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Home → November, 2021

Monthly Archives: November 2021 − News & Stories


The “arc­tic Wed­nes­day” con­ti­nued

The “arc­tic Wed­nes­day” is about to con­ti­nue soon! Bir­git Lutz and I have sche­du­led 6 dates and the­mes for our the con­ti­nua­tion of our popu­lar seri­es of online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons in Decem­ber 2021 and Janu­a­ry 2022. No les­ser than the famous adven­tu­rer Arved Fuchs will open the new seri­es with his pre­sen­ta­ti­on “Shack­le­ton 2000”, his nar­ra­ti­on of his adven­tures in Ernest Shackleton’s foots­teps!

The pre­sen­ta­ti­ons will be held in Ger­man.

  • 01.12.: Arved Fuchs, “Shack­le­ton 2000”
  • 08.12.: Rolf Stan­ge, “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den: Spitz­ber­gen”
  • 15.12.: Bir­git Lutz, “Auf Ski­ern zum Nord­pol”
  • 20.12. (a Mon­day, just for the dif­fe­rence): Bir­git Lutz & Rolf Stan­ge with “Weih­nach­ten im Eis”
  • 12.01.2022: Bir­git Lutz with “Heu­te gehen wir Wale fan­gen”
  • 19.01.2022: Rolf Stan­ge with “Das Licht des Nor­dens”

Plea­se refer to my online shop for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on and boo­king. We hope to see you soon during the “arc­tic Wed­nes­day” pre­sen­ta­ti­ons!

Birgit Lutz & Rolf Stange: arctic Wednesday

Bir­git Lutz and Rolf Stan­ge are loo­king for­ward to the third seri­es of the “arc­tic Wed­nes­day”.

Pro­test against government poli­tics: torch­light pro­ces­si­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The Sval­bard poli­cy of the government in Oslo cur­r­ent­ly frus­tra­tes a lot of peop­le, both Spits­ber­gen locals, Lon­gye­ar­by­en poli­ti­ci­ans and con­cer­ned indus­try sec­tors. Epi­cen­tres of the cur­rent frus­tra­ti­on are the poten­ti­al clo­sing of lar­ge parts of the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go and the threa­tening with­dra­wal of the right to vote on a com­mu­ni­ty level (! not natio­nal) for non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en (see lin­ked arti­cles for fur­ther details on the­se issu­es).

The­se pro­po­sals have both been made by the government in Oslo. As of now, final decisi­ons have not been made yet.

And both pro­po­sals were made by the Nor­we­gi­an government without invol­ving local poli­ti­ci­ans or the peop­le living in Spits­ber­gen or indus­tries working the­re. The­re is the public hea­ring, but that is qui­te late in the day to invol­ve the local coun­cil. And based on expe­ri­ence from recent hea­rings, trust that the input given into such pro­ces­ses will actual­ly be heard is rather limi­ted, to put it mild­ly.

Longyearbyen

Lon­gye­ar­by­en: many peop­le living here are cur­r­ent­ly sho­cked about poli­ti­cal pro­po­sals com­ing from Oslo. If the sun is poli­ti­cal­ly going up or down over this beau­ti­ful place is a ques­ti­on that remains to be ans­we­red by natio­nal poli­ti­ci­ans soon.

Many peop­le who live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en or who other­wi­se have a strong con­nec­tion to Sval­bard are now fed up with this way to rule the place. The is “NOK er NOK” (“enough is enough”). Local groups and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons have now cal­led on the local public to join a torch­light pro­ces­si­on today (Tues­day, 16 novem­ber) in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Poli­ti­ci­ans, locals, orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and com­pa­nies in and con­nec­ted with Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Sval­bard want to be heard and invol­ved when it comes to decisi­ons that may well deci­de over their future. The demand is that both poli­ti­cal pro­po­sals, regar­ding both the clo­sing of lar­ge parts of the archi­pe­la­go and the idea to depri­ve non-Nor­we­gi­an locals of their voting rights, disap­pe­ar from the poli­ti­cal agen­da in Oslo.

Orga­ni­sa­ti­ons that cal­led on the public to join their pro­test inclu­de Sval­bard nærings­fo­re­ning (an orga­ni­sa­ti­on of local indus­tries and com­pa­nies), AECO (an orga­ni­sa­ti­on repre­sen­ting the expe­di­ti­on crui­se ope­ra­tors), Lon­gye­ar­by­en jeger- og fis­kerfo­re­ning (club of local hun­ters and fishers), To-tak­te­ren (club for snow mobi­le and boat enthu­si­asts), Sval­bard Turn (local sports club with a lar­ge num­ber of out­door enthu­si­asts amongst the mem­bers) and the Sval­bard Gui­de Asso­cia­ti­on. Altog­e­ther, the­se orga­ni­sa­ti­ons repre­sent an impres­si­ve num­ber of peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but also else­whe­re.

