Tag Archives: Europe road trip

Reaching the Corporate Gravity Escape Velocity

While I was climbing the “666” something flicked in my mind and I was enlightened with an understanding of what made me so unhappy in London and its Corporate culture. For years I was made to feel that “the better is ahead of us”, that I need to endure the struggle for perfection and Corporate excellence before I’d be allowed a yet another piece of food from the Corporate feeder but most importantly – it’s being able to connect with people that the Corporate culture is so good in moderating.

A Ticket to Personal Fulfilment

No one is made to work in an office environment – office space is a modern form of slavery, it completes the matrix where people are bound to perform mandatory labour through the very structure of the society they live in. Through student loans, mortgages, educational system itself, useless and pointless laws and “trends” they are all slotted in their office chairs.

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A trip like the one I took was essential for me to realise that. It’s not like I did not know how the world works before but sometimes you need to take an obvious step to give yourself that boost of confidence that your understanding of this world is correct. It’s a little like going for an evening run to think over a deal or a major decision in life such as like buying a house – you know that you know the answer but to make that decision you just need that run.

This trip has brought me to Lofoten, a place where I am independent, where I don’t owe anything to anyone and no one owes anything to me.

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For years I was in a job earning good money but I knew 100% that I was destined for more, I knew I was more qualified than anyone around me, I knew what I lacked among what the job had to offer and as a solution of that I saw change of the job – it looked logical to me, sure thing, I graduated from two major universities to know that!

But I was wrong. The solution to getting recognition and taking what is yours is not in getting another job – another job will be just like the one you left, most likely. The solution to being unsatisfied in you workplace for years is leaving the industry. I needed to destroy the boundaries that the system imposed on me because once you’re in a matrix you will never be strong enough to leave it.

The system knows where you “belong” and won’t let you challenge that for the sake of its own integrity. Who are you? A corporate VP… no you can’t go and do that job (… “yet”) because it’s what DIRs do, and the system does not care whether you won’t wait for 6 years to do what you want and can do today.

The solution to all that is… Lofoten. I am standing at the 666m height and I no longer belong to the system. I don’t have a loan, all my belongings are the car, the cash, the clothes that I wear and the freedom – endless freedom to stand here and watch the beautiful and FREE world beneath my feet.

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It is FREE because I don’t need to pay for the mountain and anything I need to pay for does not require me being a slave to the system. Believe me, the world is a source of infinite finance, you can do so much more than what the system lead you to believe.

Just think about it, imagine you’re a senior VP in a bank and to do something you want to do the bank would expect you to do a 2-year course of something like a CFA or an MBA to become a Director… at some point just to be able to face a client…really?

Let me tell you one thing, here in the mountains I realised that to talk to a “client” all you need is to come and talk to that guy. That’s all. You don’t need to be a VP or an MD… or work for a corporation what so ever. And if what I am saying is true then the whole system is wrong. At least in the real world.

(Serge Fog, ~18 Aug 2016)

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Norway – Lofoten Islands – The South

Today I give to you the amazing Lofoten – islands to come to and get lost, a place to be alone and a place to discover – all at one spot in Northern Norway.

I arrived here to discover the beautiful landscapes but what actually happened to me here was far more, the exclusivity of this place makes you wonder what place you’re occupying in this world, the function you are truly destined for.

A Rainy Arrival

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I arrived to Lofoten cutting through fog and rain which looked like it would last forever. This place is amazing when the sun is shining but come the rain and you can just as well spend you entire holiday indoors which is in case you live in a tent means you’ll watch your entire movie collection before it’s dry enough to roam again.

My first destination was a camp site near Ramberg, a place with a beautiful sandy beach which I could only see in its sunny glory a couple of weeks. My initial impression of Lofoten was not great.

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This is waaaaay different to the rainy beach I’ve seen upon my arrival:)

Why do people come here? Because it’s a unique place where you can hike tops of rocky mountains without having to climb the first 3000 meters – most of the mountain is underwater and when you go up your 700 metre peak you spend most of that distance in a landscape that reminds me of very high altitudes in the Alps. Here thought it starts straight from the bottom!

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The island chain itself is stunning, wherever you look you can see rough edges of mountain chains, sometime on a sunny day you will see a glacier on the other side of the fjord in continental Norway near Bodo.

I caught up with Anett, a German lady who travelled in her amazing VW California, she introduced me to a bunch of absolutely crazy Germans… the Germans that completed the image of a special kind of people that can only be found in that part of Europe -the caravan builders.

The Germans and Their Amazing “Wohnmobile”!

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Basti and his family had built the most amazing wohnmobil I’ve seen so far. Based on an IVECO truck

There are so many interesting people here, most of those you’ll meet would be tourists or locals running tourism-aligned businesses. People from all over Europe and less so rest of the world arrive by planes and hired cars but the interesting group are those who have arrived in their caravans or motor homes. Especially – you guessed it – the Germans!

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This is something really old… and BIG!

Many Germans are born with a raging desire to conquer the world, they spend first half of their lives working hard to build the most amazing hard-core mobile home and the other half travelling with their family. The social statuses of those people are so diverse that I can make a sweeping statement which is likely to be true for the entire country – the Germans are born travellers.

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Based on an old fire engine, the living quarters is a shed that is removable and can be used as… a shed

Teachers, doctors, corporate people, downshifters, people with old inherited money – all united by the love for huge wheels of their Unimogs, Mercedeses, Iveco trucks and God knows what else that they manage to convert into a motor home.

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Based on an 1980 Unimog and is fully RTW-ready

Interestingly enough, there is a law in German motoring that exempts motor homes form emission regulations and taxes motor homes differently to other road vehicles. You gessed where I am going? That’s right – if you can sleep and stand up in your car it’s no longer a car – it’s a motor home and you can have a 12-litre military IVECO truck that you don’t need to pay as much tax for as you would otherwise, so here we go!

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Did not find a military truck to build your wohnmobil – no problem! I pickup will do!

And kudos to the Germans for that, for putting their ingenuity into those amazing trucks, showing the rest of the world who owns the roads and who can build a German car out of a garden shed and use it to drive their families to the Arctics!

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A former electrical company’s fleet vehicle converted to conquer the world without it.

The Viking Festival

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On my first day at Lofoten I managed to sneak to a Viking festival and it was an event absolutely worth seeing. I normally shy away form such events as they look fake and really are more of a show than a real traditional festival as I’d imagine it. But this festival was different.

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I went there for the final closing day to see whole families of people enjoying following traditions of their ancestors, it was not commercial – it really has been that time to enjoy being “more” than just a day job person. Women were wearing traditional dresses and looked unbelievably attractive, I don’t know what’s that about traditional clothes that makes women wearing them look so beautiful I would not say for the men so those if you girls reading this – you tell me.

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They all have day jobs but are members of local clubs such as archery or local viking traditions and handcraft clubs where they are keeping traditions and make stuff that they sell at festivals like this but you can feel that it’s not done for the sake of money, it’s something else.

