Author Archives: Nils-Jarle Sætre

A magical moment in my backyard

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A day off. Lousy weather. I spent it indoor with a good book. Three hours before midnight, I became restless. Then the weather changed and I went for a short road trip.

Why should we care about short trips in our own backyard? There is one thing I have to repeat over and over again – it’s way too easy to postpone the short road trips, since you can do these trips any day. But keep in mind that weather conditions can make the journey unique every time you go. It does not matter if you already been there 10 or 15 times already. At least you will get some fresh air. 

About 30 kilometers later I arrived at the abandoned power station. At the same moment the sun disappeared behind the clouds and I got really mad. Now I wouldn’t get the effect I wanted with the sunbeams going through the broken windows.

But I got to shoot some pictures. After all, it was the first time I was there. And I got a chance to get to known the location. Because I’ll be back for the right light and sun conditions.


ME: I was able to get my self in the picture.


On my way back I decided to take a trip to Kvaløyvågen even if there was snow in the air. Snow in the end of may… I guess there is no reason to be surprise when you live above the Arctic Circle.

I wanted to look at a location which could be perfect to shoot the northern lights next winter. At first I just wanted to go home, but I knew as long as I had started to think about going there, then I had to do it. There’s a lot of times I’ve regretted that I didn’t go because I might have gotten a good photo. 

I looked at the house which was 400 yard away, but I dropped to go down when I saw a lavvu (sami tent) in the reflection of a small lake on the other side of the road.

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I started walking towards the car, but I quickly changed my mind. I decided to walk around the lake and take some close-ups of the lavvu since it would only take me two-three minutes to get there. 

Suddenly the sun appeared between the clouds and I had a magical moment that last for a couple of minutes.


I couldn’t stop smiling. A few minutes earlier it snowed a little bit. It just shows what kind of reward you can get when you travel in your own backyard. I was delighted that I left the couch behind and got some magic from above.

A few more pictures:

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Categories: Norway, Troms | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The beauty of your neighbourhood


It’s easy to take it for granted. And thus ignore the beauty that is right in front of you.

I’m talking about your own neighbourhood. No matter how beautiful it is, many of us to decide to postpone our trips. I’ve done it. Way too many times. I say to my self: I’ll go tomorrow, next weekend and so on…

Ørnfløya and Sommerøya are only an hour’s drive away from Tromsø. An incredibly beautiful area, which I should have visited a lot more often.

But now I have a couple of friends coming over from USA, so I had to check how it was to hike up to Ørnfløya since winter still was around.

And of course, I brought my camera, since there is always something to take pictures of. The weather was amazing, only a few clouds were missing to make it perfect condition for some photos.

Ørnfløya is just 15 minutes fast walk from the car to the top and then you get this view:


Here is one more photo, taken last year.

Each trip is different.


Then I went to the beach Kvitnesvika. A place I have never photographed before, but I thought would be a great place to go to this evening since the sun would set an hour later.

No wind, no one else on the beach. Just me and my camera.

I stayed there for 90 minutes. And of course, I ended up with a lot of pictures of the same subject. Some of them you can see here, and it shows that you can capture a subject from multiple angles. All the images are taken with wine angle (using a Sigma 8-16mm and Canon 7D).

Here are the results:


Categories: Norway, Troms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Headed for the mountains in my PJs


I just had a small errand to run. So I kept my pajamas pants on. I parked my car but my eyes wandered towards the mountains in the southwest before I move my head to the northwest. Three seconds later I left the parking lot.

At 9pm Friday night, about ten minutes later, I drove through Finnvikdalen while the fogFullSizeRender-16 surrounded the car. I only had about 30 meters of visibility. I drove by a parking lot with four cars but kept on driving to the next one. It was empty.

I guess no one would care if I had used my pajamas pants but I took them off since I had some hiking clothes and shoes in the car. Its always a good idea to have some hiking gear in the car at all times because you never know when you will need them.

After a fast walk for about 20 minutes I reached my first goal. I was above the fog. And it only took me ten more minutes to get to the top of Sørtinden. I’ve lived in Tromsø for 13 years, but it was the first time I was on the summit of Sørtinden. The truth is that I had no clue what the top was called before the next day. Thank you google 🙂


It was a very short hike since Sørtinden is only 471 meters above sea level. But who cares how long the hike is or how tall the mountain is. To be almost alone on a mountain late at night during the summer in Northern Norway is an amazing experience no matter what.

