Kirkenes at 70ºN 30ºE is as far east as Istanbul and Cairo and as far north as Point Barrow in Alaska. You find this city in the municipality of Sør-Varanger with borders to Russia (196km) – the only NATO border to Russia – and to Finland (140km). Temperature measurements in February show a minimum of -52ºC while summer maximum can reach +32ºC. The municipality has approximately 4000 lakes and offers a great variety of outdoor activities. In addition to the lakes, there are great salmon rivers, cloudberry, hunting, a vast network of snow mobile tracks as well as perfect conditions for cross-country skiing.
When attending the Norwegian Computer Society’s (NCS – DND) annual meeting last weekend, we had an adventurous evening at Sollia Inn (Gjestgiveri) where you are in the middle of this fantastic boarder landscape and fauna. Let me give you an idea from my own photo album (click all pics to bigify and enjoy):
Behind me is lake Pikevann and on the horizon: Russia. I could not resist trying that four-wheeler :-)
On the lake (the Russian boarder goes in the middle of the lake), I spotted some ice fishers and walked closer, ready with my Nikon S2 camera:
A small fish; Perch. This was on the Norwegian side (you can’t walk over the boarder on the ice just like that), but the guy was a Russian. He was quite good in English, a business man with two years visa and stayed at the Inn.
On the shore of Pikevann (lake), they have built a monument and restaurant with architectural inspiration from a Lean-to (= Gapahuk):
Sitting inside, nice and warm by an open fireplace and a fantastic chef, the view gives it a magical atmosphere:
The picture to the right was taken 8PM: The sun was about to go down (the midnight sun is there from May 20th).
We had the most fantastic gourmet adventure – a cuisine made of local ingredients:
Kamchatka-crab (King crab) Chinois
Filét of Reindeer
Joik, the native song style of the Sami People:
Let me and this culinary feast with a cultural pearl, but first an introduction: The original inhabitants of this area are the Skolt Sami. This Sami group migrated between the coast and inland in the present Norwegian, Finnish, and Russian territory long before any borders existed. In 1826, the previously disputed areas were divided between Norway and Russia (Finland being a Russian principality), causing great difficulties for the Sami. During the 19th century Finnish settlers (Kven) arrived to the valleys, and from 1906 Norwegians came in numbers because of the iron mining starting up in Kirkenes.
Their Yoik or Joik, a unique form of cultural expression for the Sami people, can be understood as a metaphor for Sami traditional culture itself. Like the Sami people, the yoik has been misunderstood, ridiculed, appropriated, and even threatened. A form of song which utilizes a scale and vocalizations which are unfamiliar to virtually everyone in the Western (American and European) world, the history of the yoik is representative of all the encroachment and abuse that the Sami people have suffered at the hands of outsiders.
At the dinner the evening before, the Sami John Henrik Mienna song his joik made for his uncle, John Anders:
Left: John Henrik with costume from Kautokeino. Right DND’s annual meeting host Mariann W. Magga, with her costume from Sør-Varanger.
I used my Nokia N82 to record his joik. I’m very sorry for the bad picture quality (difficult with a lot of lights from behind), but hope you understand I still want to share because of the wonderful song:
The whole weekend was a wonderful experience and I hope you enjoyed my sharing it with you. Check the two other posts!:
and Snow Hotel, Reindeer and Dog sledding in Kirkenes Norway.