notyourmonkey: (if I held my breath)
[personal profile] notyourmonkey
(In the Morgue now, which is actually mostly empty, and it’s also actually kind of chilly. Who knew? Also, I have a diet coke purchased from a vending machine at the dock, and the machine’s job was actually to keep the drinks warmer than they would be outside.)

I’d be hard-pressed to say whether I like Trondheim or Tromso better. Tromso is somewhat tainted by my sore feet and hint of regret at not taking full advantage of my four hours here, but it had its own rewards.

I did, in fact, seek out Arctic Tattoo, and I have two new holes in my head, courtesy of a very nice lady originally from Miami, Florida. (Am I wrong for not going with the immediate impulse-piercing and holding out for the studio that has a decent website and features many artists whose first language is English? In any case, I am well-pleased with the experience and the results.) I suspect the left one may list downward slightly, but it’s a measure of how pleased I am that the hole is there in the first place that it does not particularly distress me. This is probably the limit of what I can get away with at work, but it pleases me to have them. A couple of months with a discreet little ring, and then we’ll see.

Ooh, I did get an Authentic Norwegian Apothecary Experience, in addition to my wandering; had to go buy saline solution and q-tips for my new holes. Fabulously enough, the apoteek across the street that sold tiny, individual little sterile squirty-tubes of saline. Why didn’t I know about these things for any of my other holes-in-head? They’re handy! And don’t require attempting to dip an earlobe in a cup of water!

Tromso is billed as the Paris of the North, which, well. No. But it’s really, really nice. It reminds me a lot more of Banff or Crested Butte or some sort of mountain college town. It beats you about the head with charm (and, apparently, history - I napped through the special dvd presentation), in an understated, distinctly non-Parisian way, and it’s got that youthful, college-town kind of vibe. (Which it is. Farthest north university in the world. Etc etc.) There’s a street of boutiques and coffee shops and little bars, and the snow-covered roofs of brightly-colored houses on the hill rising above is so twee I can barely stand it.

I did a bit of wandering around, took pictures of the scenic church and library, but mostly what I did in Tromso was hang out in the tattoo studio and shop for yarn and mitten patterns. (If that’s not a delightfully amusing combination, I don’t know what is.) Luckily for me, there was a yarn store right next door to the studio.

That’s not actually saying much, because there was a yarn store next door to everything. Tromso was much more what I expected of a Norwegian town than I’ve gotten yet - yarn and wool everywhere, an outdoors store on every corner, interspersed with interesting bars and cute clothes shops. I’m still vaguely horrified and impressed that Dale of Norway sweaters go for four or five hundred dollars in some places. Rather than buy something already made and pay the premium for that, I bought a Dale pattern and some Dale yarn, enough for a pair of the stranded mittens they do so well. Now, I’m not saying I’ll be knitting up to Dale quality, but my mittens will be twelve dollars, not sixty.

Souveniers so far: two (2) Hurtigruten/Nordkapp mugs (included w/price of drinks), one (1) Hurtigruten hat (free with Arctic crossing), one (1) mitten pattern ($4), two (2) skeins of mitten yarn ($4/each), two (2) holes in head ($20/ear), and two (2) new earrings (free with purchase of holes). Fitting it all in a minuscule corner of my suitcase? Priceless.

Oh, yeah. Tromso. Tromso’s actually the first town that has really screamed, “Hey, it’s still winter here!” to me. It’s the first place there’s been snow on almost every road/house, where the sidewalks aren’t fully scraped clean, where they were piling up and flattening out a giant pathway of snow for some sort of race (cross-country skiing? snowmobiling?). It was the first time I had to whip out my rusty, Montreal-honed walking-on-ice skilz. Just goes to show the miracle of the Gulf Stream. We’re at latitute sixty or seventy million, and this is the first town that has been like that. I’m more north than Canada now! Like, all of Canada! It’s like the Deadliest Catch, only with hand sanitizer and a buffet lunch!

Back to Tromso. Again. I didn’t make it to the famous church with the giant stained glass window that is simultaneously the northern lights and the second coming of Christ, as we docked on the island (and generally more interesting) part of Tromso, and the church was on the mainland. I could have taken the bus tour, but wandering around on my own will always win out over the bus tour.

Admittedly, though, I’m doing a pre-arranged excursion tomorrow to the North Cape, but in my defense it’s not a tour, and there’s no other way to get up there at this time of year. Most northerly part of Europe, here I come!

Other notable events of the day: I had two different kinds of pickled herring for breakfast (one in sour cream and one in mustard; I might even consider having some of the mustard stuff at some other time after ten am - things from the sea + things that are pickled + mustard != appropriate for first meal of day), and I had lutefisk at lunch. Those were on my have-to-have list, for the Full Cultural ExperienceTM. And now I’ve done them and don’t have to do them again.

I gotta say, this trip does amazing things for one’s omega 3 levels. I’m good for, like, the next million years.


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May 2013

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