Monday, 30 June 2014

Week 10a – Glaciers and Arctic Circle

Week 10a – Glaciers and Arctic Circle
Oh Norway – you are magnificent! Gorgeous drive north along harbours and sounds, salmon farms, impressive bridges, ferries, trawlers, islands, mountains with table-top clouds (and what a difference sunshine makes!) 

Steep lane to Namsos lookout - gun placements dug straight into stone. Plaque said warehouses were all that was left when Hitler bombed the town for his birthday....

Caught Lund to Hofles ferry, find ourselves saying "how pretty" each time we turn a corner. Good roads, tunnels, bridges following fjords. Flagged down motorist to interpret sign in Norwegian in middle of Vennesund ferry road – yep, road closed ahead. Long way round was pretty though, with jagged mountains, ice patches, moss contoured boulders, waterfalls, wooden churches. Along ferry queue, enterprising local kids were pulling cart selling coffee from flasks. Found free camp beside inlet overlooking low round mountains worn away by thousands of years of glacial activity. Looked so much like a lake it was a surprise to find (Atlantic Ocean!) starfish and sea snails in water. 


Continuing sunshine, reflections in still waters, and lots more ferry crossings - Horn to Andalsvagen, Forvik to Tjotta, then Levang to Nesna. Drove coast road, middle inhospitable with high rocky ice-capped mountains. 

Ferry queue provides maintenance break....


Admired magnificent Helgeland - one of world’s largest stay-cable bridges. In Mo i Rana saw "Ocean Man" in Ransfjord harbor, 10mt granite sculpture by Anthony Gormley, who sculpted the skinny statues on Lake Ballard in WA.

Stegasaurus Ridge...


Took boat to see Svartisen, Norway’s 2nd largest glacier, terraced waterfalls from melting ice. To reach Austerdalsisen glacial finger we had an uphill 3km round walk, over terraced rocks and lakes, water an opaque milky blue. 

Waterfalls looked like Snakes and Ladders!!

Water pounding out from rocks
Can you see us all....??

Sky celebrating our triumph!

Next was exciting Arctic Circle crossing on Saltfjellet mountain plateau. We hadn’t realized there’d been a concentration camp on site until we found memorials to Hungarians and Russians who had died building railroad in the extreme cold. Marker made of “Norwegian Rose” marble mined 100km north in Fauske. Enormously pleased to have crossed latitude 66 into land of the midnight sun!!


Friday, 27 June 2014

Week 9 – From Romeo and Juliette’s to Norwegian Sea

Week 9 – From Romeo and Juliette’s to Norwegian Sea

Steep little walk up mountain at Hoverberget, a nature reserve on Southern Storsjon Lake to look at Grotto - small fissure/cave in the porphyry rock, and to lookout tower, just beating a rainstorm. Passed Eurasian cranes, a red fox with a white tipped tail, and something low, broad, furry and slinky in forest...


We were so excited about visiting our Swedish friends Julia and Eskil in peaceful Trangsviken - how welcome they made us! Sat in their warm glass-walled sunroom getting to know their family and friends. plus over our Australian wine (and their Spanish spoils!) Julia, a teacher in the US had to re-school to teach in Sweden. Applauded their community spirit in re-settling and up-skilling refugee Kurds from corner of Iraq and Syria. Eskil told stories of his work with police rescue in forests and mountains. He tried to convince us to stay up all night to enjoy the midnight light, but we just won't function without some sleep! 
Eskil, son Magnus and friend Tana from Sydney
Juliet and Romeo

Spent next day being toured around. Enjoyed watching traditional break baking; spiced with fennel and annis it was absolutely delicious. 

Passed Eskil’s family home and heard stories of his running away through the forest as a youngster, as well as when his Grandfather met the King. Loved the story of cows bucking and cavorting in the fields with delight when released from their winter barns (“an awfully funny sight”). On to Hallristningar waterfall at Glosa with its Stone Age hunter-gatherer rock carvings (4000yr old petroglyphs) and restored hut with reindeer hide ceiling. 
Julia demonstrates mustache fern

German friends Rinehart and Kristina (a guide in Germany)


Lunched on Froson Island (horse meat sandwiches on still-warm bread) beside Storsjon Lake, home of Swedish version of Lake Ness monster (apparently there's an embryo in a bottle hereabouts...)

A highlight was the visit to the Moose farm, up close to bulls, cows and calves. So surprised to feel the warmth of their furry antlers and the oil in their skin. They milk cows – with its 15% fat, the milk and cheese sells for astronomical prices!


We had to drag Julia away

Well, I thought it was funny....



Enjoyed traditional woodsman’s dinner of baked potato and ham cake with lignin berries, accompanying "Prost" toasts, Tallinn liquor (citrus + spices + instant heat radiating from mouth outwards...)  Next day headed into Ostersund to visit interactive Jamtli open-air and culture museum. Bear skins with claws intact, different animal hairs woven into socks, sacks, clothing. Sami culture uses every part of reindeer.


Got alcohol at state owned store, back to Trangsviken to make Aussie farewell BBQ (but adding moose meat for taste). Made Julia’s Janssons Temptation (potato bake/ anchovies). Showed Eskil our planned route forward, and he convinced us of an alternate "awfully pretty road". Sat up after midnight telling stories, Julia and Kristine singing bawdy songs and taking videos for Facebook (GirlRob wonders if they will be so amusing in the morning).

Met reporter at Transviken Stellplatz (will be embarrassing if GirlRob’s shower segment is broadcast digitally!) Sad farewells – Romeo and Juliet have been outstanding hosts so generous with their time, traditional cooking and stories. 

On to Trondheim, moving ever closer to snowy mountains in swirling mist. Crossed border into Norway at Storlien. Babbling brooks with small cascades, boulders covered in red and green lichen. Went first to Nidaros Cathedral, a majestic Lutheran church with 20ft figures totally covering front entrance. Inside equally stunning with huge rose stained-glass window. Strange figures on floor in black and white marble (pig, mermaid) - cleric told us they might represent sins which priest “defied” every time he walked over them – hmm…. Met Mount Isa Mines colleague for delicious fish dinner of baked char. Ian's wife Inga was Norwegian and told us of an oppressive early childhood under the Nazi occupation - her family lived an agrarian life on a fjord, and had all their animals “appropriated”. 



From Trondheim took picturesque route towards Kristiansund through beautiful snow covered pine mountains overlooking lush valleys of furry cattle and rye crops. Drove over six islands crossing Atlantic Ocean via bridge or tunnel to reach Kristiansund, before travelling the famed Atlantic Road (at cost of $50 toll!) its lichen-covered rocky coast and islands, and spectacular "bridge to nowhere....".