Posts Tagged With: Nature

The beauty of your neighbourhood

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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:

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Here is one more photo, taken last year.

Each trip is different.

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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:

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

Headed for the mountains in my PJs

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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 🙂

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

Left stranded on the top of a mountain

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

A photo journey through the Moselle Valley

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A boat work its way upstream past Cochem.

No interview. No story. Only pictures. Sometimes thats more than enough. Two days in the Moselle Valley and here you can see how I captured the life and scenery of this amazing place.

But I guess you are able to deal with a few words. The river Mosel in Germany runs through a great wine district. And the villages are all beautiful in its own way, like for example Bremm, Cochem, Beilstein, Bernkastel-Kues og Trittenheim. One more beautiful than the other. All charming.

There is not too many tourist this time of year and its lovely. But here are a lot of hotels and restaurants, so its not hard to believe that this valley is crowded in July and August. Sometimes its a blessing to take your holiday early.

Its also fascinating to se the vine field hanging on to the hill side. Some places the angle is more than 60 degrees! Here they take advantage of all the spaces which is available.

You should spend at least a week or two if you come to the Moselle Valley. And just go from one village to the next by bicycle. Enjoy good food and wine in a new place for both lunch and dinner. Then you get a chance to try a few of the good wines in the area.

Here are some of the pictures I took. Hope you enjoy them:

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Bremm.

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Cochem.

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A bird is getting ready to meet the boat in Cochem.

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Cochem.

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Trittenheim.

 

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I like the idea of a Wine apothek.

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29 degrees is too warm for this guy.

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Bernkastel-Keus.

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Bernkastel-Kaus.

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Don’t like this.

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Beilstein.

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Bremm.

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Hill side of 60 degrees.

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Beilstein.

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

The village at the river bend

A long, long time ago the river Sauer created a perfect spot for a small village in Luxembourg. It has made a perfect river bend and the most narrow part of land between the river in north and south is only 50 meters.
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About 300 inhabitants lives closely together on the edge of the river in the village Esch-Sur-Sure. Almost all streets are one way, not a surprise when you see how narrow some of the streets are.
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Today I had one particular shot in mind. And I have to hike to get it. The start of the path looked like it hasn’t been used in a long time. The reason was probably because the tourists hasn’t arrived yet. I didn’t mind at all, its great to have a beautiful place all by yourself.

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The previous night the lady who showed me my room at the hotel asked why I had decided to visit her village.

– I’m on a trip where I visit some of the most beautiful villages in Europe. This place is lovely and its amazing to be in quiet village like this one, I answered.

– You only spend 24 hours here. I’m going crazy, because its too small, said the lady.

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Back to my hike. The path improved, but something didn’t add up when the path started to go downwards again. It didn’t seem right. I walked a few meters back and followed a small river up the hill. Then I found tracks from a tractor. My instinct said I was on the right way.

But then I got a change of heart. I was headed in the wrong direction if I was to get the right angle for the photo. I turned around one more time, but this time I hiked further uphill through the woods. I had to get to higher elevation to get my shot. The only problem was that I felt I touched a new spiderweb every ten meters. And on the ground there was spiders everywhere.

I hate spiders, but I was too focused on my target. And ten minutes later I climb out on an edge. I finally got the view I wanted.

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I walked down to the village again and on the way down I could see that the view point from the path was horrible. It just showed me that it is important to follow your instinct.

30 minutes later it was time to move on. But didn’t the weather look a little bit better? Maybe I could hike back up there?

It was cloudy when I did my first hike. Could I get some blue in the sky if I did give it another go? I hiked back up, but the blue colour stayed away.

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But who cares if the new pictures (above) didn’t turn out in a better way. At least I got some more exercise 🙂

Some more pictures from Esch-Sur-Sure:

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I guess I had to take a selfie like every other tourist do.

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I think I should use my hiking boots next time.

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Only a couple of locals in the streets. 

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Categories: Europe, Luxembourg, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

– Hasn’t always been a paradise

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Willem de Jonge is 89 years old. He has lived his whole live in the same house in a small Dutch village. After a short visit is it easy to understand why he never wanted to move even if his wife Geesje has tried to convince her husband to get a new place.

