Sunday, 3 September 2017

Brúgvin um Streymin, a Faroese bridge over the Atlantic

They say this is the one and only bridge over the Atlantic Ocean; well, myself I prefer another one - the famous curved bridge in coastal Norway, part of the scenic Atlantic Ocean Road, but it's just a road section arching over the sea, it doesn't cross the sea from one land to another.

This bridge Brúgvin um Streymin jumps across a narrow ocean straight between two islands of the Faroese archipelago; it does not feel like you're over the ocean, though: the waters of the shallow Sundini Straight are usually quiet, in spite of strong currents.

Brúgvin um Streymin connects the two largest and most populous islands of the Faröe: Streymoy and Eysturoy. Crossing the 40 km long Sundini (Sundini = small Sound) at its narrowest point, it became the only inter-island bridge in the Atlantic Ocean.

220 meters long, Brúgvin um Streymin opened 1973; it's part of national road number 10, running from Tórshavn to Klaksvík, the two largest towns in the archipelago. The bridge has two car lanes and a narrow shared bicycle-foot path.

Two small settlements by the bridge have developped a bit since then, located at crossroads as they came to be: Norðskáli and Oyrarbakki, on Esturoy. Let's start with


Coordinates: 62° 13' N, 07 °00' W
Population: ~ 320

Norðskáli is an ancient settlement from the Middle Ages. The few fields around the village show that there were grounds for only a few settlements in the past.

After 1800, with the population growing, residents also had the opportunity to take care of fishing and trade. Norðskáli came to be central, and laid the foundation for new jobs such as fish factory, foundry and two banks, shopping malls and even a café with dining facilities.

Norðskála Church was opened on 1932. The white barrel of the barrel sits over narrow side ceilings. .

The church ship is a model of a "Verdandi" release that was hanged up in connection with the 75th anniversary of the Church in 2007

Under mild sun and...

under heavy snow.


Oyrarbakki is a village on the east coast of Eysturoy, south of the Brúgvin um Streymin over the Sundini.

Coordinates: 62°12′ N, 06°60' W
Population: ~ 160

This is a recently founded settlement.

Until the middle of the 20th century, there were only a few farms and some fishermen. Many new houses have been built since the bridge was completed, and the village was created to become the home and center of the new municipality of Sunda.

A few grass-roofed houses in the Faroese tradition can be seen at the village.

Boat sheds in Oyrarbakki.

The Sundini Straight

View from Oyrarbakki to the South end of the straight.

Nesvik, on the west side of the Atlantic Streymin.

The Sundini Straight opens to the Atlantic Ocean at both ends; the Northern entrance is quite steep and wild:

Weather and luck can bring fantastic light to the landscape.

Evening mood at Norðskála, with the silhouette of Brúgvin um Streymin on the horizon.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Rankin Inlet, Canada - progress arriving in northeastern Hudson Bay

I posted a brief note about Rankin Inlet some time ago, but I feel the town deserves its own space as Ultima Thule. Located on the northeastern banks of Hudson Bay, this is a fishing community as well as a wellcoming settlement open to civilization at 64 º N, where you could expect just desolation and misery on the tundra.

The geographical centre of Canada is located on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay; this northernly location is caused by the huge extension of the Northern Territories, reaching as far as 83° N at Cape Columbia, on Ellesmere Island.

The region around the geographical centre is scarcely populated, with four main native settlements: Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet and Arviat. All of them somehow related to the times of whale hunting and fur trading around the Bay.

This is the ending basin of Thelon River, which flows into Baker Lake, in fact a wide estuary; Rankin Inlet is few miles south of the Lake's mouth into Hudson Bay.

Rankin Inlet  or Kangiqtiniq
(“deep inlet” in Inuktitut)

Coordinates: 62°48′ N, 92°05′ W
Population:  ~ 2500

Rankin Inlet is the most important settlement in the Kivalliq region, a dynamic and growing town with modern facilities.

Street scene.

Purple triplex.

A very customized home,

Always some bear skin hanging to dry.

The arrival of American and European whalers in Hudson Bay in the 1800's marks the first years of Rankin Inlet. Later, the whalers departed, and the local Inuit population was only visited by missionaries and the  HBC traders, who had been around since the 18th century.

Rankin is now a government town, a bustling community that serves also as a transportation hub for the Kivalliq Region, thanks to its modern and well equipped airport.

Rankin Inlet airport Terminal, always busy.

The arrival of civil servants and their families revitalized the community. Miners, farmers and artists made transition into government jobs.

The brand new Health Center.

The Arctic College of Rankin Inlet.

The 'Northern Inn' and its tower clock, a typical feature in town.

Inukshuk Avenue, with restaurant and café.

Wild Wolf restaurant.

"Sugar Rush" café, almost world famous.

Surprise surprise, isn't it ?

Shopping with style, Rankin way.

'I really enjoy this !' - there are thousands of snowmobiles in town.

