Fascinated by Varanger

It is the fjord with its beaches and clear, salty waters. Now in the autumn it is the autumn colors and nature
which attracts me here, In early summer / spring it is what attracts the great diversity of growth, the birds and
the light, the midnight sun.


In mid-September 2021 we came back after an involuntary corona break of 2 years. The road north from
The Helsinki districts through Finland became an endless transport route that changed in what we
passed Rovaniemi and the autumn colors began to blaze. During a lunch break at a country road cafe
I found an article in the newspaper Lapin kansa, where it was said that this year's glowing autumn colors were a bit
unusual. It is used to divide the autumn glow (my Swedish word for Finnish ruska) into Løvfargene and
the field's autumn glow. The field's autumn glow uses to come first, it was stated in the article. This year it was
different. Both the field and the trees stood in autumn colors at the same time.


We arrived late at night to our destination. The guesthouse Varangertunet in Vestre Jakobselv, so we did not manage to
experience the play of colors at the end of the journey from the Tana river and along the Varangerfjord. The following day received
we experience an almost endlessly beautiful and flaming autumn glow. The whole landscape blazed in everything from yellow,
brown, red and purple to green.


I have always thought that autumn is a slightly depressing season, a preparation for death in a way. Here by
Varangerfjorden I got to experience a play of colors that surpassed most of what I have experienced.
Autumn can be beautiful! I'm pretty sure I'll return to Varanger more
harvest.


When we last visited Varanger it was in the early summer of 2019.


Then we did not have a caravan, so we stayed a few nights at Varangertunet in one of the apartments
Siren and Jan-Eilif's guesthouse. This suited us perfectly. Here our dogs were welcome and we got
good food and the hosts made us feel at home. That they both also have a great knowledge of what
the region can offer is a great bonus!


Then we came to enjoy the landscape in the north, enjoy the bird life and to further explore the area there
my wife's great - great - grandfather was the last merchant in Mortensnes. Now we came for the autumn colors,
history and people.


Cohabitation and Trade


Mortensnes is a fantastic place where there are traces of Sami buildings from 10,000 years ago. There
there are remains from settlements from all times since then, there are burial grounds and there are remains of
the marketplace. Unfortunately, only the stone wall remains of the houses. For the house itself was moved away then
Andreas Georg Nordvi in the late 1800s was forced to move away with his family. Family
house was moved to Vadsø, and is today one of the city's most beautiful houses.
But what makes you almost lose your breath on Mortensnes is the sacrificial stone that is leaning against
the fjord in a virgin dance. The stone was smeared with cod liver oil and blood in the hope of good fishing and hunting luck.

AG Nordvi once wrote in a letter how he came out one morning and the stone had become the same night
smeared with cod liver oil when someone had wished for fishing luck. The custom was maintained until late
1800s.


Today, the Sami museum located in Varangerbotn has a small branch in Mortensnes. There is one
network of paths that lead visitors between the various settlements and burial grounds past the trading post.
A large gamme (peat hut) has also been built, to show how the Sami lived in the area, and their
traditions. The museum in Varangerbotn can definitely be recommended.


Fuglefjell


On our early summer trip we made memorable excursions, including to Hornøya outside Vardø. It
the place impressed! What a bird life with thousands of birds of various kinds. Puffins, gulls, and cormorants
which nestled in the rock wall. Or like the cormorant that had prepared itself on the bench in
the gapahuken which is set up as a windscreen for visitors. This became a sheltered settlement.

Drakkar has become a symbol of Vardø where the sculpture stands on a cliff north of the city.


Vardø itself is a city that gives me mixed feelings. There are really interesting places, like
Hornøya right outside. The old fortress and the witch monument and Drakkar, the wooden sculpture that is
a mixture of a viking ship, the skeleton of a dinosaur and a whale. Drakkar out on the headland north of the city is
has become a hallmark of Vardø. But there are also parts of the city that make me down.


On Ekkerøy outside Vadsø there is another bird mountain that is easy to get to. There are mostly crutches,
But they are many. Ekkerøy is also otherwise an interesting place to visit with a history as one
old fishing village. Another place that visitors are encouraged to visit is Hamningberg, northwest
for Vardø.


