Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last day in Tromsø

I took this on Sunday, from the top of the tram car ride outside of Tromsø.
It was definitely worth the 99 kroner for a ride to the top, although it was windy and cold as hell up there. I managed to stay out on the observation deck for all of about 5 minutes before I was shivering too much to take any pictures. I met another guy from the race on the way up in the tram. John David said he was from Belfast and he came up to Tromsø to run the half marathon. He was worried about his camera battery on the way up and sure enough, it died as soon as he turned the camera on, so he said he was going to come back again the next day just to get some pictures. You get an incredible view looking west over the city from the platform up there, if you're tough enough to stay out there. I think there was about 30 mph winds that day and some rain, so I ran for the hot chocolate after a few pictures. John David had walked across the bridge from town with a German woman who was also in the race. She for some reason had decided to try to hike to the top of the hill we were on, which was about 1000 feet of vertical climb, through the snow, in the rain and 30 mph wind. Nein danke! We never saw her again.


I'm sure she's fine. Somewhere.

When I was a boy I built a plastic model of the German battleship "Tirpitz", which was the sister ship of the Bismarck. After the Bismarck was sunk in 1941 the German navy sent the Tirpitz into hiding basically in Norway. It spent some time in the Trondheim fjord and later moved north past Tromsø where it was attacked numerous times by Allied aircraft and once by a quite daring mini-submarine attack from the British. The Germans repaired the damage from each attack until a direct bomb hit on the bow of the ship made it unseaworthy in September of 1944. The German navy then moved the ship to Tromsø, to act as a floating gun battery basically, with no further intention of trying to repair the ship. The Allied attacks continued, since they were unaware that the ship was no longer seaworthy. On November 12th, 1944, an attack was made by British Lancaster bombers that finally destroyed the ship. It rolled over and sank near the island west of Tromsø, ( in the background of the picture above ). More than 900 sailors were trapped in the ship and killed when it sank. Partly because my father was in the American Navy in WWII, I always felt bad when I read about ships being sunk and sailors dying at sea, no matter what navy they were in. I'm sure I read about what happened to the Tirpitz when I was young and building that model, but I probably never thought I would someday be in Tromsø myself to see the place where it sank.

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