There I met Hallvard – a bloke who looked like a real viking and I believe really was a viking, next to him was a beautiful and quiet lady Kim who was sewing a traditional dress, all were so quiet, relaxed and friendly. Kim asked me about the Sami hat I was wearing and in return told me about the special knitting style of Finns and Vikings at a time.

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Those people were real in doing unreal things, I really enjoyed their company and I wish them all the best in their amazing hobbies!

The festival on its last day was more of a real viking village rather than a market stall or a festival, people got together to finally celebrate the end of the touristy part of things and relax. Some baked traditional pancakes which are, yes, you guessed it, not much different from the normal ones you’re making on your Delonghi gas hob but hey, these guys burn wood and use the mother of all utensils!

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Some chatted away next to fires, everyone looked happily tired. It all looked like a good day’s night and I charged myself with positive emotions for the rest of my stay at Lofoten.

Vestre Nesland to Nusfjord

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Having checked out from my first stop camp site at Lofoten  I did a two hour hike from Vestre Nesland to Nusfjord which is I would say not a hike I’d recommend spending your time doing but it’s definitely worth to see Nusfjord – a small fishing town with boats and fish drying racks, no good cafes or shops here but it’s really beautiful and you get to see a film on importance of fishing industry for the place, it’s a little graphic for the vegans among you but others should be okay:)

After the movie we’ve enjoyed a little museum which must have been made by the community.

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They collected key features and elements that went along the fishing industry of the days long gone. The beautiful floating glass balls wrapped in hand-knitted nets used to keep edges of fishing nets afloat.

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We hiked across rough and rocky banks of the fjord, the most interesting parts of which were in the beginning and in the end of the walk. The “sheepses” looked at us with a question in their eyes, they don’t run away from you here like the do in England, they just stand there and watch, you could kick one if you wanted to:)

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I really wanted to kick those sheep and I made it… a few days later.

 

The town itself is a beautiful small harbour full of little fishing boats… and seagulls!

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Nusfjord

On the way back I collected my phone which stood atop of a hill overseeing Vestre Nesland recording a timelapse of clouds above and slow life below.

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Å – A Bakery Town

It was time to say goodbye and Anette went here way and I went mine – to the South.

Cross every bridge and tunnel of Lofoten islands chain and you will arrive to Å a small town living up to its small name. But it is full of picturequities – beautiful wooden boats moored on the fjord:

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But it is also known for the most amazing bakery in Norway where they still use wood as fuel for baking the amazingly tasty and expensive pastries. Maybe it’s the proximity of mountains that makes these pastries so yummy or maybe it’s the fact they each one of them will set you back over 3 Euro:)

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But it’s worth it, its very tasty and the coffee there is good too! But buy more than you think you need because outside you will be greeted by sparrows which are totally unafraid and will easily deprive you of any bread you have for them…

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And most importantly, Å is a home for the coolest outdoor collection of model ships I’ve ever seen!

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Reinebringen and the Height 666

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Letf – Height 666, Right – Reinebringen (as seen from Munken)

I’m standing at the Reinebringen, actually, further up at a 666m peak sticking straight out of the sea, a naked mountain that you won’t see anywhere below 3500m and yet here, you do the challenging hike straight from the bottom, from the first steps up the steep rocky face of the cliff you know this is not something that anyone can do.

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Height 666, behind are Lofoten islands near Reine

When I reached the first peak I realised that some things are more challenging than what you’d think but then came the other peak, just 80 meters higher… and 45 minutes away, then another one, another 100 meters and more than an hour’s hike…. and then… you stop. You are now alone!

There are no trails, no dotted line on the map, no French tourists showing off with their Quechua hiking gear… just you and the Mountain. It is suddenly very quiet, so quiet that you’re afraid to make a sound, you’re standing there on the edge of a cliff thinking that you are the only one now who’s responsible for anything you do from now on. No one would come to help you if you fell… but no one tell you not to make a step further either!

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And this is the key – you are the only one responsible for you every next step in life, whoever tell you you can not do it is a fake self-proclaimed God, it is those people who should never be listened to. I would never be standing here if I read the signs saying that it’s dangerous and not recommended. Who are they to tell me that? I can make my own call and turn back any time I want, same with life – why should I listen to trisk-averse lunatics or corporate slaves who dictate to me how I should live my life. Only man-made objects may be guarded and have limited access to them – items of natural origin and people can not and must not be contained and have access to them restricted. Those who think otherwise will never climb this unnamed peak. The magic and challenging metre 666.

This peak was the first mountain that made me seriously scared for my dear life, it’s that place where you know that if a trail point “that way” it does not mean that it was deemed safe by a regulated hiking society or anything like that… that only means that a few daring chaps like yourself have chosen to take that route and it is exactly like it is in life – nothing that does not present a risk or that leads to a place where everyone else can easily go will bring you anywhere interesting. And most importantly it won’t bring you anywhere you will feel that you’re fulfilling your purpose. It’s a simple rule.

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The Reinebringen behind me

And when I was coming back from the mountain, late in the evening I felt frost on my skin and I realised that I have become… “more”. Or “uber” as Germans would say (and sing in their anthem not so long ago:) I have definitely become “more” than my own self, I have conquered my fears, my habits, my physical weakness at the face of a great strength of nature. It did not make me any less venerable so falling off that cliff would hurt equally as bad before or after the hike but something has changed in my body and my perception of reality at this stage.

I no longer felt cold or hunger, I saw my body from the “outside”, from an elevated point, I could feel exactly how my body was using carbs to produce energy to kep itself warm, I did not feel cold or hungry, I only felt how much time I had food left for, I could control my body’s fears of being cold and hungry – two major dangers when you’re outdoors. Maybe this is part of what people call “enlightenment”, in which case it’s a surprisingly simple and yet a different to attain state of mind. We are dominated by the fears that our own bodies induce, we have evolved this way because those who did not fear hunger starved to death and did not live to these days but over time the fear for our own selves has dominated our lives more and more, we became manically dependent on the habit of feeling fed, warm and comfortable and this habit slowly turned us into unhappy people.

What I’ve grown to realise in Lofoten and the trip prior to me arriving here is that it’s not being fed that makes us feel happy, in fact there Finns have a proverb that basically says that “Happiness is a place between times of little and plenty” and I think they are right.

You can never be happy if you do same routine every day and the temperature in your car is always set to 21.5. No. Today it rains and it’s cold and you feel sad, you can’t do certain things and it’s supposed to be that way because tomorrow the sun will come out and make you happy, it won’t be able to fulfil its purpose if you managed to abstract yourself from weather. Remember – you are sad for a reason, that reason being is that you need to feel sad sometimes and the answer to that is not to make yourself feel less sad today – it is in finding happiness tomorrow.

