Explore Hammerfest and Sørøya

The airport in Hammerfest is right in the outskirts of the town. Right next to it was a supermarket so I picked up some fresh fruits on my way. Walking into town I was starving for pizza, and had a break at a restaurant. The harder part came afterwards as I still had to walk up the very scenic zig-zag walk to my hotel. The atmosphere was amazing, the night sun in my back, a beautiful view over the whole city, some very light rain, and a beautiful double rainbow ahead of me over the green mountains.

The next day I had a lazy start, buying camping gas for my stove and Turmat, reading my newspaper in a café with coffee and cake. In the afternoon I took the express boat over to Akkarfjord on Sørøya, the island ahead of Hammerfest. The boat also carried all the supplies, including two new porcelain toilets. 🙂 As a local lady suggested to me during the cruise, I walked out of the little village into the surrounding hills. I was all alone on the plateau except a couple of seagull colonies. I pitched my tent in the soft evening sun. After ‘dinner’ it got quite cold with the wind coming from the sea so I retreated into my tent. The next morning I just had to walk a couple of kilometers to get back to the harbour. Taking the morning boat back to Hammerfest, I had plenty of time to reach my flight to Andenes.

Explore the far North

Mehamn

Heading further north, the flight from Vadsø to Mehamn took just about 20 minutes. Of four passengers I was the only one to get off in Mehamn. The airport was just a short walk from this nice little fishermen town. I sat down at the square with a harpoon monument of the Mehamn Rebellion and had a nice conversation with a local pensioner. Around midday I headed to the house of my couchsurfing host, a very friendly teacher of the local school. After exploring the peninsula in the afternoon, I cooked classical German food for my host. Kohlroulladen

After a good and long sleep, I said good bye to my nice host and walked back to the airport. Before taking the plane to Honningsvåg, I walked up a little river beyond the landing strip and relaxed in the sunshine. It was even sunny enough for a refreshing bath! 

North of Nordkapp

After I arrived in Honningsvåg, I stocked up on gas for the stove. Hitchhiking to the Nordkapp turned out to work really well. My first ride was a Swiss pensioner exploring Scandinavia, the second a Spanish couple on holidays. At the Kapp I was very lucky with the weather and enjoyed the empty view north in the sunshine late in the evening. 

With all the tourists and mobile homes around it didn’t feel comfortable to camp here. Around ten in the evening I hitched a ride to the Knivskjelodden parking place with an American who lives in Finland. From there it was a 10km hike to the actual northern most point which I reached around 1:30, still in beautiful warm sunshine! After signing the logbook and enjoying the moment, I set up camp slightly above the monument. Nobody nearby, I was all by myself 🙂 Good that I had bought gas, now a nice hot porridge was very needed before sleeping. 

After a deep and undisturbed sleep, I had my northernmost breakfast with rabbits and reindeer watching me 🙂 On the hike back I met a fellow backpacker and we decided to hike together. He was a nuclear physicist from Russia, so we had some very interesting conversations about plasma physics and energy politics in the middle of nowhere at the far end of Europe 😉

Hitchhiking back to town turned out to be not as easy as the other day. I waited about 1 1/2 hours in pretty chill wind, but in the end a friendly French couple with an historic self-built camper van gave me a lift. For the night I decided for comfort and booked myself into the Vandrerhjem in Honningsvåg, a rather large and well organised hostel with nice rooms and a large ‘living room’. 

Explore Kirkenes and Vadsø

When I arrived in Kirkenes it was raining and the town looked rather gray and depressing so I spent most of my evening enjoying the comfort of a hotel room. The next day the weather had improved by the town still looks rather dull. On my way to the Borderland Museum I discovered that there was an international food market in town. A broad selection of European cheeses, meats, and other delicacies. But first to the museum, it covered the history of this border region between Norway, Finland, and Russia and showed local industry and Sami culture as well as art. A nice place to get a better understanding. Before heading back into town,  I hiked up the hill overlooking the town. You could still see left over shells from the second world war! On my way back to the hotel I picked up some nice cheese and filed olives, had a very nice dinner (chicken in French mustard sauce), and enjoyed an interesting conversation with very friendly locals. 

My next stop was Vadsø, a tiny little nest where my main interest was the mooring mast of Roald Amundsens airship expedition across the North Pole. After exploring the little island with the mast, I headed back towards the airfield. I set up camp in the hills right above the landing strip, making it easy to get the did my flight in the morning. On my way down the next morning, I bumped into a reindeer with impressive horns! 

