Monday in Tromsø

Today it’s raining. Tromsø was already hard enough to get around but now there’s slush, there’s snow, there’s sheet ice, there’s combinations of all three. There are also patches of completely clear pavement in places, clear and dry. No idea how that’s happened.

In the summer I’d happily walk out of town to Polaria but in winter, it’s too slippery just to get around the city centre, which is why I’ve spent this morning in the library writing the weekend’s blogs while listening to some gorilla on the computer behind me grunting and snoring and eating salami and breathing like a walrus with a rope tied around its neck and I’m so glad I’ve nearly finished this blog and can leave. Not that there’s anywhere to go. It’s raining and it’s slippery and I’m definitely not walking over the big bridge to see the Arctic Cathedral again. I could desperately do with something to drink, so I’ll find somewhere for that, and then maybe I’ll go and appreciate Tromsø’s cafe culture by drinking hot chocolate somewhere with a Nice view – not that any of the views are particularly Nice when there’s a cloud hanging over the city.

After I’d stumbled down to the harbour again, muttered rude words at the ice and failed to find anywhere undercover to eat my bread and cheese, I found myself a street away from the big Spar and I knew that was close to Polaria so off I toddler on fairly ice-free streets, until that ran out and I was back to picking my way along with one hand on the nearest drainpipe. I spotted that the opposite pavement was clear so it was time to cross the road. The road itself was ok but here’s the thing. It’s ok because they pile the ice and snow and grit up next to the pavement and that little mountain did not prove easy to cross. I put a foot on it and a hand on a parked car but it was too slippery. Could I jump and hope I landed on a dry patch? I was just considering my options when a lovely Norwegian came along with his hands held out to help me over, which was lovely.

Polaria… doesn’t have much to recommend it. The Svalbard panoramic film is nice but only about ten minutes long, the cafe didn’t object to me eating my bread and cheese in there and then there was only the seal show left.

They have four seals, two large bearded seals from Svalbard called Bella and Mai Sann who are 600+kg and two harbour seals called Lyra and Loffen who are only 60-70kg. Actually, the bearded seals must be wrong, they couldn’t be ten times the size of the harbour seals. But they were pretty big. They scrambled onto the edge of the pool, they fetched toys, they jumped through a hoop, they swam around a buoy, they jumped right up to a buoy hanging from the ceiling.

I made my way up the bus stop, having dodged the Over 50s group in Polaria (they were wearing lanyards and they didn’t know that you take Yaktrax off inside! Oh, the clatter. Oh, the wear on the floor. Oh, the likelihood that one of them was going to fall over because metal studs don’t grip hard floors, didn’t your tour guide tell you that?

There was a fluddle at the bus stop. It looked surprisingly deep so I tested it with my foot. It was surprisingly deep. My foot got wet. I wasn’t sure whether the Flybuss would stop there – the timetable said yes but there was no mention on the bus stop so I jumped on local bus 42 which definitely stopped there and definitely went to the airport. Admittedly, it dropped me downstairs at the car park rather than at the terminal door but that was fine. I checked in, got randomly drug-tested at security and now I’m sitting at a gate wondering why everyone at this airport breathes so loudly.

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