Saturday, November 08, 2008

Egypt - day 8 : Heading home

A final relaxing day - we managed several lengths of an icey swimming pool and a few pages of book and journal before catching the boat for the river crossing one last time., and headed to the airport - no business class this time. A short hop up to Cairo where we transfered to the Novotel right next to the airport for the 2am flight back to Amsterdam - or thats what we hoped. Dougal decided to have a clip at the local barbar who did an excellent job, but was disappointed not to be able to ply my head with copious quantities of hair wax!!

The alarm went and once over at the airport we realised we werent going anywhere for a long time as the flight had been cancelled - the gold cards came in extremely handy and we eventually got taken off the to the most luxurious hotel for miles around - 5* luxuary, but we hardly noticed it as it was 3am...but breakfast was quite an event -we had no idea what the room rate would have been but the JW Mariott had a cosy little french patisserie that we enjoyed care of KLM before heading backl to the airport at noon for a replacement flight back home - what a wonderful trip, we had lots of fun and very fond memories ;-))

Friday, November 07, 2008

Egypt - day 7 : Abu Simbel & Philae

The wake up call came at 2.5oam...and we were on holiday!! Quickly dressed and onto the boat for the river crossing to join the minivan at 3.30 and the massive convoy to take us to Abu Simbel just inside the border with Sudan - we counted at least 75 big coaches and many more minivans and private cars. We watched the sunrise and made a quick comfort stop in the desert during the 275km road trip, breakfasting on route on bananas etc arriving at 7.30 (we managed to get a few winks in the comfortable and very tastefully decorated minivan!)

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On arrival people flooded out of the busses and through the security checks, we tried, unsuccessfully, to get a guide but got tickets and took in the views of Lake Nassar, the largest artifical lake in the world! Walking around the corner we saw the two awesome Ramses II temples, 4 huge figures sitting next to each other, the main temple entrance being right in the middle of these. Due to the flooding of the valley during the construction of Lake Nassar, the original Abu Simbel site was submerged, and thus the temples have infact been moved up some 50m, reconstructed stone by stone, even the statue which had collapsed as a result of the 25AD earthquake has been left as it was found. (When the temples were found, like many of the others they were mostly covered in desert sand.)

We joined the throngs of people heading into the 1st temple and marvelled at the interiors, catching snippets of information by overhearing other groups guides in spannish, french and the occassional british voices - this temple consisted of several rooms, culminating in the sanctuary, where there were 4 small statues, and on the birthday of Ramses II the sun would allegedly stream through the entrance falling on 3 of the statues (Amun, Ramses II & Ra Horakhi) but the 4th statue (Ptah) was always left in the dark - being the bad dude! The temple had several antichambers full of paintings of offerings, very richly decorated.

Heading back into the light we stood back and photographed the panorama before going across to the 2nd temple, that of Nefertari, Ramses II's wife. This temple is fronted by 6 statues, but again with the entrance in the middle. Each of the support columns in the main chamber was decorated with Athor, the cow god with big horns. There was a tiny sanctuary with the remains of a small statue and again all the walls were lavishly decorated the whole way round. It was only 9.30, but we were roasted and ready for a sit down, so we headed back to the van ready for the convoys departure at 10.00am where our driver kindly supplied coke and nibbles :-)

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Once back in Aswan we took lunch on the Nile, fabulous tagine and finished off with cakes and full strength turkish coffee, Dougals hair stood on end for the rest of the holiday! - what a view from the panorama restuarant. Our afternoons guide met us as we were finishing up. With his special pointer walking stick we jumped in the car and headed off to another temple resurrected out of the great lake flooding - in 1970s UNESCO built a damn around the temple and dismantled the temple stone by stone and moved it 500m from the original site, to an island. It is now perhaps one of the best preserved temples in Egypt within sight of the original Aswan damn. We took a small boat out to the temple island and spending 1.1/2hrs walking around the temple dedicated to Isis, godess of fertility. Allegedly she found the left leg of Osiris here and hence decided to build the temple here - he had been cut into 14 pieces and spread around the whole of upper and lower Egypt. We saw the outer and inner open courts, then behind the 2nd philon we entered the roofed, pillared chamber, leading to the sacred, multiroomed Isis sanctuary, being extensively decorated. One particularly interesting depiction was that of the source of the Nile considered to have come from a hidden cateract near Aswan! After many more photos of the unfinished Hathor temple we jumped back onto the boat and back to the hotel for a quick swim, and a light dinner of soup and spaghetti before colapsing into bed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Egypt - day 6 : Edfu & Kom Ombo : on the way to Aswan

