Morning paddling in Obbola

I’m home in Obbola – 6:20 – it’s still quite dark.

The sky is clear – hardly any wind – frost at -4.5 °C. – my kayak lies at the shore.

A good opportunity to do some pre-work kayaking and watch the sunrise at sea.

 

New friends Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

New friends Tromsø is a Facebook group where people new to Tromsø meet. Some may be here only for  couple of days while others may have moved here and look for tips and other people.

Finally I had time to join an event that one of the group members organised, a hike to Gutta på skauen in Tromsdalen. Since I didn’t know this place I’ll can add the hike to my project #onceaweek.

As the day before the weather was quite warm but cloudy and rainy. I just took some photos with my iPhone since the focus was on get to know other people not on taking pictures. As usual I was quite early at the meeting point in town and waited in the rain for other people to come.

Eight people we were in total – from five, six different countries. We went to Tromsøbrua and used this large bridge the cross the Tromsøysund strait and reach the mainland.

On the mainland we had four more km to hike – first through the urban neighbourhood Tromsdalen, then on smaller roads through the forestry valley of the same name. And then we reached Gutta på skauen which means “guys in the wood”. These guys – all older than me – provided coffee and cinnamon buns. You do not pay per coffee or bun but donate an amount of money that you consider suitable.

There we sat for an hour or such while rainfall outside increased. Then we hiked back another parallel path (the nicer way), crossed the bridge again, asked a bypassed to take a picture of us and then started to split up. After another stop in the café Koselig I walked home. There are not many busses on Sundays.

There were a lot of water puddles on my way back, some of them quite deep. The last photo however is not rainwater but the sea. When the tide is quite high it covers one of the footpaths on the seashore. I managed with rubber boots this time but it was close.

No, this tour was not demanding but anyhow it was 14–15 km in total. So – motion: check! Meeting nice people: check! Having a good day: check!

Thank you, E. for organising.

A hike round the peninsula Klubben

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

#onceaweek tour 5

Today I didn’t choose a mountain top but a small coastal promenade as my #onceaweek tour. I took the car to the village Lyfjorden on Kvaløxya and went round the peninsula Klubben. I love hiking up mountains to get the view but at the coast you get views for free ;-).

One of the things that still impresses me is how tiny some houses look standing in front of huuuge mountain faces that often look like vertical walls.

Klubben lies in the Kaldfjorden (the cold fjord). On the other side lies the mountain Store Blåmannen (1044 m) – always an imposing view.

The birches on Klubben had only some yellow leaves left. Since it was quite windy (15 m/s on the bridge to Kvaløya) they will be bare soon. Soon the autumnal colours will be history for this year.

Although this tour was marked as green (easy, for beginners) you still had to watch where to go. Sometimes the path was boggy but mostly stony and I had to watch my steps.

A quite loud noise, like someone inhaling loudly through the teeth interrupted me. I looked for the sound source and spotted a whale quite nearby. Although I had the camera with telephoto lens in my hands it took me a second before I managed to make a photo of the dorsal fin just before the small whale submerged again. I saw it two more times but in quite a distance. The photo is poor but the experience to spot a whale just by chance from your Sunday afternoon walk was extraordinary.

I continued my walk but now the path had vanished and the ground was only rocks. Did I miss the path? Possibly. I checked with the map app of Norgeskart and realised that the way was a bit higher up. I went and climbed up the steep slope but did not find any path. Higher and higher I ascended until it was clear that the map wasn’t as accurate as assumed. Probably the rocks were the path.

I didn’t want to descend that slope again and so continued to ascend it until I met a small gravel road that led to some houses – the first modern and cuboid, the second traditional with a grass roof.

Soon the area had become less steep and I could cut short to the coast again.

On the way back I took an extra stop in Finnes, Kvaløya . The small reindeer herd that I’ve seen there several times was still grazing. Probably they live there.

Today’s tour was only 4 km (elevation gain and loss round 250 m) but I cannot say that it was less fun or less exciting. I have however to admit that it was much less exhausting than the mountain tours. Training effect: ±0.