Explore Tromsø

I made it to Tromsø and walked from the airport into town.  Closing in on midnight, I found the very cute hostel I had reserved without trouble. A mix of staff, guests, and pets was sitting in the living room watching the football game. I joined and had a very interesting discussion with one of them about life, the universe, and everything. Around three at night I crawled into my dorm bed after a very rich day.

The next morning I had a stroll through town and bumped into one of the guests playing music in the street. He joined me for breakfast at a café. Him being from Birmingham, we had a nice conversation about his disappointment regarding the Brexit.

After I had bought all the supplies I needed, I walked across the bridge and to the cable car.At the top I first enjoyed the scenic view with a refreshing drink and then hiked into Tromsdalen. At the end of the valley I turned east towards Skarvassbu, a DNT hut. After a long and exhausting hike uphill, I found a beautiful spot on a hill to pitch my tent for the night. 

After a long and good sleep, I had a laid back breakfast with beautiful sunshine. The one-minute porridge works very well with milk powder and cold water! During the day, the path back to Tromsø lead me over a plateau and down a very rocky valley with streams, lakes, and waterfalls. 

When I got back into town, the owner, employees, and guests were sitting in front of the hostel discussing life, the universe, and everything. The usual 😉 I bought some drinks and olives with feta for dinner and joined them. Later we all moved to the beach at the other end of town for a bbq in the midnight sun.

Explore (Northern) Norway

Last year I heard about the Widerøe Explore Norway ticket which is Interrail for flying in Norway: Choose from three zones and fly as much as you want for two or three weeks. Of course that cought my attention and I decided to do that in summer ’16.

So here I am, I dug out one of my previous packing lists and packed my things for three weeks airplane-backpacking across Norway north of Trondheim. Tent, sleeping bag, mattress, … everything and the kitchen sink (well, a stove): 16kg, not bad. 

The planned tour includes 18 flights in 12 segments: Trondheim – Tromsø – Kirkenes – Vadsø – Mehamn – Honningsvåg – Hammerfest – Lakselv – Andenes – Leknes – Røst – Brønnøysund – Trondheim 

Today’s first trip to Tromsø includes 5 stopovers in Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, Bodø, and Stokmarknes. In Bodø I had enough time to visit the National Aviation Museum. Especially the U2 spy plane interested me, but on arrival the receptionist told me that this section was closed. Luckily she was very kind and helpful and allowed me to take a look nonetheless 🙂

Tonight I should make it to Tromsø where I’ll spend the next days.

Nerdy Economic Statistics Sunday

Based on a recent conversation, I decided to look closer into Labour Productivity, output produced per unit of labour. My usual go-to site for statistical data on economies is OECD.Stat and as usual, they provided me with the information I was looking for.

In order to nicely visualise GDP per head of population, hours worked per head of population, and GDP per hour worked, I did a brief search for cross-platform data visualisation tools and stumbled onto Orange.
Using this very intuitive tool, I was ale to easily create the diagram I had in mind: A scatter plot of time worked vs. output per head:
OECD-Productivity
This diagram is based on the data for 2013, as it was the most complete dataset with only Australia being an estimate and no gaps. The horizontal axis shows time worked, the vertical axis shows the output, and the size/colour show the productivity.

One of the two extreme outliers is Norway, the place I currently call home. So I looked more into this. One of the first search results was a research paper published by Statistics Norway, the Norwegian statistics bureau, which puts this exposed position into perspective and moves Norway closer to the productivity similar to Germany, USA, or Sweden.
The paper attributes this deviation mainly to the oil and gas income and different possible ways to estimate purchasing power parities.
Another interesting place is France which works very little but at a decent productivity, achieving average GDP per capita. Sounds like a good place, if one values time more than income or things.

A positive note for the countries of low productivity is, that many of them have been leading in productivity growth in the recent years.
OECD-Productivity-Growth

Well, enough of this nerdy stuff 🙂
Enjoy your Sunday

12V to USB Charging Converter

After the USB charging converter for my headlight battery packs worked really well last weekend (I got two full charges from one battery pack), I decided to quickly implement a simple 12V to USB charging hack I had in mind for quite some time.

On one of the recent hikes between huts I realised that some of the huts in Norway have solar panel powered 12V power supply. I’ve had a spare car-cigarette-lighter to USB adapter for quite some time and decided to replace the plug with generic crocodile clamps which are more versatile. With these new contacts, I can now attach to any 12V source to recharge USB appliances. For a little protection, I secured the leads with hot glue and covered the circuit board with a bit of yellow shrink tube.

12V to USB Charging Adapter