Up early for our 6.30 departure we were off with the convoy at 7. Our 1st stop of the day was the Temple of Horus at Edfu - it is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt, also being quite large, the great open court having 32 columns 15m high and then the Hypostyle hall having 12. Horus is the falcon god of the ski, son of Isis and Osiris - he could appear as a falcon or a human with a falcon head. The focus of the temple is the chapel which comprises 13 offering chambers and the central sanctuary, which also contains a small wooden boat. The whole temple got a greek wall added by Ptolemy, we can tell this as the carvings all have belly buttons, not permitted during the pharoic times!

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The convoys next stop was Kom Ombo which means the hill of sand, it is the only temple which is dedicated to 2 gods: Sobek (the mean crocodile) & Haroeris (Horus the elder). The temple is on the banks of the Nile, and they found 9 crocodile mummies (3 of which are on display!) The temple is infact totally symetrical and is one of the few places where an egyptian calendar is preserved - their year comprised 365 days, 12 months, each with 30 days and then 5 days of festivals - the change of year was 14th July with 3 seasons; the flooding, the planting and the harvesting seasons. The Kom Ombo temple was used a sanitarium, and there is infact a carving of a woman giving birth, with a post natal bathing pool! There is also a "Nile-ometer" which measures the height of the Nile - used to decide the taxes - if the depth was greater then 14 arms (52cm) then the people would have to pay taxes! Also unique to this temple is a scene of a lion - most likely because the pharoh at this time was greek. Again a short stop to keep in line with the convoy!

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Arriving in Aswan, we stopped in for lunch, although our tummies were still not up to much - D had a coffee strong enough to keep an army awake, with a density of about 1.6sg!! Our hotel (the Pyramisa Isis) was on an island and hence we hopped on a boat to get across. We found the hotel room rather pink - our barbie room!! But we did find time for a swim and a fruit cocktail next to the pool - but still no cocktail umbrellas...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Egypt - day 5 : Karnak and Luxor

A more leasurely start, 9am, thankfully as our tummies were feeling decidedly peaky! A short drive up to Karnak, lots of buses as people had come all the way from Hurgade (miles away on the red sea) to do the whole Luxor region experience in a day...

The entrance to the Karnak temple is lined with sphynx type rams leading up the 1st philon, which is infact not finished, although it is 25m high - behind which is the open court. To the left are 3 small chapels to Amut, Amun and Khans and to the right are remains of the construction piles used to gain access to the top of the philon for laying stone and then decorating. walking through the 2nd philon brought us to the extremely impressive "great hypostyle hall", with some 134 columns dominating the room - perhaps the most impressive "room" of the trip, everything was heavily decorated with many stories of offering and festivals - many photos taken ;-) We walked through the 3rd philon and saw immediately the immense obelisque of Hatshepsut, originally there would have been 3, but Tuthmosis III as usual knocked one down. After walking further through the central court we came to the festival hall of Tuthmosis III which had been subsquently used and modified by the copts, with the ceiling showing signs of fires, all the usual stars had been scratched away, along with all the faces of the pharoic gods :-( To the right hand side of the temple, the remains of Hatshepsuts 2nd obelisque lies next to a huge scarab beetle form, but the sacred lake. The beetle form representing the rising sun and good fortune if you were to walk round it 6x!! BARAKA

On walking out there is a great view across to Nile to the temple of Hatshepsut - on the "dead side" in between the valley of the kings and the valley of the queens.

