Nature hikes in lower Telemark, Norway

2015 wasn’t a very exciting year travelwise. Sometimes other things get in the way of getting anywere new. However we did go on several daylong or at the least hours long hikes in the nearby area. Hiking up a mountain or hill, usually through a forest, has given us many good memories. And not the least some good exercise too!

I love the fact that nature is everywhere in Norway. Woodlands,  forests, lakes, ponds, streams, small rivers, waterfalls, hills, peaks and mountains.  There is no excuse for not getting out and just wander about.  Whether you like the forest were your chances of meeting other people is slim,  or you would rather enjoy a popular path to treck,  the experience isn’t far away.  Not even if your starting point is one of the bigger cities or towns.

Last year we went on several of the routes suggested på Titoppern Grenland (which means ten peaks Grenland) which list 15 peaks in the Grenland area.  Unfortunately we had to stop at 7 peaks (ten is the goal) as Truls’ knee didn’t like going downhill anymore that season.  We’ll try again this year.

 

In addition to these peaks we had several nice walks in the forest that literally starts at our doorstep.  We may walk a round through that forest, and up a steep hill around a small lake and ending up back home. It is about 9km and takes us a few hours. I like the treck, others might find it a bit overgrown for their taste.

 

We look forward to the nice hikes we’ll have in 2016!

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Sunset at the end of one of our hikes

Childhood dream travels

Ever since I was a fairly young child there has been some places on this globe I would loveto visit. So far I have not visited any of them. I wonder if I, together with my soon to be husband, will manage to visit some of them the next decade? I sure hope so!

So how was it that a Norwegian child of about 8-12 years old dreams about travels way beyond the normal tourist routes? The short and simple answer is that I’ve always loved maps. I spendt hours upon hours dream traveling around the world Atlas together with my parternal grandfather. Some places fascinated me by their history and some by their current cultures as well as their history, some by their animal life aboundancy and one place because the nations flag was my favourite of all the flags of the world.

I’ve been lucky that my parents from fairly early in my childhood took me to visit other countries and cultures. Opened my eyes to the world of travel. As a 9 year old I went on my first chartered vaccation. At that time this was not a mainstreem vaccation for the children from my birthplace. We later went to places that only recently had opened for charter visit and/or drove through Europe.

Iceland
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Viking history, fascinating geography. The history of Vestmannaeyjar and Surtsey was one I grew up with. Europe’s larges glacier, geysirs, hot springs, vulcanos. What’s not to love? At least for me this was a dream place to visit, alas my family couldn’t agree less. So Iceland is still high up on my wanderlist. We need more than one visit to cover all we want to explore on this Island.

 

Kiribati

The prettiest flag in the world. Or so I thought as a fairly young child. Back then I first never thought about actually visiting this Island country in polynesia. However I’ve never forgotten the flag and I’d like to see some parts of polynesia so why not Kiribati?

 

Mongolia

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Photo by www.interasia.com.au


Land of the wild horses and the horse people! Land of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan. As many young girls I too loved horses. The horse culture of the Mongols fascinated me. Luckilly they still have parts of this culture and I’d love to visit this beautiful and exotic country one day. And of course I hope to go horse back riding there as well.

 
Rapa Nui

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Photo from www.easterisland.travel

Easter Island with it’s characteristic moai statues and fascinating, yet strange with a Norwegian’s eyes, history. I wanted to visit this island ever since I first heard of it. It will be combined with a week in Chile if we ever get there.

 

 

Ngorngoro crater

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photo by www.tema.startour.no


Safari in Kenya and Tanzania is like a dreamworld for any animal lover. Since my childhood I’ve gotten an education in biology (terrestric zoology and ecology with additons in genetics). I have been to Uganda once, back in 2001. It was a trip with the University of Bergen where I studied at the time. But it isn’t Ngorongoro, I didn’t see Killimanjaro and not the big herds. So I still want to go! And of course I want to visit many more places if we ever go.

 

and many, many more entered the list as I got to learn about them. But these are the ones I can remember that I have wanted to visit for the longest.

