Tromsø offers many outdoor options in summer and winter, on land or at sea. Choices include sea or inland fishing, whale safaris and scuba diving, skiing and hiking, mountain climbing, biking, and swimming (the local beach, "Telegrafbukta", or Telegraph Bay, rarely gets above 14 degrees Centigrade, though).
Nicknamed 'the Paris of the North' Tromso is a lively city, located spectacularly on an island in Northern Norway, and surrounded by mountains, fjords and islands in all directions. It is the largest city in the region (2004: pop. 62,000), and residents will frequently point out that their outpost is home to the "World's Northernmost" brewery, university, planetarium, and mountain cable car, to name a few
The city's most famous landmark is the Arctic Cathedral ("Ishavskatedralen"), whose unique architecture is evocative of snow and icebergs. Its stained-glass windows are among the largest in Europe.
The Tromsø Museum has a good permanent
exhibit on the Lapps (or "Sami"
people) who are the indigenous people to
the Northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland
and Russia. The Polar Museum exhibits artifacts relating to arctic hunting
and fishing, while the Polaria Experience
Centre focuses on Arctic nature and
environment, and features a "walk-through"
The Mountain Cablecar, "Fjellheisen," took us 420 meters above the sea, where we delighted in the view of Tromsø.
Fishing, subsistence farming, and trade of Arctic goods were the traditional occupations in Tromsø. While education, administration, and high tech industries have displaced them, the locals' outlook on life is still coloured by their roots. Residents are typically open, direct and hospitable with a good sense of humour that most certainly has been an asset when the going gets rough.