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A Memorable Trip to Lofoten Islands, Norway

 

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From left to right: Francesca, Katrin, Ikumi. Nathan                                                       ©Nathan Sande

Almost every corner of Norway is rich of nature, amazing landscapes and wholesome hiking paths. One part of me is certain that it doesn’t really matter where you decide to go, it will be most likely awesome; on the other hand I must say that Lofoten Islands are a particularly beautiful part of the Country, whose places would make anyone just speechless. Although, each traveler needs tips and I’m glad to share some with those who might be interested.

Survival hiking kit :
  • Good hiking shoes are highly recommended since most of the paths are quite steepy;
  • Vitamins are a good boost in the morning, it might be a multivitaminic or fruit such as orange or kiwi;
  • A Thermos containing hot cocoa/tea/coffee to get yourself cozy on the top of the mountains where it could be quite windy;
  • A rain cover for your backpack and a rain coat, Lofoten is rainy, especially during the Autumn season;
  • A food container for your lunch (we never ate at a restaurant since it was a budget friendly trip);
  • Chocolate, the perfect hiking treat;
  • Good company! Hiking alone or with a bad company is dangerous.

Our group was made of 4 people, which is a good budget/comfort compromise since the 5-seats cars are just a little more expensive than the 4-seats ones. The same applies to the Airbnbs.

Day 1

As you might have figured out at this point, we rented a car which is the smarter thing to do since the buses are very few, notably when the summer season is over. We flew from Oslo to Harstad/Narvik airport (which is in Evenes) on the 26th of October around 1pm and we returned on the 29th around 8pm.

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©Nathan Sande

We got the car only a couple of minutes after our landing, finally ready to start the engine and prepared to begin this roadtrip adventure.

We chose to book an Airbnb relatively in the middle of Lofoten, so it would have been easier to drive around. The place wasn’t far from Leknes, a quite big town (considering Lofoten standards) where we could find the basic facilities such as supermarkets and a gas station. The drive from the airport to our house was about 3 hours long (we even saw a moose on the way), so we decided to stop in Svolvær for a tour of the town, sharing a pizza at Peppes (famous american pizza chain in Norway) and grocery shopping.

Once arrived at the Airbnb which was a nice house on two floors with strong grandma vibes, we started preparing the dinner. After eating we all agreed on going out chasing the Northern Lights. The perfect location for spotting them is of course somewhere without artificial lights and what’s better than a quiet beach? Unstad Beach was a few kilometers away, so we took our hot cocoa thermos and we headed there. It actually turned out to be the ultimate perfect location. The photos speak for themselves!

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©Ikumi Kuribara
Day 2

The alarm rings around 8 (quite late for what is waiting for us today). A rich pancake breakfast later we’re ready to drive toward Fredvang. On the way we saw another majestic beach, Rambergstranda. There are many choices for what concerns hikes and walks in Lofoten; for our second day we chose to hike on the top of Ryten hill which has an amazing view on Kvalvika Beach. We probably took the wrong /long path so the hike turned out to be longer than expected but nonetheless amazing. The path was although a bit snowy, icy, wet and muddy at some point, that’s why it is important to have good hiking equipment, especially shoes, which obviously I hadn’t and i fell on my butt and belly something like 10 times. Luckily the snow was pretty soft besides being extremely cold. The hike, with all the breaks and lunch (or ‘Matpakke’ how they call it in norwegian), lasted about 4 hours.

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©Nathan Sande

 

We continued to the south and we passed by the fishermen village of Hamnøy on our way to Reine. In Reine we stopped in a very cozy café/restaurant, Vertshuset Lanternen, since it was raining. After that we had a tour and took some photos to the characteristic red houses on the fjord. There is a really suggestive hike nearby called Reinebringen, but it was clearly too late and rainy for that.

 

Our next stop was Å i Lofoten, another small fishermen village that you don’t want to miss. Again, everything is very traditional and the red houses are a must in these little towns on the coast.

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©Francesca Stoppani
Day 3

An early morning and a big breakfast later we leave our cottage to reach Haukland Beach. What to say, a wonderful place where we took a lot of photos.