NB: Always keep your camera and some hiking gear in your car at all time. You never know when you need use it. And most important, be more impulsive.








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Left stranded on the top of a mountain


Fear is a strong opponent. And can be downright cruel to you. Sometimes fear takes control over your brain. Feeds it with the wrong thoughts. A power that can be impossible to beat there and then.

The fear got to me and kicked me so hard. I just wanted to lie down in a fetal position and forget that a world existed around me.

But how did get there?

20 minutes earlier, at 10pm, I stood three meters away from the mountain top Skamtind. A mountain furthest west of Ersfjordtraversen at Kvaløya in Tromsø. My body frooze and refused to move one more step towards the top. My brain completely agreed.

Fear of heights, which I was sure had left me for good after several trips on some tough mountains, was suddenly back as a fast as lightning strike. I looked at the last few meters to the top, on the slippery rock on one side and the several hundred meter drop to ocean on the opposite side. I turned around.

Walked two steps. But for some reason  I changed my mind just as quickly.

– Where should I go, I asked two French men who sat just below.

– Go left towards the edge and then to the right, and you will be on top, I got in response.

And just one minute later, I stood on the very spacious top, 884 meters above sea level and the farm Skamtind.

What a view. What a beautiful evening.




But it was impossible to enjoy it. And I don’t remember much from the time at the top. Perhaps not surprising, because the only thing that my brain could focus on was the fact that I had to go down the same way. Everyone knows that it is worse to go down than up.

I tried. Same way as I came up. Gave up. Tried again. Gave up.

Tried a different way. Gave up. Back to where I came up. Gave up.

Distress. Despair. Anger.

What can I do now? Alone at the top. On a mountain I had never been to before. And where my fear of heights had taken control over my body and brain.

Common sense was suddenly completely gone …

Wait. Did I hear the voices of the French? I was sure one of them had climbing shoes on. He can help me.

– Hello?

– Hall0?, I repeated much higher.

Then came the answer. Further down the mountain. They turned around and help arrived.

– Just come down here. Put the right leg here and hold the left hand here. I’ll support you.

I tried. But my fear didn’t want me to win. It didn’t matter if I had help from a French climber. The fear was too strong.

I felt so incredibly stupid and foolish. Why didn’t I go back down when I turned around just before the top? I said to my tour mates just one hour earlier – who didn’t go all the way to the top – that it didn’t matter if I didn’t make it.

– We’ll try again. I’ll show you, said the Frenchman.

Then I placed the right leg in the same place as before and both hands in crevices at the rock surface. And I let the left leg move slowly down the rock face.

– Only five more centimetres. I protect you.

The only thing on my mind right there and then was that if I fell backwards, I’ll take him with me in the fall. And we would die.

There. Finally I had solid ground under my left foot.

I was rescued. A huge relief filled my entire body.

One thing is certain, to have respect for the mountain is important. Next time my body and brain says no, I’m going to listen. It is more important to feel safe than standing on top if you ask me.

I have no problem supporting all those who choose to turn around just before the top of Skamtind.

The fear of heights should be taken seriously. And I assume you understand why I do not have any pictures of the area that got me into trouble. It was never on my mind to take any pictures.


The guy, second to left, was the one who helped me get down from the top. The difficult area is to the right of the girl who is on the way down. You can’t see it in this picture. 

Several sites on the web says that there is some scrambling on the top. Maybe a lot of hikers find it not to scary, but I felt doomed. Devoured by fear.

I admit it: Skamtind – you’re too tough for me …

This was the first time I visited you, but it will also be the last time.

At least the rest of the evening was magical. Northern Norway is so beautiful in the middle of summer when the midnight sun never sets.

PS! You should not say no to hike Skamtind based on my story. If you like to hike in the mountains, and like spectacular views, try Skamtind. Do you not have fear of heights, then you would love the view from the top.

Some more pictures:


Categories: Norway, Troms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The beauty of Venice


Venice is in the same category as Barcelona for me. A city that everyone brags about, and that I should have visited, but I’ve never consider going there. Before now.

A friend persuaded me to go to Barcelona. And I have to admit, I loved the Spanish city. Its an amazing place. 

Now it was time for Vencie. I only gave the city 14 hours to convince me. Maybe a bit unfair not to give it more time, and I guess a lot of travellers would argue that it’s crazy not to spend a few days there.

