A nostalgy of the last Eldar

Un día ventoso en la isla de Senja
A windy day in Senja island

After ten days riding along Norway and writing this log, I’ve already exhausted my limited vocabulary of adjectives, having though barely conveyed an approximate idea of how irresistible, how majestically beautiful this country is, also despite so many pictures uploaded (only one third of those I took); but they’re all so pretty, so spectacular many, that selecting them takes me longer than writing the text; in which, by the way, I don’t know what other words to use for expressing my amazement without repeating myself. So, today I’m not even going to try; I won’t make fruitless literary efforts, but let the photos talk for themselves. And this short video, too. Continue reading “A nostalgy of the last Eldar”

Of vanity, phonetics and Arctic paradises

Marisma en Balsfjord, al sur de Tromso
Mud flats in Balsfjord, south of Tromso

Among all of Norway’s regions, brimming with surprising and magnificent nature, perhaps Lofoten archipelago provides the richest supply of panoramic views, so abundant they seem inexhaustible: the orography, the intricate maze of lakes and fiords, islands and channels, the overwhelming variety of landscapes, the villages, life, different climates… everything. No wonder this country is so extremely touristic despite its exorbitant prices, since whomever comes here for the first time will feel called to come back: for more narrowly exploring this fertile paradise of beauty o for longer enjoying the lovely places already visited. Continue reading “Of vanity, phonetics and Arctic paradises”

Tromsø, undisputable Arctic capital

Panorámica de Tromso
Panoramic view of Tromso

Located on the island of Tromsoya and connected to the mainland by two bridges and the Tromsoysund tunnel, Tromso is the second largest city north of the Arctic circle –first is Murmansk, in Russia– and a main cultural centre for all northern Norway. Famous –among other things– for the old wooden houses and the modern Arctic Cathedral (quite a landmark), it hosts several international festivals in summer and makes for an excellent observatory of auroras during winter time.
Along the late middle ages, the native Sami settlers had to share this area with the Norse, who arrived as colonizers from lands more to the south; and though the rich heritage from the former is well documented, they got the mice’s share and today are almost extinct. On the year 1252 the newcomers erected on Tromsoya the northernmost church at the time, called Sancta Maria de Trums juxta paganos, i.e. “near the heathens”, namely the Laplanders; but Tromso was not just a Norwegian outpost in an area already populated by those; it was also a border to Russia: the Novgorod state had the “right” to tax the natives east of here, whereas the Norwegians taxed them to the west. During the next five hundred years Norway’s limits would be pushed eastwards, though, making Tromsø lose its character as a frontier town. Continue reading “Tromsø, undisputable Arctic capital”

Bikers’ avatars: along Troms’ enchanting seaboard

Almost three hundred kilometres on my motorcycle from Alta to Tromso make for –by far– the longest stage during the past eighty days journeying to Nowhere; and also one of the most stunning. Not the case of Talvik, though, which is a sami village (rather a market), fifteen minutes away from Kvenvikmoen (where I’ve spent the night), stretching one hundred metres along the road and consisting of a few shops where a racially mixed bunch of people who still preserve some percentage of sami blood, armed to the teeth with wireless card machines, exhibit and sell at ridiculous prices their handcraft, charms and other presumedly traditional stuff, mostly meant for the bleeding hearts and the mighty wallets. Just another tourist trap.

talvikRosaura
Rosaura in Talvik, a sami market

Far from my feelings to gloat over the decline of races and cultures; I’m an incorrigible sentimental; but precisely for this reason I’d rather not fool myself: the harsh reality is that –same as many other ethnical minorities– the sami are almost totally extinct from Lapland territories. The last of them who were pure blood and led an authentic sami way of life must have passed away a bunch of decades ago and taken their folklore and traditions with them. What remains today is only good for some sensationalist or poetic documentary. Continue reading “Bikers’ avatars: along Troms’ enchanting seaboard”

Olderfjord, gate to Cape North

Porsanger is the westernmost and best known of Finnmark’s big peninsulas, as it harbours the very famous Nordkapp (Cape North), allegedly the northernmost tip of Europe, though actual things are a bit different: first off, it is not on the mainland, but on an island called Mageroya, at the end–and as a continuation–of Porsanger, whereof it is separated by a channel 1 km wide; secondly, Nordkapp is not northernmost cape of Mageroya either, but Knivskjellodden, one mile further up. Why then has Cape North got the name and the fame? Two reasons: not only it is a higher and more stunning promontory, but also the people who named it didn’t have measuring instruments as precise as there are today, and a small difference in latitude wasn’t easy to determine: one mile hither or thither is a trivia when North Pole is still 1,400 miles away. So, Nordkapp got the road and the touristic infrastructure, which includes a famous ice bar, basically a huge freezer where glasses, furniture and other elements are made of ice. In short, a tourist trap.
Or at least that is what people who went there has told me. Bua as I have already been in Slettnes lighthouse, further north in the mainland, and I dislike touristic places, I decide to skip Cape North and keep skirting the coastline to the southwest. Continue reading “Olderfjord, gate to Cape North”