Friday, 30 September 2016

Fest of Tastes and Colors

Early autumn in Norway is pretty alike to summer, but the weather is colder and rainier. The nature colors in red, orange, and yellow. Mountains and forests are full with berries and mushrooms. If you do not like summer heat, autumn is the best time for hiking or just long walks in the fresh chill air. In September and October, the weather becomes rainier and colder, sometimes it pours. Days become shorter – it starts to get darker already in the afternoon. The closer is the winter, the colder it becomes. 

Fest of Tastes and Colors

Storms with pouring rains and powerful winds visit the coastal areas more and more often. But do not get upset by them. What can be better than sitting in a warm and cozy restaurant or a bar and looking through the window to the raging nature? 

SEASONAL FOOD 

Autumn is a harvest time. Everywhere you can see red ashberries on naked branches. The Norwegians make ashberry jam which they serve with fowl or venison. On the roadsides, you can often see children who sell apples, peaches and plums. Almost every Norwegian family has their own recipe of an apple or a plum pie. 

Fest of Tastes and Colors

The crab season in Southern Norway starts in summer. But in more northern areas it begins later. In the Fjord region people catch crabs in early autumn. Usually crabs are served boiled, with bread, mayonnaise, lemon and salad leaves. 

Fest of Tastes and Colors

Fårikål – lamb with cabbage – is a national Norwegian dish that is usually cooked in autumn. It consists of lamb on a bone stewed with cabbage and potatoes in a big casserole. This dish even has its own holiday – the last Thursday of September. If you are in Norway this day, you do not have to think much what to order! 

TOP TEN ADVICE FOR AUTUMN IN NORWAY 

1. Buy rubber boots and go to the forest to pick up chanterelles. 
2. Make your home koselig, i.e. cozy. Lit up candles and set new decorations. 
3. Prepare to winter – start knitting hats, gloves and scarves, buy thermal underwear, do not forget to use fish liver oil (tran) daily. 

Fest of Tastes and Colors

4. Stop checking weather forecast to avoid getting depressed because of constant rains. 
5. Find a new hobby – knitting, card games or choir singing – and you will find new friends even in the darkest winter months. 
6. Mark the days left before December 21 – the day when the daylight becomes longer. 

Fest of Tastes and Colors

7. Go hiking to Norwegian forests and mountains to enjoy the autumn palette! 
8. Book a trip to Tromsø to an International Film Festival (TIFF) in January. 
9. Cook pumpkin soup and invite friends to Hesttakkefest – Thanksgiving Day. 
10. Buy some crabs and invite friends, or head together to South Norway and eat crabs there! 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 29 September 2016

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

I bought my plane tickets nine months before the trip itself. First, because I was able to save some money, and second, because I am a student and my schedule allows to plan my vacations well in advance. I had to transfer in Tallinn. On my way to Norway, I had to spend a night in the airport, as I had nine hours between the flights. I found a comfortable library corner in the Tallinn airport, with armchairs, a floor lamp and books in different languages. When at 4 am first cafes opened their doors, I drank a cup of strong coffee.

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

On my way back home, the transfer time was just 35 minutes, and I was really worried. Fortunately, all went smoothly, I even had to wait for a bit. 

I took an airport express train from Gardermoen. As a student, I got a discount. As I planned to fly back from the same airport, I bought a return ticket, as it was valid for a month. 

WHERE TO SLEEP 

I booked all hostels through booking.com. Hostel Montana Bergen was 15 minutes from the center by bus. The buses went each 30 minutes on weekdays and once in an hour on weekends. The staff was friendly, the view was amazing as the hostel was situated on a mountain. I stopped in a room for four women, which was very neat and cozy. 

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

Rønningen Hostel was situated half an hour from Oslo by t-bana or by bus from the center. The view was also beautiful. For a reasonable sum, I could order a buffet dinner. The room seemed huge after a compact Bergen accommodation; it had two mirror walls and black curtains. But soon I got used to and liked it! 

