Archive for 30th November 2013

Archive

Sled run on a ‘fine’ day

“Dogs have an instinct to follow,” the guide (originally from the Czech Republic) at Svalbard Vilmarkssenter said emphatically as he wheezed out commands in Norwegian which all the huskies obey. “They’re noisy now, but they’ll calm down and get up to a good speed when they set off.” As continually amazed as I am that many people here don’t actually speak Norwegian as their native tongue, all thoughts of population diversity flew out of my mind the moment we took off across the frozen river towards Adventdalen with the dogs that strained to simply run. There were reindeer grazing along the banks of the frozen river and as the dogs...

78 Degrees North

A few months ago, I decided on a whim that I had to visit the Arctic during winter and thought Svalbard came the closest to it without getting close to the North Pole. Little did I realise that I was going to travel during a Polar Night weekend where hoards of merry-making Norwegians piled onto the plane from Oslo/Tromsø and onto the island, making the small airport like a bus stop gathering of neighbours. Everyone seemed to know everyone and bus after bus stopped at the front door of the Radisson Polar Blu hotel until there was a queue that stretched outside for check-in in minus 16-degree weather. The result...

Aimless wandering

It has been strangely hard to get over jetlag. It’s barely 8pm before I can hardly keep my eyes open and I have a feeling this is going to be messed up even further the moment I get into the Polar night in Svalbard. On the positive side, that means I’m up with lots of time to spare – I can eat breakfast, go out and still be in time to enjoy the slow sunrise at Holmenkollen (what looks to be a very affluent residential area as well as a ski recreation area) on Line 1 of the T-bane. There were already those who were training for competitions at that...

Paupering in Oslo

Seven years ago, I visited Oslo and stayed in someone’s apartment, essentially getting the entire place to myself when the owner coincidentally went on vacation during those exact dates I was here. As I got to Tøyen where he stayed, I wondered if I was actually observing the underbelly of Oslo’s poorer population. Things change dramatically a few train stops away, and all these years later, I’m not too sure if what I’m seeing of Oslo is too different – at least superficially. Now that I’m at a budget place near the National Theatret, I get to see what the tourists see and do what they do, and unwittingly find...