 

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©Francesca Stoppani

If you just cross the street from the parking you will see a path going up; that’s where we started our hike to reach the top of Mannen. This time the path wasn’t excessively icy, but there was quite a lot of snow instead. We saw a hawk observing us while flying in circle and some footprints of deers (or maybe goats?). Once on the top the view took our breath away. We could see Haukland Beach and a few other islands on the horizon. After coming back from the other way of the mountain, we got again to te beach where we ate our salmon and smashed avocado sandwich (so deliiiiiicious!)

Next stop was the town of Buksnes, famous for the typical norwegian red wooden church; man that was really impressive!

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©Francesca Stoppani

Finally we also stopped in a café, a lovely concept store where we could play Tic Tac Toe. There we met some locals who started the conversation asking what we were going to visit and what we already visited. They were actually really impressed about the travel plan, since we managed to include all of the musts of Lofoten Islands. They also suggested us to drive to a nearby town, Ballstad, where we could have done a suggestive walk in the forest surrounded by lakes and pine trees.

Well, of course we followed their directions and it was totally worth it! An afternoon walk through the woods before it gets dark is one of the most relaxing things after a long day spent in the mountains. The colours of the sky reflecting in the frozen lakes created almost a supernatural atmosphere.

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©Nathan Sande

Before going back to our place we passed by Leknes for some grocery shopping. Once at home we made the fire, ate and went directly to bed exhausted.

Day 4

Our last day begins packing. We check multiple times the cottage to see if we forgot anything. All seems to be in order, unless us. We have to leave, but the hell it’s hard to leave this paradise. Our day is still long though, the plane is only at 8pm, so there’s still a lot to do on the list. We proceed in the direction of Henningsvær, an agglomerate of islands where they built a peculiar soccer pitch between the fjords. While on our way, we try to stop in Gimsøysand, where there’s a nice white church. Apparently the norwegian TV show ‘Twin’ had other plans because they were filming  one of the episodes precisely there just when we arrived. The norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones) was there as well. We hadn’t the chance to talk to him by the way.

The perfect way to enjoy the view of Henningsvær is without doubt hiking on the top of one of the peaks that’s around it. We chose to do the Festvågtind hike.

Well, more than a hike that was actually an expedition. Man that was hard, but probably because we took the wrong way and ended up climbing slippery rocks overlooking the overhang. Besides the difficulty of the hike, admiring the view in the end was pretty satisfactory. Who would have ever believed that I was capable to face a trail like this one?

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©Nathan Sande

That’s also one of the reasons why I love Norway, every hike is a test and you can learn so much from nature as you wouldn’t expected.

After what I like to call it ‘expedition’ we went to Hellingsvær islands to grab a coffee in a cafeteria and walk around. We stopped at Trevarefabrikken, a sort of concept store/café/pub/concert hall which was closed, BUT a man who was working there as electrician invited us to sit inside and offered us some coffee too! The kindness and hospitality of people here is priceless, it reminds me of some little villages of southern Italy where everyone talks to everyone randomly.

After eating our luch, we went to see the particular football pitch with a great view of the fjord.

Before heading back to the airport we wanted to see one last thing: the sunset from Rørvikstrand. That was insane! This beach is located 10 minutes driving from Henningsvær. It’s a bit hidden and you can’t really see it from the street.

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The time to go arrived in the end. We remounted in the car, the driving was smooth toward the airport although at some point we stopped in a gas station to clean the car with water and tissues ‘cause we were panicking about the cleaning tax that could be applied from the rental company, which is something like 180 bloody euros. The employee told us that we didn’t have to do it but caution is never enough I guess. Everything was easy and fast. The queue moved quickly in the tiny airport of Harstad/Narvik.

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©Nathan Sande

We chatted for a bit and suddenly we were sitting in the plane, staring at the window, hoping to spot the northern lights one last time.

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©Ikumi Kuribara

 

Francesca Stoppani

 

 

 

 

Annunci

Cobalt – A new french dark ambient dimension

 

-Dark ambient is like a marriage between ambient and industrial. Is naturally dark and much more interesting than regular ambient-

Here a video interview with Maïne Pion-Piola aka Cobalt talking about her brand new EP. Check it out!

