We are spending Christmas in the Sierra de Gredos region, 2 hours west of Madrid, where we have rented a cute little cottage. It is a great location for hiking in the Gredos mountains, birdwatching in Monfragüe national park and visiting interesting historic towns like Ávila and Cáceres. Apart from thick fog the first day, we have been lucky with the weather, bright and sunny every day so far, so it is a nice break from the winter darkness in Tromsø.
The days are getting quite short, but the sun will still be up for another 2 weeks. It is the time of the year that we get the beautiful winter colours, pinks and blues in the north and orange colours in the south. No whale watching for us this weekend, if the herring behave the same as the last 2 years then the whales will still be here for another 2 months. Instead a short hike in the snow up a local hill. De dagen worden nu snel korter, maar de zon is hier nog wel voor 2 weken meer. Het is de tijd voor de mooie winterkleuren, roze en blauw in het noorden, en oranje in het zuiden. Dit weekeinde geen walvissen kijken voor ons; als de haring zich hetzelfde gedraagt als de afgelopen 2 jaar, dan blijven de walvissen hier nog 2 maanden. In plaats daarvan een korte wandeling door de sneeuw.
Tony enjoying the view
Still some sun light on the mountains on Ringvassøya
There were reports that the whales had come back again to the fjords around Tromsø, so we drove out to Grøtfjorden yesterday to have a look. And yes, we saw groups of humpback whales and killer whales in all directions! Fascinating! Ik had gelezen dat de eerste walvissen weer gezien waren in de fjorden net ten westen van Tromsø, dus we zijn gisteren naar Grøtfjorden geweest om te kijken. En ja, we zagen groepen bultruggen en orkas in alle richtingen! Prachtig!
View towards Tromvik with some whales and whale watchers in the distance
Very windy around the mountain peaks, snow blowing around Store Hollendaren
One weekend early September we drove down to the mountains just south of Narvik, in Skjomen, to look at some abandoned copper and gold mines. There are roads that go high up into the mountains for the maintenance of the many dams and tunnels for the hydropower. In summer these roads are open for the public providing easy access to the mountains. We drove up late on Friday night and once we found a campsite in the dark and put up our tent we were treated to a fantastic northern light show. The vegetation at sea level was still green, but high up the mountains at 800-900 m the autumn colours have started.
August and September is harvesting time: this year we collected quite a variety of berries. From our garden we got black and red currants and a good harvest of delicious strawberries. In the forests we picked blueberries, cloudberries, stone brambles and arctic cranberries. We haven't picked any lingonberries yet, but there is still time to do so. In addition to the berries we have of course picked cantarelles and the occasional porcini.
Strawberries in the garden
Drying stone bramble, blueberries and cantarelles before freezing them
I haven't posted anything for a while, we have been busy with painting the house and fixing the drainage around the garage. It is proper autumn by now with some very nice weather, light frost, clear and sunny. I will catch up with a few short posts with photos from the last few months. This first one is from a beautiful weekend in August on the island Senja, just southwest of Tromsø. We camped at Breidtindvatnet where we had a great view and beautiful sunset from our tent, and walked up Breidtinden the day after. Breidtinden is the tallest mountain on Senja and has therefore fantastic views all around. A nice steep ridge walk, well worth the trip.
Campsite with a view
Breidtindvatnet with Breidtinden in the background on the left
My first planned stop out of Quebec city was due north to Saint-Felicien and its Wild Zoo. The wild zoo is known for its train tour where the animals are wild and the carriages are caged. This gives the animals considerably larger domains and more natural conditions than in many zoos, although electric fences were still visible around some areas. The zoo specialises in northern and arctic species and even includes a polar bear.
Caged bus-train carriage.
The animals are quite used to the train, it is quite peaceful.
First black bear, resting beside a hut.
Grizzlies in their own domain.
More black bears.
Bison resting in the sun.
Another black bear. Normally, not something you encounter every day.
And another with cubs.
Wild Turkeys and a small deer.
A not very active Bear.
The Asian section had Snow Monkeys ...
... and Tigers.
While Corine was heading towards the real Mongolia, I had to settle for the Mongolian section of the zoo. It had Camels and Przewalski's horses ...
... Yaks ...
... a Ger kitted out in the traditional colours ...
... and Ibex.
Continuing on were Racoons ...
... and Martens.
An aviary full of Bald Eagles.
A lonely Wolverine.
Three playful Otters, one in the water.
A family of Beavers.
A Canadian Lynx.
The lone Polar Bear. He seemed to be having a great time in and out of the water.
A Snowy Owl.
Back to the Beavers.
There were plenty of other creatures but they didn't sit still long enough to get good photos.