As one who has studied biology and of course evolution as a major driving force in biological change I of course want to visit the Galapagos Islands, and think they deserve a mentiono here as well. I want to see some of what Charles Darwin saw back in September – October 1835, soon to be 181 years ago.
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Bergen Aquarium, western Norway

The Bergen Aquarium opened the 27th of August 1960 and at that  point it was the largest and most modern Aquarium in Northern Europe.  Since then it has been updated a few times and new collections added. Today it has more than 60 aquariums and sports more than 300 species. It’s main focus is still on the sea life along Norway’s coast. It does have a tropical section as well. And more recently it has added a reptile collection, a spider display and they do have som mammals and birds too. The birds, more specificly the penguins, was one of the main reasons we went for a visit as Truls really wanted to see the penguins. Bergen Aquarium has had penguins since the 1970’s. One of the first ones was the Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes crestatus) Rocky who arrived in 1974 and lived to be 29 years and 4 months old and with this was the oldest penguin in captivity.

The Bergen aquarium has a mission statement: “to spread knowledge about sea life and to give the visitors a representative view of Norwegian marine fauna and an instructive introduction to the animal life in the ocean with the purpose to increase the knowledge about animal life  in the ocean as well as induce interest and understanding of the foundations for Norwegian fishing, hunting and aquaculture”

Going through the main entrance the first thing that greats us are pengiuns! The species of penguin that reside at the aquarium today are Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua). The Gentoos are easilly recognised by the white stripe extending across the top of its head as a bonnet and the bright orange-red bill. They will grow up to 51-90 cm in height and is the third largest spieces after the two giants; emperor and king penguin.  In the wild they  have their main breeding colonies in the sub-Antartic on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Island.  They eat mainly crustaceans, krill being one of the main sources, as well as fish and squid.  They are a near threatened species due to a rapid decline in some key populations.

We also meet sealions who put on a show,  and a Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) called Selma outside. Selma had just become a lone seal as her mate Vitus earlier in 2015.


Inside we first encounter a pond with starfish, sand crabs and other shoreline animals. These we could pick up and explore. We then entered the section of the Norwegian waters before wandring into the tropical sections of the aquariums.

 

The reptile section and spider display was news for me. I have visited the Aquarium a few times in the past, but this section had the biggest change since my last visit. I really like reptiles and find them fascinating. We are not allowed to keep any reptile or amphibians as pets in Norway, which is fine by me as it leaves some temptations out of reach.

 

Last, we of course needed to bring something back from our trip to Bergen. Our choice was a stuffend animal. A Harbour seal, and we call ours Selma as well. We do love stuffed animals too, not only live ones. We see no reason to grow out of them.

Selma

Rainy Bergen, western Norway

Bergen, the “western capital” of Norway. Founded by Olav Kyrre (1050 – 1093) in 1070, and at that point the name was Bjørgvin. Bjørgvin is from Norse and means “the green field among the mountains”. Olav Kyrre was the son of Harald Hardråde (Hardrada in English). He was in his father’s army when he went to England, but didn’t participate in the battle at Stamford bridge in 1066. When Olav came back to Norway he was instated as a king together with his elder brother by two years, Magnus. Magnus died already in 1069 and Olav became the only king. Probably at this time he got his name “Kyrre” which means “the peaceful”. Under Olav’s ruling the kingdom of Norway had a peaceful time, so his name fits him well.

Bergen is the “rainy capital” of Norway as well sporting an yearly average precipitation of 2 250 mm. It’s not the wettest place in Norway, but it is the best known town for it’s rainy days.  And I guess we managed to hit a couple of those rainy days on our trip to Bergen.

Driving from our home to Bergen takes about 7 hours over through valleys and over mountain passes around 380km of Norwgian curvy roads. It makes for slow going and some great views. Mountains, fjords, waterfalls and… long tunnels. Rather boring those tunnels.  We went to Bergen from the 10th to the 12th of April 2015

 

We wanted to go to the top of the mountain Ulriken, the tallest of the 7 mountains surrounding Bergen with an altitude of 642m. It it was rather windy, and rainy day and  the aerial tramway to the top didn’t go. We figuered out we rather go for a hike with the dogs part of the way to the top. We wouldn’t see much from the top anyway. But at least we got some exercise going uphill and then downhill.

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Me, from the hike up towards Ulriken

After this exercise food was on the program. We parked our car at Bystasjonen, a meeting point for busses, the train to Bergen and with good parking space for cars. The walk from Bygarasjen to down town Bergen meant we walked by Lille lungegårdsvann, one of the sites to see in Bergen. Today “Smålungeren” as the people from Bergen call it, looks like an artificial pond. However it was originally a part of one of the fjords surrounding Bergen called Puddefjorden.

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Lille Lungegårdsvann, stilly rainy. And Truls feels rather cold.

