Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

The year 2016 ended here with a snow storm and the mountain fireworks in Tromsø were cancelled. For me it was a good year with interesting and challenging projects at work and with a fantastic trip to Bhutan, but I found the unexpected results for Brexit and Trump worrying. It will certainly be interesting to see how European and world politics develop in 2017.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and adventurous 2017!


Monday, 28 November 2016

Delhi

We spent a day in Delhi before and after our trip to Bhutan. India has never appealed to me, too many people, too much pollution and too much poverty, but as travelling via Delhi was the most direct and cheapest way to get to Bhutan, we thought we might as well use the opportunity to get an impression of Delhi.

We had quite a temperature shock when we arrived in Delhi, 33˚C and humid. Fortunately we had chosen a hotel in the more quiet embassy region in Delhi, and here it was very green with large villas and gardens and lots of birds around. The first afternoon we visited the Lodhi gardens close to the hotel. A good choice: the park was full of birds, green parakeets, black kites, noisy mynas, swifts, a hornbill, and there were lots of Indian palm squirrels. There are also a number of interesting ruins and tombs. Walking back to the hotel at dusk, hundreds of, probably, flying foxes came flying over.


Indian palm squirrel

green parakeets



Bada Gumbad gateway and mosque from the Lodi dynasty, probably built around 1494



The next day we had planned to take the metro to some of the sites, but someone we met on the street advised us against this and found us a tuk tuk driver. He turned out to be really good and helpful and drove us from site to site. So we ended up visiting the Red Fort, a step well (Ugrasen ki Baoli), Humayan's Tomb and an Indian craft shop.

The Red Fort, from 1648, is a large complex surrounded by walls of red sandstone and comprising palaces, pavilions, gardens, courts and a mosque. It was the residence of the Mughal emperor for 200 years.

the red sandstone outer walls

Naubat Khana, the drum house

Diwan-i-Aam, the public audience hall

overview with Diwan-i-Khas (private audience hall), Khas Mahal (emperor's apartment) and Rang Mahal (palace for the imperial harem)

Diwan-i-Khas, the private audience hall


Egrasen-ki-Baoli is a beautiful 14th or 15th century step well in the middle of a suburban area. It is off the main tourist trail, so it is fairly quiet. Unfortunately, there is now rubbish instead of water in the bottom of the well.


Humayan's tomb was built in 1570, a few years before the Taj Mahal, and is said to have been used as a blue print for the Taj Mahal. Before you arrive at Humayan's tomb, you pass Isa Khan's tomb and mosque, built 20 years earlier in 1547.

Isa Khan's tomb


mihrab, indicating the direction for praying

Isa Khan's mosque

Humayan's tomb


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Start of autumn - Dividalen, Gjømmerdalsbreen

We are getting into autumn now. Particularly the alpine vegetation higher up in the mountains is starting to get their reddish autumn colours. We spent the weekend in Dividalen last week, we camped in the forest and made day walks up in the mountains. It is a good blueberry year, so we also spent a fair bit of time picking and eating blueberries; we brought several liters of blueberries home, which are now cleaned and stored in the freezer to enjoy during the winter.


Open mountain landscape east of Dividalen, the trail towards Dærtahytte

Sami village in the distance

Looking back to Dividalen

Yesterday we walked up to Gjømmerdalsbreen, one of the more accessible glaciers close to Tromsø. It is a beautiful walk, walking underneath the massive cliffs of Blåtinden, and with views to the Lyngen Alps and Jiehkkevarri from the top. Even though the walk is part of the ti-på-topp in Balsfjord this year, it still gets very few visitors: we were numbers 31 and 32 in the top book since June. It was a bit too late to also make it to the top of Gjømmertinden, so we will have to get back to this beautiful and very quiet area.

Walking up towards the cliffs of Blåtinden

Lyngen Alps in the background

Gjømmerdalsbreen

And the northern lights are back! Well, they have always been here, but it does now finally get dark enough again to see them.

Northern lights over Hamna

Sunday, 21 August 2016

More summer days - Saana, Kjølen and Ullstinden

We just had a beautiful sunny and warm week with temperatures over 20 degrees C. After a rather cold day out in the field at a mine site in northern Finland on Monday, the weather cleared up when I drove back to Tromsø on Tuesday, so I stopped for a break and a walk up one of Finland's highest mountains, Saana, with Finland's longest stairs and great views from the top.





On Thursday I walked up one of our local mountains, Kjølen. It can be very cold and windy up here as I described in previous blog posts, but this time it was shorts and T-shirt weather all the way. Kjølen has some good views back to Tromsø, but also westwards towards the outer island and the Atlantic ocean.

And today, Saturday, the last day with good weather for the moment according to the weather forecasts (they were right, it is raining right now), we finally walked up Ullstinden. Ullstinden is one of our favourite ski mountains and we have been up here quite a few times in winter, but never yet in summer. The walk itself is not that special, but the views from the top are fantastic. With the Lyngen Alps across Ullsfjorden to the east, and the mountains on the islands Ringvassøya and Reinøya across Grøtsundet to the west.





Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Summer in Tromsø - Sollidalsaksla and Nonsbu

After a sunny and warm week it is now full on summer in Tromsø. The snow on the mountains is melting fast and there are lots of flowers everywhere. Good timing for fieldwork, although the 2 days that I was out in the field last week it was rather hot. Last Friday we went on a beautiful late night walk through Sollidalen to Sollidalsaksla, starting in the southern suburbs of Tromsø. We have often been up in these mountains, but we had never gone up through this valley. I am glad we have now discovered this route: a very good track through nice forest and a beautiful and quiet valley. Much nicer than going up through busy Tromsdalen or via Fjellheisen, so I am sure we will come back here.


Sollidalen

Looking towards Hamperokken


Looking west to Straumsfjorden

Remains of an old road going to the Djupdalen mines, where they tried to mine iron ore in the early 20th century.


Walking down in the beautiful soft light of the midnight sun


After spending most of Saturday painting the house, we made another evening walk on Sunday. This time a round trip via Nonsbu, Blåkollkøia and Tønsvikdalen. The original plan was to continue up to Nonstinden from Nonsbu, but the weather wasn't as good as we hoped, so we will have to come back another time.



Looking back to Nonsbu, with Nonstinden to the right.

Brief taste of summer in May

We had a beautiful warm sunny weekend at the end of May, but after that it got cold again in the first couple of weeks in June. We spent the warm weekend relaxing in Dividalen: we found a nice camp spot a couple of kilometres from the end of the road and spent half the day reading books and listening to the birds and the nearby river. Lazy, but very nice!




Below a few photos from a short trip up Skorelvfjellet, not far from Tromsø, in the middle of June. It was nice when we started, but once we got up to the ridge it felt more like winter. A fair bit of snow around and the lake was still half frozen. Still, there were quite a few alpine flowers even high up on the ridge.