– This is really paradise, says Willem.

– But it hasn’t always been the case, he adds.

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The house where Willem and Geesje lives.

I”ve finally arrived at my first destination on my European roadtrip. Then its just perfect to visit a town where it is impossible to use my car…

In large parts of the town you got to use a boat or your legs.

Giethoorn is the name of the dutch town which is 3.229 kilometres from my starting point Tromsø. Its also known as Venice of the Netherlands.

It has about 2.500 inhabitants and over 180 bridges…

A few years ago they added a bicycle path between the houses, so the people don’t have to use boat all the time.

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It is impossible not to fall in love with Giethoorn. Its just so beautiful there. And well kept. Its almost like I got a feeling that every house had a gardner there yesterday, or at least thats what it looks like. Every garden looked perfect.

I noticed the couple de Jonge enjoying a cup of tea and some newspapers. I asked carefully a guy that passed me a couple of questions and in between he said hi to the couple on the other side of the canal.

He told me that de Jonge was the oldest couple in town. I wondered if they spoke english and if they would like to to talk to me.

Unfortunately they did not speak any english, but he said he would love to translate. Erik Jorritsma left his wheelbarrow behind and we walked across the bridge and into the garden.

– I’ve lived her my whole live. And there is no way I would move from here. Its just too beautiful, Willem says.

– I wanted to move, but I didn’t get what I wanted, Geejse says.

They have lived there for 63 years, as long as they have been married.

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Willem, Geesje de Jonge and Erik Jorritsma. 

Paradise. There no doubt. So quiet and peaceful. The only noice you hear are birds singing. Not strange, since this area is also a national park.

– We never notice that it is quiet. Probably because we always work in the garden, Geesje says.

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But life in Giethoorn hasn’t always been so easy.

– It was totally different when we were kids. I lived in a different village. We didn’t have a car since there was no roads here. It was hard to get around. We were really poor and I had to work while attending school. I also I had to collect drift wood from the canals which we dried and use to keep our house warm, Geesje says.

– We had to use the canals for everything before. We got delivery from both the butcher and baker. Back when we were kids the coast was only 15 kilometres away, but no its way longer out to the coast for us since they built a lot of land there. Its a good thing, now we don’t get the floods we got back then, Willem says.

Jorritsma has lived in Giethoorn for 13 years.

– Too bad the baker doesn’t deliver anymore. It have to go to the store more often these days. I do not use a car, its either my legs or my boat. If I have to bring anything heavy I got to use the boat, Erik says.

Geesje gave me a tour of the house and it was like going back in time. There is no doubt they have been kept a lot of things all these years they have been living together.

It was amazing to experience this kind of hospitality. Its not strange that I love to travel…

PS! The city do not have a lot of of tourists, but for some reason the Chinese love to come. Almost 200.000 them visit Giethoorn every year.

I also visited two other villages today, but will write about them some other time.

Here are more photos from Giethoorn:

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Categories: Europe, Netherlands, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuck in the middle of nowhere for 6-7 days

Do you hate to be in a traffic jam? Do you complain if you have to spend a few extra minutes of even an hour in rush traffic? Well, then you are actually lucky compare to these truck drivers…

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Last september I went on a road trip in Georgia. We spent one day and a night in Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi), but me and the two hitch hikers I picked up the day before, Richard from England and Nora from Germany, was curious and wanted to check out the border by the Darial pass, which led into Russia, before we headed back to the capital Tbilisi.

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It was only a few kilometres drive to the border, and we only got to the Georgian side of the border. We couldn’t even see the Russian one.

300 meters from the border there was a construction site. And they were building a monastery…

I found it to be a very odd place to build a sanctuary for monks, but I guess they had their reasons.

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The monks was to lazy to walk…

Right after we passed Stepantsminda on our route back to the capital we came upon a long line of trucks. It was a que which lasted for several kilometres, but at least there was no problem passing all the trucks.

Several hundreds truck formed the line along the Georgian Military Highway.