 

We went for walk down Bryggen with Bergen’s most iconic houses (see top photo). Wooden buildings from 1702. They are on the UNESCO world heritage site list.
Then, finally food! Nothing too fancy, a pizza from Peppe’s – one of the pizza chains in Norway. And the one at least I like the best. Being out of the rain and able to dry  up a bit as well as getting warm wasn’t too bad either.

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Pizza!

 

The following morning we were met by this: Hail! Lots of it!

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Hail!

 

This day we also visited the Aquarium in Bergen. More about that visit in another blogpost.

Then it was time to turn our noses around and go back home.  We started out in rain. Went up the hills and curvy roads and met up with heavy snow and wind accross the highest mountain pass. Not the best driving weather. Getting on “the right side of the mountains”. Which means east of the mountains were we live, the weather changed character completly and it was both warmer and a late afternoon sun. This is quite typical of Norway’s weather. Most of the winds and rain comes accross the Atlantic and hit the west coast of Norway. The mountains reaching more than 1000 metres above sea level stoppes the rainfilled clouds and winds passing to the east. Making for a dryer weather in the eastern parts of Norway.

Gotland, Sweden

In 2014 we went to Gotland. This is a rather large Island off the east coast of Sweden in the Baltic sea. We only stayed from the 30th of August to the 1st of September. This is after the main turist season and the camping grounds we stayed at was pretty much empty except for other dog people like ourselves. Perfect when you travel with a bunch of dogs!

We stayed at Kneippbyn resort. Most of it was closed down as the Summer season ended the weekend before, but we enjoyed our stay just as much.

The nature of Gotland was pretty different to what we are used to around our home. It is made up of sedimentary rocks going back to the Silurian age (443 mya to 416 mya) Going for short hikes  in the near by area gave us a really nice view of this part of the Island.

Gotland is reknown for it’s history. From the Viking age to the Hanseatic area Gotland has a lot of history. Visby, the “capital” of Gotland was an important, perhaps the most important, Hanseatic city in the Baltic sea.

We went for a visit to Visby, without the dogs, as well. Being on the island we wanted to see this historic and charming little town. It is one of the best preserved Mideaval towns in Scandinavia and is on the Unesco World Heritiage list. The Visby city wall, the church ruins of Drotten, St.Katarina and St.Lars were visited. All built during the Hanseatic area in the 1200s (13th century).

The city wall is 11 M high and is 3,44km long (originally 3,6km). It was built in two stages and was finished in 1288.  Originally it had 29 large and 17 small towers. Today 27 of the large towers and 9 of the small towers remains. This city wall is a major reason why Visby ended up as a  Unesco world heritiage site.

Drotten was built around 1240 and was the church of the Hanseats (Germans). “Drott” is a word from Norse meaning “owner of a thrall”. In other context drott could mean fürst or king, and the wife of the drott is the drottning. Drottning (Swedish) or dronning in Norwegian is the word still used for queen in Scandinavia.

St. Katarina ruin was started around 1233 and was originally built by the fransiscan order. The construction carried on untill the middle of the 1300s.

St. Lars ruin was finshed in the early 1200s (1210-1220), but the eldest parts might be from the 1100s. This chuch has some ortodox traits and it seems like the arcitecht might have been influenced by Russian churches, it is highly unlikely it was a Russian church.  St. Lars has it’s name after St. Laurentsius who died as a martyr.

 

The main reason for going this exact weekend was the Gotland Dog Show. We showed Freke and Fjellbris. Both got high praises from the judge. Freke became best of breed and Fjellbris best of opposite sex. A sucsessful trip in that regard as well.

 

I am sure we will be back for another visit to Gotland some time. Most likely with the dogs tagging along. However it is not certain if it will be at the time of the Gotland Dog show or not. The show was very nice, but not necessary for another visit. Next time we will stay a bit longer though.

Our first vaccation – part III: Norway

 

Part III:  Norway

from the 4th of Augut to the 7th of August

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Welcome to Norway!

 

After our visit to Nordens Ark we drove back home to Norway. We didn’t make any stops between the border and the summerhouse of my parents. My parents had taken care of our keeper puppies and an unsold brother for the duration of our vaccation and we couldn’t wait to see them again.

Having picked up the puppies we drove home, picked up the adults and had a few relaxing days. We also went back down the the summer house for a bit of swimming in the fjord and being social with my parents, sister and nephew.