and the Fjords around Tromsø
200 miles above the Arctic Circle
July 20 - 27, 2010
with Elston and Jackie
Tromsø is 200 miles above the Arctic Circle yet the climate is rather moderate and best described as sub Arctic. There is no
permafrost. Greenland may be a frozen mass just above the Arctic Circle, but Norway is warmed by the gulf current.

Tromsø is the seventh largest city in Norway with a population of 54,000 people. Most of the city is located on an island which
can be reached by bridges on the east and west as well as a tunnel on the east side.

Below, the view from Tromso of the east bridge off the island.
Right, the most famous landmark in
Tromsø, the "Arctic Cathedral".

The church was built in 1965 and is a
parish church, not a cathedral.
Tromsø does have a cathedral, the only wooden cathedral in
Norway, which was completed in 1861. Jackie and I went to this
cathedral to listen to a violin and organ concert and arrived a little
early. To our delight, a Sami wedding had just been completed.

Below, a picture of the inside of the church.The organ was built in

Further below, the Sami wedding participants taking pictures of
the bride and groom on the steps of the church..Sami culture is
the first known culture of the Tromsø Region. For more about the
Sami (the "reindeer people") click this link.

Wikipedia on the Sami People
For such a remote city, Tromsø is a sophisticated city. It has a university and many cultural events. Tromsø also has the most
old wooden buildings of any city in Norway.
Studies have rated Norway at the top of
countries in the world for the happiness
of its people. There is full health
coverage for everyone and lengthy
sabbaticals for new parents. The housing
is very nice and everything is so clean.

Norway is also the most expensive city in
the world. Normally, Jackie and I do not
frequent hamburger fast food joints. But
in Tromsø we went to Burger King with
the locals, the cheapest place for dinner.
Two burgers, two drinks, and one french
fries was $30!

Fortunately, we packed a bunch of
Trader Joe and Costco food.
The University in Tromsø has a first rate botanical garden of Arctic flowers from all
the Arctic regions of the world as well as the highest mountains on every
continent. It was also a nice place for a soon to be bride and groom to have their
pictures taken.

The strangest thing about Tromsø was its tunnels. One uses the tunnels to get
from the east to the west side of the island more than a mile under ground. The
tunnels also run from North to South. The quickest way to get from North to South
is to use other tunnels. The tunnels have round abouts and parking as well.
Tunnels were not unique to Tromsø. We encountered tunnels everywhere we drove. The tunnel below went for several miles
before we emerged. Some tunnels took us under the Fjords to reach the other side. Did I tell you Jackie is afraid of tunnels?
Jackie and I have driven to the Arctic in Alaska and the Northwest Territories and the Yukon where there are no paved roads
above the Arctic Circle. In contrast, the roads here were quite good although usually quite narrow and did not have shoulders.

What was also amazing were all the bridges we crossed. The bridge below went to an island that had only a small population.
Everywhere one looked there were waterfalls such as the one at the left in the picture below.
Wild flowers were abundant everywhere, particularly along the edge of the roads.
The trees are not large and tundra and flowers and ferns usually carpet the
ground underneath the trees.
What is amazing is how
thoroughly human
habitation covers the
Fjords. Highways, tunnels,
bridges, and ferries reach
the most remote places.
We drove around for
seven days, rarely
repeating ourselves. The
Fjords are lined with
fishing and farming
The houses on the right
are historic homes, but
sod roofs are still common
on newer houses. We
were impressed by the
size and quality of all the
homes we saw.

Mostly, all homes and
buildings in Norway are
painted red, pumpkin, and
sometimes white.
Left, cod drying.
This barn is typical of the
way barns have been
built for generations.
There is a ramp on the
back side, which is
usually higher, to the
second level of the barn.
There is a lot of cutting of hay. Sheep, cows, and horses are all raised here, two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Rest stops are well maintained
and happily used by those in
The best part of the trip is having a wonderful traveling companion to share these ventures with.
And for those who
pity us for being so
far north, two more
pictures of the local
scenery which
should make you
realize this is not the
harsh place most
people think it is..
Above, another picture of the bridge from Tromsø area.

But enough of
Tromsø. What we enjoyed most was our drives
around the Fjords in the Tromsø. And always at my side is my
new photographer assistant who took many of the pictures for
this trip.