Monday, 28 September 2009

Wondrous sea shores

On This Wondrous Sea
Emily Dickinson

On this wondrous sea,
Sailing silently,
Ho! Pilot, ho!
Knowest thou the shore
Where no breakers roar
Where the storm is o’er?

In the peaceful west
Many sails at rest,
The anchors fast;
Thither I pilot thee.
Land! Ho! Eternity!
Ashore at last!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Living in a treehouse - an ultimate life challenge

To have a cabin perched up in a tree: a child's dream that is coming reality for a growing number of people around the earth. Some wish to live in trees as an expensive toy, some to help the environment, others out of tradition or necessity. It's not just a children pastime anymore.

In fact, some treehouses are so well made and carefully detailed, they rival most people’s homes. The artistry and innovation put into some tree house designs and plans rise them to architectural wonders. They are located all over the world, from just north of New York to all over Europe or the rain forests of Costa Rica.

Modern design allows to install cabins without a single nail into the tree, without breaking off a single branch. The style varies from refined modern confort in new eco-friendly materials to simpler rustic wood, from functional to fanciful, sustainable to strange, residential to meditation or meeting functions, and from affordable to incredibly expensive.
Of course, some people live in traditional tree houses because that has been the local lifestyle for generations. In the jungles of Indonesian province of Papua, local tribes have slowly built their way up into the trees to escape pests and one another. Their residences now reach dizzying heights of over 100 feet.

Several companies offer a variety of models for those seeking privacy, nature and ecology in preserved areas. "La Cabane Perchée" has published a quite beautiful book, "Cabanes perchées", with examples of builded treehouses around the world.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

New german journey through The Northeast Passage

I have recently published 2 posts here and here concerning the Northeast Passage, or Northern Sea Route.

History has just been made on that route: for the first time, Russia allowed foreign commercial ships to make the journey.

Two German ships have become the first Western commercial vessels to navigate the Northeast Passage - the shipping route which goes from Asia to Europe around the Russian Arctic.

The two ships, that departed from South Corea, arrived yesterday, September 19, to the port of Arkhangel in the Nortwest of Russia. The icebreaker that sailed with them was never needed - sign of the arctic icecap retreat.

Niels Stolberg, president of Beluga shipping company, which is based in the German city of Bremen, called it the first time a Western shipping company successfully transited the Northeast Passage.

“To transit the Northeast Passage so well and professionally without incident on the premiere is the result of our extremely accurate preparation as well as the outstanding teamwork between our attentive captains, our reliable meteorologists, and our engaged crew.’’ Stolberg said.

"Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight" the german ships that made history.

A journey from South Korea to the Netherlands is about 12,658 miles. By going northward and using the Northeast Passage, about 3,452 miles and 10 days can be saved. And, it is much safer up north: there are no pirates!

"This is an event of huge strategic importance," said chief commercial officer of the Arkhangel Sea Port Viktor Vorobyov. "It will signal the rebirth of this shipping route, and the renaissance of the whole of the Russian North."

With the activation of the commercial route, it is predictable that the russian arctic regions served by ports will largely benefit - Siberia may finally enter the modern world community.

Arctic icecap melting may be bad news for other areas in the globe, but it will allow economic growth and progress of civilization standards in many regions that were ignored, abandonned and depressed.

Vídeo on the german journey through the Route:


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Å – a village in the Lofoten islands close to the Maëlstrom

At the end of the line of European route E10, like a finis terra of the North, Å is a red jewel in a landscape of blue sea and rocky mountains.

Å i Lofoten is one of Norway's most authentic traditional fishing villages; there are 33 listed buildings at the resort.

Å is pronounced [oː] , from the Norwegian å (a small river); the village was for many years specialised in stockfish, as shown in the Lofoten Stockfish Museum.

The main building at left is a former fish saltery, we can still see some cod drying.

Old one-man’s fishing boat

Most of its red houses (rorbu) are now tourist cabins; unlike most of Lofoten towns, here the fishing activity ended and tourism is the main economic source.

In the background of Å , you can reach Lake Ågvatnet sourrounded by impressive peaks. This glacially carved lake is very close to being a fjord.

The Maëlstrom (Moskenstraumen)
When the E10 road ends, you come face to face with the infamous "Maelstrom“, one of the world’s strongest tidal currents creating whirlpools, resulting from the tides stuck by the Lofoten barrier .

First described by Pytheas the Greek over 2000 years ago, it has since then been marked on innumerable sea charts together with terrifying illustrations and warnings.

Fantasy descriptions appeared in European geographic literature in the 17th and 18th century. Edgar Allan Poe has written a short story called ´A Descent into the Maelstrom´ about it, and Jules Verne mentions it in the book ´20,000 Leagues Under the Seas´.
The “swirling, hissing, spinning waters” of the Moskenstraumen.

The strait is about 4-5 kilometres across and 40-60 metres deep, and is considerably shallower than the surrounding sea. The tide fills up the Vestfjord twice a day, and the difference in height between high and low tides can be up to 4 metres. Midway between high and low tide, the current changes direction, and this is when the whirlpools begin to appear, with speeds of up to 6 knots.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Fog over my town


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

Fog often falls over my town, in the morning. It gets misterious and acquires a distinctive beauty. I have learned to like a foggy dawn.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Upernavik - the Springtime Place

Upernavik  (means "Springtime Place" in Greenlandic) is a small town on the far Northwest coast of Greenland. At 72º latitude, this is the northernmost port of call on coastal ferries from Ilulissat.

The town was founded in 1772 as a Danish colonial station. The old trading buildings is now an open air museum.

The old church is part of the Museum complex

Upernavik is an important sealing and whaling base.
Approximately 1150 live here.

Houses are painted in bright rainbow colours that are lacking in the surrounding landscape - red, yellow and green.

In 1824, a Viking runestone was found outside Upernavik. It bears runic characters left by Vikings, probably from the late 13th century. This is the furthest north that any Viking artifacts have been found.

The rune stone

First day in class for the new pupils in first grade.

The main activity is fishing for halibut, which in winter is caught by means of long lines through the ice. As the sea is frozen from December to June, the fishing grounds can be accessed by dogsled or snowmobile.

The midnight sun and the polar night alternate in an annual cycle, with the midnight sun appearing from 12th May until 1st August.

Young girl in the midnight sun

The shift from light to dark and vice versa does not occur suddenly; the days become markedly lighter or darker day by day. The polar night extends from 4th November, when the sun peeps out for the last time until it appears again on 5th February.

Christmas in Upernavik

Upernavik is a mixture of ancient hunter culture and high-tech fishing industry, with traditional dogsleds and modern snow scooters working side by side.

Hotel in Upernavik

"Upernavik is not less the limit of safe navigation than the remotest bound of civilized existence"