The Arctic Cathedral is a landmark in Tromsø standing at the end of the bridge on the mainland. Its ‘Cathedral’ status is only a nickname, as it is actually a parish church of the Church of Noway. The architecture is quite unique and there is some debate whether it looks like an iceberg, a Sami lavvu or a fish-drying rack.
The church has become a part of the famous tourist pilgrimage walk from the city centre, over the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral, and then up the mountain via cable car to see the wonderful panoramic view of the Arctic landscape.
Waffles are a Norwegian tradition. Unlike the Belgium waffles, Norwegian waffles are large, soft and fluffy, and fit perfectly folded in your hand. Soured milk is a usual ingredient, however, it can be replaced by fresh milk. The toppings are simple but yummy: slices of Norwegian brown cheese, a spread of sour cream and jam, or just a sprinkling of sugar. Below are some of the more common Norwegian waffle recipes:
500 ml plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
100 ml sugar
500 ml milk
50 ml melted butter
drops of vanilla essence for flavour
Make a smooth batter with the flour, baking powder, sugar and milk. Beat in the eggs and butter (and vanilla). Let the batter set for 30 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.
Sour Cream Waffles
500 ml sour cream (full cream)
250 ml plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
150 ml water
Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Set for 15 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.
Sour Cream Waffles without eggs
600 ml sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
220 g plain flour
200 ml water
Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Set for 10 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.
Waffles with Oat Flakes
Oat flakes contain healthy unsaturated fats and gives a great taste.
300 ml rolled oats
200 ml plain flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cardamum or vanilla sugar
600 ml milk (fresh or soured)
4 tablespoons liquid margarin or oil
Mix dry ingredients. Add milk and stir until smooth. Beat eggs and mix in the batter with margarin/oil. Set for 15 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.
Brown Cheese Waffles
These waffles don’t need brown cheese on top – it’s baked in!
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
400 ml soured milk
200 ml plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamum
100 ml grated brown cheese
25 g butter for cooking
Blend everything to a smooth batter and cook in a waffle maker.
500g boiled potatoes, cooled
250 g plain flour
2 tablespoons butter
500 ml milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Mash the potatoes and mix in flour and baking powder. Melt butter and add to the mix. Beat egg and milk, add to batter and mix until smooth. Add salt and sugar. Grease the waffle maker and cook until golden brown.
Traditional houses are scattered throughout Norway. Some are still lived in, some have been turned into open-air heritage museums, and others have been left to survive on their own.
The little folk museum, Straumen Gård, is one of the most unassuming heritage sites I have seen so far. Tucked away on the south side of Kvaløya, next to Tromsø city island, the old farm site has a delicate sweetness afforded to its quiet coastal surroundings and overgrown vegetation.
Built in the early 1800’s, the farm consists of a barn, tool sheds, a well and a few charming houses, which are open to the public at certain times of the year. The museum is a nice little stop along the way to the Senja ferry, but you must be on the lookout for it otherwise you’ll pass it by in a blink of an eye.
As a photographer in your hometown, you have your favourite spots to take the perfect photographs. You know when to go, what equipment you need according to the weather and light, and you even have your favourite camera settings that bring out the best in the landscape.
Ten years ago as a beginner photographer, I had no clue what I was doing. One clear-sky afternoon in Tromsø, I decided to go out somewhere to take pictures of the sunset. With a brand new camera I barely knew how to work, baby in-tow, I set off towards the water in hope of capturing something half-decent.
Some might think I got lucky with these pictures, but no, I had help–the natural beauty of the Norwegian landscape. Early in my photography practice I quickly realised that you did’t need amazing filters and fang-dangle lenses and flashes and hundreds of settings to choose from to take a magical photo of Norway. All I needed was nature and the north’s amazing natural light. The experience greatly influenced my philosophy of this photo blog–to keep everything real, authentic and raw.
As it’s the blog’s ten year anniversary this month, I’ve decided to give it a makeover. It means I’m replacing all the photos with their larger, better-quality versions (as the internet can handle them now–haha!) , and also updating a lot of the information in blog articles. This will take some time, of course–I have over 1000 posts! But rather than waiting for all the work to be done, I thought I’d release the new version of the blog so you can visit some of the older posts that have been a part of the journey of me falling in love with Norway.
So, I hope you enjoy the raw version of the first sunset I ever photographed in Norway.
In Norway, Advent season is when Norwegians prepare for Christmas. Even though it is the darkest time of the year, it is full of activity, lights, parties and yummy food.
