Three weeks in Sweden – some photos

14. June

I am sitting in the airplane. Soon I’ll be back “home home” in Obbola for three weeks. Here we are crossing the river Umeälven.

20. June

A low rainbow has appeared above the trees. In the inside it shows supernumerary bands.

21. June

Midsummer in Sweden has several traditions. Probably the most famous one is the dancing round the midsummer pole. Annika and I are in Gammlia, a park with outdoor museum in Umeå. Here we are doing “raketen” – the rocket.

In the evening Annika and I are watching a roe passing by with her two young fawns. They are crossing the shallow bay. Since the water level is higher than normal the water is quite deep for the fawns.

22. June

Excursion to a coast we do not know yet – Järnäsklubb. There are several trails you can follow, only the bathing place we do not find.

24. June

While I pluck lupins (an invasive species) I realise how many beautiful flowers we have in the small patch of wilderness between our house and the sea. Here: a Siberian iris.

27. June

Annika and I are in Gammlia again, this time for the Mullin Mallin Band that plays folk music from Balkan to Sápmi.

29. June

We are in Åsele in the Swedish inland where we visit friends of us together with their farm animals. (Photo: Annika Kramer)

3. Juli

For lunch break I paddle to the beach at Byviken where I eat Ćevapčići. Total distance – round 6.7 km both ways. After that I have to continue working. Home office.

6. Juli (yesterday)

I am sitting in the train to Narvik. I read, I eat, I play with my mobile, I doze and I look out of the window.

The train was in time in Umeå and in Narvik as well. From there the bus 100 brings me to Tromsø where I will work for the more or less next five weeks. Hej då Sverige – hei Norge!

Bjuröklubb over night

Annika and I have been in Bjuröklubb a lot, especially when I lived in Skelleftehamn, but never we stayed overnight. Anyhow, there is a cabin called Spanarstugan and that we booked for a night last weekend. The cabin is modern and quite large but still cosy. It has electricity, and running water as well as toilet are not far away.

After a short lunch in the shadow of the large yellow lighthouse building we took a promenade to the beacon Bjuroklubb NÖ. The way there involved some climbing over rock fields but the view was worth it.

At 7 o’clock in the evening we went down the gravel road to the small marina where we sat for a while and watched the sky, the sea and a lonely sea bird.

Then we went up again – the ways are short – to the lighthouse building. The sun was partially hidden behind clouds and the light was warm and beautiful.

Round 11 o’clock in the evening I took another stroll up to the wooden view platform. I wanted to watch the sunset. First the sun was round and red then it resembled more and more a huge glowing jellyfish until it morphed into a small dash and disappeared behind the horizon.

Annika and I were in doubt if the lighthouse would be active in summer, when it doesn’t get dark. But round sunset I could see the light go on, blinking in a steady rhythm.

I sat there for a moment but then I became tired. So I walked down and went to bed where after slaughtering some mosquitoes I fast fell asleep.

In the night it rained, in the morning it was foggy but after breakfast and cleaning up the cabin the weather was sunny again. We enjoyed our stay there very much and started wondering, if this place is accessible in wintertime as well.

 

Midnight paddling

It’s midsummer day in Sweden. Yesterday Annika and I danced around the midsummer pole and ate huge amounts of salmon, potatoes and eggs with roe, just as you use to do on a typical midsommarafton. One thing however was not typical: It didn’t rain at all. And since the night was still clear and beautiful, Annika and I decided to make a small kayak tour. At 22:40 we were clear to leave.

The eastern sky was blue and purple and the trees on the island Bredskarssten almost black – but it was not dark although some of the photos may look like. The sun had just gone down.We decided to paddle to the tiny archipelago Obbolstenarna.

When we arrived there all seagulls flew up into the air screeching. Did we disturb them? No, it was an eagle that quickly was chased off by the seagulls. We circumnavigated the islands and headed back east, where some of the spare clouds still caught some sunlight.

And now? There was no noticeable wind and kayaking has been pretty effortless until now. Annika and I had the same thought: kayaking to the southern tip of Stömbäck-Kont. We’ve been there often, but always by car. Stömbäck-Kont is 30 km from our home by car but only 5 km by kayak. So, let’s go …

Meanwhile it had become a bit darker and the flat sea and sky looked like fantastic paintings. Like from another world.

