Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

Torghatten, the hat-shaped “mountain with the legendary hole” is an iconic mountain on the Helgeland Coast of Norway, 12 kilometers (7 miles) south of the small town of Brønnøysund

Torghatten, the hat-shaped “mountain with the legendary hole” is an iconic mountain on the Helgeland Coast of Norway, 12 kilometers (7 miles) south of the small town of Brønnøysund; Trollfiell Geopark, Norway

 

Torghatten, “the mountain with the legendary hole” is an iconic mountain on the Helgeland Coast of Norway, 12 kilometers (7 miles) south of the small town of Brønnøysund, our last port in Norway (before we head to Amsterdam for a flight back to the U.S.A.).  Torghatten is located in the Trollfiell Geopark and has inspired travelers for many hundreds of years.  The hat-shaped mountain with the hole clear through it is a geological monument for the processes that create the earth’s landscape.  The mountain itself consists of hard granite, which is why it protrudes forth in the landscape; the softer rock types around it were ground down to a flatter landscape, giving the appearance of a hat-shaped mountain.

 

The ocean to the south of Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway, viewed as we began our 7 km (4.2 mile) circumnavigation hike around the hat-shaped mountain; we started o

The ocean to the south of Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway, viewed as we began our 7 km (4.2 mile) circumnavigation hike around the hat-shaped mountain; we started out in heavy rain and ended up with clearing skies

 

The hole in Torghatten was originally a sea cave, or more precisely, two sea caves, which became a fully open tunnel, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway_

The hole in Torghatten was originally a sea cave, or more precisely, two sea caves, which became a fully open tunnel, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

 

The hole in Torghatten was originally a sea cave, or more precisely, two sea caves, which became a fully open tunnel.  During long periods and from both sides, the waves, frost and salt have eroded the hard granite rock until the two caves met and became one.  The hole is 160 meters long, 35 meters high and 20 meters wide (525 feet long, 115 feet high, and 66 feet wide), and has the feel of a mighty cathedral.

 

“Torghatten_s round, heavy gigantic head rises above the small islands, with the hole in its forehead. The troll eye glares after hardening in the daylight toward Lekamøya who fled

“Torghatten’s round, heavy gigantic head rises above the small islands, with the hole in its forehead. The troll eye glares after hardening in the daylight toward Lekamøya who fled far to the south” – Fridtjof Nansen, polar explorer and diplomat, 1920; Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

 

People settled near Torghatten about 10,000 years ago.  The sea level then was 105 meters (344 feet) above the current level.  (The peak of Torghatten is 458 meters (1,503 feet)).  At numerous sites around Torghatten, visitors can observe traces of ancient shorelines, and some of the pebbely beaches feature remnants of Stone Age dwellings.  At Torghatten, visitors can journey back in time – from the Ice Age to modern times, via the Stone Age, Viking Age and the Medieval Period.  Torghatten gives us insight into the deep mythology that is woven together with human survival among the harsh coastal environment.  In the saga about the troll mounains in the north, it is said that the hole was formed when the Horseman (Hestmannen Mountain) shot his arrow through the Sømna King’s hat.

 

Some of the small islands (in the distance) to the west of Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

Some of the small islands (in the distance) to the west of Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

 

On our hike around Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway, we passed several farms – here we found some sheep sitting in the grass below the farm house

On our hike around Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway, we passed several farms – here we found some sheep sitting in the grass below the farm house

 

Farmhouses set against the mountains adjacent to Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

Farmhouses set against the mountains adjacent to Torghatten, Trollfiell Geopark, Brønnøysund, Norway

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Leknes, Norway

With a population of only about 3,000, outdoor experiences dominate daily activity in Leknes, Norway, which delivers on the Norwegian tourist board_s slogan- “Powered by Nature”

With a population of only about 3,000, outdoor experiences dominate daily activity in Leknes, Norway, which delivers on the Norwegian tourist board’s slogan: “Powered by Nature”

 

Outdoor experiences dominate daily activity in Leknes, a small town with a population of about 3,000 on the island of Vestvågøy in the Lofoten archipelago, our next port of call south of Svolvaer, Norway.  The town is situated in the geographical middle of the Lofoten archipelago.  Leknes is the trading and shopping center of Lofoten, rivaled only by Svolvær.  The European Route E10 highway runs through the town connecting all the main islands of the Lofoten archipelago to the mainland.  The beauty of the setting lives up to the Norwegian tourist board’s slogan: “Powered by Nature”.

