Wednesday, 16 January 2013

ICELAND’S POPULAR VOLCANO TOUR TO REOPEN AGAIN THIS SUMMER

 One of last year’s most popular tourist attractions, the Thrihnukagigur Volcano in Iceland, is set to reopen again this year. From 15th May, the tours which are entitled “Inside the Volcano’ will offer visitors the chance to see just what a volcano looks like from the inside of a magma chamber.


Thrihnukagigur Volcano is 20 miles from Iceland’s capital Reykjavic, and as it is dormant, it is currently the only place on the planet where it is safe to explore the huge magma chamber. And huge it most certainly is, around the size of three full size basketball courts and you could fit the Statue of Liberty in there!

To enter, visitors descend through the top crater, all the way down to the magma chamber and are to be accompanied by experienced and special trained guides. A cable lift will carry participants up and down the chamber.
This has to be an amazing opportunity for volcanologists or anyone with an interest in the magnificent and natural wonders of the world.
The tour will run from 15th May – 10th September, with several confirmed departures each day.
For more information, visit http://www.insidethevolcano.com

Monday, 7 January 2013

ROUGH GUIDE 2013 TRAVEL HOTLIST - NORDIC SPOTS TO SEE

 We would like to wish everyone a very happy new year. It was good start for two Nordic Countries as they were named in the Rough Guide’s 2013 Travel Hotlist.  The travel trending two are Stockholm, the Swedish capital and the North East of Iceland.


So what do these places have to offer? Well, in a nutshell…

STOCKHOLM
Climb the City Hall tower and enjoy the splendid view over the city.
Take a walk around Gamla Stan, an amazing medieval city centre.
Visit the Royal Palace, Stockholm cathedral and the Vasa museum, which just happens to be the only preserved 17th century ship on the planet.
Do a spot of sightseeing by boat on an organised tour.
Check out the new Stockholm landmark, the world’s largest spherical building, the Ericsson Globe, and enjoy the trip to the top in one of the gondolas.
Enjoy a drink at the Gondolen bar, which is situated at the top of the Katarina lift.
Find your inner Pippi (or Philip) Longstocking and run free at Junibacken, a mini indoor theme park. You can ride a fairytale train or dress up as Pippi and slide down the roof of her house.



NORTH EAST ICELAND
Go whale watching. This is where whale-watching tours first started and is a marvelous spot to see several species including humpback whales, blue minke whales, white beaked dolphins and pilot whales.
If feathered creatures are more your thing, you can follow a birding trail put together by experts and enthusiasts.
Just walk through this magnificent landscape for the sheer fun of it. Or you could explore it on horseback.
Conditions for cross-country skiing are excellent and in the mountains west of Skjalandi Bay are superb ice climbing areas.
There is no better way to relax after a day of exertion in the great outdoors than to soak and relax in one of the region’s geothermal pools and spas.
Visit the Husavik Whale museum to learn all about the life’s and loves of Cetaceans. 


Hope these nuggets of information have whetted your appetite with regards to these two Nordic areas. If you have any other suggestions places to see, things to do, local foods and customs that make Stockholm and North East Iceland special then please let us know.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

MEETING SANTA

 There are many reasons to visit the Arctic north in winter. So much to see and do – the Northern   Lights, Husky mushing in Norway, Sweden’s Ice Hotel, Iceland’s volcanoes, cross country skiing in Finland or Greenland’s wildlife.


Lapland has one very special resident though who is a must see for families who want a taste of Christmas Magic. That resident is, of course, Santa and whether the visit lasts one day or is a short break, this will be an amazing experience.  


Santa lives in a small village in Finnish Lapland, with his elves and reindeers. He is always delighted to see his friends, young and old.  Even though Santa is very busy at this time of year but he can always make time for visitors.  If you decide to stay for a few days, you can also partake in many other artic adventures like husky mushing, racing on snow mobiles,  tobogganing, reindeer rides and general fun in the snow. And when night times falls, there is a good chance you will see the best Christmas illuminations in the world, Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas from Lapland and all at Nordic Experience.

Monday, 10 December 2012

ART ON THE LANDSCAPE



 Did you know that Norway is home to a massive and highly impressive outdoor art gallery, which stretches across its coastline and covers 33 of the Norway's 45 municipalities? The magnificent Artscape Nordland is an international project showing 33 works of  artists from 18 countries, including Anish Kapoor and Anthony Gormley.