A short and rainy Hurtigruten trip

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

After 2700 km by car we had arrived in Bjørnevatn near Kirkenes. From there it would be another 900 km back to Tromsø, my temporary home. So Annika and I had decided to use go by ship and use the Hurtigruten for our journey west. Last Friday we went on board of the MS Vesterålen, the smallest and oldest ship of the current Hurtigruten fleet. I left it to be parked while Annika used the regular gangway. The ship departed round 12:30, round 35 hours we arrived in Tromsø.

The weather was rainy, chilly, windy and although parts of the upper deck are well protected against wind and rain we often sat there alone. While it was quite rainy there were a lot of small holes in the clouds that let the sun peek through. Especially the light on the first day was very wonderful.

I just show some of the photos I made from the upper deck. All of them are made with a telephoto lens and focal lengths between 150 and 600 mm. To avoid blurred images because of the ship vibrations I hardly used a tripod but used ISO 800–1600. But now to the photos:

Fylkesvei 8100

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

There are places that are so fascinating, that you want to return there for a longer time. For me the road to Hamningberg is one of these places.

Originally Annika and I didn’t have the plan to visit Hamningberg. It’s a detour of 2×40 km just to see a former fishing village whose houses are now used as summer cottages. On the other side the road 8100 that leads there is closed in wintertime and we never had the chance before to drive there.

So right before Vardø we spontaneously decided to turn left into the road Fylkesvei 8100. We could turn if it was boring. Well, it wasn’t. We were both extremely fascinated by the roughness of the landscape and the many light moods because of the constantly changing weather

The photos are just some snapshots I made on our tour. Maybe I have time to return there some other time with more time for making photos.

Norwegian summer journey II

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

Annika and I continue our tour through Northern Norway. Four days ago we left Hammerfest behind, now we are in Bjørnevatn 10 km south of Kirkenes. We have seen many places before, but only in winter. The differences between the seasons are huge and we discover a lot: Oh, here is a lake! Oh, here are fields of flowers …

Ten more images looking back:

10 – We just have arrived at our final destination Bjørnevatn where we visit friends for a few days. I have to climb up the hill (55 m) by our friends house to get a summery view. (Here are some winter photos.)

9 + 8 – the “Sjøsamiske samlinger” (Sea Sami Collections) in Byluft is always worth a stop. We have coffee and a chat with Helmer Losoa, the owner and collector of this exceptional museum who recognises us from former visits. (More about the museum.)

7 – this bird observation place near Vardø is very welcome as a shelter against the cold wind, when Annika and I have a lunch break. We do not see any special birds but a rainbow.

6 – after an overnight stay in Kiberg I climb up a hill to make a photo of the wideness and extent of the Varanger Peninsula in the sun. Well, the sun has mostly gone when I stand on the top, but I take some photos anyway.

5 – Annika and I just take a small evening promenade in Kiberg. It starts on a gravel road by the sea and ends in us walking cross-country and looking for dry patches between the small bogs. The sun colours the clouds which are reflected in the many water pools.

4 – Silfar Canyon? Never heard about it before. We were lucky that we decided to stop and have a look. Bad light for taking pictures but we got impressing views on the deeply carved canyon.

3 + 2 – We visit a small beach near Hammerfest together with a friend that just moved back there some months ago. We could take a bath but there is so much to talk about. The reindeer are everywhere. Here they graze, in town they stroll around and eat the front garden flowers.

1 – Before we meet our friend we take a small trip up the mountains. Here we get views in all directions, amongst others on the different parts of the town Hammerfest.

A Saturday road trip

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

A new used car and a sunny Saturday – off I go for a road trip.

km 29.5 – Isaksens Kiosk

In Fagernes I leave the E8 and take the 91 through a valley between the mountains. Before that I stop at Isaksens Kiosk and buy something to drink. Some other cars park here, too. Mostly it’s families that stop to have some ice cream.

km 41.1 – road 91

The mountains in Northern Norway are impressively massive and sometimes you cannot imagine that the road continues somehow. But some do …

km 51.9 – view on the Lyngen Alps

… and so does the road 91. A small part of the rugged Lyngen Alps comes into view.

km 53.5 – Breivikeidet Fergekai

I continue the 91 but soon the road ends. Not because of the mountains, but the fjord Ullsfjorden. The weather is warm and sunny and I am waiting for the ferry to Svensby.

