimpse of the lights. But for me, no voyage of exploration is without discovery.

Here is some of what we saw; for more, see my blog entry for 7 March below.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

7-8 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ BY NIGHT: THE NORTHERN LIGHTS FOUND

By Corey Sandler

We are out of the winter’s Polar Night, two months of near-total darkness. The day stretches about ten hours and the city bustles while the sun is visible.

And then it quickly grows dark.

All across the city, from our ship and from hotels, come wide-eyed visitors bundled up in nearly every piece of clothing they brought with them. They are headed into the countryside to wait and watch for one of nature’s most astounding sights: the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

They begin as filmy greenish clouds and then grow denser and begin to dance. The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, and that is the tipoff to raise your camera skyward. And modern digital cameras take in all of that light and produce amazing images that will stay with us forever.

Here are some of the pictures I made during a six-hour trek with some professional aurora hunters:

Near midnight the aurora began dancing.

When you watch the aurora you understand how many human myths and beliefs were formed: dragons, specters, and pathways to the heavens.

All photos above by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

Photo of Corey Sandler by Polar Adventures, Tromsø, Norway 8 March 2019.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

7 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ BY DAY

By Corey Sandler

March in Tromsø gives hope of the coming of spring and the possibility of summer here in the far north of Norway, well within the Arctic Circle.

I have been here several dozen times in summer when the sun never fully sets and the mountains are mostly green with a bit of white fringe on top. On this visit, we blew in with a snowstorm but by early morning it was a glorious day with blue skies and the whitest, cleanest snow imaginable.

Here is some of what we saw:

Clearing the aft deck of the ship and building a snowman, near the infinity pool which was unsurprisingly not in use.

Inside, looking out at breakfast.

The morning light in Tromsø.

Across the harbor to the mainland of Norway.

Viking Sky at the dock.

A statue of the great arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who used this port for many of his expeditions, checks on shipping traffic.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

27 July 2018:
Tromsø, Norway:
Not Quite Paris

By Corey Sandler,

Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

It is the second largest city within the Arctic Circle, behind only Murmansk.

But it is not Paris.

Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.”

It is a relatively attractive place for one of the ends of the earth, with a lot more color and liveliness than Murmansk which lies around the corner in Russia about one degree of latitude to the south.

Once again we are visiting the far north in a period of extraordinary weather. It is very pleasant to be here with bright sun and warm temperatures, but rather frightening when you consider how unusual this change in climate is.

Silver Wind at the dock today.

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018, all rights reserved.

By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux. It was at this time the small settlement picked up the nickname of “Paris of the North.”

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major setting off place for Arctic expeditions. Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile and Fridtjof Nansen Picked up supplies and often recruited their crew in the city.

The Polar Museum, Polarmuseet, in a wharf house from 1837, presents Tromsø’s past as a center for Arctic hunting and starting point for Arctic expeditions.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

19 June 2017:
Tromsø, Norway:
Northern Exposure

By Corey Sandler

Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

It is the second largest city within the Arctic Circle, behind only Murmansk.

Please don’t expect Paris. Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.” Everything is relative, I suppose.

Tromsø has a population of about 50,000, and the urban area spreads widely across about 973 square miles or 2,500 square kilometers.

Photos by Corey Sandler

It is home to the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden, cathedral, and most importantly, the northernmost brewery in the world.

Now someone out there is saying: what about Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland?

Well, Reykjavik is larger than Tromso, about twice the population. But it lies about 150 miles short of the Arctic Circle.

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820.

On today’s visit I went in search of monuments to a diverse group of people who were born or spent time here.

Among the ones I found was a statue to the great explorer Roald Amundsen. After 35 years of circling the globe, in 1928 Amundsen sent out to find the crew of another Expedition that have been lost in the Arctic.

In June of 1928, Umberto Nobile, a friend and sometime companion of Amundsen was missing in the Arctic and the Norwegian explorer launched a rescue mission.

Amundsen’s seaplane crashed somewhere in the Barents Sea and he and five other members of his crew were never found.

The statue of Roald Amundsen, not far from his home in Tromso.

In the center of the city is a large statue of a tall man comma King Haakon VII, who was sovereign of Norway through World War II, including time in exile in London.

King Haakon VII

Adolph Thomsen was a renowned organist and composer born in Bergen. From 1879 to 1883 he served as the organist at the Cathedral here. One of his compositions, “Childhood Memory of Nordland” is considered an unofficial anthem of the north.

