Saami crafts shop recently opened in Lovozero

News of the recent opening of the Saami craft shop/outlet named “Vuss” (a round-bottomed leather bag) in Lovozero, the center of Kola Saami, have reached me. Their shop both makes and sells things. 

Here are some examples of their deerskin articles:

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“To book aurora borealis”

Got several inquiries from travelers wishing to come here to see the aurora borealis, aka northern lights. Here is my attempt to provide a comprehensive answer to the seekers of this phenomenon.

The most common question is “When do I need to travel to the Kola Pensula to see aurora borealis for sure”. First, forget the “for sure” part. The aurora is a probabilistic thing. Thus there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Generally speaking, aurora borealis can be observed at high latitudes any time there are dark nights. On the Kola Peninsula it is approximately from September to April.

A common misconception is that aurora borealis requires real cold winter weather. This photo was made in the Hibiny mountains on the 28th of September, and I’ve myself seen the aurora in the vicinity of Kandalaksha starting the end of August.

 

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Norwegians in Murmansk, Lovozero and around

Here is a story by Kristin Evju from her Norwegians’ group September 2017 visit to the local cultural Sami events in Murmansk and Lovozero, with a detour to Seidjavr Lake, with the assistance of Mikhail Barakovsky, with whose support I took two Swedish journalists to see reindeer keepers a couple of years ago.

The story is of the “atmospheric” type, with not much in the way of practical details, but a would-be traveler can, and are encouraged to contact us for these.

From Kandalaksha to Zapolarny

Just returned from a trip to Zapolarny on an interpreting assignment. Here are some useful bits pertaining to the logistics of travelling from Kandalaksha to Zapolarny cheap and easy.

The annoying thing is that there is no direct link, either by bus or railroad, between Kandalaksha and Zapolarny. You’ll have to travel through Murmansk. But it turned out easier than anticipated.

To get to Murmansk fast and cheap hop on a minibus that leaves at 5:30 am and 6:30 am off the train station parking lot. To reserve a seat call 8 911 349 9000. The trip will take about 4 hours and as of the moment, it costs 700 roubles ($12US). The train is slightly slower and considerably more expensive ($20-35) but there are several during the day. See tutu.ru for the train schedule.

Another option of getting to Murmansk is by arranging a ride through blablacar.ru. My first experience with the system was highly positive. Lots of traffic between Kandalaksha and Murmansk, and the “standard” cost is 500 roubles (under $10) per passenger.

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Buddhist stupa near Apatity vandalized

Someone has recently written “Russia is an Orthodox country” on the “Stupa of Enlightenment” by the Apatity to Kirovsk road, one of the two stupas near Apatity built by local entrepreneurs brothers Igor and Oleg Belyayev. This is of course a far cry from the Taliban blowing up centuries-old statues of Buddha but still..

Metsä (Forest) photo exhibition in Murmansk June 2-25 2017

Got the following note from a client of mine with a request to share it with you. Here:

“The exhibition Metsä (Finnish “Forest”) opens on Friday, June 2, at 5 pm. It is arranged by the Murmansk Regional Art Museum, but takes place in the Murmansk Philharmonic Society at Murmansk, ulitsa S. Perovskoy 3. It consists of 40 large black & white photographs (10 from each country), and a book has been published with 60 photos, and text in English, Finnish, Russian and Sami.



I enclose two word docs of the foreword I wrote in the book, in Russian and English, if you would like to mention this on your website.
For pictures, please go to my website, and copy some images from http://perberntsen.com/_artwork/_pages/metsa1.php

Per

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Alexandra is now a member of a “foreign agent” organization

A few days ago, on April 20 2017, the Ministry of Justice declared the Kola Ecological Center, of which my mate Alexandra is a member, a “foreign agent” for receiving foreign financing and being engaged in political activity.

Its “political activity” appears to be taking part in public hearings where government officials were present.

The “foreign agent” status means, in addition to a serious stigma, a significant increase in the amount of reporting paperwork the NGO has to do.

The Kola Ecological Center is behind the eco-trails east of Kandalaksha and near Kolvitsa. They also orchestrated the construction of a WW2 memorial in Kolvitsa. These are the sort of things that stand out in their work, not attempting to influence Russian government officials using foreign funds.

Africanda, Polarnye Zori district

Yesterday, for no particular reason other than its curious name, we headed to a place called Africanda, about 10 miles north from Polarnye Zori. The story says that the name originated as a joke, when railroad station builders encountered a particularly hot, Africa-like, summer day. The village offers among the most spectacular local ruins. The town core however appears relatively civilized, full of small two-story houses surrounded by pine trees. Here are a few photos to convey to you the sense of the place:

 

 

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Foreigner access to Rybachy and Sredny

I’ve recently have been once again looking at the issue. It appears that the only way to get the FSB (former KGB) permit is via a local incoming travel agency. Those I’ve contacted (www.atv51.ru, snow51.ru, and www.m-tour.ru) would only arrange permits to the participants of their tours that start at ~$400/person. I’m continuing to look for one that would provide assistance with no strings in the form of tour participation attached.

Any hints or suggestions?

British cemetery in Murmansk

A couple of years ago I wrote mentioning the British Cemetery in Murmansk from the WW1 days. Recently I got a request for grave photos, and received the following story from Alexandra’s Murmansk acquaintances that I’d like to share with you:

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