 

Kvalvik to Kvalvika – and the Hidden Beaches of Lofoten

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Next day I did I spend licking my wounds, writing these words and the day after I decided to endure on a simple hike to Kvalvik – a hidden beach in the south of Lofoten islands and most importantly – take a shower afterwards!

It’s hard to find a place to take a shower in Lofoten if you aren’t staying at a camp site or a hotel so I had to go t o a camp site where I had a good relationship with the bloke running it. Not that that made the shower free – you just can’t take it otherwise.

Let me tell you what a shower at a Lofoten camp site looks like:

  1. You can’t have it if you aren’t staying at the site
  2. There is a coin machine that dispenses somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes of personal hygene goodness for every 10NOK – if you don’t have 10 NOK crowns – you’re walking back dirty.
  3. The only other option is washing yourself at the sea which depending on the time of the year may be cold… very cold.

But first came the beaches!

Lofotens are full of beautiful hidden beaches. There are no roads you could take there so you’d have to hike carrying all you need with you. When you arrive you are rewarded by amazing views of untouched nature: shallow ocean waters splash on the beautiful light sandy beaches. I had that feeling of… exclusivity that I described you when I was taking about Reinebringen. The feeling of having taken a path that only selected few have endured.

Kvalvik isn’t just a pretty beach, it isn’t only a gate to the ocean – it is an asylum of ice-loving surfers, a place that bears the story of a surfer who used drift wood to build a shelter under a massive stone on the beach, he managed to have lived there for over six months surfing. You really need to come to Lofoten in mid-Autumn to know what an achievement he has done.

There are carcasses of sea gulls and other birds scattered across the beach which really makes you wonder about the value and fragility of life.

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I went to Kvalvik then to Kvalvika (the two are connected by a tiny trail) and then across the mountain valley to a small village of Markelva from which there was another hour and a half of walking to my car… a five hour hike after all:)

In Markelva I noticed a car with a Russian registration plate, I nodded my head and continued my hour’s walk towards Sebastian. The significance of that Russian car will show in the rest of my story about Southern Lofoten.

That night I spent in Ramberg, enjoying the feeling clean after a 4.5 minutes long hot shower! The skies were beautifully stitched with yellow and purple clouds which as it later turned out brought 5 hours of rain the morning after.

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Andrey

Coming back to Reine next afternoon after what must have been an endless morning rain which kept me in my car reading a book about geological expeditions looking for traces of gold in Northern Russia I stopped at a place with a table and a nice view to make some food and it is there where I noticed the same car from the “40” region of Russia – that’s where I met Andrey.

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He was a quiet young man in his late 20s completely in love with Norway and especially Lofoten. In his day to day life he could not be further away from being exposed to Scandinavia but in his heart he loved it.

Let me explain to you what is so special about that guy. Andrey is the last viking. A true follower of this lost and dying European world. He knows what is “true”… he is, I would say, on the right side of the truth. Few of us are these days, we adjust our principles to the situation in order to fare better off in the society… no so much Andrey.

With Andrey we went to Munken and Veroy – a beautiful island south of A.

Munken

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At the peak, waiting for the tea to boil

Munken is a local peak just opposite the hight 666 that I’ve already told you about. They are almost the same height with Munken being a 797 but you can’t actually get to the very top pf Munken without climbing gear and skills so we can call them even.

Munken on the other hand is a long hike that exhausts you not through its complexity but its longevity, it’s a long and wet path up… and down… and then up again. En-route you will walk passed a hut that belongs to the Norwegian Hikers’ association – it’s a club that builds these huts across the country and is the club you wanna be a member of. Why? Because if you missed the good old day of building societies in the UK this is as close as it get to being part of something great! It’s like if AA had huts all across the country that you could stay in!

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A Norwegian Trekking Association 

They build huts, shelters, stuff them with emergency food, gas canisters, everything you need in the mountains. If you are a member then you will enjoy hiking as never before! I’m not a member that’s why I have to carry my teapot with me all the time:)

Speaking of the teapot, upon arrival I made tea atop of the mountain, a tradition which is now strong in me. You get best tea after you carried the teapot, water and wood up the mountain and then you don’t have to carry it back:)

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You can see Reinebringen on the right and the “666” on the left behind.

We arrived to our camp late in the evening, caught a sea bass, chopped wood for the fire to fry him…

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all at around 11pm having woken up a girl who was trying to get a good night’s sleep and who had to spend the night by the fire just because she did not have a chance of falling asleep anyway:) I’m sorry, Johanne, you’ve been a great company and the gift from you we discovered in the morning!

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Aurora Borealis

Just before going to bed that night I looked up in the night sky and saw what I knew straight away was Aurora Borealis! The Northern lights I finally saw, the Northern Lights for which Liz and I went to Svalbard but which despite the right weather we have not seen!

The Northern Lights in all their magnificence, despite the bright August sky, despite the wrong angle to the sun… the locals don’t even expect to see them in this time of the year!

And yet, I was still standing there absolutely silent admiring the fading stripe on the dark-blue sky. I shouted: “Andrey, the Northern Lights!!!” and it’s then when we started running around with our cameras. I took a few lousy photos but that no longer mattered – I achieved the purpose of my trip – I understood something, something I needed this trip for and something that would not have come to me if not for the lights and the mountains.

I knew this journey was over. It has come to its purposeful end.

And yes, the travel will continue and I will go and see more things but the journey… the journey ends here and a new one begins, one with goals, hard work but all that hard work will now be done for a very worthy reason!

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The Next Day was going to start early, we were going to the Verøy island!

Værøy

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Sorland village as seen from the mountains of Veroy

Værøy is a municipality and an island south of Lofoten island chain and it it part of Lofoten. A magnificent place which to me will be remembered through just one thing – it’s got a mountain chain in the middle of the island and is oriented in such a way that you get the sun in the village of Sørland in such a way that during the day the village is basking in the sun but come early evening – you’d need to be on the other side of the mountain to continue enjoying it!

The big-mouthed ferry collected us at Moskenes and slowly advanced towards Værøy, it’s there where I first appreciated the beauty of Lofoten islands. Seen from aside they look like a wood saw with their sharp irregular peaks with clouds hiding between them.

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Ferry to Teroy, behind are Lofoten islands, probably close to A

This place must produce super humans – people who walk across a 450m ridge to continue drinking their beer just because the sun had moved there!

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Sorland, behind on a hill is the famous NATO station

We wanted to hike the mountain atop of which there was a NATO object and then continue along the ridge of the mountain towards its other peaks and after having missed our chance to hitch-hike all the way in a comfy Unimog which was bringing supplies to the station we continued on foot along the steepest slope we could find. An hour and a half later we were at the top overseeing the old village which is what it’s all started from and which is now abandoned.

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The water wasn’t blue… it was a shade of jade, you’d think it’s the Caribbean islands.

Having had a tea this time made by Andrey we moved on and checked in at the next peak just 40 minutes later. We really wanted to go and visit the old village but it looked too far away and we were unable to find a trail to get down the mountain so we had a long break at a local peak.