Adolf Thomsen

And then there is Peter Wessell Zappfe, born in Tromso in 1899. He was a physician, author, and mountaineer.

He is best known though for his writings which put forth a pessimistic and fatalistic view of human existence, in part inspired by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

Zapffe argued that humans are born with an overdeveloped skill of understanding and self-knowledge, which does not fit into nature’s design.

And so, why is Zappffe shown smiling on his plaque?

By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux. The French connection led to the somewhat dubious Paris nickname.

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major setting off place for Arctic expeditions. Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and Fridtjof Nansen picked up supplies and often recruited their crew in the city.

In the heart of the city is the Church of Our Lady.

Like many other things in Tromso, it has a northernmost claim: the farthest north Catholic bishopric. The present church was completed in 1861.

Although the local Catholic population is only about 350, Pope John Paul II visited this small church and stayed as a guest of the bishop in 1989.

That makes it, of course, the northernmost Catholic church ever visited by a Pope.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

25 June 2013: Tromsø, Norway: Good day, sunshine, and never mind the clock

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Greetings from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Also the 3 a.m. sun and the noontime sun and cocktail hour sun.

This is also one of the best places in the world to experience the Aurora Borealis.

Except, of course, when the light is on all day. Midnight Sun means the Northern Lights are out of sight.

That doesn’t mean the sky is always blue. We have been in and out of the mists and rain for the past few days as we headed north up the west coast of Norway.

But this morning—morning by the clock—dawned bright and sunny and we happily headed into town.

Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4964

Silver Cloud at the dock, along with an ocean-going tug

Tromsø is the largest city and the largest urban area in Northern Norway, and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle, second only to Murmansk.

But please don’t expect Paris.

Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.”

Tromsø has very much the feel of a place near the end of the world. The shops and houses are painted in brilliant hues and modern structures feature mirrored glass to extend the views all around.

Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4998 Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4987

It has a lot more color and liveliness than Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, which lie ahead of us on our journey.

Most of Tromsø is located on the small island of Tromsøya, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, at 69 degrees 40 minutes north.

Among its civic claims to fame: the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden, cathedral, and most importantly, the northernmost brewery in the world.

Despite only being home to around 80 people, Tromsø was issued its city charter in 1794 by King Christian VII. The city quickly rose in importance with trading, fishing, churches, and a bit of culture.

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820. By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting, and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux.

Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4982

Polar Museum

It was at this time that the small settlement bestowed upon itself the nickname “Paris of the North.”

The Macks Brewery was opened in 1877, and still maintains a presence.

Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-5009

Macks Brewery, the northernmost brewery in the world, or so they say

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major Arctic trade center from which many Arctic expeditions originated.

Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and Fridtjof Nansen made use of the know-how in Tromsø on Arctic conditions, and often recruited their crew in the city.

It was in Trondheim, about 100 miles from Tromsø, that the Germans parked their prize battleship Tirpitz during World War II.

Its presence—if not its use—diverted the efforts of dozens of Allied ships, thousands of Allied airmen, and became a five-year obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

By the end of the intense cat-and-mouse game in the North, the Tirpitz had been moved to a cove right outside of Tromsø, and it was there the battleship was finally sunk.

We enjoyed our morning in the sun, even when it began raining again. Later in the all-day morning, about 2 pm, blue skies returned.

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, EAT ‘EM

In town, as we usually do, we visited a supermarket to learn about the real way of life in a foreign port. There we saw some things we expected–like whale meat–but one thing that caught us by surprise.

At the seafood counter was a basket of extra- extra-large brown speckled eggs, about two- to three-times the size of chicken eggs. They were, we learned, from seagulls. The price, about $4 each.

This is a great delicacy in northern Norway, despite the fact that here–like many places around the world–seagulls are referred to as “flying rats.” They are said to have a mild flavor, usually boiled and served on a piece of flatbread with melted butter atop them. (I can’t help imagining they actually taste like garbage bags and soda pop tops, but I did not put my theory to the test.)

Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-5002 Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4993 Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4974 Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4973 Tromso Norway 25Jun2013-4970

Here’s the way we experience Sun Shock here on board the beautiful Silver Cloud: we come back to our suite from an extended dinner at the end of the day, perhaps at 9:30 or 10 pm, and find the curtains tightly closed.

But a few beams of brightness leak through, and it’s all but impossible to resist opening the curtain:

Good morning, Tromsø, whatever the clock says.

Text and photos Copyright 2013, Corey Sandler. To obtain a copy of any photo, please visit the Order a Photo tab of this blog.