On the ferry

For me even a short boat trip makes a single day to a holiday. I just love standing outside (in every whether), look at the waves and watch the slowly changing landscape.

km 60.7 – Nyheim

Just a Norwegian house and a barn. And a pasture. And a fjord in the background. And mountains behind. Beautiful even without the sun, that has been covered by a layer of clouds.

Would I want to live here? No, it’s too far away from Tromsø and other towns.

km 75.3 – Lyngseidet

It already half past two – time for a late lunch break. When you travel through Northern Norway and want to eat something warm it will be pizza or burgers in most of the cases. It you are not Norwegian you will find it incredible expensive, but so is food, cars, housing and almost everything else.

The burger costed 189 NOK (18 Euro) and was really tasty.

Here the road 91 continues – as another ferry to Olderdalen. I however take the road 868 heading south.

km 83.5 – low tide

The Lyngen Alps are more impressive as seen from the west but I like the shallow waters of the fjord Lyngen, too, especially in low tide.

km 113.9 – Badjánanluokta

Another tidal flat, more reflections. There are few things that I consider as relaxing as strolling along the shore of the sea.

Anyhow, it’s already 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I have at least another 100 km to go until being back. So no more photos until …

km 203 (or so) – Extra Tromsdalen

At the Extra supermarket I buy some food for the evening and the next day. In opposite to Sweden the supermarkets in Norway are closed un Sundays. Then I cross the road E8 by foot and soon stand by the shore of the Tromsøysundet where I have a look on Tromsø (including my workplace) and the large bridge crossing the sound.

Round 15 minutes later I arrive at my temporary home in Tromsø.

In Norway it takes time to go by car. I should have learned that by now but still I underestimate how many hours it takes to travel when you want to take some stops. Next time I hopefully will start earlier – this day I didn’t start before 11 o’clock.

 

Back in Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

After eight months of home office home I travelled back to Tromsø last Saturday to continue working at the Norwegian Polar Institute. My wife Annika has joined me for a week and I took some days off. Yesterday she travelled back to our home to Obbola. Tomorrow my Tromsø everyday life starts –at least for three weeks, then Annika and I will meet again for a two week vacation.

Sunday, 25 July

A grey day, a foggy day. Good for relaxing after a long journey from Sweden with train car and bus, that took eighteen hours.

Monday, 26 July

My first working day onsite since 20 November 2020. My boss has bought suksessterte (success cake) to celebrate my return. The seagulls have occupied my windowsill.

Tuesday, 27 July

Annika and I planned to hire a car for a trip, but none of the car rentals have free cars. Instead we are looking for a 2nd hand car for me. We find an old Subaru XV and may test drive it for 24 hours! Road trip to Sommarøya. Lunch at the hotel, watching private kayak lessons at one of the many beaches. Realising that the car fits onto my small parking place.

Thursday, 29 July

After work (well, after lunch) Annika and I take the bus to Tromsdalen on the other side of the sound Tromsøysundet. Here we use Sherpatrappa to hike up the mountain Storsteinen. Sherpatrappa is a stone staircase with 1203 steps built by Nepalese mountain road workers and finished in 2019. Then we hike to the summit of the mountain Fløya (671 m a.s.l.). After a break we return to the mountain station and enjoy our dinner in the sun. Then we walk down the stairs again. My knees are sulky, but that’s worth it.

Friday, 30 July

After lunch we fetch my car that I bought on Wednesday. Not the Subaru XV, but a three year old Suzuki S-Cross. After that we take a road trip to Tromvik and Rekvik on the island Kvaløya. And – oh – it’s so beautiful at many places here! Personal highlight: the two relaxed reindeer at the beach.

Saturday, 31 July

Farewell Annika! Now we are separated by at least 930 kilometres but fortunately for only three weeks. After I farewell Annika at the airport I drive to a parking place on the island Kvaløya and take two promenades. One at the beach, one over the bogs. The variety of landscapes is so impressive.