TRAIN OSLO-BERGEN 

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

One night I spent in a train between Oslo and Bergen. Comfortable seats and a road kit for each passenger! I went back in the afternoon and could enjoy mountainous landscapes. This railroad is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. 

MONEY EXCHANGE 

I had no problems with local currency at all. I had a Mastercard and 400 crones I bought in advance just in case. You may pay with a credit card everywhere, even at a market. 

WHAT TO SEE IN OSLO 

In Oslo, I visited the museums of the Bygdøy peninsula – Museum of polar ship Fram, the Kon-Tiki Museum dedicated to travels of Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian Folk Museum with various ancient buildings. And the most important – Viking Ship Museum where huge black drakkars sleep, dreaming about the times when they left sea only in winter. 

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

I walked in the old Akershus Fortress, and saw changing of the guard. I took a two-hour cruise along the Oslofjord. I walked in Vigeland’s Sculpture Park. I visited Historical and Zoological Museums, Munch Museum, Botanical Garden. The evening I spend “hunting” to small sculptures that are abundant in Oslo. 

WHAT TO SEE IN BERGEN 

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

In Bergen, I walked around the ancient merchant area of Bryggen, climbed by the cable road up to the mountain view point and the forest where trolls still wander. I visited Aquarium, Rosenkrantz Tower and Haakon's Hall – the royal residence of the 12th century. I ate for dinner the freshest shrimps and fish at the fish market. 

TOURIST CARDS 

I used Oslo Pass and Bergen Kart for 48 hours. If you have an ISIC card (for students, professors and travelers younger than 30 years), you will get a discount. 

LESSONS LEARNT 

If possible, avoid overnights in airports. You will be too tired to fully enjoy the first impression of new places. 

As I went to a northern country, I expected cold weather. The forecasts promised 14-20 Celsius above zero. However, I came back home with a tan, I did not open my umbrella at all, although Bergen is considered the capital of rains. Thus, I took too much warm clothes. 

My Trip to Norway: Oslo and Bergen

Booking railway tickets was an issue as well. I did not manage to book them at once and started to worry, as otherwise I would have to reconsider the whole planned journey. However, it was a glitch on the website, when I accidentally missed the point “select seats”, I booked my tickets without any problems. 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Friday, 23 September 2016

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Endangered species, like humpback whales or rhinoceroses often occupy the headlines, but the life of plants can be in danger as well. Fruit and vegetables that people have been growing for the thousands of years are dying. A research showed that of more than 8,000 species of crops grown in 1903 in the USA only 600 left by 1983. What will happen when the climate change becomes more evident and severe? Or, in case of a nuclear war or other global catastrophe? Would the existing species be enough to revive our civilization? The solution is Noahs Ark for seeds – Svalbard Global Seed Vault
  
Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is situated on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole. It is a secure fortress able to host up to 4.5 million species of seeds. Being often called a “Seed Vault of Doomsday”, Svalbard is the world’s security against botanical disasters. 

Although the media depicts the vault as a way to save the world in a case of a global cataclysm, it is used more often when gene resources lose valuable breeds because of inefficient management, emergencies, faulty equipment and natural disasters that happen quite regularly. There are approximately 1,400 seed banks in the world, however many of them are situated in politically instable countries or countries under ecological thread. For the last several years, some of national gene resources were demolished by wars or civil clashes. 

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was founded by Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and was fully funded (US$9 million) by the Norwegian government. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs. 

The Seed Vault was opened in 2008. During the first year, it received approximately 400,000 seed samples from Ireland, the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and Syria. In March 2013, the number of samples reached 770,000. 

The seedbank is 120 meters inside a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen Island. The place seems ideal because of its isolation and permanent frost that helps to conserve the samples. Situated 130 meters high above the sea level it will remain dry even if glacier layers start melting. 

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Seeds are packaged in special three-ply foil packets and heat sealed to exclude moisture. Locally mined coal provides power for refrigeration units that further cool the seeds to the internationally recommended standard of −18 °C. If the equipment fails, at least several weeks will elapse before the facility rises to the surrounding sandstone bedrock’s temperature of −3 °C. 