Inuit dancer.

The 'Fortress Isle', a cod fishing boat at Labrador, is going under restoration for river cruises !

The Fortress-Isle sailed to Rankin from Newfoundland. The former cod fishing boat is currently undergoing renovation that will turn her into a stunning 47-foot cruiser.

Painted white with red trim and a navy map of Nunavut on the bow.

Wall hanging embroideries are a local women's speciality.

Woven Hall Hanging by Isaqkijaq, decorating Nanuk Lodge.

Embroidered wall hanging depicting Sedna atop a narwhal, by Veronika Manilak.

Also by Veronika Manilak from Rankin Inlet.

Embroidery depicting outdoor activities by Monica Ugjuk, Rankin Inlet.

Average teperature oscilates between -27ºC and +15ºC. But the record low is dreadful -50ºC.

 - 40º C !

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Kuummiut on the east coast of Greenland, where three fjords meet.

On the Greenlandic east coast's region of Ammassalik, the most amazing fjord sceneries surround a few small towns - Tasiilaq, Kulusuk and Tiniteqilaaq were already focused here at U.T. . The village of Kuummiut has a location so wonderful it's hard to dream of.

This is one of Greenland's jewels, still a rather well kept secret for its remoteness and difficult access. No roads lead to the village - you can only get there by boat (4 hours) or helicopter. 

Kuummiut is perched over the eastern shore of Ammassalik fjord. 

Kuummiut is the largest village in the fjord, close to the Karalé glacier, 40 km inland from the main town by the coast (Tasiilaq).

A colourful inuit village amidst mountains, fjords and glaciers.


Coordinates:  65°52' N, 37°00′ W
                     right on the Arctic Circle
Population:   ~ 380

Kuummiut in the morning light.

The church, built in 1957.

The village was established in 1915 as a mission. The name means "river people". By Greenlandic standards it's not that small - in fact it's even one of the largest villages, and in the Ammassalik region it's second only to Tasiilaq.

Pilersuisoq, the food and hardware store.

The Pilersuisoq is a general store that exists in nearly every Greenlandic settlement - grocery store, hunting supply store, post office and cash machine.

Everybody has a boat in Kuummiut. 
(the Pilersuisoq store at left)

The School

First day at school. The whole village comes to celebrate - it's a yearly family happening.

Children playing on the trampolin.

Local economy is based on hunting and fishing, and a fish processing is located down by the harbour.

The Inuit population keep their traditional fishing activity; this fisherman is counting on his dogs to help.

The villagers get around by dog sleds with Huskies in the winter, and by foot during the other seasons

The settlement is home to the only fish factory in East Greenland, due in part to the fact that the harbour is often free of ice during the winter, which is unusual for the eastern coastal towns.

The low blue building is the fish fabric, "Arctic Prime Fishery".

Built in 1964, the plant used to produce dried and salted fish, but it was recently converted for frozen fish, mostly exported to Iceland, Faroë and Denmark. Cod, halibut and capelin (ammassat) are the most common species.

Arctic Prime Fisheries expects that at least is landed 150-200 tons

The Johanna Kristina supply ship

The vessel run by the Royal Arctic Line that delivers cargo and passenger service for the settlements in the Ammassalik region.

The 'Johanna Kristina' visiting Kuummiut.

The ship takes 3 hours to/from Tasiilaq, and visits one settlement per day on a rotating basis.

Kuummiut under snow

The main attraction of Kuummiut for tourist visitors is the abundant snowfall, so much that the mountainous area around the fjord is usually covered by a deep snow blanket granting great skiing.

But also the town gets prettier: red, blue, green, orange, yellow painted wooden houses are an explosion of colour against the white snow background. This house model is a danish heritage from the 50s.

The Pilersuisoq store almost submersed, as the other houses, in a frozen white ocean of snow.

Inuit kid in the snow.

Mountain hikers are coming in increasing numbers to Kuummiut. The mountains here are quite steep, some reaching 2000 meters, and snowfall is abundant.

Moonrise over Ammassalik mountains.

Piteraq, the katabatic wind storm.

'Kuummiut is usually once a year under Piteraq storm. Intensely cold air drains off the Greenland ice cap, descending the slopes, channelled through the valleys. Wind can blow at 40-80 metres per second. The Piteraq is characterised by deep blue skies, intense sunlight, clear dry air and much blowing snow which can obscure visibility.' 

Up the fjords

Kuummiut lies deep within Ammassalik Fjord, in the vicinity of several other fjords and glaciers. Kayaking up those fjords is an amazing adventure.

A blue hut can be reserved for shelter in one of the most strikingly beautiful locations.

The Blue Hut  commands an impressive view of the surrounding glaciers and fjords.

Auroras are frequently observed at Kuummiut:

For more information and glorious photos, see this blog of the Danish teacher Carl Skou who worked there for a long period, teaching at the local school.