As we arrived in Tromso, we came across some unique sights. We only had a 55 km drive from Sommaroy but with a few stops at interesting places, it took us most of the morning.
This is clearly an arctic area – stunted trees, tundra and more craggy mountains that remain snow-capped for much of summer. We are now 400 km above the Arctic Circle and I’m glad that we are doing this trip in summer, not winter. The midnight sun here occurs from about 18 May to 26 July. Owing to Tromsø’s high latitude, twilight is long, meaning there is no real darkness between late April and mid-August.
Tromsø sits on the eastern edge of the island of Tromsøya, and is linked to the mainland by a gracefully arched bridge. It is the largest urban area in Northern Norway and the third largest north of the Arctic Circle anywhere in the world (following Murmansk and Norilsk). It has a population of about 65,000 people.
The city centre of Tromsø contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway, the oldest house dating from 1789. It gIves me the impression off being a very active town – a distinguished university, many cafes, restaurants and an active waterfront.
Tromsø is a location where Sami people can be found. These indigenous people come from an area that encompasses large parts of Norway and Sweden, northern parts of Finland, and the Murmansk region of Russia. The Sami have historically been known in English as the Lapps or the Laplanders, but these terms can be perceived as derogatory. Sami ancestral lands are not well-defined. Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding. Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding.
In terms of tunnels, Tromsø takes the cake. We drove into town past the airport, over the bridge and through a tunnel to get to the city centre. Not only is the tunnel nearly 2 kilometres long; it also includes an intersection and a roundabout! Our hotel by the harbour doesn’t have a parking area, so I have moved our car into the underground parking area that is also part of the tunnel. One of the benefits of so little on-street parking in the city is that there is a lot less traffic and it is easy to walk around.
As I said in a previous post, the Norwegians are certainly the tunnel kings of the world. Check out this video on some current engineering proposals to improve the southern part of the coastal highway on which we have travelled.
As we were coming into Tromso, we passed three animals grazing by the roadside in an urban area. The were not fazed by the traffic and seemed oblivious to passing pedestrians. We had to do a U-turn to see them properly and they were three reindeer. We have been asked a few times whether we have kangaroos in our back yards in Australia, but I didn’t really expect to see reindeer grazing here by the city roadside.
Tromsø is the end of the road for us. It our most northerly point of travel and tomorrow we start heading home via Oslo and London.