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Pole to Pole

Day 14: The Barents Sea to Tromsų

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleTromsų is the first city on my journey, and though it contains only 50,000 souls, it boasts three cathedrals, a university, a brewery and twenty-three night-clubs. It likes to call itself 'The Paris of the North' and, as I feel I should celebrate reaching Europe, I seek out the nearest boulevard café. I find myself sitting outside the Cormorant Bar dubiously eyeing a glass of beer whose brand name is apparently Muck.

Summer seems to have reached Tromsų early. Crowds of students enjoying the three gloom-free months of the year, when the combination of warm Gulf Stream and twenty-four-hour sunlight give the little town an air of nervous hedonism, are today joined by football supporters from Trondheim, nearly 500 miles to the south. The Muck is flowing, though I've found out, a little to my disappointment, that Muck is the local pronunciation of Mack, a brewery famous for the purity of its product and for the motto on its bottles: 'First on the North Pole'.

A short walk away from the Cormorant stands a bronze statue of Roald Amundsen - first on the South Pole. Amundsen stands purposefully atop his granite plinth, dressed in the loose Eskimo-style outfit he favoured, gazing down the fiord. A seagull stands on top of Amundsen. I stand in silence trying to draw some comfort from those gaunt, ascetic features. After all, there can't be that many of us who have left Norway for the South Pole.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 14
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Tromsų
  • Book page no: 30

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