I would anyway pass Vencie on my way to Slovenia and Croatia, and it would be too bad to ignored the Italian city by the Adriatic Sea.

Of course, Venice is a wonderful city. Probably the most beautiful I’ve ever visited.


But there is a big but. A gigantic problem. People like me. All those annoying tourists. Some days there are over 130,000 people who visit Venice, twice as many as live in the historic part of the town. In the narrow streets you feel trapped over and over again.

It is not difficult to understand that the citizens are worried about the future of their city. They believe that politicians must wake up and limit mass tourism before it is too late. 


After visiting several beautiful villages on my road trip, almost empty of tourists, it horrible to visit Venice. There were too many tourists. It became a pain in the ass.


The real Venice is what you see in these picture. Gondolas almost crashing into each other. A single gondola at sunset is a romantic utopia that does not exist anymore.


Nevertheless, I managed to enjoy the surroundings. For it is impossible not to be captivated by an architectural gem like Venice. The Italian beauty, who has over 400 bridges, is perhaps Europe’s most beautiful and one of the world’s finest cities.


Venice is called The ciy of romance. There are sign of love everywhere you go. I saw four newlyweds and fem meters from me a guy proposed in a gondola. 



He proposed in front of me and she said yes 🙂


This guy got tired of all the photos and had to check his cell. The wife was not too happy about it…


I will not waste more of your time. Instead I let the pictures speak for themselves.

Hope you enjoy them 🙂


Categories: Europe, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Furious first, then love

I felt like a grumpy old man. Then I got furious. My mood got worse by the minute. In the end I was really disappointed since I didn’t get what I wanted.


Most of us get in bad mood during a vacation. Some of us several times. For me I had ten minutes where my temper took control over me.

But it was not so strange. The night before I hardly got any sleep in and had visited four Czech villages/town in a span over 11 hours under the hot sun. Add three weeks alone  on the road, so I guess it was time.

It’s good to swear sometimes. I did it. Loud. Very loud. But I was sure nobody could understand me. If they were not Norwegian, Swedish or Danish…

So what was the problem? I couldn’t take the picture I wanted so badly. The castle in Cesky Krumlov was closed because of a private event. And I had only one hour before the sunset was over and I planned to drive on in three hours time.

I couldn’t concentrate. The emotions had taken over control over me.

Something was wrong …

But the solution was right in front of me. I booked a room. And forgot all about the picture.

Next morning I walk up to the spot in the castle where I couldn’t get in the night before. Took a few pictures, but didn’t get it quite right.

Google – help me!!!

Two minutes later I got my answer. I was in the wrong place. On the wrong side of town.

In other words, I was pissed, angry, grumpy for no reason the night before.

Completely lost

Was it a waste of energy? Not at all. It meant that I spent an extra day here. I do not regret that. On the contrary. I loved it.

I’m completely lost in Cesky Krumlov. I love Prague, but now I’ve found a new Czech favorite who has taken Prague’s place in my heart.

You MUST go there. If you’re eading to Prague – like all others – spend a few days in Cesky Krumlov. The town is 170 km south of the capital and it takes three hours by train.

The city has almost 14,000 inhabitants, but you get the feeling of being in a small village when you walk around in old town. Understandably, both the castle and the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


There are many good restaurants here, and nightlife is great. Like in many other European old towns, there are a lot of great architecture to see and cozy streets to wander in. It is also very popular to use the Vltava River for different water activities.

I could have wrote a lot more about this lovely town, but I’ll let you enjoy my pictures instead.

But first I’ll let you judge what is best. The first picture is the one I wanted to bad. Number two is the photo I took from the castle, which was closed the night before.


I took a lot of pictures here, so hopefully you will like them:

City life:




The castle:


Water activities:








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– A wonderful surprise


Lake Bled – a church on an island in a small lake. And not much more. It was my impression before my trip. All the pictures that appeared on line was with this little island, so I thought why on earth would I go there…

I came very close to drop Bled and decided to stop by only a couple of hours before I passed the small Slovenian town. I just got a gut feeling that I probably should give it a chance.

It was a very smart choice!

– A fantastic place, says Clare Coulter from Northern Ireland.

I could not agree more. In fact, this is the place were I enjoyed it the most so far on my road trip. I found inner peace and felt so relaxed.