All this time we could see massive eagles circling above us, their wingspan must have been over two meters wide, they seemingly never had to use their wings catching rising hot air thermals. What magnificent birds they are!

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I could not stop admiring nature being so near me and the feeling that wild things don’t try to run away the second they notice my presence – no, they just look at you and get on with what they were up to before and then you think that yes, they are the ones in charge here, you are just a little human being and for now they’re not interested.

We arrived back to the village, bought two cans of beer each that completely knocked us off our feet and we spent the evening scavenging for items that the sea brought ashore at the harbour, there was so much space everywhere, so much space to just run around and have fun!

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Northern part of the village

But the sun quickly hid behind the mountain followed by the beer-drinking locals and we headed back towards the big-mouthed ferry. That evening the moon took the relay stick from the Northern Lights having shown us the true magnificence of its full body.

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Andrey snatched a great photo of a fishing boat in moonshine and I was quietly admiring the sun setting behind Lofotens where we were heading.

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Henningsvær and the Heimoya Island

We shook hands with Andrey who went on his non-stop 2400km way back to Moscow and I stayed. I felt like having a few “local” days which basically means staying at a town writing this blog and enjoying small walks as opposed to conquering the mountains.

The nearest town was Henningsvær – a small but amazingly beautiful fishermen’s village and unlike many touristy towns it was full of youths! Yes, it was time to mingle with the young.

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Yes, back are hipster cafes with REAL hipsters! I mean these boys had beards long before it’s become a trend and they can get a 10-kilo cod out of water no problem at all… and kill it! tell me if I missed any of the skills London’s hipsters are capable of!

But if you think that the hipster-most Cafe has WiFi then think again – they have beer that costs 99 NOK…. 99 fucking NOK!!! This is over 10 Euro! But they don’t have WiFi so I’m writhing this from a magic cafe where there aren’t any bearded men but there are beautiful women making candles and believe me you wanna read about that too!

Henningsvær lives fishing, it is a few islands large with the main one, Heimoya hasting the town and the rest being fishermen’s base camps. Such a beautiful place though – the beauty of it is in the fact that it’s not been built (rebuilt) like this for the sake of tourists, far from that – it’s a living town with everything you can see and touch here being REAL and being USED for what it was originally intended for.

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The town is dwarfed by an array of fish drying racks

Fishing boats are fishing boats, the fish processing factory is… a fish processing factory and so on and so forth! Brilliant! I guess they have not yet discovered that they could turn this whole place into an expensive and pointless museum for rich old German tourists amd make more money that way.

I stayed in a tent for a few nights, what a horrible place to sleep. I thought sleeping in the car was bad but the tent was even worse. The place is in the winds at all time and hell yeah if it rains as well the tent just gives up. This is a place where you realise that there are reasons why “good” tents cost you big bucks!

I also hiked the local peak – Festvågtinden is 541m high and if you choose to go there then in less than an hour you’ll see a beautiful chain of islands below you, just do it, don’t ask:)

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Lysstoperiet – The Candle-Making Cafe

There is a cafe in the streets of Henningsvær, walk in and you may mistaken it for a candle shop because it is one! In fact – the candle shop is where it was all started by Line Marie.

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…Started as a getaway project, something to break away from a vicious circle of daily routine and which has grown into an amazing coffee shop where, if you’re lucky, you can see candles being made. You can of course buy anything you see on the walls which will put you face to face with the choice of choosing the colour you want and here it’s not easy… not at all!

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Nothing is as cool as having freshly-made candles on the walls – all for you to admire, buy or secretly touch when no one is looking:)

In the middle of the shop is Benta – a very serious-looking young lady who’s pouring hot wax into moulds, cutting wicks, dong it all as if it’s her second nature. All that chaos at the background is her world and she knows every square inch of it by heart! I’m sure I could switch the lights off for a while and when the light returned to this room she’d be making candles as if nothing had happened!

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Step outside and yet again it looks like any other cafe, a cafe with a hidden candle-lover’s paradise!

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I left the cafe, it was time for me to move back up North and see the rest of the islands.

P.S. Dry Stock Fish

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No story about Lofoten is complete without mentioning their prime industry – dried Cod!

Economically Lofoten is a collection of family-owned businesses scattered across the islands all doing the same thing for hundreds of years – fishing cod – local stock fish. They set for the sea in Feb-March throw their lines in and they pull out 50 million kilograms of it each year!

The fish is dried in the open air – heads and tails separately, the tails then end up on the European market (Portugal) and the heads sail for Africa where in some countries they are a historical delicacy and are used to make soup. I believe thy mainly ship those to Nigeria.

This year some heads did not sell and I could see them still hanging on drying racks near the town of Moskenes.

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A dry fish head in Nusfjord

The drying racks take tremendous space, they can be seen everywhere here and I can only imagine just how beautiful this place is in March when all fish is out.

I believe fishing brings loads of cash to local businesses, you can buy it in supermarkets here and boy does it cost! 8 or so Euro for a small packet of dried protein, I guess fishing is no worse then investment banking here so next time your boss says that you should feel privileged to work for the firm, keep in mind that there are fishermen in Lofoten who are most likely much better off not having a boss like that;)

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Drying rack in Reine

I find their connection to fish fascinating, it’s somewhat so primordial, so basic and yet you see that you can be very well off doing what your farther and their fathers have been doing for years before you.

(Serge Fog, 7-23 Aug 2016)

Norway – The Charms of Tromsø

So much needs to be said about Tromsø – a northern Norwegian town, a place deep in the Arctic where oil engineers, construction builders, marine biologists and people from all sorts of interesting walks of lives live together.

Tromsø is somewhat special, it’s a unique place where Arctic nature battles warm waters of gulf stream creating a unique place for people to exist and those who exist here are special too!

The town has drawn into its nets fishermen, oil drillers, satellite engineers and adventure seekers from all over the world. This is a truly special place but to see that you need to break away from the swarms of tourists flooding its main harbour.

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Tromsø meets me with cold rain that lasted forever. It is in the region of 12 degrees in its warmest month of the year, my whole life gets wet and starts to shiver and guess what the locals do? Right, they’re taking their dogs for a walk… without rain coats and without umbrellas! Basically, the only place where I saw an umbrella here was a souvenir shop. If you need an umbrella when it rains Tromsø is not a place for you.

It is in this rain where I met a lady called Stina who draws and paints the most amazing Arctic scenes and animals I have EVER seen!

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And you need to know her story. A few years ago her life has been put upside down and in another person it would lead to a drama but not with Stina. She could not to what she loved most – be outdoors, active, fish and hunt, she had to spend a year at home and most would have given up at this point but Stina takes a pencil in her hand and she draws the most amazing looking lion portrait! She joins an art gallery and starts selling her paintings and drawings which depict wild life and nature of the Arctic.