We passed the sea side of the island Tarv, and turned north behind the small island Gåshällan and some islands I don’t know the names of. Then we headed west.

This black shadow ahead, is it the rocks of Strömbäck-Kont? It is hard to see because the contrast is low. But my navigation was correct and soon we approached the barbecue area, where we were welcomed by the mosquitoes, that luckily were not present on the open sea. Time for a short break to stretch one’s legs.

The stop was pretty short, because the mosquitoes just loved us and we have quite a lot of them this year! So we jumped back into our kayaks and followed the coast a bit north were we could hear music.

Here lies Simphamn, both a nice sandy beach and a marina. A bunch of very expensive looking yachts were anchored at the boat bridge and apparently some people had had a party on one of the yachts. We paddled round the small island with the clubhouse.

Now it was time to head east back to the island Tarv and circumnavigate it clockwise. Most sea birds were relaxed. The geese more or less ignored us while the terns were ignoring us. They were hunting. Again and again they plunged vertically into the sea to catch fish.

After a while we headed south and reached the opening between Tarv and a peninsula connected to the main land. Here we reached the open sea again.

From there we know the way home by heart. Passing the bay Vitskärsudden, following the coast while avoiding the many rocks in the water and after two more kilometres we were back home.

Now we only had to drag the kayaks back to our house through a field of lupins. (I will pick them. They are an invasive species and we want to get rid of them.) And then – after 12.5 km of an extraordinary beautiful night paddling we were back home. Now it was a quarter to two – definitely time to sleep!

For those who love maps or live nearby, this is the track:

 

5 × 5 images from a Hurtigruten cruise

Two weeks ago I took the plane from Tromsø to Bergen. From there I would travel back to Tromsø by Hurtigruten together with my sister, my brother-in-law and my mother. My wife Annika would join us in Trondheim two days later.

22 May

There is still a lot of snow in the mountains on Tromsøya, Kvaløya, Senja and other islands I do not recognise from the plane. But in the lowland it is springtime.

I travelled with the Hurtigruten several times, but never south from Trondheim. We were not the only one’s boarding in Bergen. A lot of people use the Hurtigruten as a cruise ship, not as a possibility to travel from A to B. And there it lies, the vessel Kong Harald.

We have boarded round 18:00. At 20:30 we are departing and leave the town Bergen behind.

We are in sheltered waters and you hardly notice the ship moving beside of the motor’s vibrations. Even though Bergen is nine degrees south from Tromsø is does not get dark anymore.

The weather is cloudy but when the sun peeks through a holes in the clouds it looks beautiful.

23 May

One breakfast later: We arrive in Ålesund where the Hurtigruten will stay for ten hours. Time to explore this town which looks so different from the towns in the north. Ålesund has many Art Nouveau houses and “exotic” plants like azaleas are blooming everywhere. Together with my sister I climb the four hundred and something steps up the Aksla where we have an awesome view on the town.

We have also a view on the cruise ship AIDA prima. And beside of that – our Hurtigruten ship Kong Harald. It looks so tiny in comparison. I definitely prefer the small one.

I take a short stroll through town before I met the others. First I admire all the small Art Nouveau details on the houses, then I almost get a culture shock when I find this tunnel:

In the evening we circumnavigate the island Hessa, because the ship is “reparked” on the other side of Ålesund. After a very warm and sunny day clouds have been gathering. But the sun manages to send beams through the clouds.

Is this one of the life boats? I mean – a photo of one of the life boats? No, it is a photo of a reflection of one of the life boats. It is reflected in the glass facade of an office building by the port.

24 May

Where are we? In Trondheim. Yay! I was so looking forward to meet Annika there. She checks in, then we take a short stroll in town along the channel with the groundbreaking name Kanalen – the channel.

As in Tromsø there are Kittiwakes in Trondheim. They use to screech a lot – often to each other – but these two fellows seem to be a bit shy, at least in the minute where I took the photo.

At lunchtime we leave Trondheim behind. The shimmering sunlight is reflected by zillions of tiny waves. We meet commercial ships, fishing boats, two kayaks and sometimes a sailing boat.

