Monday, Sept 23
We are way up in the frozen north now. The city of Alta feels very much like a working man’s city. It’s not very aesthetic, really more functional. Perhaps that’s due to the speedy re-building efforts after WWII’s German scorched earth policy in this part of Norway. The weather is still only in the mid-30s, just above freezing but the rain has mostly cleared up for today, despite low, dense clouds.
One of Alta’s claims to fame are the myriad rock art carvings that have been preserved along the shores of Altafjord, which can be viewed as part of your entry to the Alta Museum. The rock art was carved on smooth rock faces between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. At that time, the rocks were at the water’s edge. As the land here continued to rise (see blog post from Sept 14) the water’s edge moved farther and farther away from the rocks, so that the oldest carvings are the furthest up the hill. Most of the carvings depict hunting scenes. Back in the 1970s, those in charge of the site painted some of the carvings red so that they could more easily be seen by the likes of us. We were sure glad they did, with the heavy dense clouds as they are today. The ones that were painted were pretty much the only ones we could see. Most are unpainted and easiest to view when the sun is (a) actually out and (b) at a low angle. I did manage to get one photo of the unpainted carvings. It shows several reindeer, some facing right and some facing to the left. The photo with the carvings painted red shows a few men with bows & arrows hunting reindeer and bears. Rob thought that it looked like a modern keyboard on the far left side. It was pretty cold outside, so once we got our fill of taking photos of the natural scenery (it was quite beautiful) and our fingers were turning numb, we headed indoors to check out the exhibits. There was a little more information about the rock carvings and some exhibits on local culture. We aren’t big on museums, so did only a cursory walk through.
Then it was off to lunch at Uno Cafe in the Alta Sentrum (town center – really a small shopping mall). I ordered the Rudolf Wrap – reindeer meat with onions and cucumber in a creamy sauce topped off with lingonberries. Just print the word lingonberries and I’m sold! Indeed, it was really amazing. Possibly the best thing I’ve eaten in Norway so far. The reindeer was flavorful. The oozy sauce was delicious and drooled all over my hand. The lingonberries added just the right amount of zing to the whole thing. Yum!
On the way out of the mall parking lot we stopped to take a couple pics of the “iconic” Cathedral of Northern Lights, but weren’t feeling inspired to go inside. We have still not seen any Northern Lights, ourselves. It continues to be cloudy every night, although the forecast websites suggest that if it weren’t cloudy we should be able to see them. Maybe tonight?