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“Vandreren” – the wonderer

The thing here is that Stina unlike most artists have actually seen this wild life, she’s not someone who’s sitting in his tiny room in Paris drinking Absinth getting inspirations for his creations in cocaine-infused dreams – Stina has seen all the wildlife she paints for real! Well, maybe apart from that lion but the lion is so realistic and stunning because in his eyes you see the look of a wild animal – something that Stina is no stranger to.

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So if you are in Tromsø – try visiting Galleri Nord, it’s right next to Radisson Blu and the post office, just say hi from Serge and Stina will open the door into the fascinating frozen world of huskies, Arctic foxes, northern lights and the amazing polar bears which will look at you as if they are about to jump off the sheet of paper! It’s worth it, believe me.

The Magic of Tromsø

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The main harbour of Tromso

Tromsø lives according to vibrations of Arctic life and the industries that make it. Tell me, what makes Paris or London? I’ll tell you – nothing – millions of people all doing things which are of little or no importance to this world, even the smell of freshly baked bread no longer makes a statement because English bread is baked in massive bakeries somewhere behind a wire fence in Midlands.Our biggest cities are melting pots with nothing of taste there. Not Tromsø!

Tromsø wakes up to the sounds of fishing boats departing its harbours, seagulls seem to command this process.

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First planes land at the airport, jets that take people from Oslo but most importanty small propeller planes connecting smaller regional centres. Come to the airport in the morning and walk out, passed taxis, to a petrol station and look around yourself? This is not Heathrow with its 5 terminals of wired fence, armed police with search dogs and plastic bags for liquids over 100ml – Tromsø airport is guarded by the mighty mountains with their snow caps, glaciers and all-seeing hawks.

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A petrol station by the Tromso airport

Just stay there and see a plane land, if it’s a propeller plane you shall hear it’s chopping sound long before it approaches, if it’s a jumbo jet it will seem to dwarf the entire airport! And if you are lucky, Norwegian military pilots will fly their machines a hair above the watch tower – that’s what happened to me and it was amazing! We are the one here and we are all connected through our deeds and through our ties with the Arctics.

Tromsø is a really busy city during the long days of short summers – everything that needs building or fixing has got to be built and fixed before winter binds everything in ice. So central Tromsø reminded me of what I think the 1955 Berlin looked like – not quite 1945 but still rebuilding:)

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The high street in Summer

You see, if you look at what makes up Tromsø you’ll see ruined roads, industrial-style infrastructure and peeling house paint battered by ice and Arctic winds, all these things don’t look particularly pretty but then it is so extreme that it becomes the “beauty” in itself!

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I guess this is what happens to every house after each winter here…

There are no cobalt stone roads where they used a nail file to assure the perfect fit of things together. Everything is build to last… a winter or two but it’s also built so that you can survive that winter! These things aren’t pretty by any stretch of imagination but then once you’ve been here long enough this becomes the new style!

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I spent a few amazing days in this town, waking up and falling asleep to the sound of massive ships, cruise liners, fishing trawlers and cargo ships – they all remind you of who owns the Northern seas!

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There are a few things you need to know in Tromso:

  1. Alcohol is ridiculously expensive, expect to pay North of 8 Euro for a glass of beer in a bar and you won’t pay less than 10 Euro for the same in a restaurant. But, if you manage to figure it out you’ll find out that once a week there is a cheap beer day here, but I won’t tell you where exactly;) Cheap means you pay 7 Euro for a pint of local lager – not bad, maybe you’ll even have spare coins to buy one for a pretty lady of which there are many here.
  2. Car traffic is insane, there are seemingly no rules apart from that you need to give way to cars on your right! This means you may be driving down a wide open road and some idiots joining from a residential street with 30kph speed limit will drive into you at full speed, just because they consider themselves being on your right. There are few signs and no road markings (snow!).
  3. Same drivers won’t ever let you join a line of traffic, I think there is a different concept of politeness here. If it’s their way they won’t move an inch to let you in.
  4. You’re somewhere nice taking photos, someone pulls up next to you, opens a book and reads it while keeping his engine running! They are immune to noise here! The reason – I guess you do it in winter.
  5. People will come and talk to you. They will just come forward, tell you what has just happened to them like they’ve seen a trout or a fox and then walk away before you had a chance to say anything back. I actually quite liked this Northern way. Samis are especially big in this.
  6. The coolest thing about the way they speak it when they say “Yeah” they do it on both the exhale and the inhale… if you hear the “inhaling yeah” this means they’re particularly approving something.

I spent long hours walking up and down the steep streets of the town and could not get enough of it, but at the same time I was not sure that living here permanently would be a great idea, it is beginning of August and I can already feel cold bites in the evenings.

A Story of Two Guys and 5 Fishes

I was at the harbour taking this timelapse, actually watching the camera while it does the job, I still can not get used to the fact that people don’t steal here. And while I walked around the pier a man approaches me and starts saying something. Having discovered that I don’t speak Norwegian he continues in English like no problem at all. His narrative is about the thee massive salmons he’s just seen off the cape, he describes the sizes and where exactly he’d seen them… then walks away.

Another day I was by a bridge washing my shoes in the river, another man approaches me speaking Norwegian then switches into English telling me… that he’s just sen two massive fishes “right there”, one of them was a big cod and the other – a smaller salmon. The man finishes his story with the concern over the fact that there is no lock on the river and that tide brings sea water in, I mentioned that it’s probably an expensive project and the man replies with a phrase which made me really wonder about my entire previous life in Britain… he says “… but it’s only the money”!

You see, when something is done in Britain they’d write about it in such a way “We have just completed building a 20’000’000 GBP dam”, or “we’ve just invested 3bn into healthcare”, they don’t even know what exactly has been done – what the dam was built for or how many people they treated with those 2bn in healthcare – they only think MONEY!

Not so much in Scandinavia and I love it! Thee people think good deeds, for them money is “just money”.

For the Boys… and Scandinavian Girls!

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There’s one place you should go to, it is a 160 year old fishing and hunting shop called Andersens Vaabenforretning and it is simply a fantastic man’s den! This is the place where you can get anything for your fishing or hunting needs but also it’s where you can buy a true Norwegian knife!

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…and a Swedish Axe! Yes, a Swedish axe which I could not find anywhere in Sweden!

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Is it expensive? You betcha! But an axe or a knife is only an equivalent of 12 glasses of beer… do you now see why they all drive Teslas?

The Two Amazing Nights

Tromsø is so affected by the Arctic climate that you never know whether you’re about to see Northern Lights, be snowed under or end up in a cloud – this is what happened to me.

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One evening I experienced a stunning sunset, the other – a cloud descended from the mountains and completely blot-out the city! The town was cocooned in thick and very humid fog… but make no mistake this isn’t fog, it’s a real cloud and inside of this could amazing things happen. I walked across the bridge that connects Tromsø with the mainland and I could not resist to grab some dripping water from the bridge’s railings, have you drank a cloud? Well, I have.

