Tag Archives: Tromso


By Corey Sandler

Although it snowed a bit during the night, hints of what pass for summer in northern Norway are evident: patches of asphalt that have been white for months, slush on sidewalks, and even some bare skin on the walkers and hikers in Tromsø.

We are preparing to head south to our last two ports of call in Norway before returning to the River Thames and London.

We went for a walk in balmy 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) today:

Back aboard ship, the huge LED screen in the Atrium displayed some photos of the Northern Lights. Some guests, I am told, may even pose in front of the photo and try to pass it off as the real thing. Nice try…

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/


By Corey Sandler

Back in Tromsø, we spent all day looking at the dark and gloomy sky, wondering how–or if–we were going to catch a glimpse of the Aurora once more. The skies never cleared here, but off we went nevertheless, with a guide promising cloudless skies two hours away…just across the border in Finland.

Sounded like a deal too good to miss. I have been in Southern Finland many times, in and around Helsinki on the Baltic Sea and in Karelia, just above Saint Petersburg in Russia. But we were headed for the region of Storfjord, near the town of Skibotn in far northern Finland.

Sweden was neutral during World War II, although the nation traded with both sides. Finland began the war fighting the Soviets in the Winter War with some success, becoming a proxy of Germany for a while. Later Finland fought against Germany, with the Soviets pushing them in that direction. By the end of the war, Finland was once again fighting–and losing–to the Soviets.

The Germans used the region as one of their land gateways to fight the Finns, and this was the only part of greater Tromsø that was not all but burned to the ground by the Germans.

Today it is a very, very remote place with mixed populations of Norwegians, Sami, and Kvan peoples.

And us. As promised, the skies were clear on the Finnish side of the border. Unfortunately, the bright supermoon  and a weak solar wind gave us only a glimpse of the lights. But for me, no voyage of exploration is without discovery.

Here is some of what we saw; for more, see my blog entry for 7 March below.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.


By Corey Sandler

We are out of the winter’s Polar Night, two months of near-total darkness. The day stretches about ten hours and the city bustles while the sun is visible.

And then it quickly grows dark.

All across the city, from our ship and from hotels, come wide-eyed visitors bundled up in nearly every piece of clothing they brought with them. They are headed into the countryside to wait and watch for one of nature’s most astounding sights: the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

They begin as filmy greenish clouds and then grow denser and begin to dance. The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, and that is the tipoff to raise your camera skyward. And modern digital cameras take in all of that light and produce amazing images that will stay with us forever.

Here are some of the pictures I made during a six-hour trek with some professional aurora hunters:

Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved 2019.

When you watch the aurora you understand how many human myths and beliefs were formed: dragons, specters, and pathways to the heavens.

All photos above by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

Photo of Corey Sandler by Polar Adventures, Tromsø, Norway 8 March 2019.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/


By Corey Sandler

March in Tromsø gives hope of the coming of spring and the possibility of summer here in the far north of Norway, well within the Arctic Circle.

I have been here several dozen times in summer when the sun never fully sets and the mountains are mostly green with a bit of white fringe on top. On this visit, we blew in with a snowstorm but by early morning it was a glorious day with blue skies and the whitest, cleanest snow imaginable.

Here is some of what we saw:

Clearing the aft deck of the ship and building a snowman, near the infinity pool which was unsurprisingly not in use.
Inside, looking out at breakfast.
Morning light in Tromsø.
Across the harbor to the mainland of Norway.
The sky above, the Sky below
Viking Sky at the dock.
A statue of the great arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who used this port for many of his expeditions, checks on shipping traffic.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

25 June 2013: Tromsø, Norway: Good day, sunshine, and never mind the clock

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Greetings from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Also the 3 a.m. sun and the noontime sun and cocktail hour sun.

This is also one of the best places in the world to experience the Aurora Borealis.

Except, of course, when the light is on all day. Midnight Sun means the Northern Lights are out of sight.

That doesn’t mean the sky is always blue. We have been in and out of the mists and rain for the past few days as we headed north up the west coast of Norway.

But this morning—morning by the clock—dawned bright and sunny and we happily headed into town.

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Silver Cloud at the dock, along with an ocean-going tug

Tromsø is the largest city and the largest urban area in Northern Norway, and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle, second only to Murmansk.

But please don’t expect Paris.

Even though at one time this small settlement did lay claim to the nickname of “The Paris of the North.”

Tromsø has very much the feel of a place near the end of the world. The shops and houses are painted in brilliant hues and modern structures feature mirrored glass to extend the views all around.

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It has a lot more color and liveliness than Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, which lie ahead of us on our journey.

Most of Tromsø is located on the small island of Tromsøya, 350 kilometers or 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, at 69 degrees 40 minutes north.

Among its civic claims to fame: the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden, cathedral, and most importantly, the northernmost brewery in the world.

Despite only being home to around 80 people, Tromsø was issued its city charter in 1794 by King Christian VII. The city quickly rose in importance with trading, fishing, churches, and a bit of culture.

Arctic hunting, from Novaya Zemlya to Canada, started up around 1820. By 1850, Tromsø was the major center of Arctic hunting, and the city was trading from Arkhangelsk to Bordeaux.

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Polar Museum

It was at this time that the small settlement bestowed upon itself the nickname “Paris of the North.”

The Macks Brewery was opened in 1877, and still maintains a presence.

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Macks Brewery, the northernmost brewery in the world, or so they say

By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø had become a major Arctic trade center from which many Arctic expeditions originated.

Explorers like Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and Fridtjof Nansen made use of the know-how in Tromsø on Arctic conditions, and often recruited their crew in the city.

It was in Trondheim, about 100 miles from Tromsø, that the Germans parked their prize battleship Tirpitz during World War II.

Its presence—if not its use—diverted the efforts of dozens of Allied ships, thousands of Allied airmen, and became a five-year obsession of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

By the end of the intense cat-and-mouse game in the North, the Tirpitz had been moved to a cove right outside of Tromsø, and it was there the battleship was finally sunk.

We enjoyed our morning in the sun, even when it began raining again. Later in the all-day morning, about 2 pm, blue skies returned.


In town, as we usually do, we visited a supermarket to learn about the real way of life in a foreign port. There we saw some things we expected–like whale meat–but one thing that caught us by surprise.

At the seafood counter was a basket of extra- extra-large brown speckled eggs, about two- to three-times the size of chicken eggs. They were, we learned, from seagulls. The price, about $4 each.

This is a great delicacy in northern Norway, despite the fact that here–like many places around the world–seagulls are referred to as “flying rats.” They are said to have a mild flavor, usually boiled and served on a piece of flatbread with melted butter atop them. (I can’t help imagining they actually taste like garbage bags and soda pop tops, but I did not put my theory to the test.)

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Here’s the way we experience Sun Shock here on board the beautiful Silver Cloud: we come back to our suite from an extended dinner at the end of the day, perhaps at 9:30 or 10 pm, and find the curtains tightly closed.

But a few beams of brightness leak through, and it’s all but impossible to resist opening the curtain:

Good morning, Tromsø, whatever the clock says.

Text and photos Copyright 2013, Corey Sandler. To obtain a copy of any photo, please visit the Order a Photo tab of this blog.