On the port side there is the open sea. Blue sky, blue sea, a small skerry and a house. Wait, a house? Yes, it is erected on a floating raft. What you cannot see – it is part of one of the countless salmon farms located in coastal Norway.

I have moved into Annikas cabin. It has no regular window but two portholes. It is five to eleven in the evening and the sun peeks into our small but practical cabin.

And that’s the night where I get sick. That really wouldn’t have been necessary at all.

25 May

I am feeling ill and I sleep, I sleep and I sleep. I do not leave the cabin before 17:45 to take some photos while we are approaching the Lofoten islands. They look like mirages at the hazy horizon.

Round half past seven we are approaching Stamsund, passing rocky skerries and rocky mountains. Northern Norway, here we come!

At the harbour a graffito was sprayed or painted on the outer wall of the waiting room. Free high fives! For me however it was time to continue sleeping …

… but I got up at 23:15 again to see more from the Lofoten islands. Some of the mountains look like not being from this world.

The light got dim but it didn’t get dark. It’s the first day of midnight sun on the Lofoten. And it is almost midnight.

26 May

The reason for being up so late is that Kong Harald sails into the quite famous and very narrow fjord Trollfjorden. The landscape is impressive because the Hurtigruten is so near to land. – especially the mighty dark rock face in the north.

On our way back I spot a beautiful wave pattern. I really wonder how it was created.

Then it is time for me to sleep. And I sleep long. At lunch time I take some more photos. Now the landscape looks very familiar. No wonder, in an hour we will be in Tromsø, where I’ve been working for three years now. To my relief there is still snow on the mountain tops. It looks so nice.

The sky is still blue and the sea has been calm more or less the whole journey. There is hardly any wind but the flag is flattering in the airstream.

Round two o’clock we pass the southern tip of the island Tromsøya and then the new buildings on the eastern sea side.

After round 93 hours we are leaving the ship. My family checks into their hotel, Annika and I take the bus to my apartment which has become on of my two homes.

Cold drizzle and snow on the weekend

After a summer day on Sommarøya on Friday, the weather got colder again on the weekend and it started drizzling and raining. Both on Saturday and Sunday I took walks in the forest near my apartment. Ten days ago I still saw some cross country skiers, but now the season is definitely over, I think while I’m walking along the wet paths.

Yesterday it got colder and colder and drizzle became sleet. In the evening it started snowing and this morning at least five centimetres of fresh snow had fallen at temperatures round 1 °C. I took a small walk through the forest again – it looked quite different.

Today the wintry weather may continue and I won’t drive through the mountain valleys since my car has already summer tyres. Tomorrow warmer weather and sun will melt the snow  away.

Summer weather in Tromsø

10:30. I am sitting in my car on my way to Sommarøya – “The summer island”. The sun is shining and it is warm already. Today it is supposed to be 19 °C, much warmer than the last weeks (or months). The first photo stop, a parking place by the sea. Tussilago is blooming everywhere.

The road leaves the sea and leads through the valley Kattfjordeidet. The lake Kattfjordvatnet lies on 149 metres of altitude. Does not sound much, nevertheless it is high enough that most parts of it are still covered with ice. I like the open areas – small waterfalls and beautiful reflections.

The valley is 12 km long. I leave it behind and meet the sea again. And two locals – reindeer that know the traffic rules and walk on the other side of the street (or better said in the ditch).

Just before the tunnel Oterviktunnelen there is a parking place and shortly after a beautiful sandy beach. It looks so warm, but I didn’t measure the water temperature …

I am lucky, I find a nice shell, a “pelican’s foot”. Then I continue my ride and enter the tunnel. It is not long, just 607 m.

Almost wherever you stop there are nice places to explore, for example this tiny beach, less than ten metres wide. It is not far away from the bridge to Sommarøya.

From the bridge you can see a lot of small islands, many of them with sandy beaches. A kayakers paradise, although the weather can be pretty rough. But if you like challenges, take your boat, head west and after 1600 km you are in Greenland. ;-)

The last weeks I have seen three kinds of wild flowers blooming in and around Tromsø. (1) Tussilago – 17 April (always the first). (2) Dandelion – 26 April. (3) Oxlip (or another primula) – 8 May. Today I discovered two others. According to Pl@ntNet, which I use for identification a Goldilocks buttercup (91.2%) and a Purple mountain saxifrage (94.6%).

