Europe, norway, Travel

The Magical Trollfjord and the Norwegian Coastal Express

The morning after our Harstad exploration we were up around 6.30am to get ready and eat some breakfast before our big day aboard the Hurtigruten ship MS Kong Harald.  Hurtigruten is a fleet of cruise ships that run up and down the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes and is considered a  historical staple of Norwegian infrastructure and culture, helping to bridge the distance between the north and the south.

When taking the southbound ship from Harstad to Svolvær it takes about 10 hours, with three stops in between – namely Risøyhamn, Sortland and Stokmarknes. Stokmarknes is considered the birthplace of Hurtigruten and when they stopped there we left the ship for a brief tour of the Hurtigruten Museum – home to the largest museum object in Norway: the 1956 MS Finnmarken Ship. The sailing itself was very much all about sitting on the viewing deck and watching the beautiful world go by, but once we were off the ship in Stokmarknes we received our dose of history and facts and fun exploring for the day. The ten hours stretched on and we were both grateful for a break from the slow rocking of the boat (which may or may not have lulled me to sleep a couple of times) 😛

One of the main reasons we went on this 10 hour cruise from Harstad to Svolvær was the Trollfjord – a fjord famous for it’s extremely narrow mouth and steep mountains like nothing we had ever seen.  Huddled outside on the deck we watched the steep mountain walls around us close in on the ship and it was breathtaking. The water around the ship was impossibly blue and it was a great experience. The fjord is part of the Lofoten and Vesterålen regions and is a spectacular sight, a must-see if you ever find yourself in the area!

Until tomorrow, lovelies! Xxx

Ps: We’re not even halfway through our Northern Norway mini adventure, but I’ve already started editing the video… Think this is going to be a good one!

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Europe, norway, Travel

Norway: Harstad in A Day

We´re back from our overnight trip to Harstad and having a bit of a rest day after a couple of long days full of activities. We are watching Frozen in bed and eating lasagna like it’s our job and relaxing as much as we can before we start another couple of hectic days of  our Northern Norway Mini Adventure 🙂

As I mentioned in a previous post we took the bus from Sortland to Harstad and arrived in Harstad early enough that while shops were open, the city was still quiet. Harstad is a city in Troms County and has about 25 000 inhabitants, making it bigger than Sortland, but still very small.  Wandering through the city there is a mix of quaint old houses and new more functional built ones which gives the city an eclectic feel. In between two concrete blocks there is a small shop window from the 1960s and many places street art by some of Norways finest street artist can be found. It’s an odd mix of times and cultures in many ways, but Harstad feels authentically quirky, not really a big city, not really a small town, but containing the best and the worst elements from both.

After exploring the city and enjoying a late lunch at the pizza lunch buffet at Egon Harstad (very reasonably priced at 108NOK per person, and if you think that’s unreasonable – everywhere else was more expensive) we headed out to the Trondenes Church. The church is a 20-30 minute walk from the city centre, but there is also a bus (number 12) if you’re not in the walking mood. The day was lovely however so we walked and was treated to some lovely views on our way.

Trondenes Church is the northernmost and oldest medieval church in Norway, dating back to the 1200s. During the day the church is open for visitors, but we got there too late and spent the evening wandering the church grounds instead. For me this was also a walk down memory lane as I used to live in Harstad as a child and have fond memories of the place. The area around the church was used as a prison camp for Soviet soldiers during WWII as well, and the remnants of the camp along with the war memorial were heartbreaking. During the war Hitler tried to build his Atlantic Wall along the Norwegian coast and the Nazis had a massive presence all over Norway, including Harstad. Due to the fortifications of one such post of the Atlantic wall there are several enormous cannons, aptly named the Hitler-Cannons, not too far away from the church. As we walked around the ruins of the prison camp, reading the information boards and seeing photos of the actual camp it hit us how many small battles were fought that the history books don’t talk about. The church and the visitors centre are well worth the visit if you’re in the region!

The walk back to the hotel we were staying at for the night, the Scandic Harstad, seemed longer than the walk there and we were two tired explorers that headed to bed early, getting ready for an early morning. Yesterday we took the 8.30 southbound Hurtigruten from Harstad to Svolvær and a post about that is coming tomorrow!