Sunday, 1 August

After a more or less lazy a short trip by bus to the center of Tromsø. The Indian restaurant is fully booked, but the sushi restaurant has place. 12 bits 189 NOK. Regular Norwegian prices. On the way there I find this narrow shortcut. Old dustbins, but a photo exhibition.

Three summer days in Råneå

(Oops, I’ve become lazy with blogging. This happened already a week ago!)

Last week Annika and I used our one-week holiday to visit friends in Råneå – 300 km from home, 100 from the Finnish border. Three days – three sections.

Thursday – getting wet

After a sunny morning a large cloud front approached Råneå, bringing thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail. It was short-lived and probably only some strawberries were harmed. (Or was it a snail that tasted them?). In the afternoon it cleared up and we spent some time by (and in) a bathing lake.

Friday – kayaking

We had booked the day before. Four kayaks (three single, one double) and a canoe. On tour: four children between 5 and 13 and five (more or less) grown-ups. We have booked for three hours and decided to paddle through a small creek and then take the Råneå river back to the boat rental by the sea. I have paddled quite a lot on the sea but hardly on rivers, streams or creeks. A great experience!

Saturday – open air concert

Annika and I had heard Daniel Wikslund before. On this day he played two open-air concerts in Överkalix – the first one on a large wooden raft on the river Råneälven. It was wonderful to listen to his folk-inspired music from the a small jetty, the water or even from the raft. It was his first concert since February 2020 due to the covid  restrictions. Hard times for musicians!

You see the wooden keyboard instrument? That’s a pump-organ (Swedish: tramporgel). We’re lucky to have such an instrument in our house soon. Today we’ll meet friends that will help us with the transport from the previous owner’s summer cottage by the sea up the hill to the gravel road and then to our house. Wish us look, that the transport succeeds.

Gratulerer med dagen from abroad

Today is syttende mai (17th of May), the Norwegian national day. On 17 May 1814 the The Constitution of Norway that declared Norway to be an independent kingdom was signed. That’s why Norway turns 207 years today. Gratulerer med dagen – Happy birthday!

The first time that I was in Norway was the turn of the year 2003/04 together with a friend. Although the weather was really miserable – storm and rain – I was so fascinated by that country, that I travelled there one month later again to find a job as a developer.

Well, I didn’t find a job. I couldn’t speak Norwegian, didn’t have much programming experience and the dot-com bubble was still present.

2005, one and a half year later I visited Tromsø for the first time of my life after a week of hiking on the Hardangervidda. I had less than two days to discover this town but since then it has been my favourite town in Scandinavia.

Anyhow I didn’t think about moving there. The same year I had been in Northern Sweden twice and preferred the colder winters there. In addition to that I was a bit scared of mørketiden – the seven weeks in winter, where the sun stays below the horizon. Five years later I moved to Sweden.

This year however I was sure that I will be in Norway for syttende mai, since I’ve been working in Tromsø since last October.

Well, at least on the papers. Due to Covid 19 we were strongly advised to work from home, which I can better in our house in Obbola/Sweden than in my tiny room in Tromsø. On 22 November 2020 I took the plane to Oslo, another one to Stockholm and a third to Umeå. Since then I’ve been working and living home in Obbola. In five days I’ll have been here for half a year.

It feels a bit like a dream. Did I really work in the office of the Norsk Polarinstitutt in Tromsø? Together with others? Walked the 1.7 km from my shared flat? Enjoyed the first snow in the mountains? Took a kayak course?

Only when I miss my down sleeping bag (in Tromsø), my macro lens (in Tromsø), my rain parka (in Tromsø) I realise that I still have my flat there. And of course when I have to pay the monthly rent. And that’s a lot because it is ridiculously expensive to live there.

At time I’m forbidden to travel to Norway even though I have a job and a shared flat there. It’s unclear when I’ll be allowed there again. Until then I have the blog articles as memory of my two months in Tromsø to remember, the knowledge that I’ll be there again but most of all a wonderful time home.