Advent is essentially a countdown to the first day of Christmas, December 25th. The observance starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and is celebrated by lighting a candle. Traditionally, four candles are used to represent each Sunday – one lit on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so fourth. With each lighting of the candle, it is custom to sing the Advent Song.
Advent season features the colour purple, as purple symbolises anticipation and preparation. Traditionally, four purple candles are used, however it is now common to have white candles, or even red. The candles are typically set in a table candelabra, either in a circle or a row, and placed on a table or in a window. A decorative plate is sometimes used with the base decorated with tinsel or baubles.
The Christmas Calendar is a feature of Advent season. Calendars start a countdown from the 1st of December to the 24th. Every day a surprise of goodies, toys or special messages, awaits. Advent calendars are usually wall hangings with pockets, however, there are also many modern varieties such as matchboxes with draws, a string of mini-stockings dressing windows, or a hanging clothesline with pegs. A most recent addition is a string of gingerbread, each cookie with the number of the day, to be eaten.
Traditional Orange-clove Calendar
A more traditional Advent calendar is made with an orange and cloves. 24 cloves are spiked into the orange, which makes a yummy Christmasy smell. Each day a clove is taken out and when there are none left in the orange, you’ll know tomorrow is Christmas Day. These calendars are popular in Norway as they smell delicious and rest perfectly in table wreaths or Christmas platters
To make the orange-clove calendar:
1 lovely smelling orange
24 cloves with long stalks to mark each day from 1st of December to Christmas
Think of a pattern before you start pushing in the cloves – a heart, zig-zags, a tree, etc. (Mine above is very imaginative… straight lines!) Use a toothpick to mark out your design – the holes also help to put in the cloves. Insert the stalk end of the cloves into the orange. Each day of Advent, pull out a clove and refresh the Christmas smell in the room.
First Advent Sunday marks the start of the Christmas concert season in Norway, and a lot of towns have their first Christmas concert on this day. Christmas concert season continues to the 1st week of January – there are 20 Day of Christmas, and so the season isn’t officially over until the 13th of January.
Lighting of the Christmas Tree
First Advent Sunday is also the day for the Lighting of the Christmas tree celebration in the town square. This is a big event in many cities around the country as the community celebrates together the coming of Christmas by holding hands to walk around the tree, while singing Christmas songs.
Driving on highway E8, an hour south of Tromsø, you will come across a graffitied stone. This gigantic boulder once broke loose and rolled down from the mountain above. Nordkjosbotn is a landslide-prone area with many large and small boulders decorating the landscape, but this one stands out from the crowd.
The boulder, called Piggsteinen or The Spike Stone, has become a pilgrimage for ‘graffiti artists’ and taggers from all over the world. The entire front of the stone is covered in more or less impressive artwork. There was a petition by the locals to preserve the boulder and its graffiti, however, it was decided that the ever-changing artwork is what makes the boulder iconic in the first place.
Today the stone is a landmark for people travelling the E8 between Tromsø and Finland. Travellers love to stop and leave a little signature or greeting on the stone, much like building a cairn when crossing the Arctic Circle.
On the left side you can see the logo for the Norwegian reality gameshow 71° Nord, where contestants have to make their way through the entire length of Norway in a great race. In one of the seasons, this was one of the stops along the route. It will be interesting to see how long that logo is left alone as the stone’s artwork evolves.
Norway has a relatively small film industry, which punches out about a dozen or so international releases a year. Most of these pass unnoticed by the foreign audience. However, there is a good handful of Norwegian films that have made a name for themselves abroad. Here are some of the honourable mentions:
Kon-Tiki (1950), Documentary. Won an Academy Award for best documentary. This film shows Norwegian archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl and his crew, crossing the Pacific on a small wooden raft to prove Heyerdahl’s theory that the Polynesians may have originated from South America.
Pathfinder (Ofelâs/Veiviseren, 1987), Action/Adventure. Nominated to Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Based on an ancient Sami legend about a boy who defies a band of bloodthirsty robbers to save his people. One of the few movies I’ve seen where the cinema audience bursts into a wild applause at the climax! A Hollywood remake from 2006 replaced the Sami with Native Americans and the bloodthirsty robbers with bloodthirsty Vikings.
Elling (2001), Comedy/Drama. Nominated to Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. A heartfelt, quirky drama about two mental patients who are released from hospital and have to face the challenges of everyday life in the city. A Hollywood remake was planned starring Kevin Spacey, although the project seems to have been abandoned.
The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen, 2006), Fantasy/Drama. Won the ACID Award at the Cannes Film Festival. A different, surrealistic film about a man who suddenly finds himself in a new city, with a new job and a new wife, with no memory of how he got there and with no way out.