Goodnight, lovlies! Xxx

Europe, norway

Strandheia 647 MASL & Norwegian Hiking Culture

If there is one activity that is both cheap, offers amazing once in a lifetime views and that we have an abundance of where I’m from… it’s hiking. Vesterålen and Lofoten (regions sort of explained here. Keep in mind that a lot of the time people say Lofoten, when they actually mean Vesterålen. Tourists tend to merge them together because Lofoten is more famous.)  have been called the most beautiful archipelago in the world by both National Geographic and the Huffington Post among others. There are places to surf, places to cycle, places to fish and a lot of places to wander. On almost every mountain there are trails and many peaks has their own troll saga as its creation myth.

Norwegians, and Northern Norwegians in particular (more on this north/south divide in a later post), are notorious hikers and trekkers.  Spoiled for views as we are we don’t always hike for hours upon hours for the breathtaking views,  or the eerie quiet around you when you sit down at a mountain summit and can hear nothing but your own breath, a lonely bird tweeting and the wind…

No, we walk just to walk and hike to hike. We often do it purely for the exercise on trekkings routes we’ve already done time and time again.  Which is odd, considering how many beautiful trails and treks we have to choose from. That’s not to say we don’t post a photo on Instagram now and then if the view is particularly nice on said well-walked hiking route (example of this above haha), but the view is not the focus, completing the trip is. In a slightly meta way, the  walk itself is the aim of the walk.  If you’re in Norway doing a hike popular with tourists (like the Queens Route) you can easily tell the difference between a Norwegian and a foreigner. The Norwegian people power walk full steam ahead like race horses eager to get to the finish line, while everyone else actually enjoy the sights and take their time 😛

This whole post was intended  as a  brief account of our hiking trip up to Strandheia, 647 meters above sea level. Which at this point is probably worth mentioning that we did. Yesterday I made Kjære climb up a steep rocky mountain like some sort of Indiana Jones and I expect some of his muscles will ache tomorrow, but then again, so will mine.  By some miracle the weather is staying good, with sun and decent temperatures despite the weather forecast proclaiming otherwise and we took full advantage of that as we walked and bear-climbed our way to the top of a beautiful, beautiful mountain (view as seen above). Slight sidenote, while trying to figure out if “bear-climbed” is an actual way to describe someone climbing in English (it’s not) I found this video of actual bears rock climbing. You’re welcome.

By the time you read this Kjære and I will be on a bus from Sortland to Harstad for the day, then off with  a Hurtigruten AS ship to Svolvær at 08.30 tomorrow morning. When taking the ship from any northern stop south bound to Svolvær you get to see the magical Trollfjord up close and we can’t wait!

The Northern Norway Mini adventure continues! Xxx

Europe, norway, Travel

And so the local adventure begins…

Kjære is  here! And the exploring has begun!

We spent the day recuperating after a long couple of days for the both of us, then headed out in the afternoon to explore my little hometown. I live in a quiet little town called Sortland on Norways biggest island, Hinnøya, close to the sea. Sortland wants to become the Blue City by the Sea and because of this we have an above average number of blue buildings.(A lot of which can be seen on an Instagram account I created a couple of years ago https://instagram.com/blaabyenmin/, feel free to check it out for more photos from the town as I won’t be including many photos here.)

Street Art  and poems in Norwegian adorn the blue walls and the smell of the ocean lingers in every corner of the city. Town? City? I guess technically we are a city, but the city centre only has 3000 people in it, and the entire municipality has a  whopping 10 000 people in it on good days, less than 10 000 on bad days. Kjære thought the city was even smaller than he imagined, but the weather was brilliant and I’d deem it  successful day, silly photos included 😛

The photos in the gallery are by SwedCar9592 (Blog & Twitter), as I’m mostly filming bits and clips for our home video (yes, people still do that) and the Youtube travel vlog I will be making out of all of our adventures these next few weeks. Updates of our Northern Norway adventures will follow! Ps: We had to assemble the tent we are going to be using when we go camping to air it out and you can see a photo of that in the gallery above.  Thats a wilderness tent. In our garden. We may or may not be thinking about sleeping in there tonight like the absolute children we are haha xxx

Life, norway, Travel

Planning Our Northern Norway Mini Adventure

Today is the day! My English from-the-city Kjære is flying up here to visit Northern Norway for the first time and get a glimpse of the distinctive rural area I come from and the quirky Northern Norwegian culture. I’m beyond excited to see him again after 5 weeks and I can’t wait to show him where I’m from and let him see just how small my home town is 😛 He’s here for over two weeks and to fill the time I’ve planned a number of smaller day trips ans well as some overnight trips to other towns. Him visiting is allowing me to be a tourist in my own city and in my own region, letting me see the place I come from with new eyes.