Maybe its a little bit ironic that the first thing I did after arriving in the evening was to take  pictures of the church…


I woke up early and listen for a long time to the singing of birds at the amazing camping site Camping Bled. A perfect start to my day.

It was mandatory to take a morning bath at a place like this if you ask me. It was me, 20-30 ducks and two swans. And they were just a few meters away. So incredibly peaceful. It was almost like they accepted me as one of their own.



After a wonderful breakfast I went to the Vintgar Gorge. No surprise that there was a small crowd. The  canyon was discovered in 1891 and its 1.600 meters long. Just two years later they made a trail, something that had to be a dangerous and difficult job, since the cliff had a vertical drop into the raging river several places.

A really beautiful place and the hike is easy.





Then I headed back to Bled and up to the castle towering over the lake. The castle itself was extremely commercialized and not a great experience. For example, you can tap your own wine or get printed something in an ancient way.


But the restaurants had an amazing view, and especially three of the tables was obviously of the exclusive kind.


The view down towards the lake made me discover the public swimming facility that seems to be incredibly well-implemented.


And these two guys swam right toward three large beasts …


It is prohibited to use motorized vessels and the silence was present at all times no matter where you find yourself along the emerald-green lake that is not much more than 1.45 square kilometers. At the deepest it is 29.5 meters.


I ended the day with a trip up to the lookout point Ojstrica where I met two girls from Northern Ireland. At the same time as Northern Ireland-Germany started their match at the European Championships. Stephanie even had a T-shirt that showed that she was a supporter.

– We have to do a compromise. Since she is not interested and I am, we hike up here first and then will head down to see the 2nd half, says Stephanie Jemphrey.

– We’re here only for two days and must take advantage of the time we got, says Coulter.

– But we only play Germany once in the Euros, says Jemphrey.

For those who wonder, Germany won the match 1-0. Northern Ireland still advanced, so the girls got a reason to celebrate later in the evening.


And what about the church on the island? Well, I dropped taking the boat trip out there. It never tempted me to be a typical tourist and do what everybody feel they have to do in Lake Bled.


One thing is for certain, for me this is a much better option than the Mediterranean. A lot of different activities, incredibly beautiful terrain to hike in and a wonderful summer climate.

– My friend Lizze really loved it and raved about it. So I had to go, says Jemphrey.

– I had it on the list of places I wanted to travel to. I love it, for there are so many activities you can do and its not too touristy, says Coulter.

I think I’ll come back one day and then stay for a few days. One day was not enough. I can’t believe I actually considered dropping Lake Bled on my road trip.


Finally I just have to show you this picture. What on earth are they thinking about when they added this to their property? Well, its probably just about making money, since its look like they are going to rent it out…


Categories: Europe, Slovenia, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The costal pearl of Slovenia


The Slovenian rivera is only 46.6 kilometers. Before my European roadtrip I didn’t even  know they had a coastline, and I’m really into geography. But you can’t know it all can you:)

And their coastline is really tiny compared to my native country Norway. Our coastline is 100 915 kilometeres, second in the world after Canada.

The rivera has three towns and a total of 14 villages. And one of them is well worth a visit.

Piran is idyllic, beautiful, charming and relaxing. And in the summer its full of tourists, especially Italians and Austrians. The former might be drawn towards an architecture reminiscent of Venice, but without the canals.



Although the parking lots right before the city limits was full, I meet only a few tourists while walking into the center and in the city itself. I loved it. I guess most of the cars belonged to people who lived in the center.

The streets are cobbled and narrow, so the only motorized vehicles are the ones on two wheels, except for one street up to the city walls were you can drive a car. You will find small cozy restaurants both inside the alleys and streets as well as along the seafront.


There are no beaches in Piran, but it is still very well organized for easy swimming access anyway. On my walk into the city way there was marked 68 spots (one place for fishing) where people jump into the sea, but do not ask me why they were marked. I have no clue. I didn’t ask either.

On the north side the waves hit hard against the edge, but four girls had yet ventured into the water and they had a playful time in the waves.


The marina is playing a very important role for their community and small fishing boats can take you out to fish sardines for example. Maybe its on your list of things you want to do, but they were not on mine.

And I didn’t really feel like going out on this types of boats.


Of course I had to go up to the top of the church tower, which was built in 1608-09. It took me 146 steps before I was 47 meter up in the air.

The entrance was only one euro – incredibly cheap. By comparison, it cost eight euros in Venice.