Alongside these marvellous works of art, there are many natural beauties to enjoy in Norway. From the Northern Lights to the mountains and fjords, there is so much beauty to enchant those who come to explore Norway's amazing scenery. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

TREETOP LIVING


 Fancy getting your head truly up in the clouds on your next holiday?  You can do just that at Sweden’s Treehotel. This amazing holiday experience is located in amazing natural surroundings, in the midst of a forest in Harads, about 100 kilometers from Luleå airport.


There are offer five unique tree rooms to stay in and these amazing creations were designed by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects. In addition there is also a tree sauna for up to twelve people. Each room has a totally individual style inside and out and varies in size, with the larger rooms accommodating up to 4 people. The tree rooms are suspended 4-6 metres above ground.  They are designed to have minimal impact on nature and are equipped with environmentally combustion toilets and water efficient sinks.


Which tree room would you pick? There’s the Cabin, a capsule where you can hide away and drink in the incredible vista. 




The Mirror Cube is stunning; it’s mirrored exterior walls camouflaging it in the midst of the treetops.  








Then there is The Bird’s Nest with it’s façade clad with large branches. Could you ever feel more at one with nature than nestling down  in this amazing structure.  



The Blue Cone is simple, easily accessible and actually red!  


The UFO stands out in its surroundings for being exactly that – unidentified forest object!






A new room is due to be completed by the end of this and this is  The Five Leaf Clover, which is around 53 square metres. This takes Treehotel to a new scale and offers 6 beds and conference facilities.  



Sweden is a great place to visit if you want to stay  and experience something  a little unusual. There is also the ICEHOTEL in the heart of Swedish Lapland. Here, not only can you get to sleep in a room carved from snow and sleep under reindeer skins but you can also explore your surroundings on a snow mobile or by husky safari! 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

SCIENCE OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

 By John Bennett


The Northern Lights have always captured man’s imagination and as our last blog depicted, there are many myths and legends surrending them.
As far as science was concerned though, it took a very long time for man to uncover the scientific truth behind the Northern Lights.

Galileo first used the term boreal aurora (later changed to Aurora Borealis) after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn. However it was a Norwegian scientist named Kristian Birkeland who set out to achieve what many before had tried and failed: to solve the mystery of the Northern Lights.  To Birkeland, the Lights represented the threshold between the visible and invisible worlds; the link between the planet and the mysterious forces that shaped the universe.  However in the late 19th Century the prevailing belief was centred on Aristotle’s assertion that there could be no interaction between the heavens and the Earth because the heavens were perfect and unchanging.  This resolute popular conviction created a difficult climate for Birkeland’s propositions.

In the winter of 1899 Birkeland spent five months isolated in a mountain-top observatory at Kaafjord in the far north of Norway, a position known as having the most sightings of the Lights.  Eventually he discovered that the force disturbing the magnetic field came directly from the sun in narrow, high-velocity beams of negatively charged particles (electrons) called cathode rays.  Sometimes these active particles hit the magnetic field of the Earth and followed the field lines down towards the poles, where they struck atoms in the atmosphere.  The energy created by the collisions was emitted as light.  The lights only appeared during magnetic storms because the cathode rays from the sun were moving beams of electrons, creating electric currents that, in turn, made their own magnetic fields.

Birkeland’s conclusions were published in 1901 and Norwegian newspaper headlines trumpeted,  “Riddle of the Aurora solved!”  However the international scientific community was not so impressed.  Britain was the global leader in science and would not shift from her resolute opinion that space was an empty vacuum.  Birkeland’s findings were rejected.  He was bitterly disappointed but even more determined to prove his theory The Norwegian government refused him any more funding, so he had to raise the money himself.  This he did through the invention of a fertiliser (of which there was a chronic global shortage at the time) using electromagnetic furnace technology.  Birkeland continued his fanatical study of the Lights over the following years and in 1908 published his monumental work, “The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903” describing his second, bigger expedition to the far north. But again the scientific community was disparaging of his ideas and he suffered another major blow. 

Gradually over the five years following this second disappointment, his life began to crumble.  His work was overshadowed by other scientific developments at the time, such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Bohr’s model of the atom.  His obsessional relationship with his work drove his wife to leave him.  He was also growing increasingly dependent on alcohol and the sedative veronal, and his health began to deteriorate.

