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The Arctic Circle is closer than you think

I had always though of the Arctic as impossibly remote, but this press trip has cured me. I had driven to Aberdeen for the Bergen flight, but after 26 June I could have flown direct from Edinburgh in a couple of hours. And from Bergen to Tromso¸ takes less than 2.5 hours, although it's over 750 miles and the planes are not jets, but twin props.

On Saturday morning, we left Bergen dead on time by Wideroe Dash 8 at 09.00. The pilot kindly pointed out the towns and features we were overflying, but failed to mention the Arctic Circle, which we must have crossed before 11. Anyway, we were in Tromso¸ airport, baggage collected, by 11.30 and the SAS bus whisked us to the city centre within 10-15 minutes. One of the joys of air travel in Norway is the short transfers from airport to city centre. Another is the quality of the scenery. Flying feels like fun again.

After a cablecar trip to a fine lunch at the Fjellheisen restaurant, we enjoyed the panorama over Tromsø with its elegant bridge. Most of the city, including the airport, is on the island, but its "Arctic Cathedral" is on the mainland, here at lower right:


After lunch we visited the Polar Museum, the Norwegian Polar Institute and Polaria. The latter is a fine interactive museum full of portholes at knee height for toddlers. Although I enjoyed most of the exhibits, my heart was stolen by the delightful bearded seals:


And after a fairly long day, it was fabulous to walk across a Tromsø bridge to the "Arctic Cathedral" for a Midnight Concert. This superb building hosts well-judged short concerts at 11.30 pm through the season. Ours was performed by four young musicians on trumpet, cello, organ/piano and soprano. The programme embraced not only Grieg but also Bach (cello solo), Nielsen and a traditional Sami joik. It concluded with Fields of Gold sung in English. IMO the late Eva Cassidy sang it better than Sting, but this young soprano's performance was something else. The surroundings were sublime, the musicians talented and committed, and I was choking back the tears.



This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2010 8:56 PM.

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