The village has a road connection. But the village, which is a fishing village with the Nordic Sea outside, is more deserted
winter time. In summer, the houses are used as summer houses. The road to Hamningberg is fascinating. It
is narrow, with slopes and turns where it waves forward with a wild landscape along the sea. We recovered
not yours this summer. We saw the village when our petrol meter showed that we had 40km of petrol left.
So we decided we had to turn around.


We did not get out there this time either when we had too little time in Varanger, and so much we wanted to
see. But the countryside is there. So next time.


Autumn Glow and Museums


Now we parked the caravan in Varangertunet's courtyard, and ordered breakfast and dinner there.
Varangertunet's breakfasts and dinners are so plentifully made that you can manage the rest of the day
without visiting more eateries. This gives more time for the experiences.

It was the autumn colors that attracted us the most in September. One hardly thinks it is
true when driving along the fjord and for the first time get to enjoy the sight of the play of colors. The pictures can only
do not reproduce the color scheme correctly.


This time the autumn colors and museum visits were on the program. The newly opened Kven Museum in
Vadsø lidket. Who are the Kvens? Yes, according to the definition, it is everyone with a Finnish language and cultural background,
who have moved to Norway before 1945 and their descendants.


This means that a fairly large part of the population in Finnmark today can count themselves as Kvens. The women
has the status of a minority population in Norway. So there is a reason why you now have a who
museum in Vadsø. It is a small, interesting museum that will probably be developed further in the coming years.

The visit to the partisan museum in Kiberg was a moving experience where Steinar Borch Jensen for three hours
could offer stories about people who were willing to give everything during the occupation of Norway
during WWII.

Gripping Visits


For us, the visit to the partisan museum in Kiberg was a highlight. In connection with the German
During the occupation of Norway during World War II, quite a few Norwegians realized that they needed help
in its resistance to the occupying forces. Since the Soviet Union (Russia today) was no further away than across the fjord, and since there has always been some form of contact with people there, it was only natural that they turned to it for help.


The Soviets were also on the side of the Allies against Nazi Germany. Many traveled over for training in å
deal with weapons and how to deal with radio transmitters, and got the equipment needed before they put on
various ways were sent back to northern Norway to complete their partisan missions.


Now the museum is run more or less by volunteers. We met Steinar Borch Jensen as a user
much of his time telling about the partisans' lives and tasks during and after the war.
He offered a gripping story, and the nearly 3 hours we spent in his company are something we will take
with us as a memorable experience.


A Landscape in Flames


But this time it was the autumn colors in nature that were at the top of the list of why we
right now, in mid-september, would travel north. And we got to enjoy a beautiful landscape.

It was the autumn colors that attracted us the most in September. One hardly thinks it is
true when driving along the fjord and for the first time get to enjoy the sight of the play of colors. The pictures can only
do not reproduce the color scheme correctly.


The birches on the plains blazed in everything from the clearest gold to orange-red. The eggs were darker in their red
color and all the field plants from blueberry heather, gooseberries and fields with dwarf birch shone in all
the colors of the palette. When we went further east of Vadsø, we left the birch forest behind us, and the treeless plains took over
over with its creeping dwarf birches. We had to stop often to take pictures, but these only reproduce one
little part of the splendor we got to see. The days by the Varangerfjord were too few left. The duties at home called and
we had to turn south again. It was two long days behind the wheel with an overnight stay in
Sodankylä. The Northern Lights are something you will certainly experience during clear nights from autumn to spring throughout
Finnmark. Finnmark is located in the area where the Northern Lights occur is largest. So we had covered ourselves
on seeing this phenomenon. But we did not get that this time. It was cloudy weather when we stayed
at Varangertunet. The day after we left we got a greeting from Siren and Jan-Eilif- On Sunday it had
cleared up and the northern lights blazed over the village. This is another reason to come back to
Varanger and park the caravan in Varangertunet's courtyard. To borrow a sentence from their
marketing. Our home in Varanger!


by: Henrik Westermark, Finland

Translated by: Siren Jankila

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