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Running the length of the facility's roof and down the front face to the entryway is an illuminated artwork named Perpetual Repercussion by Norwegian artist Dyveke Sanne that marks the location of the vault from a distance. The roof and vault entrance are filled with highly reflective stainless steel, mirrors, and prisms. The installation reflects polar light in the summer months, while in the winter, a network of 200 fibre-optic cables gives the piece a muted greenish-turquoise and white light. 

The vault is among the list of closed sites, it is impossible to get an access to it. 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Golden Horn Bridge by Leonardo da Vinci

An Italian polymath of the Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the greatest painters, architects, engineers, scientists and inventors until today. Many of his projects appeared hundreds of years before their time – and the Golden Horn Bridge is a wonderful example.

Golden Horn Bridge by Leonardo da Vinci

In 1501, Leonardo da Vinci created a design of a bridge with only one interspace of 240 meters’ lengths – it was the first project of such kind in history. The bridge should have been constructed over the Golden Horn – over the Bosporus Strait that divided Constantinople (modern Istanbul). However, the construction methods that allowed such construction appeared only three hundred years later, thus it was impossible to build it in Leonardo’s times. 

For five hundred years the sophisticated design remained just a picture in the corner of one of da Vinci’s large notebooks. Until in 1996 a modern Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand saw the picture at an exhibition of Leonardo’s engineering projects. Sand was so impressed by it that upon his return to Oslo he suggested that Norwegian Public Roads should carry the project out. 

Golden Horn Bridge by Leonardo da Vinci

For the next several years, Vebjørn Sand dedicated his time and efforts to make Leonardo’s project a reality. In 2001, a small pedestrian bridge based on Leonardo’s design was constructed next to the town of Ås, on the road E18 that connects Oslo and Stockholm. The works were led by the architect Zelberg. 

Golden Horn Bridge by Leonardo da Vinci

The pedestrian bridge is based on the same model as Leonardo’s design but instead of a massive stone bridge arch, there we can see three bow lines over the road. These lines are used for pedestrians and cyclists. The full length of the bridge is 108 meters with the width of the main interspace of 40 meters and the height of 10 meters. 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Friday, 9 September 2016

Norway On Shank’s Mare

Hiking in the mountains and outdoor recreation is a preferred lifestyle for many Norwegians. You can truly appreciate the majestic and beautiful Norwegian nature only if you explore it on foot. 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

In late spring, when the snow is gradually melting under sunbeams and first flowers emerge, Norwegians of all ages put on their hiking boots and go hiking – in the mountains, along the coast or in the forest. 

Their love to nature is shared by numerous tourists from all over the world. Norway is a country of wonderful landscapes, from sheer wilderness to marked hiking routes. Among the most popular routes, you will find the Pulpit Rock, Galdhøpiggen and Rumsdals Horn peaks, and Bessegen mountain ridge. 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

You may sleep over in a cozy hut or a tourist house, some of them were designed by famous architects. Try local dainties on the way! 

CLASSIFICATION OF ROUTES 

We all have various physical abilities. Some start to complain after just five minutes of walking while others look for the most complicated routes. Norway adopts the standard international color labeling, so tourists can choose a route according to their abilities. 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

Green is a simple route. It suits to everyone and does not demand any special preparation. 
Type of road: asphalt, gravel, wood trails. 
Length: no more than two hours. 
Elevation: no more than 200 meters. 

Blue is a route of medium difficulty. You will need basic skills. 
Type of road: similar to Green, however you may face some parts of the road that are more difficult. 
Length: no more than four hours. 
Elevation: no more than 400 meters. 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

Red is a difficult route. It is suitable for people in good physical condition. It demands special equipment
Type of road: paths, break stones, open terrain, hard rocks. 
Length: no more than six hours. 
Elevation: no more than 800 meters. 

Black is a professional route. It suits only for experienced sportsmen in good physical condition. It demands special equipment; you may need a map and a compass. 
Type of road: longer and technically more difficult than Red. 
No limitations in length or elevation. 

