The Taste of Summer

This weekend I made two nice sirups from plants in my garden, spruce shoots and dandelion. 

Both recipes are essentially the same. Collect spruce shoots or dandelion flowers (only the yellow petals), put in a pot, cover with water, boil for 30 minutes, pour mass through a sieve into another pot and weigh, add 2/3 of weight sugar, slowly boil to a slightly viscous consistency, and finally fill into bottles. For better durability, I boil the slightly opened bottles in a half full water-bath for about 30 minutes.

Finally Snow!

After a rather murky and rainy December, snow finally arrived short after midnight of the first day of the new year. As my last day of new-years-holidays turned out to be a perfect cold and sunny winter day, me and a friend went out to Bymarka for a nice cross-country skiing trip. The beautiful sunshine also lured Odin, our local free-roaming pony, out of his shed. The trip of course included a waffles-and-hot-chocolate-stop at Skistua and some wilderness skiing along an unprepared forest trail.

 

Following the theme of my previous post, I ended the day with a nice gypsy-jazz concert with Leslie Dawn Knowles (violin), Mark Tetreault (tuba), and Skjalg Raaen (guitar) at Ila Brainnstasjon.
  

Autumn and Winter – The Concert Season

Now that the evenings are getting darker again, I spontaniously went to Digs/BEAR for a concert of 2/3 Harakiri to open the concert season. When I first saw them about two years ago at Verstedhallen, I was blown away by the intense stage-presence of the singer. Since then I have seen him a couple of times in various combinations at the Sunday-Jam-Session at Antikvariatet (of which he is the owner).
The setting at Digs/BEAR worked really well. They were playing inside the big front-window facing the street, much to the confusion of some passing pedestrians.


2/3 Harakiri @ Digs/BEAR      2/3 Harakiri @ Digs/BEAR
2/3 Harakiri @ Digs/BEAR

Explore Vesterålen and Lofoten

The first two days in Andenes were a perfect beach camping holiday. 25C, crystal clear water, ice-cream, BBQ on the dunes!
Beach Camp Yay, ice-cream!
Find the Fish Sunset at the Beach

After this nice rest, I travelled on and visited the space center near Andenes, which hosts a launch site for rockets as well as many ground-based scientific instruments. It also provides space education to children and adults.

Andøya Space CenterSpace Antennas Warning Rocket Propellant Rocket Science

Through AirBnB I had found the hostel-boat Sjøblomsten in Sortland but had issues booking it. I thought I’d just give it a try on good luck and I right away found the boat right in the center of the city. To my luck, the manager was around by coincidence. I had the boat to myself 🙂
MS Sjøblomsten Historic MS Sjøblomsten

The next day, I spontaneously added a flight to Leknes on Lofoten to my Explore Norway ticket and hitchhiked to a camping place near Flakstad where I was planning to meet with a friend from Trondheim the following day. When we started around midday, Moltinden, the mountain we choose, was still covered in fog and clouds. About half-way-up, the clouds started to resolve and we had a beautiful view over the whole area.
View from Moltinden Me on Moltinden View from Moltinden Top View from Moltinden Top

After this topptur I headed towards Reine from where I took the boat to Kjerkfjorden in order to hike ti the Horseid beach. During the day I had beautiful weather. Around eight in the evening the predicted rain clouds arrived with surprising speed and around midnight the rain started. It didn’t stop until the next afternoon, which made the hike back a little less comfortable. Still, the remotene beauty of the beach is impressing!
Reine on Lofoten
The view from the pass to Horseid Beach
Horseid Beach Evening nap at Horseid Beach Camping on Horseid Beach
Cloud closing in on Horseid Beach

With a brief stopover in Bodø I headed back to the green flatlands of Trøndelag. Home sweet home!

Norway is not made for ass sitting in Lofoten

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!