2015

I’ve been making lists of possible activities, booked some things, planned a sort of day-to-day itinirary and trying to figure out how to schedule in movienights and cooking together with long hiking trips and teaching him how to gut a fish (sounds brutal, but we need to eat what we catch, yo!). This map shows some of the places we will be going, though how we are getting there and what we are doing will be a secret until I post my daily-ish travelogues. Camping, fishing, hiking, boating, swimming and safari-ing are some key words… lets go adventuring! Xxx

Ps: I’m a 21 year old with a serious girl crush on Demi Lovato. YOU GO GIRL!

Life, Travel, Youtube

Norway: Summer in Lofoten and Vesterålen

My home region is called Vesterålen, roughly translated to “the western eel”, supposedly meaning that my region is located next to a western fjord shaped like an eel. There is however nothing called Østerålen (the eastern eel) so this name is by all logical accounts flawed. Now,the sister region to Vesterålen is called Lofoten. It’s the more famous, skinnier of the Kardashians. Ehhh, I mean of the archipelagos in the area. On the map the two regions look a little bit like a tail sticking out of Northern Norway, straight into the Atlantic Ocean.

Uten navn

Except for a brief-ish four year period when I lived in Harstad I’ve spent the better part of my life and summers in Vesterålen and Lofoten. I find the two regions equally beautiful with their extreme sports and mountains and fishing and lovely northerners. They also have the weather in common.We mostly get  what people might call “British weather”, meaning cloudy with a chance of rain and wind. It’s currently 8 degrees outside. IN JULY! But last summer though? Last summer we were blessed with a heathwave. 25-30 degrees celcius for the entire summer and we all went mad with it! It was a great summer and I even captured a little bit of it on camera:

(I made this video last year during a weekend at my friend Heidi’s Place. Ignore the weird beginning, it gets better haha x )

In other news, today is Friday and I’m so so ready for the weekend! 😀  I’m heading to my Mamma for the weekend and we are planning to go hiking Dronningruta (the Queen’s Route) between Nyksund and Stø (can you find it on the map?) in Øksnes municipality tomorrow. I’m way way way out of shape so this should be interesting. The weather has been horrendous ever since I arrived back in Norway so I’m praying it won’t start raining halfway through our 8 hour hike :s

Wish me Luck! Xxx

2015, Books & Films, literature

Summer Reading 2015

Before I ever sat in an airplane I had visited many kingdoms, seen amazing creatures and met all sorts of people from more cultures than I could count. I was a reader. Now because this blog is so new, none of you will be aware of my love for literature. I’m a massive bookworm. Massive. I was the kid who sat in the back of the classroom and hid my middle grade fantasy books behind my math book, who did all her homework ahead of time just so I could read in our study sessions, who would even bring my poor books outside during free periods if I’d gotten to an exciting bit. Books became my way of traveling, they gave me exciting travel companions and they inspired me to go out and experience the world. To adventure beyond my own sphere, beyond the borders of my own country. And it wouldn’t be entirely untrue if I said that growing up with Harry Potter is what landed me in England for 3+ years.

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The sad truth of university life, however, is that though I get to read and read a lot, the things I read are mostly academic bladibla. Which isn’t to say it’s not interesting… there is just a distinct lack of dragons, epic battles, young love  and romantic kisses under the Eiffel Tower. And I need that in my life. Working the entire summer also means that there is a distinct lack of travel and the solution I seem to have come to is that I binge read during the summer. Every summer without fail. Here are some of the books I have read so far and hope to read during the coming months:

The Name of The Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Day 1) by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle Day 2)by Patrick Rothfuss
Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella
Sophies World by Jostein Gaarder
Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow 1) by Anthony Ryan
Tower Lord (Raven’s Shadow 2) by Anthony Ryan 
Queen of Fire (Raven’s Shadow 3) by Anthony Ryan
Catch 22 by Jospeh Heller
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Is Everyone Hanging OUt Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

More to come…

I’m hoping I will get through these and will probably update the list as I find more things I want to read throughout the summer. The more interesting question now is: What are you reading this summer?