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And I’m sure if you stay here for longer you will write a book about the weather, it really does have so much influence on Tromsø.

What else can I say about Tromsø – it’s an industrial town, it’s rough around the edges, you won’t get a frappuccino here and if you will then you won’t have enough money left for your Norwegian knife.

Clubbing… forget about clubbing here, it’s not what you’ve seen in London.

Life here is tough, traffic is insane, people are rough… and unpredictable, the weather is rough… and unpredictable… but

But

But if you see beyond all this you will find real people, the people who fell victims of natural selection in fake worlds of London, Paris, New York… you won’t ever come back to them because their religion will no longer make sense.

It’s only here where you can see what your real self looks like, it’s here where the strength of your character will expose yourself and you will be given that one chance in life to meet real people at the real place called Tromsø.

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Don’t miss it!

(Serge Fog, 1-6 August 2016 )

Through Finland, Into Norway & More About the Sami Culture

 

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It was time to leave Kiruna and move up North, as much as I enjoyed staying in Sweden I could not afford spending the rest of summer by an iron mine:) The North Cape was waiting for me. The road was taking me through the seemingly endless Swedish tundra with landscapes filled with small twisted birch trees, neolithic stones and the reindeer. The North started to slowly seem less romantic and more grim.

The Grim North.

There is certainly romance to the North, it’s a beautiful and quiet world where a man can truly enjoy freedom, this is the wild wild west of Europe but it’s also an incredibly challenging place to live. Majority of settlements are built around some form of a mine or an energy producing plant and there is little in terms of entertainment, you’ve got to like wild camping, hunting and fishing… and I do like all those things but it’s here where I realised that it’s no longer something you can have a hobby, it is now a way of life. You wanna eat – you go fishing or shoot tings, you wanna have some free time or entertain yourself – you go fishing or shoot things. You wanna take a lady for a romantic date – you take her to a river to do fishing… or how here how to shoot things. But then the’s just as likely to be able to show you how to do those things.

Finland

 

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That afternoon I crossed the border into Finland, the road takes you to a narrow strip of land that belongs for the nation of people more closely related to Hungarians than the rest of Scandinavia.

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But what’s most interesting is that this strip of land is Finnish for a reason. You see, the Finns were looking for the flat bits of scenery in the region… and they found it! It’s as if they were making sure there are no mountains in Finland and they fought fierce wars with the Swedes and the  Norwegians for those flat bits:) And flat they are! Sand dunes and the absence of rock which have been there just a few kilometres prior to the Finnish border.

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I am amazed just how much difference borders between countries make, it’s not like in Asia or Africa where borders are straight lines drawn on maps by the colonists!

Finland was supposed to last a few hours, it lasted two days, I spent a night by a lake battling mosquitoes and emerged incredibly wounded from that battle. But it was worth it since I found a place to bathe Sebastian, we washed the air suspension springs – something that you should don on an air-suspended vehicle once in a while if you want it to last you longer.

 

The next day I roamed the sand dunes for hours in search or reindeer antlers… which I ended up buying at a Sami village in Norway a few days later:)

I don’t know where I have been but what I’ve been seeing instead were deer bones, whether those were left by hunters, the bears or whether it’s what’s left of deer that naturally passed away I do not know but it looked creepy… and yet, no antlers!

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Norway

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A real Viking

Firstly Norway seemed similar to Sweden with largely empty and abandoned monumental imperial buildings but these quickly gave way to much more down to earth fishing huts and Sami villages.

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Back are the old rocky mountains, the wild rivers and fishermen fly-fishing at every turn of those graceful streams. Mind you, just an hour’s drive south in Finland there are warm sandy lakes and none of this!

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Can you see a fisherman?

The rest of the landscape is, I believe, Tundra – short trees, weeds, poor vegetation and few animal species, it is getting increasingly colder, +15 is the new daily average.

For the Boys

Gone are the Finnish scary front lights used to blind moose and deer, enter the world of fishing rods. They are attached to the car! Yes, they have a special cup on the bonnet where the handle slots in and a little t-shaped holder on top of the car! I have never seen this way of transporting fishing gear in my life. And given that most Norwegians drive massive 4x4s I can’t see why not place those things inside!

Sami People

It is here where after seeing more traces of Sami that I’ve realised that here there is no Finland, Sweden or Norway… it’s all Sami land! White people arrived and fought each other to call these places their names but in reality it is the Sami who truly own these lands. You can feel their presence everywhere, the further up North you go the less influence of the western civilisation and Sami culture revels itself.

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Reindeer antlers are on every building, the Tipis are everywhere. It looks a little bit like gypsy settlements but with a completely different cultural background.

Sami Tipi

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Tipis are permanent structures, Samis will wrap them as they arrive to this settlement

The most interesting thing I found is that the Tipis are actually permanent structures. I always thought that Samis carry them around as they migrate but they only keep the skins while wooden “skeletons” are kept in place and they gear them up as they arrive.

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A wrapped Tipi

This is a lot like the Pilgrims’ artefacts I’ve seen in Southern France – migrating people don’t randomly move around, they have set paths they follow for generations and I’m sure it stands true for Samis as well. I have later spoken to one of them and he described how they migrate North for summers and South for winters, the migration path is around 200km long. He told me how glaciers melt away closing migration maths they’ve known for years but I liked his attitude towards change, he saw it as part of life… I really liked it.

He invited me into his Tipi:

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The Tipi on the left has an open fire and you can see it by the coloration of the “skin”, the one on the right is a souvenir shop

it was a combination of a family lodge and a small souvenir shop, many Samis trade deer hides, antlers and hand-made traditional items.

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Inside a Tipi there is a whole world with an open fire and reindeer skins covering all furniture

I waved a goodbye to this lovely place, it was time to go to the North Cape and the weather did not look promising.

 

(Serge Fog, 24-27 July 2016)

 

Sweden – Kiruna & The Kiirunavaara Iron Ore Mountain

Kiruna

The last Northern-most town of Sweden, the stronghold of the North and the place where life is governed by the pulse of the World’s largest iron ore mine.

  • The town “belongs” to LKAB – Swedish state-owned mining conglomerate. (State owned!!!)
  • Opened in 1898 and will exist for another 70 years or so until the mine’s iron deposits are fully depleted.
  • The mine is the world’s largest of its kind with highest concentration of iron in its ore.
  • Originally discovered by Sami people… and then kindly repossessed by the Swedes in the 19th century

 

Welcome to the frozen streets of Kiruna. The town that owes everything it is to the Kiirunavaara iron ore deposits. LKAB – the state-owned mining company that does everything from mining to research and development in the industry. They developed a type of a hydraulic drill and even sell it to other companies which need deep drilling. But let’s talk first about the town.

The Old Town

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Kiruna’s old town is an amazing collection of old wooden buildings, I would say this is by far a better looking town compared to anything you’d see at the Bothnian coast. It really is worth spending at least a week here! And it certainly is worth the trip so far North. If you are ever as far as Jokkmokk, make sure you book extra week to see Kiruna… in fact, don’t even stop at Jokkmokk – go straight to Kiruna!