 

Farmland around Leknes, Norway, viewed from a hill that we climbed on our hike around the countryside

Farmland around Leknes, Norway, viewed from a hill that we climbed on our hike around the countryside

 

 

A mother with a stroller enjoying the countryside in Leknes, Norway, viewed while on our morning hike

A mother with a stroller enjoying the countryside in Leknes, Norway, viewed while on our morning hike

 

 

This contemporary church in the center of Leknes, Norway, was a nice contrast to the small retail shops and cafes and a couple of restaurants in the small town

This contemporary church in the center of Leknes, Norway, was a nice contrast to the small retail shops and cafes and a couple of restaurants in the small town

 

 

A view of the area east of the harbor in Leknes, Norway

A view of the area east of the harbor in Leknes, Norway

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Svolvaer, Norway

The small town of Svolvaer, Norway, was our first stop in the Lofoten Islands – it's a great locale for outdoor activities (we did a long hike) and has an outstanding World War II muse

The small town of Svolvaer, Norway, was our first stop in the Lofoten Islands – it’s a great locale for outdoor activities (we did a long hike) and has an outstanding World War II museum [see below]

 

Our first port in the Lofoten Islands, southwest of Tromsø and Harstad, was Svolvaer on the island of Austvågoya, a town of 4,600 that appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs.  The area’s first settlement was on Svinøya, an island reached by a car and pedestrian bridge from the main part of town.  Thanks to an enthusiastic local businessman, William Hakvaag the area has an outstanding World War II museum housing his personal collection of Norwegian-related war photographs, uniforms, and memorabilia – at the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum (Lofoten War Memorial Museum), founded in 1996.  Focusing on events in Lofoten and Northern Norway during the German occupation between 1940 and the end of World War II in 1945, the meticulously curated assemblage features lifelike mannequins in a wide selection of uniforms along with flags, weapons, equipment and other items.  By reminding people of the drama and brutality of the war, Mr. Hakvaag hopes to instill his belief that those who forget or choose to ignore the past may be destined to repeat it.  Near the port, many visitors enjoy donning parkas and gloves (provided by the bar) and having a drink at the Magic Ice Bar that celebrates its northern location with captivating ice sculptures.

 

New hotel rooms (the red buildings) on the island hosting the first settlement in Svolvaer, Norway

New hotel rooms (the red buildings) on the island hosting the first settlement in Svolvaer, Norway

 

The main shopping street in Svolvaer, Norway, leads up to the spectacularly rugged mountains surrounding the town and harbor

The main shopping street in Svolvaer, Norway, leads up to the spectacularly rugged mountains surrounding the town and harbor

 

The Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum (Lofoten War Memorial Museum), founded in 1996 by an enthusiastic local businessman, William Hakvaag, focuses on events in Lofoten and Northern Norway during

The Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum (Lofoten War Memorial Museum), founded in 1996 by an enthusiastic local businessman, William Hakvaag, focuses on events in Lofoten and Northern Norway during the German occupation between 1940 and the end of World War II in 1945, Svolvaer, Norway; shown here is a room focused on events in the immediate Svolvaer area, including a wall quilt made by local children in 1994

 

A reproduction of the Svolvaer headquarters for the Gestapo in the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum, Svolvaer, Norway, that was established after the Germans raided Lofoten in March 1941

A reproduction of the Svolvaer headquarters for the Gestapo in the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum, Svolvaer, Norway, that was established after the Germans raided Lofoten in March 1941; the picture of Alodph Hitler originally hung in the headquarters of the Gestapo in Oslo, Norway

 

Artifacts from the Ukranian soldiers prisoner-of-war camp just outside of Svolvaer, Norway on display at the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum

Artifacts from the Ukranian soldiers prisoner-of-war camp just outside of Svolvaer, Norway on display at the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum; tens of thousands of Russian and Ukranian soldiers died from forced labor in the attempted construction of Hitler’s dream “Polar Express” railroad (running the entire length of Norway) – it was never completed during World War II

 

A water color painting signed “A. Hitler, 1940” that was purchased by the museum_s founder and curator, William Hakvaag, in a picture frame found in an attic in Europe now hangs in

A water color painting signed “A. Hitler, 1940” that was purchased by the museum’s founder and curator, William Hakvaag, in a picture frame found in an attic in Europe now hangs in the Lofoten Krigsminnemuseum, Svolvaer, Norway; Hakvaag explained to our small group on tour with him that when he took the frame apart he also found four water color paintings, also attributed to Hitler, of four dwarfs as he depicted them from stills from Walt Disney’s film version of the “Seven Dwarfs” (these original water colors were also on display at the museum, but difficult to photograph)

 

A residential neighborhood that we passed by on our hike through Svolvaer, Norway, as we headed up towards the surrounding mountains

A residential neighborhood that we passed by on our hike through Svolvaer, Norway, as we headed up towards the surrounding mountains

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

Sailing into Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway -- only 100 meters (328 feet) wide -- on a passenger ship is an incredible experience and a testament to the ship_s captain and navigato

Sailing into Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway — only 100 meters (328 feet) wide — on a passenger ship is an incredible experience and a testament to the ship’s captain and navigator

 

Sailing down to the Lofoten Islands from Harstad, Norway (the gateway to the Lofoten Islands), we detoured to sail into Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord).  Unfortuntately, as our photographs show, it was raining during our transit into and out of Trollfjorden, earning the captain and navigator even more respect for the challenging course they set and executed, thrilling us all.