Would I find one of my favourites flowers as well – the Marsh marigold, which loves wet places and has an incredibly beautiful hue of yellow. Yes? I found some of them beside a small pond.

On Sommarøya I hardly took any picture, on the outer island Hillesøya I took a photo of one of the boat harbours. In my back an open door, a dark room and in there a man cleaning fish.

After taking lunch in the snack restaurant Havfrua (“The mermaid”) it was time to drive back. I chose the way round the south of the island Kvaløya and made some small stops. One at the ponds and puddles in a boggy area, which now are free of ice. Another by the church Hillesøy kirke, which is by the way not on the island Hillesøya.

And then the time came: 20 °C according to the car thermometer! Last time it was so warm here was last August.

I took another stop to take a photo of one of the mighty mountains on the other side of the strait Straumsfjorden. When I looked down into the deep water I spotted a shoal of fish. It was hundreds, probably thousands of fish resting in the shadow. The photo is heavily edited to make the fish more visible.

After a while I came back to more known areas – less than 30 minutes away from my “work flat” in Tromsø. I stopped at a small grave yard. Most tomb stones were free of snow, but those located in the snow drifts will have to wait a bit longer. Anyhow snow in the lowlands has become the exception. Even the bogs that tend to be cold are hardly frozen any more. And so I had to be quite cautious to avoid wet feet, when I looked for a good place to take a picture of that beautiful pine tree other there – the last photo for today.

Those of you that are not so familiar with Norway as a country may ask yourselves: Why did Olaf make an excursion on a Friday? That’s because today it is Constitution Day. On 17 May 1814 the Constitution of Norway was signed and this is the most important day of the year. Even through our street a marching band walked by and all people have their best clothes on – many of them the traditional bunad which shows, from which part of Norway they come from.

And so I shout out: “Gratulerer med dagen, Norge!” – Happy birthday, Norway!

Here is an article from 10 years ago: Syttende mai (German text).

Tromsøya between the seasons

Today I took a promenade on Tromsøya. In the beginning of May the island is between the seasons. Partly late winter, partly early spring. Some areas are free of snow while on others still a lot of snow covers the ground. Now it is time to look carefully not to break through the snow and fall into the next ditch.

Walking off the tracks can be exhausting, because the snow is often knee to thigh deep. Therefore I mostly followed the ski trails. They are not prepared anymore and get narrower and wetter …

… but as long as there is snow there are people to ski. At least a few.

A day trip to the island Vannøya

It is 10 o’clock on Sunday, 28 April. Marika, whom I know from work and I are in Hansnes on the island Ringvassøya waiting for the ferry. It will take us to the island Vannøya where we want to stay for the day.

I want to take photos, so I am opening the boot of my car and realise that I have forgotten my camera backpack at home. Sh*t! Fortunately I have my Sony camera with me, which does a pretty good job on landscape photography But no time to be grumpy, here comes the ferry.

After a ferry ride of forty minutes we arrive at the island and take the western way to the fishing village Torsvåg. We pass the Polargirl, a passenger ship that uses to make touristic excursions in Svalbard in the summer season.

After seven kilometres we come to our first stop: A small beach. The view is incredible. Snow covered mountains in the back, a cloudless sky above, some islets with white sandy beaches and shallow waters of a turquoise colour so intense that you can see it on satellite images.

We start cleaning the beach, mostly of plastic. A huge amount is plastic nets and ropes from the fishing industry. The plastic is harmful to the environment and is especially dangerous to sea birds. Beach cleaning has become quite popular and it is a good feeling to remove the garbage from nature even when it is only a drop in the ocean. The next photo showing me is taken by Marika.

We stay there for a while, not only because the scenery is to beautiful and the sun shines warmly, but because there are seals out there. Some of them were sitting on rocks until the tide came in, others are swimming in the turquoise water. They are too far away to take good pictures, but I can observe them through my binoculars.