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But make sure you’ve got enough board games and books with you and God forbid you’re travelling alone because you’d be bored here, especially if it rains – everything closes at 4pm and good places are hard to find, the locals don’t socialise at all probably drinking at home with friends so your best chance would be staying at a hotel lobby waiting for the rain to stop and if it started to rain you can be sure it will rain for at least a day.

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“Royal” – the only night club in Kiruna I could find… and it was always closed

 

The only club in town is open on Friday and Saturday nights and I doubt you’d meet anyone interesting there – the locals will be at home sipping illegal moonshine.

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Midnight Sun gives “colours like no other” (c)

 

But once the skies cleared out, take a walk through the orange-lit streets of Kiruna. The beautiful and very different houses lit by the midnight sun! Some form alleys build during the foundation times, some streets seem to have houses wealthier citizens where all houses are different.

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But there are of course new builds and they are horrendous. The town got a European prise for a model settlement and I suspect this coincides with building the uglier part of the town. Well, EU is what the EU is.

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They tried to bake new-builds look nice but it actually gets a lot worse than this.

So really, look around and you will find an old Gentlemen’s club, just like those you’d often see in England, it’s an old building worth seeing and maybe visiting if you are lucky.

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Old Gentlemen’s club in Kiruna. Founded by mine workers.

I discovered a local… THE local swimming pool and it has quickly become the place I was looking forward to go to, do my kilometre and then enjoy the sauna. It is the cleanest swimming pool in the world, has four or five sections for all ages so you will rarely have to share a lane.

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Middle-class in Kiruna

Did I mention the town lacked good cafes? Well, it more than makes up for that with this place. I’m not food critic but I would suggest you put this place first on the list of places to eat in Kiruna.

The Empes

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Empes – July 2016

Empes is a small diner which has been in existence since 1945. It is like a traditional small diner in a big city which managed to survive waves of property buyouts, demolitions, repossessions and fires. Walk into the small balcony and look out for pictures of it in the 4os, queues of people (those ash-blond Swedes of the past)

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Empes – 1945

Seven Euros will buy you a burger, a kebap or Swedish special – a wrap with a sausage, mash potato and shrimp mayonnaise which is  a hell of a mix, I spent the rest of the day causing global warming through greenhouse gasses… it was really bad but taste-wise it was interesting:)

My favourite was the kebap which you can get with mash potato, that’s THE combination to have, I don’t know why the rest of Europe won’t follow:)

And – you get served by Swedish ladies who will tell you everything you need to know about their culture. Such a great place this is – definitely go there!

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The Mine

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But Kiruna is of course not a town known for its sunset-lit wooden architecture. In the heart of the town is a giant mine industry which dwarfs almost every other Swedish export including Defence and the Telecom.

Kiruna mine is the largest of its kind in the world and while Brasil mines more in absolute quantities, concentration of iron in Kuruna’s ore at 68% make is the biggest source of this ferrous metal in the world. The Swedes also heavily use the process of creating pellets which help smelters save on energy costs as the pellets contain a mineral that creates extra heat when pellets are molten…. bla bla bla… this is hi-tech shit as far as iron ore mining goes:)

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The mine dominates Kiruna’s scenery everywhere you look

I bought a tour to the mine which now for me rates at the top three ways to waste money in Sweden! For just a few coins south of 400SEK. For this incredible amount of money you’re taken on a couch and driven to the mine. I was twiddling my thumbs hoping for a tour through piles or rock watching heavy machinery clear the path… no way. What you will be shown is a designated area with a lot of wall posters and a 15-minutes commercial about how great LKAB are… this is a client video rather than anything to do with the mine itself! And I’m not a client, I just paid 400 SEK to see the mine!

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The tour gets worse and worse as you realise it could all be done in the warmth of a conference hall up in Kiruna’s tourist office. Everything you’ll see is basically not real, the lightning, the machinery is not live… they could just keep it on the surface, why they had to do it underground is a mystery! Ah, the cookies at the canteen were good.

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This little piece of rusty rock is what it’s all about.

 

But while you’re in Kiruna you need to do one thing: set your alarm for 1am and wait. Somewhere between 1am and 2am they set off underground explosion, be awake for that. You will feel the ground oscillate, it is not shaking it really is oscillation, you can feel it wobble underneath your feet! This is a great experience well worth of you being awake at 1am.

And the best place to feel the ground shake will be the old Kiruna hotel, it is stood next to an old road and an old train station which have been shut because land there sunk and destroyed the road and the train line. The hotel is still there and looks magnificent in the evening sun. From the rooms facing the mine you will see evening sun and hear the sounds of train cars loaded with iron ore pellets destined to  become nearly everything we make of steel in Europe.

 

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(Serge Fog, July 12-24 2016)

 

Sweden – Kebnekeise, The Magnificent Kebnekeise

If in doubt – climb a mountain, you will either have the answer by the time you come back or the question will no longer matter because you will have exposed yourself to something far greater!



Kebnekeise – the highest peak of Sweden and a magnificent adventure for a city-bound hiker! A “return” trip will take you in the region of 12 to 16 hours, “piece of cake” so I thought… I was wrong, very wrong!

Take a trip to a village called Nikkaluokta which owes its entire existence to Kebnekeise, it is an important transition hub where you can park your car (for free!) for a few days while you’ll be walking to the summit and back. Here you can use a toilet, fill your water flask, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a 17km sprint to the base camp.

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Nikkaluokta… most of it

Living in central Europe makes you unaware of things like having to walk 17km, there is always a train, a bus of some sort but not in Northern Sweden and I think it’s great! I do not understand why they have built a train line on top of one of the mountains in Britain, Snowdon, I believe it is. They have destroyed the whole idea of hiking to the highest peak of England and for what? So that a few fat tourists can get their asses up the hill and buy in ice-cream at the top?

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Some won’t make it.

 

Nah, forget about that, you’re going to walk the whole mile here!

You can get a 5km boat ride somewhere half-way but that’s a waste of money, you’d still need to walk another 6km and spending 35Euro on the boat is hardly worth it, it the grand schema of things it’s not going to make you walk less, you’re looking at 50km in 3 days anyway so bite the bullet and keep walking:)

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Wave a goodbye to the pussies taking the boat, you can do better than that!

The route takes you the the base camp which is a hectic amalgamation of a commercialised base with cabins, guided tours to the summit and a restaurant.

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Kebnekeise Basecamp

I really struggled getting my head around living in a tent cooking my own food and yet passing by a restaurant on my way to water springs… there is something not quite right about it. I think it should be one or the other, the restaurant should definitely be there but it’d be nice if it was somewhat away from the base camp. And the “base camp” is basically wherever tents are, they stretch over 5 kilometres, the base camp does not have definitive borders, there are people camping as far as 5 kilometres before the base buildings as well as right by the foot of the mountain.