“The amazingly narrow Trollfjord is a 2 km (1.24 miles) long sidearm of the Raftsund between Lofoten islands and Vesteralen archipelago.  With its narrow entrance and steep mountain sides, the Trollfjord is really exotic and spectacular.  The narrow mouth of the Trollfjord is only 100 meters (328 feet) wide, and widens to a maximum width of 800 meters (2,625 feet).  The steep mountains surrounding the fjord are between 600 and 1100 metres (1,970 and 3610 feet) high.” — http://www.fjordtravel.no

 

The end of Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway, where the captain had to turn the ship around “on a dime” – a great sailing maneuver!

The end of Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway, where the captain had to turn the ship around “on a dime” – a great sailing maneuver!

 

A close-up of the couple of building at the end of the fjord in Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

A close-up of the couple of building at the end of the fjord in Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

 

The steep mountains present a fantastic backdrop for the narrow waters of the fjord at Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway_

The steep mountains present a fantastic backdrop for the narrow waters of the fjord at Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

 

With the rains we were experiencing, the waterfalls were flowing well at Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway_

With the rains we were experiencing, the waterfalls were flowing well at Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

 

In addition to the larger, permanent waterfalls, many spontaneous waterfalls resulting from the rains appeared as we sailed through Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway_

In addition to the larger, permanent waterfalls, many spontaneous waterfalls, resulting from the rains, appeared as we sailed through Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

 

After our 180-degree turn at the end of Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway, we sailed back out through the very narrow entrance channel

After our 180-degree turn at the end of Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway, we sailed back out through the very narrow entrance channel

 

The swirling storms were visible as we headed back into the main fjord from Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway_

The swirling storms were visible as we headed back into the main fjord from Trollfjorden (Troll Fjord), Norway

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Harstad, Norway

Harstad, Norway is a picturesque Norwegian city with an artistic vibe, situated on the island of Hinnøya, southwest of Tromsø that serves as the jumping off point for exploration of th

Harstad, Norway is a picturesque Norwegian city with an artistic vibe, situated on the island of Hinnøya, southwest of Tromsø that serves as the jumping off point for exploration of the Lofoten Islands

 

Sailing south from Tromsø, our next port of call of was Harstad, a picturesque Norwegian city with an artistic vibe, situated on the island of Hinnøya.  Adventurists delight in hiking the rugged mountain peaks, trekking through forests, partaking in thrilling whale-watching safaris, and island-hopping by bike and ferry.  Harstad is also known for its culinary offerings such as smoked salmon, fresh strawberries, and the national cake, Kvæfjordkaka.  A few miles outside Harstad is the Nupen vantage point, delivering unrivaled views of the Midnight Sun and Andfjorden.  The city, with a population of 25,000 (larger than any of the towns of the Lofoten Islands to the southwest), serves as the jumping off point for exploration of the Lofoten Islands.  Located above the Arctic Circle, the city enjoys the midnight sun during the summer months, from 22 May to 18 July.  There is also a period from early May to early August with twilight for a few hours each night as the sun just dips below the horizon, so there is no darkness.

 

The inner harbor of Harstad, Norway

The inner harbor of Harstad, Norway

 

Across from the harbor we hiked trough the forest up the hill know as Gangsåstoppen, Harstad, Norway

Across from the harbor we hiked trough the forest up the hill known as Gangsåstoppen in Harstad, Norway

 

As we hiked through the residential neighborhood adjacent to the trailhead for the trail up Gangsåstoppen, we came across this nicely decorated home, Harstad, Norway_

As we hiked through the residential neighborhood adjacent to the trailhead for the trail up Gangsåstoppen, we came across this nicely decorated home, Harstad, Norway

 

On the trail to Gangsåstoppen we found many of these brightly colored, edible (but not very tasty) berries, Harstad, Norway

On the trail to Gangsåstoppen we found many of these brightly colored, edible (but not very tasty) berries, Harstad, Norway

 

At the peak of Gangsåstoppen were these picnic tables which look inviting in the sunshine after a 20-minute windy downpour that we escaped as there is also a small hut with a couple of