 

USEFUL LINKS:

bandcamp: https://cobaltambient.bandcamp.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cobaltambient/

memepage: https://www.facebook.com/Aesthetic-bl…

 

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TV SHOWS – 5 Reasons to watch Westworld

Westworld is a tv show from USA conceived by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, based on the homonym 1973 movie written and directed by Michael Crichton. Nolan directed the pilot episode and he figures as executive producer together with Lisa Joy and J.J. Abrams.

The show debuted in the USA in October 2016 on the HBO channel.

Described as “a dark odissey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and about the future of the sin”, the show is about a futuristic theme park called Westworld.

The HBO also renewed the show for a second season. (Hurray!)

SO! Have you ever watched Westworld? If you haven’t, it’s time now to repair and I’ll tell you why.

Here you are 5 good reasons:

  • 1. THE SOUNDTRACK;    that’s always the first thing the spectator is faced to when he starts a new show: if there is a good start, all the rest is a bit more interesting. From Radiohead to Animals, from Amy Winehouse to Rolling Stones, Ramin Djawadi’s piano arrangements variety will give you chills of pleasure.

Here the link to the full Soundtrack on Spotify:    https://open.spotify.com/album/2poAUFGkHetMzM4xzLBVhY

  • 2. THE PLOT;    of course this is one of the most important points. Mysterious, twisted, ruthless, but deep and intimate too, the story has several psychological developments. It’s a real journey through human being’s mind.

 

  • 3. ICONIC QUOTES;    like every respectful TV show, if you don’t give spectators what they want, you just fail. Well, Westworld gave me everything I wanted with quotes such as “Die well”: so tiny and so majestic. Shakespeare’s quotes are also very used, until becoming almost the nucleus of the story.

 

  • 4. SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS;    aka the best worst enemy since he was born. Hopkins reveals himself again as one of the meanest people in the fake world of movies. The psycho-genious from the “Silence of the Lambs” strikes back. Anyway, his interpretation is brilliant as usual.

 

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  • 5. THE SMOOTHNESS;    even if the topics are kind of delicate and deep, this has no effects on the smoothness of the show. Basically, it consists of ten episodes of about 50 minutes each, but they literally fly away while watching.

 

In a few words, Westworld is a great show which has a lot of potentialities; let’s just see if they will exploit it to make a second season up to the first one. See you in 2018, dear Westworld!

 

 

 

I tempi bui vanno sempre di moda -Da Brecht a i Ministri

Oggi, 9 novembre 2016, si compie negli Stati Uniti d’America una tragedia preannunciata e, col senno di poi, non  cosi’ tanto inaspettata. Oggi, il magnate miliardario statunitense Donald J. Trump, diventa il 45esimo Presidente degli USA.

E’ cosi’che nella giornata dedicata al 25esimo anniversario del crollo del Muro di Berlino, si consolida un muro (per ora) invisibile, costruito con mattoni fatti di ignoranza, razzismo, xenofobia.

E’ buffo, ma al contempo disarmante, come l’uomo moderno, ovvero uomo immerso nel progresso e nella dinamicità di un mondo in continua trasformazione, rimanga comunque radicato in ideali e principi rovinosi verso lo stesso genere umano.

Era il 1939, in pieno periodo nazista, e in merito a cio’ lo scrittore e drammaturgo tedesco Bertolt Brecht scriveva una poesia/monito “A coloro che verranno”:

Davvero, vivo in tempi bui!
La parola innocente è stolta. Una fronte distesa
vuol dire insensibilità. Chi ride,
la notizia atroce
non l’ha saputa ancora.

Quali tempi sono questi, quando
discorrere d’alberi è quasi un delitto,
perchè su troppe stragi comporta silenzio!
E l’uomo che ora traversa tranquillo la via
mai più potranno raggiungerlo dunque gli amici
che sono nell’affanno?

È vero: ancora mi guadagno da vivere.
Ma, credetemi, è appena un caso. Nulla
di quel che fo m’autorizza a sfamarmi.
Per caso mi risparmiano. (Basta che il vento giri,
e sono perduto).

“Mangia e bevi!”, mi dicono: “E sii contento di averne”.
Ma come posso io mangiare e bere, quando
quel che mangio, a chi ha fame lo strappo, e
manca a chi ha sete il mio bicchiere d’acqua?
Eppure mangio e bevo.