Due to the wea­ther, today’s pro­test may turn out to be a head­lamp pro­ces­si­on rather than a torch­light pro­ces­si­ons.

Longyearbyen fakkeltog

Today’s torch­light pro­ces­si­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Pho­to © Fran­ka Lei­te­rer.

Ves­t­fjord

Ves­t­fjord, this lar­ge, half-open stretch of water bet­ween Lofo­ten and the Nor­we­gi­an main­land, can be a bit of a bas­tard. I remem­ber defi­ni­te­ly more head­winds and unplea­sant waves during the many cros­sings of Ves­t­fjord than fair sai­ling winds. Also this time it was a bum­py road from Kabel­våg to Bodø. But well, that’s life, we’ve got­ta take it as it comes. Wea­ther.

In Bodø, this voya­ge came to an end, and hence my nort­hern sea­son in this slight­ly mixed year 2021. It brought less time in the Arc­tic than I had ori­gi­nal­ly been hoping for but more than fea­red at some sta­ge.

It was a beau­ti­ful and good, cer­tain­ly inclu­ding this final voya­ge on SV Anti­gua. Gre­at thanks to ever­y­bo­dy who was part of this time! First of all Cap­tain Ser­ge and his good crew – I am loo­king for­ward to see­ing you again next year up north (or else­whe­re, for that sake)! Mean­while, safe and hap­py sai­ling!

This is the last tra­vel blog ent­ry for this year. If you want to con­ti­nue enjoy­ing the beau­ty and fasci­na­ti­on of the Arc­tic also in Decem­ber and Janu­a­ry, then join Bir­git Lutz and my during our online pre­sen­ta­ti­on seri­es “Der ark­ti­sche Mitt­woch” (Ger­man) 🙂

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Lofo­ten: Viking muse­um Borg

Con­si­de­ring the wea­ther, this was defi­ni­te­ly the per­fect day for a visit to the Lofotr Viking muse­um in Borg on the Lofo­ten island of Ves­t­vå­gøy. Con­si­de­ring the wind, a bus ride was cer­tain­ly bet­ter than a ship voya­ge today, and loo­king at the rain, a bus ride was cer­tain­ly bet­ter than hiking today … so that worked well 🙂

The Lofotr Viking muse­um is real­ly inte­res­ting, inclu­ding a beau­ti­ful recon­struc­tion of a 83 m long chieftain’s house. We were lucky to get a gui­ded tour by Chris­ti­an, a true viking and as power­ful­ly elo­quent as coro­na pro­of. Altog­e­ther it was almost temp­t­ing to try viking life here for a while … well, almost, I qui­te like living in our modern times and I wouldn’t exchan­ge it for a pro­bab­ly much shor­ter and defi­ni­te­ly much har­der life in the 8th or 9th cen­tu­ry.

And it was not “only” the muse­um. My per­so­nal high­light was the sigh­t­ing of an adult male elk near the road on Ves­t­vå­gøy – the traf­fic situa­ti­on didn’t allow us to stop, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly – and then we did several stops to enjoy the Lofo­ten sce­ne­ry on the way back on Ves­t­vå­gøy, Gim­søy and Aus­t­vå­gøy. Beau­ti­ful land­s­capes, espe­cial­ly as the clouds kind­ly kept their water during tho­se moments.

In the end, we still had time for a visit in the famous Lofo­ten aqua­ri­um in Kabel­våg.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Troll­fjord & Kabel­våg

Troll­fjord is wide­ly famous for its stun­ning sce­ne­ry and sea eagles (they live any­whe­re in the wide regi­on up here, but Troll­fjord is defi­ni­te­ly a good place to see them). We were the­re in the right time to see the won­der­ful land­s­cape in its full beau­ty.

The same app­lies to the sea eagles. We got to see an ama­zing num­ber of them. That was, to some degree, coin­ci­dence, but not an ent­i­re­ly natu­ral one: while we were play­ing in Troll­fjord, a smal­ler motor boat came in with tou­rists, pro­bab­ly from Svol­vær, and star­ted put­ting out pie­ces of fish. The sea eagles clear­ly knew the ritu­al, as they came down even befo­re that boat had actual­ly stop­ped! Dir­ty trick, pos­si­b­ly, but it works qui­te obvious­ly well.

A few hours later we went along­side in Kabel­våg, the his­to­ri­cal cent­re of the Lofo­ten islands. We went to have a good look around in wea­ther that was get­ting incre­a­singly less enjoya­ble. The fore­cast pro­mi­ses rather unplea­sant con­di­ti­ons for the days to come.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Skrol­s­vik & Har­stad

The litt­le har­bour of Skrol­s­vik on the sou­the­as­tern point of the lovely island of Sen­ja lies some­what deser­ted bet­ween the sea, some small islands and moun­tains with gre­at hiking rou­tes.