At the peak of Gangsåstoppen were these picnic tables which look inviting in the sunshine after a 20-minute windy downpour that we escaped as there is also a small hut with a couple of picnic tables on top – where we enjoyed some coffee and Norwegian pastries (vestkandslefse – filled with sugar, butter and cinnamon), Harstad, Norway

 

Geiterams flowers on the trailside of Gangsåstoppen, Harstad, Norway_

Geiterams flowers on the trailside of Gangsåstoppen, Harstad, Norway

 

Geiterams flowers on the trailside of Gangsåstoppen, Harstad, Norway

A nice weather “protector” for these mailboxes in the commercial district of Harstad, Norway

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Tromsø, Norway (return visit)

Known as the “Gateway to the Arctic” and the “Paris of the North”, Tromsø, Norway, has long been a springboard for historic Arctic expeditions and contemporary explorations

Known as the “Gateway to the Arctic” and the “Paris of the North”, Tromsø, Norway, has long been a springboard for historic Arctic expeditions and contemporary explorations

 

Returning to Norway following our Svalbard expedition (and sailing further north in the Arctic pack ice to be within nearly 400 nautical miles of the North Pole), our first port was Tromsø – the port from which we embarked on the expedition.  [See our previous post dated August 5, 2018, “Tromsø, Norway”.]  To recap: Known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”, Tromsø, Norway, has long been a springboard for historic Arctic expeditions.   Mixing old and new, the city proudly displays its traditional Sami (Norway’s indigenous people) culture and Norwegian history alongside bold modern architecture.  Despite its location well above the Arctic Circle, the Tromsø area has been occupied for over 11,000 years.  The first church dates to about 1250, although its official city charter wasn’t granted until 1794.

On this visit we also learned that Tromsø is nicknamed “Nordens Paris” (“Paris of the North“).

 

Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral) is a landmark building that is distinctive in the skyline of the residential side of Tromsø. Norway

Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral) is a landmark building that is distinctive in the skyline of the residential side of Tromsø. Norway

 

We walked across the Tromsøbrua (bridge) that connects the central business district with the residential district where the Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral) sits on a knoll, Tromsø

We walked across the Tromsøbrua (bridge) that connects the central business district with the residential district where the Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral) sits on a knoll, Tromsø, Norway

 

Tromsø Domkirke (Tromsø Cathedral), Tromsø. Norway

Tromsø Domkirke (Tromsø Cathedral), Tromsø. Norway

 

A beautiful statue in front of Tromsø Domkirke (Tromsø Cathedral), Tromsø. Norway

A beautiful statue in front of Tromsø Domkirke (Tromsø Cathedral), Tromsø. Norway

 

A four-masted sailboat in the harbor in Tromsø. Norway

A four-masted sailboat in the harbor in Tromsø. Norway

 

Throughout our polar explorations -- from Tromsø. Norway (where this bust is outside the Tromsø Polar Museum) to Svalbard and on towards the North Pole -- we followed in the footsteps

Throughout our polar explorations — from Tromsø. Norway (where this bust is outside the Tromsø Polar Museum) to Svalbard and on towards the North Pole — we followed in the footsteps of Norway’s great polar explorer, Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (1872–1928); as the leader of the Antarctic expedition of 1910–12, he was the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911, and he was the first expedition leader for the air expedition to the North Pole, making him the first person, without dispute, to reach both poles

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Burgerbukta Fjord (off Hornsund Fjord), Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #1 – a panorama of our ship in the Burgerbukta Fjord

 

On our last afternoon sailing down the coast of Spitsbergen Island of Svalbard, our ship repositioned from our morning position at the point on the Hornsund Fjord where it meets the Burgerbukta Fjord – Gnålodden – to an “anchorage” near the far end of the Burgerbukta Fjord (where the fjord actually splits into two bays, Vestre Burgerbukta and Austre Burgerbukta, with tidewater glaciers pouring down the mountainsides into each bay).  The best way to explore the area was in hour-plus-long Zodiac boat tours, providing us an opportunity to get up fairly close to the tidewater glacier faces and to sail through the icebergs and ice floes which proved to be very photogenic.  We were very sad at the end of the cruising to realize that this would be our last encounter with the fjords, glaciers and icebergs, as that evening we began the long sail to the south to reach the northern tip of Norway and the city of Tromso, from which we had embarked on this remarkable journey in the Arctic.

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #2

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #3

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #4

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #5

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #6

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #7 – the top, white edge of the glacier looks like a meringue

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #8

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #9

 

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can

Burgerbukta Fjord, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, photograph #10 – a double hanging glacier; note that as the front edge of each glacier is pushed forward and melts, the falling ice can create dangerous situations for any boats too close to the cliff edge!

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.