I didn’t care too much about the trucks the day before when we arrived at Stepantsminda, but on the way back my curiosity got the best of me. I pulled over to find out more about why they had to wait in line. Five drivers from Armenia relaxed at the side of the road and it didn’t look like they mind that we bothered them.

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It seemed like they rather enjoyed some company, perhaps not so strange considering they spent six-seven days on the side of road waiting before they could cross the border.

But none of them could speak a single word of english. The only thing we could understand by using our fingers to communicate with, was how many days they had to wait and that only about 40 trucks was allowed to cross the border each day.

But their hospitality was amazing. One of the drivers had a truck full of Armenian cognac and there was no way we could leave before he gave us a bottle as a gift.

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Richard and Nora with a bottle of cognac we got as a gift from the driver.

But I didn’t want to give up and we tried to get some answers from other drivers. But it didn’t matter if they were from Russia, Ukraine, Belorus or Georgia, no one understood any english.

So we didn’t get the answers we were searching for.

Later that very day I check the news online, and I could only find one story. The news station Rustavi wrote that no one knew why there was a long line to get into Russia…

I guess you can’t always get all your questions answered. But at least it was fascinating to see all the trucks and drivers along the highway.

So if you are in a jam or line for about 20 or 30 minutes, just relax because you have absolutely no reason to complain…

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Typical local driver in Georgia.

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The car broke down 300 meters inside Georgia. We had to help the Russian couple to move the car.

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Categories: Georgia, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two mountains in one day

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Reine, Lofoten

Facebook – a place you love and hate. Norwegians love to hike in the mountains. And post their pictures so they can brag about it.

Others who do not like to hike as much, often express that they are sick and tired of seeing their friends pose at the top of mountains.

But in the end, a friend came with an argument that beats all others regardless:

– Who cares? I believe more people hike now than before because Facebook give them a chance to show their friends what they can do.

Its so true! If Facebook and other social media gets people who do not like to hike in the mountains to hike, and others to do it more often, then it is wonderful. Then the rest should be able to handle the pictures. Normally they are not too bad to look at either…

I feel the same way. It is a really good motivation to be able to take pictures. Several times it has made me continue to the top when I rather wanted to give up.

But to pose with a grin – that will never happen…

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A small grin on my face…

Well, I got a small grin on after hiking Reinebringen. But who can blame me with the view I got on the top…

And its time to brag. I was out of shape, but still planned to hike two mountains in one day. At least it was my goal. One in the morning and one in the evening. I had to do it this way since I had to get on the ferry to Bodø from Moskenes the next day.

I was in Lofoten. Insanely beautiful Lofoten. No matter how you try to describe this landscape, there is no way to put into words. You just have to see it for yourself.

If you ask me to recommended one place in Norway to visit, then I would choose Lofoten 100 of 100 times. Absolutely nothing in our beautiful country can match Lofoten.

And that comes from someone who grew up with Sunnmørsalpene and Hjørundfjorden as their nearest neighbor.

After a bad night’s sleep in the car near Svolvær, I brushed my teeth and drove for an hour.

First stop was Haukland Beach. At the foot of the mountains Mannen and Veggen. It’s always a little extra special to start a hike at sea level. I began to walk uphill at a very comfortable pace, for I had, after all, two hikes that day ahead of me. I looked anxious at the mountain top several times on the way up because the fog covered the top.

– Go away. Find someone else to bother, I said aloud to myself.

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When I was 50 meters from the top the fog suddenly disappeared. What a view… My jaw dropped. I pulled myself together, and walked the last few meters to the top.

I was on top of my first mountain, Mannen. Well, its called a mountain. But it is no more than 400 meters above sea level.

But who cares about that when you get this view:

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Haukland Beach

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After a lot of photographs, I hiked down again. It was time to clean myself up a little bit at Haukland beach.

A smart thing to do, since I was going to to meet some friends for lunch in idyllic Nusfjord, before going further south towards Reine.

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Nusfjord

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The clock was 6pm when I startet to hike the next mountain. There was a warning sign at the bottom, which told you to not do the hike on days when the ground was wet. Obviously it was wet and slippery, but it didn’t stop a great conqueror of towering peaks… 😉

Up to the tree line the hike was a walk in the park. But then it got steep. Insanely steep. And I needed to stop. Many times.

