I finally got the chance to show off this lovely place, my new home, to a friend from Canada. Amber is a friend of mine that I have known since I was 15 and she is now living in Copenhagen with her husband. She arrived Monday night and leaves Friday morning which gave us 3 days to explore. Harstad is a small town and there is not much to do, especially without a car, but we managed all right. We did lots of walking; she had troubles slipping and sliding on the icy roads and it reminded me of the first few weeks when I was here where it was nearly impossible to stay upright when walking. I never realized how much better I got at walking on ice until now. Near the end of the week the ice had turned into slush and we had a hard time walking again for this other reason; the weather is always so strange here.
The evening that she arrived, we went for a nice walk by the ocean with my roommate and a Norwegian friend. Before she got here, I had told Amber to have her fingers crossed that she would see some Northern Lights when she was here… she clearly had them crossed tightly because that evening, the sky above the fjord was filled with green, flickering lights! It was a perfect start to her trip here. We even threw snowballs into the ocean… how many people can say they have done that?
Tuesday morning I had to present a paper at a seminar at the school but after that was done, Amber and I went for a walk on the pier and in the town. We are from prairie Alberta and she now lives in Denmark, both of which have very few hills are far from the mountains. The mountains never cease to amaze me here and were breathtaking for her. They are on the opposite side of the fjord and are visible on most days. They are especially amazing when it is cold out so the air makes them very clearly defined. We walked through the school and the town then made some delicious lunch; she is a good cook and she taught me a few good recipes! That evening we went for a little hike to a look out and had a fire and brought thermoses of hot chocolate. We were lucky once again and saw even better Northern Lights then the evening before and even got a few pictures!
Since this was only her second time in Norway, obviously she needed to experience some XC skiing. We headed to Folkenparken, the “people” park in town, and spent the afternoon skiing around. The weather was perfect. At the end, just as we were about to leave we saw a couple in a big red van park in the parking lot. They get out two sledges and start hooking up ropes. Then we hear barking coming from the van and realize they were about to go dogsledding! It was amazing how many dogs they could fit into the van, they just kept on coming out! Then we walked home, made dinner and headed out to Ludo for a drink with a few people.
This morning we walked to the Trondennes church (most northern stone church in the world and Harstad’s only tourist attraction). It was rainy (yes, rain in March above the Arctic circle) so it was a rough walk. We had to jump into people’s drive ways to avoid getting splashed by cars. This was my first time going to the church / walking along the ocean on that pathway in the light. Previously, I had been there in the day but when it was always dark out or I had gone in the evenings to check out some northern lights or for a walk. It all looked so different during the day! The ocean and the view was incredible; we even reached in and touched the freezing cold ocean! Anyways, we got to the museum expecting a cup of coffee at the café but it was closed and the museum was over priced and not worth checking out again. We went to the church to take some pictures and just as we were about to walk into the door, a man comes out and tells us that there is a ceremony going on. A procession carrying a casket was on their way out just then so we left right away.Then we walked around the town a bit and came home to make stuffed peppers for dinner and now as I write this, in the oven are some apple pie pastries that we hand made, they smell so good already! We are waiting for a Norwegian friend to some over because he promised us he would make us Cod tongues… a Norsk delicacy Mmm!? Tomorrow we wake up early, Amber catches her plane and I hope on a bus where I will drive 3 hours to Sweden for a weekend of snowboarding and XC skiing!!