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The North Cape

At the latitude of 71° 10′ 21″ in Norway there is an island called Magerøya, a seemingly barren land with no trees and harsh weather conditions. The most northern tip of the island consists of a heavy rock reaching into the Arctic sea widely known as North Cape, the most northern part of Europe. I had the chance to visit this place a couple of times before but I saw it as most of the visitors experience the North Cape: With heavy fog and strong winds and slim chances to see the midnight sun. In July 2019 though this changed for me and I was finally able to see our home star on a blanket slate of a clear blue sky in the middle of the night.

The phenomenon occurs during the white nights in summer when the sun is not setting down, around midnight it reaches it’s lowest point on the horizon but is still shining brightly. It looks almost like a sunset, just that the sun is never setting behind the horizon and is getting up again. In these special and somewhat spiritual nights there is no darkness and this barren land seems to be alive like no other place. You see all the birds feeding of the waters, which are still rich in fish and sea animals. And there are reindeer grassing everywhere on the island, eating their beloved reindeer veil, which grows everywhere on Magerøya and is like candy for these animals.

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The Far North

The far north of Europe is actually pretty fortunate regarding the weather. The reason being the Gulf stream which makes it possible to cultivate even fruits around the Norwegian fjords (pictures 2, 6). Though if you go uphill from the fjords your surroundings change pretty quickly and you will experience marvellous but very alien ice deserts like the Hardangervidda (picture 1). That’s planet Hoth from Star Wars Episode V by the way – the scenes were shot there. One of the biggest and historically most important towns in the far north of Europe is Bergen at the North Sea. For centuries it was an important port and a center of commerce, especially regarding the trade with fish. Today it is a lovely student town with a lot of culture and museums (pictures 3, 4 and 5).

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Land of the Vikings

With all advantages of modernity living in the far north is still full of challenges. The deep fjords and steep surrounding hills make it difficult to reach the hinterland, that’s why Norway is investing a lot of money in tunnels and bridges to connect also the most remote village to the urban centers of the country. While in summer the days are long, in winter the nights are never ending as well. But the fjords also have their advantages, that’s why people settled here already many thousand years ago and that’s also why the Vikings as a society flourished in the middle ages. First and foremost the fjord land is very fertile, even fruits and vegetables can grow here. We speak about a country which is situated as far in the north as Canada. The reason for the favorable climate is the gulf stream, which makes northern Europe unusual warm. Also the fjords were perfectly secured against intruders and allowed for remote but also secure villages. At the same time the location of these settlements made it necessary to develop ships and make them better. It is no coincidence that the Vikings were the first European people to set foot in America.

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