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There is no “base camp” as far as tents go, you’ll see them all around the valley

 

Spend a night at the base camp and start your ascent. Some people set off at 2am which is no problem in July given it’s the midnight sun time and it never gets dark.

My adventure began at 7am.

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This guy thinks that 16 hours hike in a designer t-shirt is a piece of cake… oh no!

I thought it’d be a piece of cake and with me I had a small backpack with a couple pieces of warm clothing, a gas stove and pasta with a tin of salmon for lunch, and and three Mars bars which proved to be life-saving and I massively underestimated how tough of a journey the magnificent Kebnekeise had for me as a gift. In the next two and a half days I realised how high the price of poor mission planning may be. You know how greatest Arctic expeditions failed and people died because of little things that weren’t planned properly? That’s what I fully realised during this trip!

I was dressed in a designer t-shirt, light hiking trousers I bought at Decathlon for 3Euro and a pair of cheap Columbia hiking boots which must have been made for anything BUT hiking! But at the time I thought “they’re cheaper than The North Face-s, I’m sure they can’t be much worse. Ah no – if you wanna do proper activities – buy proper stuff! Anything 1000 miles away from a gay bar and a vegan cafe is likely to be one!

In the beginning things went well, first 5km of walking were tough, I was thinking of years I spent working in an office, I dreamt of that corporate swimming pool with a sauna… and not much else.

We crossed a river and followed a trail up, the first big ascent. My feet were slipping of rocks, the soles were bendy and my feet started to hurt. I was two hours in being overtaken by couples in their 50s and families with 7 year old kids… things were not looking good.

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And here came the thought. I was thinking of the choice we can make in regards to our lifestyles, about people who don’t have to go to a corporate gym three times a week and they still won’t die of a heart attack. You know those people… those 50 year olds were fitter than most of my friends in London who think that a 40-minute morning jog is an achievement.

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You can drink water from streams but once you get high enough you’ll need to start melting snow, this takes time and energy.

Then were those families with kids and dogs… I mean if I hiked this kind of mountains since I was 5… I probably would have a completely different life! These people are fit and I believe many Swedes are.

Things started to really hurt when we arrived to a local height, it was 4 hours away from the base camp and I knew there were two more before I’d see the summit… but I could not see it. That meant we had to descend three or 400 meters and then go back up… and then more.

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The summit is hidden in the clouds and whoever was there at a time probably endured horrendous weather and little view.

That was a place where some people turned back. I took out my first Mars bar. Boom! I’m strong and happy once again! Like pop-eye the sailor!:)

A steep path down and then… do you know what it feel like having to hike back to the very height you’ve just been to… ahhhh. But then there was just as much left…

And then where magic starts to happen. Your brain tunes into a special frequency and starts milling through the problems that you have in life, finding solutions and dismissing the ones which aren’t worth the worry! This is why people climb mountains, this lets you tap into an alternative universe where things follow different laws of physics, different logic. I, for instance finally came up with a name for my company!

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The point at which I was so exhausted I did not know how I’d make it… I knew I’d have to but I did not know how.

And while I was going through years of my thoughts I started to arrive to the top. First thing was an old shelter.

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An old shelter cabin

Then another one and another one:) All abandoned, I don’t even know why they keep building them:) I borrowed a hat at a builder’s tent a few hundred meters below the summit, left my backpack, took a deep breath and after scrambling up the icy slope passed guys wearing snow cramp-ons I finally set my foot on the snow of the Kebnekeise’s summit!

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What a feeling! Gone are the sores and tiredness, all that exists now is the view of which you can’t get enough! I looked down the North Face and thought that it’d be nice to do it one day, sipped brandy from my little hip flask and thanks the Mountain for letting me climb it.

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It was time to embrace the path all the way back. I knew it was going to take at least 5 hours and those SEVEN hours were the worst to come!

Guys, it was so bad I won’t even describe it. It felt like it took ages (and it did), Columbia are great at marketing and not so good in making hiking shoes so I could not walk for almost two days after I was back, my legs were burning, one of the knees hurt as hell, the back still aches… but was it worth it? Absolutely!

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Part of the 17km path back to Nikkaluokta

I arrived to the base camp, used what was left of my brandy to disinfect my feet which were completely wrecked… and the next day I endured on a 17 kilometre walk back to Nikkaluokta and no, I did not take the boat this time!

Thanks to Kebnekeise that allowed me on its summit and although I can’t say we will meet again, who knows, I hope there will be more summits and I will be more careful and responsible and won’t go unprepared thinking that my glorious city past and courage will deliver me to the peak. These things just don’t work this way.

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The tastiest Mars bar is the one which’d spent three months in your pocket but helped you get where you wanted to be!

(Serge Fog, 21-23 July 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Adibera – My Island!

 

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My name is Serge Fog and welcome to my island! There rules are simple – you must be a renegade to be here!

I discovered this piece of dry soil while rowing across a lake near Storgatan! After a quick walk around I noticed that there were no traces of humans here – no fire place and no paths. I therefore declare myself a pirate and colonise the land!

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I built a fire pit on one of the stones submerged in water around the island and brought wood for the fire from the mainland. It was so much fun… no, it wasn’t “fun” it was a genuinely exciting adventure!

 

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Fuck the lyrics, I can now understand the British that colonised ¾ of the world! The excitement of discovery, the feeling of setting your foot on land previously not known in your world, understanding the place, its features and limitations, planning the build of a base settlement, all of this can be scaled to my little island! But playing with my little island really lead to to thinking that the UK must have been the best place to live… ever! But that era is now long gone.

It’s such a shame we live in the world where there is so little left to discover!

So yes, Adibera – the name stands for the Russian “Adinokaya Beryoza” – “A Lone Birch” because it only had one birch tree and 8 or so pines but you know, I have that one birch tree and you don’t 😉

I demand a world-wide revolution! People willing to be the renegades – reach out to me! I want your hearts and minds to unite and topple to world over so we can re-discover it! We need our islands, cities and archipelagos! We need to be able to be keen again! Waking up in the morning looking forward to the coming day! Do you remember this feeling? Me neither! Let’s make it happen!

I heard this song on German radio and Swedish radio is so horrible that not only it does not inspire me, I started shopping for CDs at charity shops – this is how bad Swedish radio is. But listen to this – we need to change this world and clear up some space for the new generation of people willing to do important things!

And once we’re done with that – come to Adibera where I will be happy to see you, we shall scavenge for wood in the nearby forests, row the amazing little dingy boats bringing supplies to the island and enjoy endless summer sunsets while the rest of the world burns trying to reestablish its monetary values sacrificing white collars to the fire of the globalised corporate inquisition!

And to make sure you know this story I’ve scribbled some important facts on a dog pan, this is temporary before I have armed forces of my own and the political support needed to claim the island’s long-needed independence!

 

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Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

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(Serge Fog, Jul 12 2016)