He spent his final years in Egypt studying the Zodiacal Light. A combination of insomnia, whisky and veronal fuelled chronic paranoia.  He became convinced that with the outbreak of war, one of his inventions, the electromagnetic cannon, placed him in danger.  He kept the copies of his patent in a specially installed safe in his room, bought two guard dogs and three guns and sacked his servants as he was convinced were plotting against him. 

On the 16th June 1919, aged just 49,Kristian Birkeland was found dead in a hotel room. The post-mortem revealed him to have taken 10g of veronal the night of his death, instead of the 0.5g recommended dose.

For 50 years after his death, Birkeland’s reputation sank into oblivion.  In 1970 space satellites found incontrovertible evidence of a flow of electric particles from the sun.  This proved that “empty space” was actually not empty at all, but filled with electrified gas, which then forms “solar wind”, which Birkeland had identified more than 60 years earlier.  Today he is credited as the first scientist to propose an essentially correct explanation of the Aurora Borealis.


NORTHERN LIGHT LEGENDS

 Man has always been fascinated by the natural phenomena that is the Northern Lights and many myths and legends have been passed down to explain the magic of Aurora Borealis. Here are a selection from around the world.


AMERICA

Many Inuit tribes believe that the Northern Lights are spirits of the dead playing ball with a walrus head or skull. The Eskimos of Nunivak Island had the opposite idea, and believe it is walrus spirits playing with a human skull.
In  1862, the Northern Lights made a rare appearance in Virginia, during the Battle of Fredicksburg and the rebel forces took this as a sure sign God was on their side.
The Makah Indians of Washington State thought the lights were fires in the Far North, lit by a tribe of dwarfs, half the size of a canoe paddle, but strong enough to catch whales with their bare hands. Fires were a popular belief. North Dakota Indians regarded the lights as fires over which the great warriors of the north boiled their dead enemies in enormous pots.
The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin thought they were torches used by amiable giants in the north, to spear fish at night.
The Koyukuk Indians in Alaska banged on metal drums to try and attract the Northern Lights to them.The Point Barrow Eskimos, however, believed there was nothing good about the Aurora Borealis, thinking them to be a dreadful, dangerous, terrifying occurrence and carried knives to keep the Lights at bay.
The Algonquin Indians took a softer view of the Lights, believing that when Nanahbohzo the Creator completed making the earth, he travelled to the North and built gigantic fires to remind his people that he continuously loved them.

EUROPE

According to Norse mythology, warlike female figures, the Valkyrie, would charge across the night sky carrying the dead to Valhalla and the red, blue, violet and green Northern Lights were caused by the reflections of these fearsome women’s armour.
In Scotland, the Northern Lights were called the “Mirrie Dancers” or na-far-chills, dancers who would fight each other.  The appearance of the lights was also thought to be a warning for bad weather.
In Old Icelandic folklore it was believed that Northern Lights would ease the pain of childbirth. They also believed that babies born of pregnant women who had looked at the Aurora Borealis would have eye problems.
The Finns named the Lights, Fox Fires and believed foxes made of fire lived in Lapland and the lights were the sparks created by their tails when they flew into their air.
The Sami people of the Northern Arctic thought it was imperative to be quiet and cautious when the Northern Lights were present as the lights were the energies of the souls of the departed. When the fires blazed in the skies, people were to behave solemnly, and children were admonished to be respectful or ill luck would strike anyone and this could cause sickness, even death.
The East Greenland Eskimos claimed that the dancing of the children who had died at birth caused the continually moving streamers and draperies of the aurora.
Scandinavians used to believed the Aurora Borealis was the reflection of huge schools of herring in the sea and they were a sign that fishermen would enjoy good catches of fish
To the ancient Europeans, Northern Lights were the cause of panic and fear as to them it signaled outbreak of death and disease.  In the Middle Ages, Europeans were convinced that If Northern Lights glowed red; this was a sure sign of impending war.

ASIA
In China, a fire-breathing dragon was believed to be the creator of Aurora Borealis
Both Chinese and Japanese cultures believe that a child conceived under the Northern Lights will be blessed with good fortunes.
The Chuvash people of Siberia thought the lights were their god attempting though help women in childbirth.

What an effect the Northern Lights have had on mankind across continents and through the ages. The best time to see their beauty Is from September to January and to go to Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden or Norway.