We continue our road trip, occasionally stopping when there is any wildlife. And there is quite a lot. Here at partially frozen puddles we do not only see crows but also a Eurasian curlew.

Minutes later we arrive at Sandsletta, a larger beach. The small sandy dunes are reminiscent of the German North Sea, the mountains aren’t.

There are some more photo stops, either for scenery or for animals. This time a reindeer (we saw some of them) grazing by the road.

Then we arrive at the fishing village Torsvåg. Parts of it are located on Vannøya, others on the small island Kåja. To get there by car you have to cross a dam with a single file concrete road. In the harbour area there is a huge rack full with fish hanging to dry. The dried fish is called stockfish. And there is the Torsvåg lighthouse. If you look north from there, you can see some stony islets and rocks and then there is the open Norwegian sea. Next stop Svalbard.

Is this the end of the island? Well, at least it is the end of this road. But there is more to explore. We turn, drive back 8 km and turn left onto the road to Burøysund in the east. Marika spots an eagle with prey, probably a mountain hare. I do not stop timely and the disturbed eagle flies away to land on a stone nearby. I make a photo through the windscreen, but it is blurred. Anyhow it shows, how big eagles are. You see the crow for size comparison?

Ten minutes later I have stopped the car again, this time for two ptarmigans that first strolled on a meadow by the road and then decided to ignore us and cross the road. Another object with flying abilities was easier to photograph, but what does a propeller plane do on a parking place by the road? Does it use the road for taking off and landing?

We arrive in Burøysund. The whole of Vannøya is a bit “Norway in a nutshell” with its snowy mountains, the blue sea, the rocky shore, the coastal villages. Here anyhow the rocks are special. They are sharp-edged with their “teeth” up into the air and look wild and rough.

Now it is time to head back. On a place we spotted already on our way there we take a late lunch break with the view to the sea (and some ptarmigans and seals in the distance) and the wetlands in our back.

Even if we take the second last ferry we have plenty of time. And we need it, because while driving further I spot something in the water which does not look like seabirds. It is an otter. No, it’s two, wait – three. They meet in the sea and then swim side by side.

Then they go ashore quite near us. One is swimming away soon while the other two stay on land for ten minutes. What an experience so see them so near! I’m sure they have seen us as well but since we are quiet they ignore us. What a pity, that I forgot my Nikon to use the large telephoto lens. The Sony did not manage to take good pictures, also because of the light situation. Anyhow – for the archives – two pictures of the otters:

This day really delivered! Incredible weather and a lot of wildlife. Reindeer, curlews, ptarmigans, geese, eagles, a lot of other birds I do not know, a white mountain hare, the first butterfly of the season (a small tortoiseshell), several seals and now the three otters. Time to catch the ferry with a hasty detour to the south east of the island from which you can see the Nordfugløya (Northern bird island).

Finally we have to hurry a bit but we reach the 19:15-ferry in time. Another forty minutes ferry ride in beautiful light …

… and we are back in Hansnes on the island Ringvassøya which is connected to the island Kvaløya with a tunnel which is connected to the island Tromsøya with a bridge, and that’s where I live. There are worse places!

Takk for turen, Marika!

Polarsyssel in Tromsø (and ice cream)

While I was sitting at my computer in my apartment in Tromsø I looked out of the window. A blue ship was sailing on the Sandnessundet, the strait between Tromsøya and Kvaløya. It looked somehow familiar. I checked, first with my spotting scope, then with an app. It was the Polarsyssel, the ship of the Governor of Svalbard. I managed to take a photo between the trees.

Last time when I saw this ship it was on 16 March 2023, the week I was working in Longyearbyen/Svalbard.

What does the ship do here so far south as in Tromsø? Chasing polar bears? I checked the news but couldn’t find anything. While I was watching the ship  my thoughts wandered north. In August I’ll be in the Arctic once more. Will I stand on the sea ice again? Will I see polar bears again?

Then I heard a melody outside:

This is a famous melody in Norway! It is called “Norge rundt” and is the signal of the Isbilen ice-cream vans. Today I was one of the customers. So I got my ice. And the brand of the ice cream? Isbjørn is – Polar bear ice.