Archive for January, 2009


We were planning a ski trip yesterday, but unfortunately found out that our alarm clock had stopped working! A real shame, as it was a very nice day. I took this picture from our balcony, the sun is finally back for real! We saw it on Friday too, but just when we were having lunch and it only came above the mountains for about 15 minutes.

Today, equipped with a new alarm clock (vekkerklokke) ;), we got up early and drove north on the mainland. We skied to a cabin called Trollvasbu. We had never been to any of the mountain cabins before, and we stopped for lunch so we could see what they are like – very nice! Inside a fire was burning, and a dad was having a meal with two young children while 4 girls were playing cards.  This cabin had 4 bedrooms, would be nice to go on an overnight trip and stay in a cabin like this! Below on the left is where the wood is kept, and where the toilets are… and on the right the main cabin.

All the ski’s next to the entrance… the ones on the left are mine! Meanwhile Paul was becoming impatient (and cold) while I was taking photos…

The dad with the two young kids was dog sledding! He left when we were just about to leave as well, so I managed to take some photos.  Both the kids are inside the sledge, it looked really cute!

The days are not very long yet, so we turned around there and went back to the car. This area is really nice, real Arctic tundra with very gentle slopes – great for my skiing abilities :)


How am I supposed to stay in my office when it looks like this outside??


The 21st of January is “Soldagen” in Tromsø – the day when the sun can be seen for the first time (since November). Actually the sun has been above the horizon since the 15th of January, but since there are some mountains in the way, it takes a bit longer to actually see it from town. Traditionally people drink hot chocolate and eat a “Solbolle”. A solbolle is actually nothing more than a Berliner (a kind of doughnut, Berlinerbol in Dutch), but they have just renamed it for the occasion. In fact, during the rest of the year they are called berlinerboller here too, crazy Norwegians!

Anyway… I tried to catch a glimpse of the sun, but it was hiding behind the clouds. Never mind, it was still very beautiful. I watched it from my office, and tried to take photos, but found out that the windows are very dirty :) So I braved the cold wind and walked to the end of the pier near NPI. Nice view…

In the photo below you can see the Norwegian Polar Institute (where I have my office) on the left. The strange white thing next to it is Polaria (a museum), this building is supposed to look like ice shelves but from this perspective you can’t see that. The glass building to the right belongs to Polaria and houses the M/S Polstjerna, an old sealing vessel.


The sunset was spectacular! 

I am glad the sun is returning, you can really see the difference in daylight from day to day. I don’t have major problems when it’s dark, though it does seem to make you more tired (and I definitely find it harder to get out of bed in the morning when it’s still completely dark!), but I do prefer longer/lighter days :)

"Full-time traveller, part-time worker, professional dreamer"

This is a quote from the film “Encounters at the End of the World”, a documentary by Werner Herzog (who also made “Grizzly Man”). In this documentary, Werner Herzog travels to McMurdo, a US research station in Antarctica. He’s interested in the landscape, but also very much in the stories of the people (scientists, engineers etc) staying there. He meets some crazy characters and the film is full of brilliant quotes. A linguist working in a greenhouse (long story!), when asked how he ended up in Antarctica explains: “When we have nothing to hold on to, we all fall to the bottom of the Earth”. The quote in the title came from a forklift driver, referring to the scientists working in Antarctica. It makes a very entertaining (and funny!) documentary. He also shows really fascinating footage filmed by divers underneath the sea ice, and shows various research projects. I absolutely loved this film, and would recommend it to anyone – not just to scientists! I’m not sure how easy it is to find a screening, at the very least here is a trailer.

We saw this film as part of the Tromsø International Film Festival, a very welcome distraction at a time when it’s mostly dark! We’re seeing 6 films in 5 days, tonight is the last one. Some highlights of other films we saw: Man on Wire, a documentary showing the incredible story of the French tight rope walker Philippe Petit who walked between the Twin Towers in New York, in 1974 – at a height of 450 m!! Of course this was not allowed and it all had to be planned in secret. Incredible! We also saw a few short films, the best of which a very funny one about a guy going up the cable car above Tromsø, planning to commit suicide but then the cable car stops half way up and he is stuck with 2 sisters and the conductor. 

Anyway… enough about films ;) We haven’t been up to much else though. Last weekend the weather was horrible, it rained for 2 days and all the snow melted. So we made fudge instead :) It was our first try, it was lots of fun and it turned out REALLY good…. 


This weekend the weather has been a lot better, and we went for a ski trip today. The sun is also back!! I haven’t had the sun on my face yet, but the days are getting longer quickly now. I didn’t take many photos today, but here are two… it was beautiful!


I almost forget to share some good news here… I have been given an office at the Norwegian Polar Institute! I am using the office of someone who is abroad for several months – so I even have an office all to myself, with a great view! I’m really happy about this, and it’s been great working there instead of at the dining table at home. In return, I have to give a talk, but I think that is only fair.

That’s all for now, we have to go see our last film now!