Posted by: travelrat | November 13, 2013

Meeting Amundsen in Tromsø

Tromsø 4

Tromsø: 24th March 2013.

Since the visits to the Cathedral and the Museum at Tromsø only took up the morning, we were free to explore the town on our own in the afternoon. Not that there was much to do, for it was Sunday, and most things were closed.

I was looking for something to cure a cough that was coming on. I didn’t want to consult the ship’s doctor, for he’d charge an arm and a leg, and I wasn’t sure whether or not my travel insurance would cover it.

But, here was a supermarket that was open, and here, I saw a familiar sight by the checkout. Fisherman’s Friend! I’m not a fisherman, but I swear by those sweets.

With that taken care of, and the purchase of a few postcards and small souvenirs at the Tourist Information Office, we set of on a further exploration. Mainly around the harbour, for snow in a boat’s rigging is real photographic stuff. And, we came upon a statue.

Åmundsen

Unlike the statue of Kristoffer Randers, at Ålesund, who I had to look up in Wikipedia, this was a name I recognised. Captain Roald Amundsen.

We learned about him at school. He was presented to us as the rascally Norwegian who, by unspecified underhand methods, sneakily pipped Captain Scott to the South Pole.

Since then, a book came out, supposedly giving the other side of the story; praising Amundsen and dismissing Scott as a blundering incompetent. Fortunately, the balance has been redressed since, and we now have a better idea of what really went on.  It seems that both men had a high respect for each other, and Scott just got unlucky … Amundsen and his party, being Norwegian, just had that bit more experience in ski-ing and dog-handling than the British team.

Of course, most of us know what happened to Scott and his party. Amundsen went on to do even more exploration, until, in 1928, he led an airborne mission to the Arctic to rescue General Umberto Nobile and the crew of the airship Italia, which had crashed on the way back from the North Pole.

Nobile and several of his men survived, and were eventually rescued by another party.  But, Amundsen and his aircraft failed to return.

Because of the prevailing cold conditions in the area, Amundsen recruited most of the crews for his expeditions from around Tromsø … and it was near there, that wreckage, believed to be from his aircraft, was eventually washed up.

Of Amundsen and his crew, sadly, no trace has ever been found.

Tromsø 3


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