SAFETY IN THE MOUNTAINS 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

  • Make a plan of your route and inform others about it. 
  • Make sure that the chosen route corresponds to your preparation level and to weather conditions. 
  • Take into account weather forecasts and avalanche hazard alerts. 
  • Have and equipment for bad weather conditions and frost even for short routes. 
  • Have necessary rescue equipment in order to help yourself and others in an emergency. 
  • Choose safe routs. Learn no notice avalanche risks and frail ice cover. 
  • Use a map and a compass. You should always know where you are. 
  • Do not be afraid to turn back. There is nothing shameful in it. 
  • In unforeseen situations try to save your strengths and find a proper shelter. 

TAKE CARE OF NATURE 

You should take care of nature and responsibly use natural resources. Hiking in the mountains or cycling is a nice pastime but try to leave no traces after yourself. Wherever you are, in the open terrain or in a small fishing village, leave the place in the condition you would want to see it yourself. 

Norway On Shank’s Mare

In Norway there is an open access to nature, including National Parks. If you find yourself on an uncultivated land, you can walk there, set a tent, ride a horse, or ski. Just be careful and do not break anything. There are rules concerning specific kinds of animals and plants as well as the duration of your stay and possibility to make a fire. Do not violate them! 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Gems of Northern Norway

Norway is full of less known but very enjoyable places. Let us discover some of them. Today we will speak about some interesting tourist attractions of Northern Norway – Lofotr Viking Museum, Senja Troll Park, Polar Park, and Sapmi Theme Park in Karasjok. 

Gems of the Northern Norway

LOFOTR VIKING MUSEUM 

Lofotr Viking Museum is situated in the Lofoten Islands. It is an impressive full size reconstruction of the largest settlement built in the age of Vikings. Here you will feel the life of the last Chieftain of Borg – Olaf Tvennumbruni – and his men. 

Gems of the Northern Norway

The museum includes a full reconstruction of the 83-meter long chieftain’s house, a blacksmith’s forge, two ships and their boathouses, and various reenactments intended to immerse the visitor in life at the time of the Vikings. The house is thoroughly reconstructed, especially Mead Hall and bedroom, starting from general outlook and finishing with decoration elements. 

To add to the experience, museum workers do their routine wearing historical costumes. In the extensive museum outdoor area, you will see shepherds and their herds and sailors on the ship. 

SENJA TROLL PARK 

Senja Island is the home for the largest troll in the world. His height is almost 18 meters, and his weight is 125 tons. Leif Rubach and his family created a truly original theme park, which is interesting for both children and adults. 

Built in 1993, the Troll in time started a family with wife and small troll-kids. Tourists began to visit the area, and in 1997 the Troll made an entry into Guinness Book of World Records as the largest in the world. 

Gems of the Northern Norway

Inside his enormous stomach, there is a curious theme park for children based on the local legends. Not far from the creature you will find a cultural center which offers theatrical performances founded on the legends of Senja. 

POLAR PARK ARCTIC WILDLIFE CENTER 

Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Norway, it is called the northernmost animal park. Polar Park is home to Norway's large predators such as bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines and foxes, as well as their prey such as deer, elk, reindeer and musk ox. 

Gems of the Northern Norway

The Polar Park is not a traditional zoo, as needs and wishes of animals are on the focus there. The Norwegians call it the most social park in the world – there people can feed a wolverine, an arctic fox or a lynx, or enter the cage with wolves. This is the only park in the world that offers such opportunity! 

SAPMI THEME PARK 

The cultural park lies in the center of Karasjok, a Sami town of 3000 people. Karasjok is a bilingual municipality where 90 per cent of the population speaks Sami. 

Gems of the Northern Norway

Sapmi Theme Park is based on four major elements of saami culture – traditional settlements, cuisine, crafts and performances. Here you will find a magical theatre Stalubakti, a settlement – siida – with reindeer, saami handmade souvenirs, silver manufactory, a blowing shop Boble Glasshytte and a restaurant where you can try real saami dishes. 

There are about 60,000 reindeer grazing in the area throughout the autumn and winter. 


© 2016 All Rights Reserved