June 20, 2013
I want to turn in this month of my life to the board of weights and measures.
I have a wonderful sense of closure, the mathematical precision of the surrounding space and the events unfolding in it.
Before showing you Tromsø, I would like to pay tribute to a person thanks to whom I got here. I have a friend in LJ, Dima utflytter. A couple of years ago I saw pictures of Tromsø in his LJ. His pictures reflected the Norway I’d imagined since childhood. Looking at them, I felt at home. My way home turned to be so long as. But I did it anyway.
The next morning, after I came to Tromsø with long-haul truckers, gypsies and bears, Serban took me to discover the island. Yes, the most part of Tromsø is located on an island, about 400 km to the north of the Arctic Circle.
First we jumped over the bridge on the opposite side of the island (with respect to the E8 and Tromsdalen mainland area related to Tromsø). We spent there a while collecting pebbles and walking along the beach. Looking for unusual forms or contents, we found rocks with beautiful sparkles of mica. We showed each other our discoveries and chatted about the particularities of Norwegian lifestyle.
I felt so small there in the mountains, with the familiar temperature of +9. Serban told me he had once brought a handful of leaky Norwegian coins to Romania for souvenirs. He’d been collecting beautiful sparkling rocks for his daughters. I felt so warm on the small arctic island surrounded by snow-capped mountains, although it was +9 in the middle of July.
We returned to the island and stopped at a shop, one of few open on Sunday. We bought two sandwiches and Coke and sat down on a bench by a closed shopping center to feed brazen seagulls and enjoy the whitecaps of clouds and mountains.
Mountains were everywhere, It was calm and cozy in their soft palms. Surrounded by them, I felt at home, I felt protected. I could not tell anymore my childhood fantasy from the adult reality. Because it was both. I wanted to stay, I wanted to leave, I wanted to never stop and stop here, grow old and die, feed the arrogant northern seagulls sitting on a bench near the supermarket.
Searching for a decent view on the island we rode around it and left for the mainland towards Tromsdalen. To mock at the tourists coming out of the Arctic Cathedral. Such fun mocking at others with Serban. After a day of communication I already fell in love with all the Romanian immigrants.
After the ride we came back home, had lunch saved from yesterday and sat down busy each to their own – I proceeded with my photos, and Serban watched a tennis game, occasionally shouting at the TV set something like «Go home and get a job!».
Meanwhile, I was going to move transfer to the top of the island to my second Romanian host, Gabriel. Unlike Serban, he had Internet connection. Gabriel loved chats, opera and gossip about Norwegians (kindly, though). You can see the outlines of a bottle of “Russian Standard” vodka on the photo, but actually, this is real Norwegian vodka produced here in Tromsø.
Gabriel gave me the warmest Romanian welcome, a view on the mountains and wine. The shower, of course. And leather sofa in the living room. Gabriel offered me to sleep in his room, and he could stay in the living room. But I loved leather sofas, they are fantastically comfortable. So, I asked to stay there in the living room.
Serban came for dinner. Discussing the life in Tromsø guys demonstrated quite a deep knowledge in Russian obscene language. Later we went out for a smoke, and suddenly, I heard the richest and most vivid swearing from a neighboring house. I felt ashamed. I mean, I like to use it from time to time, but THIS ********** was too much.
Besides that episode, the conversation went smoothly. Falling asleep, I was smiling like crazy again.
The next day I spent writing posts, doing laundry and relaxing. For the first time during the trip I did not have to rush. I could spend two or three days in Tromsø and then go towards the Russian-Norwegian border through Alta and Kirkenes. I went out on the balcony in green woolen socks, to smoke and enjoy the mountains. On the top of the world of my own.
One day was enough for me to recuperate, so the next morning I took the bike and left to ride in the city. I rolled down from the top of the island to the downtown, bought a huge chocolate bar, gobbled up the half at once and cheerfully drove on, staring at people and surroundings.
When I stopped once again to capture the Arctic Cathedral on the other side of the bridge, I felt like someone was watching me. Two young men sitting on a bench nearby were staring at me and discussing something in Russian. As it turned out later, they were wondering where I was from. I put the camera in my backpack, came up and said “Hi.” In Russian.
I had not spoken Russian since Oslo, I felt uneasy trying to articulate. Surprisingly, for less than a month in Norway I got disaccustomed to my native language. But communication skills are beyond the language, so here we are walking down to the nearest store. Tromsø is famous for different things, one of them is the northernmost brewery. So, we decided to make this pleasant sunny day even more enjoyable.
We wanted to sit by the water, but they kicked us out of the restaurant on the wharf, so we changed the dislocation. Here you can check out the harsh Russian geophysicists searching for Norwegian oil. And wrestling bikes away from Russian cyclists.
Then I decided to walk guys down to their ship in the port. But we did not feel like calling it a night, so we took some food from the galley and went to the University Park to lie on arctic lawns. And to jump on them.
The next day we met up with Kostay and decided to climb to the top of Storsteinen mountain. We tied up the bike to a tree by the road, asked for directions and ran up the hill. There was a lifter there with cabins, but it cost 100 krones, and, anyway we wanted to be fit. It’s there on Storsteinen where I finally found the view on Tromsø I needed. It’s also nice there to lie in the snow, to hop around and have some fun.
We hurried back to the city to accompany my Romanians at the beach barbecue party, but it was too late. So we kept on walking, ate some pizza, drank beer, chatted around and asked passers by for a cigarette (for me).
It’s hard to explain why, maybe because I had wanted to get there so long, from the very beginning. But Tromsø once and for all became my favorite city in Norway. It’s a place of my strength and inner peace. I felt like a tiny warm center of the universe.
I got used to the midnight sun, to fantastic, inspiring mountains around, to the snow in the middle of July, to bright and empty streets at night, to woolen socks and a completely different set of colors. Enjoying transparent air, drinking water from the tap, smiling at people around, having coffee for 20 krones and chatting in English. Used to the fact that the sea was for watching, not swimming. To huge seagulls screaming all night with their plangent voices that I had never heard before. To the fact that they were impudent beggars. Used to feeling happy, to waking up with a smile, to falling asleep with it. Used to the fact that all the people around were open and interesting. To the fact that Norway was my home. To the fact that every day was an adventure.
This post is also available in: Russian
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