In cer­tain ear­lier times, the stra­te­gi­cal posi­ti­on attrac­ted „visi­tors“ with pro­noun­ced­ly less peace­ful inten­ti­ons. During the occup­a­ti­on in the war years from 1940, the Ger­man Wehr­macht built a coas­tal for­ti­fi­ca­ti­on here to con­trol the nort­hern ship­ping rou­te to the important port of Nar­vik. It is, again and again, incredi­ble how much effort peop­le put into things that are just made to des­troy other things. The guns, later kept by the Nor­we­gi­an mili­ta­ry for many years, are now slow­ly rus­ting away, and the bun­kers are more and more wea­the­ring and cove­r­ed by vege­ta­ti­on.

Later we made a stop in Har­stad, a cent­re of civi­li­sa­ti­on on Hin­nøya in Ves­terå­len.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Ham­nes & Lyn­gen­fjord

On Satur­day evening we arri­ved in Ham­nes just in time to see a most ama­zing nort­hern light. A green spi­ral with some pur­p­le edges was dan­cing in rapid move­ments over the sky. Stun­ning!

And so was the fol­lowing day. A gol­den morning in Ham­nes on the island of Uløya. Hiking opti­ons are vir­tual­ly end­less – as far as you can walk or as time allows.

Crui­sing out of Lyn­gen­fjord was just as impres­si­ve and beau­ti­ful. The wea­ther chan­ged rapidly from gol­den sun­light to dark grey snow squalls with a hint of pur­p­le. Ama­zing and quick­ly chan­ging light con­di­ti­ons in front of the sce­nic back­ground of the Lyn­gen Alps.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

With Anti­gua from Trom­sø to Bodø: Kvæn­an­gen

Back on the waves again with good old Anti­gua! We have one week ahead of us, sear­ching for beau­ti­ful impres­si­ons and expe­ri­en­ces in north Nor­way on the way from Trom­sø to Bodø.

Kvæn­an­gen is actual­ly not real­ly on this way, but we have got enough time for some extra miles. The wea­ther is fine, we know that the wha­les are the­re, so we set cour­se to the nor­the­ast.

And this tur­ned out to be a good decisi­on 🙂

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Finn­kro­ken

The (almost) last evening, the last day. Finn­kro­ken on the island of Reinøya. An old tra­ding place, now kind of a muse­um, camp­fire atmo­s­phe­re in a lavu, a holy place of the Sami peop­le, wide views over fjell and fjord.

A last cou­p­le of hours sai­ling time take us to Trom­sø, whe­re this trip comes to an end. It was a good one, thank you all very much! Save tra­vels back home or good onward jour­ney, and see you next time! 🙂

As far as I am con­cer­ned, I have the shor­test move ever. From Cape Race to Anti­gua. Both ships are lying along­side each other. We will take off again tonight!

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Kvæn­an­gen: Orcas & Skje­r­vøy

Kvæn­an­gen has given us ple­nty of beau­ty the last cou­p­le of days. But we had not yet seen much of the famous orcas, other than a very brief and distant sigh­t­ing two days ago. May­be today? This would be our third and last attempt. It is not that ever­ything comes easi­ly and for free in the the far north. Well, the two pre­vious wha­le­watching excur­si­ons had been beau­ti­ful – with hump­back and fin wha­les – but we were still hoping for orcas.

And we did see them today. What an incredi­ble morning!

Later we went and had a look at Skje­r­vøy, the metro­po­lis of the Kvæn­an­gen area. The first har­bour whe­re the Fram came back to civi­li­sa­ti­on in 1896 after her famous drift across the Arc­tic Oce­an. Good to stretch legs a bit!

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Kvæn­an­gen: Skor­pa and Jøkel­fjord

The wind had blown us away from several litt­le piers during the last cou­p­le of days. Many of the­se litt­le piers are doubt­ful at best, and may even hap­pen that you approach one just to find out that it doesn’t exist any­mo­re … but today, we final­ly mana­ged to go along­side at Skor­pa. A beau­ti­ful litt­le island, with fan­tastic sce­ne­ry – the hig­her per­spec­ti­ves requi­re some inte­res­ting hiking, though – and silent wit­nes­ses of island life of the past, which does not exist any­mo­re.

The most impres­si­ve bit of sce­ne­ry in the who­le Kvæn­an­gen area, howe­ver, may well be Jøkel­fjord with its moun­tains that tower a good 1000 metres abo­ve the water and a gla­cier that is han­ging down over the hig­hest cliffs at the head of the fjord.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Kvæn­an­gen: light, wha­les, auro­ra

Kvæn­an­gen – a won­der­ful area! Did I men­ti­on that befo­re? Doesn’t mat­ter.

We are having a gre­at time. Stun­ning light, sce­ne­ry, wha­les, and a gre­at auro­ra borea­lis last night. We were ancho­ring as the­re was no pier avail­ab­le in the area, so that was not qui­te per­fect for pho­to­gra­phy, but I think I got some rea­son­ab­le pic­tures any­way 🙂

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

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