But I made it to the top in the end.

The mountain Reinebringen is no higher than 442 meters above sea level. But it felt like it was 2000 meters above sea level since it was so steep in the second half of the hike.

And you got to be careful at the top. Because if you misstep and fall down towards Reine, you will end up in Reine.

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So how should I describe this view? I let you enjoy it instead.

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I made to the top of both mountains in two different locations. Many people would probably not even call them real mountain tops since you don’t get high above sea level, but who cares…

One thing is for sure, you do not need to be 2.000 or 5.000 meters above sea level to really enjoy a hike in the mountains.

If there is one place in Norway you have to put on your “Bucket List”, then it Lofoten. This is a true paradise if you love to spend time in nature.

GO, GO, GO!!!

Categories: Nordland, Norway, Ukategorisert | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snowstorm in May…

The forecast said it would snow. And it snowed. Too much if you asked me. But sometimes its ok to have some luck…

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There were some patches of blue sky over Tromsø. It was 17th of May, Norwegian Independence Day, but I didn’t feel like celebrating. I was alone, and I wanted to stay away from the crowds.

So I decided to hike a mountain. My plan was to go to Smørstabben and Bruna. On the route to Kvaløya I look upon the sky over the mountains and it didn’t look promising.

But I have lived above the Arctic Circle for 13 years now and knew that the weather could turn fast to the better… or worse…

I had only hiked for about 20 minutes before it started to snow. But it wasn’t too bad.

But it got worse – way worse. Suddenly it snowed like crazy. In the middle of May…

The visibility was less than 30 meters and I had to find shelter behind a huge rock.

But first I just had to bulit a tiny snowman.

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Just 15 minutes later the weather cleared a little bit and I hiked out to the edge where I could look down at the small village of Grøtfjord. But the view was not good at all. After 20 minutes I just gave up and walk back to my snowman. And I was thinking about giving up.

But I gave it ten more minutes.

Suddenly there were less snow. I could see Grøtfjord. I ran towards the edge because the sun was shining over the little village.

I made it, and it looked like this for about two minutes:

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It started to snow again while I was headed down from the mountain, but I could only smile even if I was cold and wet.

I got lucky. I got more luck than I could ever dream of with weather like this.

My independence day was perfect. Alone. On a mountain. So beautiful. So wild. So upredictable.

Happy birthday, Norway 🙂

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

In the footsteps of Game of Thrones

Sometimes you see an image you badly want to shot. Thats how I felt when I saw a picture of The Dark Hedges. Known to many as a part of The Kingsroad from Game of Thrones.

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The Dark Hedges

The Kingsroad is the main road in the TV-series, and it stretches from Castle Black at The Wall to the capital city of King’s Landing.

One place, The Dark Hedges (an avenue of beech threes set up in the 18th century), has become a very popular place to visit for fans of Game of Thrones. It is located in Stranocum in County Antrim in the northern part of Northern Ireland.

A scene in episode 1 of season 2 was filmed there, but I can’t remember noticing the place while watching the show. But then again, I’m not a big fan of the show (but I’ve seen all the episodes…) . But the pictures I saw on the net from the The Dark Hedges was so beautiful, that I had to go there.

Considering that this is one of the most visited places in Northern Ireland, I had a feeling it would be an impossible task to get a perfect shot.

For there are a lot people there. Always.

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Although the picture on the top of my blog is far from perfect, its one that I normally could say was decent. At least wish I could see more of the road.

Well, unfortunately, the picture didn’t look like that.

For this is the original:

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Yes, exactly, a lady appeared. You can see her at the in the middle of the picturee near the bottom.

In the picture at the top, I removed her head. But for me it’s cheating.

And I never got the chance again to get a shot without people. After an hour I gave up.

I rather took the pictures below and left the Dark Hedges.

Sometimes you do not get what you want and wish for.

But at least I have walked along The Kingsroad in the footsteps of Arya Stark …

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Categories: Europe, Northern Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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