Sunday, August 3, 2014

And the polar bear, is he here too?

On July 18th we went by car to Tromsø in Norway. A cable car goes up to mount Storsteinen, 421 metres above sea level. From there we had a rather grand view over Tromsø and the nearby islands. "Tromsø is located beside the mighty Arctic Ocean, surrounded by towering mountains."

Later we walked in the city, doing a little shopping, and on the way back to Kilpisjärvi we stopped by the seaside to explore the beach.

Some years ago I attended a conference in Tromsø, in summer, and we had a late dinner in the restaurant on top of mount Storsteinen. The sun never set, and we saw how the sun approached the horizon, only to start rising again. There were people hang-gliding in the updrafts of warm air by the mount, until the air cooled down late in the evening. This time there were no hang-gliders, maybe the season for that is over.

The norwegian hosts told us how it was to live in Tromsø a hundred years ago. They said that a typical story of a family was that the grandfather was poor, but managed to finally buy a boat for himself. The father enlarged the boat to a fleet of boats. And the son drank it all away so that the next generation started from scratch again.

Also, there were stories of polar bear hunting on the remote islands in the north by the polar ice cap, where one had to spend months or even a year before it was possible to return home by boat.

Some years later I read a book by Fridtjof Nansen, describing the Fram expedition, and those stories didn't seem to be so fantastic any more.

(Posting title is from the poem Glazunoviana by John Ashbery.)

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