Vorrei anche essere un saggio.
Nei libri antichi è scritta la saggezza:
lasciar le contese del mondo e il tempo breve
senza tema trascorrere.
Spogliarsi di violenza,
render bene per male,
non soddisfare i desideri, anzi
dimenticarli, dicono, è saggezza.
Tutto questo io non posso:
davvero, vivo in tempi bui!

Nelle città venni al tempo del disordine,
quando la fame regnava.
Tra gli uomini venni al tempo delle rivolte,
e mi ribellai insieme a loro.
Così il tempo passò
che sulla terra m’era stato dato.

Il mio pane, lo mangiai tra le battaglie.
Per dormire mi stesi in mezzo agli assassini.
Feci all’amore senza badarci
e la natura la guardai con impazienza.
Così il tempo passò
che sulla terra m’era stato dato.

Al mio tempo le strade si perdevano nella palude.
La parola mi tradiva al carnefice.
Poco era in mio potere. Ma i potenti
posavano più sicuri senza di me; o lo speravo.
Così il tempo passò
che sulla terra m’era stato dato.

Le forze erano misere. La meta
era molto remota.
La si poteva scorgere chiaramente, seppure anche per me
quasi inattingibile.
Così il tempo passò
che sulla terra m’era stato dato.

Voi che sarete emersi dai gorghi
dove fummo travolti
pensate
quando parlate delle nostre debolezze
anche ai tempi bui
cui voi siete scampati.

Andammo noi, più spesso cambiando paese che scarpe,
attraverso le guerre di classe, disperati
quando solo ingiustizia c’era, e nessuna rivolta.

Eppure lo sappiamo:
anche l’odio contro la bassezza
stravolge il viso.
Anche l’ira per l’ingiustizia
fa roca la voce. Oh, noi
che abbiamo voluto apprestare il terreno alla gentilezza,
noi non si potè essere gentili.

Ma voi, quando sarà venuta l’ora
che all’uomo un aiuto sia l’uomo,
pensate a noi
con indulgenza.

 

Ebbene, i tempi bui del quale parlava Brecht, non sono mai finiti. Sono mutati, evolutosi, questo si’. Possiamo trovarne la conferma nella politica, nell’attualità, guardandoci alle spalle o guardandoci allo specchio;

ieri, oggi, (molto probabilmente) domani.

E’ cosi’ che l’alternative-rock band italiana “I Ministri”, riprende questo concetto chiave espresso dal drammaturgo tedesco, in una delle loro canzoni più rappresentative, “Tempi bui”:

Veramente vivo in tempi bui
E non è per rovinarti il pranzo
Che ti dico arriva la marea
E tu la scambi per entusiasmo
Veramente vivo in tempi bui
E non ho nulla di cui preoccuparmi
Perchè sono diventato buio anch’io
Ma di notte sono uguale agli altri

E mi cambierò nome
Ora che i nomi non valgono niente
Non funzionano più
Da quando non funziona più la gente
Mi cambierò nome
Ora che i nomi non cambiano niente
Non funzionano più
Da quando non funziona più la gente

I tedeschi sono andati via
Come faremo ora a liberarci?
Non possiamo neanche uccidere il re
Perchè si dice siamo noi i bersagli
Veramente vivo in tempi bui
Riuscivi solo a chiedermi per quanto
E ora son diventato buio anch’io
Che cos’hai tu da brillare tanto

E mi cambierò nome
Per passar le dogane e gli inverni
Andrò sempre più giù
Dove non serve tenere gli occhi aperti

E mi cambierò nome
Ora che i nomi non valgono niente
Non funzionano più
Da quando non funziona più la gente
E mi cambierò nome
Ora che i nomi non cambiano niente
Non funzionano più
Da quando non funziona più la gente

E mi cambierò nome
E mi cambierò nome
E mi cambierò nome
E mi cambierò nome

Vi svelo, inoltre, che il nome di questo blog scaturisce proprio da quella che è la prima parola dei primi versi in lingua tedesca della suddetta poesia di Brecht “An die Nachgeborenen”, ovvero:

Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!”

Qual è percio’ la differenza tra il 1939 e il 2016? Se tanto mi da tanto i “coloro” al quale Brecht si appellava siamo proprio noi.

Gli stessi “coloro” che oggi sono riusciti a rendere il buio di questo tempo, un poco più pesto.