07 October, 2010

Beginning of Autumn at Hardangervidda

It's hard to deny that Scandinavian autumn is coming. The days gradually become shorter and shorter, the sun rises later every day,  the season of endless rain begins, causing that even during the day it is relatively dark outside.
However, the nature compensates for this great inconvenience with these colors from yellow to deep red and brown , which contrasts beautifully with the gray rocks, and sometimes stony and sometimes blue sky.

Hardangervidda in October
Hardangervidda is a huge mountain plateau (the largest in Europe), situated between Bergen and Oslo. Due to the height above sea level (from 800m to 1700m) it has a cold climate all year round. It is also a site for one of Norway's largest glaciers, Hardangerjøkolen and largest Norwegian national park. Despite the harsh climate, Hardangervidda is characterized by extensive alpine and arctic flora and fauna, among others herds of reindeer, local birds and rodents, like lemming. Another time I will write more about this wild and beautiful place, it's worth it!

06 October, 2010

Taste of Norwegian treasure

One of the basic food products in Norway is salmon, eaten by Norwegians and exported to many other countries. Basically salmon is bred in saltwater fish-farms, which are spread all over the country in numerous Norwegian fjords. One of those farms has been captured by me in Hardangerfjord:

One of the typical Norwegian dishes is gravlaks (that is cured salmon). This is a raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. In the past salmon was also fermented by burying it in the ground, this is where it got its name from (grave means bury).
You can also buy two most popular types of salmon: smoked salmon and of course fresh (or frozen) raw salmon.
Smoked salmon goes very well with scrambled eggs, sometimes ruled in lefse, which is a soft, flat type of  "bread" (looks more like a flat pancake).

20 March, 2010

Birkebeiner race - for the tough guys (and ladies)

Today is the day of Birkebeiner race - a 54km long cross-country ski race (Nordic style) from Rena to Lillehammer. Start point is at altitude of 280m a then skiers must climb 630m before they cross the finish line at altitude of 480m. Most of the race leads through mountains and woods, but most participants probably don't enjoy so much the surrounding nature as they are "dying" struggling with the terrain, weather and snow conditions and they own weakness. Yeah, this race is for the tough guys.
 (c) wikipedia

The run has been held since 1932, and commemorates a trip made by the Birkebeiner loyalists (birkebeiner can be translated to "birch-feet") to save the heir to the Norwegian throne, Håkon Håkonsson, in 1206. All participants carry a backpack weighing at least 3.5 kg, symbolizing the weight of the then one-year old heir.

This year over 16 000 tough men and women will test themselves in this ski marathon. Impressive, I must admit. But popularity of this race doesn't end here, because there is also a summer edition: a half-marathon of 21km mostly downhill with finish in Lillehammer  and a 94km cross-country bike race with start in Rena and finish in Lillehammer.

(c) www.birkebeiner.no

10 March, 2010

Ice Age or what?

Taking advantage of extended Winter and the great snow conditions, which doesn't seem to be willing to give way for Spring, I spent some time skiing in Geilo ski resort.
 As you can see slopes in Geilo (and other Norwegian ski resorts) aren't  very steep, of alpine type, but nevertheless offer great skiing experience on various levels of difficulty, from easy to expert level. I had a great time there many times!
Geilo seen from a ski slope.

Geilo lies more or less halfway between Oslo and Bergen and is easy accessible by car or train. It's popular (but of course not the only) place for Norwegians to spend their time on alpine skis or even more often on cross-country skis. Ski touring is a national sport in Norway.
This is what I saw through (nor very clean unfortunately) train window.
Hardangervidda plateau seen from a train
Along the railway, some distance to the West from Geilo, lies even smaller village of Finse, which is the highest located train station on Bergensbanen (that is the 100-years old railway between Bergen and Oslo), reaching 1222m of altitude. This remote village, where only train can get you,  lies on one of the highest mountain plateaus in Europe, having for a neighbour Hardangerjøkulen glacier and being a paradise for snow-kiters and ski-touring enthusiasts.

09 February, 2010

Hey, it's winter time!

I can't believe my eyes. In the most wet and rainy city on the West Coast of Norway, the snow didn't melt at all after almost 2 months of  lying on the streets and mountains surrounding Bergen! "The oldest Norwegians" don't remember such a phenomenon! (Similar weather was much more common in 70's and 80's).

Since December it was only a couple of days with temperature slightly above zero Celsius. It has been snowing many times. The rest of Norway looks the same, covered with white powder. Natives are more than happy to go skiing on regular basis, it is after all their national sport.

Well, shame on you, global warming (false) prophets! ;)

Mt. Urliken seen from Bergen centrum.