I talked to the woman who sold tickets, and wanted to know more about the importance of their short coastline.

I should never have done that. She took off, but about the political game between Slovenia and Croatia in the strait between the two countries. There is no doubt that it is a hot topic.

Piran hosted a event for Harley Davidson owners. Even if it was Sunday, several of the bikers was still hanging around. Including a club from Liege in Belgium.


I have no difficulty in seeing why they wanted to stay longer…

Piran is a small and beautiful city, and I’m glad that I found out about the Slovenian coastline in the research for my trip. This was a great place to visit. Highly recommended.


Categories: Slovenia, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Icecream? Or maybe a bottle of wine?



The contrast is impossible to miss. People little bit more well off buys a shirt for 300 euros, but most other tourists buys suveniours for three euros 20 meters further down the street. In a small village like Sirmione, its easy to spot which group they belong to.

Here is no such thing like Rodeo Drive. Expensive and cheap are all in the same mix. 

But that’s part of the charm and no one cares much more about. There was one contrast which I found very interesting as a Norwegian since we have state liquor stores. In a shop/restaurant /ice cream parlor – do not quite know what to call it – you could buy a galatio (Italian ice cream) to your child until midnight, while you as an adult could at the same time buy a bottle of wine or grappa.

It was almost absurd for me to have such a combination. But perhaps its a wise business plan, they certainly had something for both children and adult …


North on the island you can go back to ancient time by visiting Grotte di Catullo while you a few minutes later will be outside luxury shops. Another huge contrast.


The north end is also a great place to soak up the rays, and when it becomes too hot, you can either buy something refreshing at the bar or take a dip. It is not sand there, but it is still a lovely place to spend a few hours after visiting the ruins.



I’ve been on the road for ten days and pretty much had rain every day. It was time to jump in and off course I had to get a picture to prove it. But its no easy when you got to take it your self…


The village is located at the far end of a narrow peninsula in the south end of Lake Garda (Italy’s largest lake, 346 meters deep at the most). You have to park before heading over the bridge. Only citizens can drive into the narrow streets.

The castle Rooca Scaligera is a dominant when you enter the village. Here you’ll also need to stand in line all day times to get your picture right. And you can get your picture taken in many ways:


It is impossible not to be enchanted by Sirmione. Narrow streets, small alleys, cozy and excellent restaurants overlooking Lake Garda, all kind of spa treatments and many great hotels make this a romantic place. You can bring your loved one and there is no doubt that your love will blossom.

But not everyone experiences happiness here. The eccentric opera singer Maria Callas lived here in the house you can see in the image below. She wanted to leave her husband and said she was going to marry her great love Aristotle Onassis. Only one problem, he married none other than Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who was widowed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


Sirmione is the place to unwind, forget everyday troubles and just enjoy life. And its a perfect base for your holiday on Lake Garda. There are several wonderful places to visit along the lake.

Here are some more pictures from my stay in the romantic and contrasting village:


Categories: Europe, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A superb drive or overrated?


I’ve seen route 500 in Germany – Schwarzwaldhochstrasse – on top ten lists over roads you have to drive in Europe. Since I’m on a road trip and would like to test my Tesla, I would love to follow some good advice to where to drive. But is the road through Schwarzwald as good as many people say it is?



The quality of the pavement was first class. Newly paved at the start just after Baden-Baden and excellent condition the rest of the way.

So why is it exciting to drive through a forrest? Tall trees? A lot of trees? Well, here there a lot of trees. Too many trees. So boring.


There was a few houses, but the small places along the road was mainly for the winter season and skiing. But I’m sure the terrain was perfect for hiking in the woods. But I was there to drive my Tesla.

The road was also boring. I can’t understand what makes this road special at all. There are a lot of places in Norway that is way more fun to drive. But maybe its nice to drive here it if you are tired of the autobahn.


I passed a couple of places where you can look at the scenery. But unfortunately it started to rain after 15 minutes and the fog gave poor visibility. Maybe there was something interesting to see, I couldn’t tell.


After 35 kilometres my trip along route 500 was over at Ruhestein. The road was closed because of road work.


I didn’t mind at all. Schwarzwaldhochstrasse was a major dissapointment. A waste of time. At least it was a comfort to know that the Tesla was a great ride.

A few minutes later I was back at the autobahn and I hit the gas pedal with full force…

Categories: Europe, Germany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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