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Only 5 mins down the Nile from Karnak temple we popped into Luxor temple - the 2 were originally linked by a road lined with ram form sphynx, now obliterated by urbanisation; these remaining ram forms were changed to sphynx style. The enormous 1st philon constructed by Ramses II shows a battle preparation scene to the right and the actual battle scenes to the left. Guarding the entrance are 2 dominating statues of Ramses II coupled with what would have been a pair of obelisques, however, 1 of these now stands in Paris! The temple itself was under sand until the early 1900s and a mosque was built on the sand in the area of the open court, with its 1st floor windows some 10m above the open court floor, post removal of the sand. Like Karnak you are met by 3 chapels on the right as you enter the court of Ramses II, also lined with columns. A tight collonaid of 14 columns took us via a sculputre of Tutenkhamoun and his young wife in a alabaster and another Ramses II statue to the 2nd open court, that of Amenhotep III, the outside of which was originally double lined with columns many of which havent stood the tes of time. From here a great view of the Nile is afforded, being only a stones throw away across the now main road. By this time Soaz was feeling rather under the weather, but we managed to stagger onto the Amun temple at the very back of the Luxor temple complex where much renovation was ongoing. The temple walls to the left have been overpainted with frescos by the copts who used this as a coptic chapel. On the way out, in between the multitude of Ramses II statues, we limped back to the hotel for a lie down, not really up for any lunch; we jotted a few postcards to the rellies and eventually made it down to the pool for the habitual 4pm swim and read before the 2nd highlight of the day!!

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A personalised dinner cruise on the Nile awaited us - 5pm was our schedule departure, and the "queen Mary" was waiting for us on the water...a table set for 2, we jumped on board as the sun slipped behind the trees as orange turned to red and then dark purple. The table was lavishly laid by our waiter with huge quantities of mezha, lovely babaganoush and humus etc...which we wished we were more hungry for - we also had a captain and a 1st mate aswell as a cook who looked after the main course of lamb, chicken, rice, veggies and of coure pita. We watched the birds head back to their roosts as the lights came on in houses along the banks. A few miggies joined us as we stopped in at a sand bar where we finished up our mains which looked as if we'd made no progress with as there was so much of it. We were invited to spend dessert on the boat roof while our waiter cleared the table, cushions were brought up for us - lots of bisous ;~))

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Egypt - day 4 : Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut, Valley of the Queens & the Statues of Mennon

Having to cross from the East to the West side of the Nile meant an early start - away by 8 we at last found the bridge and then headed back north to start our 1st excursion of the day the valley of the Kings. A small tractor pulling a few carrages (known as the Taf taf) took us to the centre of the valley amongst the 65 tomb entrances. We bounght our tickets which allowed us entry to three tombs of choice, so we went into Ramses VII, Siptah, & Tuthmosis III (he was the chap that didnt like his predecessor Hatshepsut and destroyed all her temples and tomb!) The tomb of Tutankhamum you have to pay extra for though!

The Tuthmosis III tomb we saw last but is infact the oldest (1479-1429BC), it is located high on the cliff, but luckily they've put a long flight of stairs in place so you can get to it, so you enter through a little dip into a long corridor, past a trap pit / well before coming to the 1st decorated chamber and then down some more stairs, by this time you are absolutely roasted, finally arriving in the burial chamber with the sarcophagus. The rooms are simply decorated with "stick" style drawings but lengthy stories cover the walls along with many depications of all the offerings and clues as to what the environment was like at the time.

Next in time was Siptah (1194-1188BC), although we visited this one 2nd. There was a very long corridor leading directly to an antichamber, and then onto the large arched burial chamber. But he died before the tomb was fully decorated and thus only the entrance is decorated, the burial chamber itself is quite bland!

The most recent tomb we visited was that of Ramses VII (1136-1129BC). His tomb has a much shorter corridor and no antichamber. By this time Egyptologists think the tombs had guards to protect the offerings. The whole tomb is extensively decorated with a very stary roof and all the classic depications and stories along the walls. The enormous granite sarcophagus rests sunken in the middle of the burial chamber - quite spectacular.

Overall the site was overrun with hords of people, but we managed to find enough space to have a great experience. The site is still under investigation, and we saw diggings in progress whilst there. To date they have found 64 tombs, check out thebanmappingproject for more info...

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Literally just over the valley spur, a short minibus ride round the corner, is the extensive site of the Temple of Hatshepsut, which has to be seen to be believed. Although largely renovated, you quickly get the feeling of scale and setting of the temple - infact there are 2...the temple of Montuhotep site to the south still largely remains a ruin though. Hatshepsut is constructed on 3 levels, directly into the mountainside under huge limestone cliffs; the back of the top level being the most reserved and sacred, found behind the open court and a row of statues. The temple faces directly to the Karnak temple and consists of 4 chapels, 1 for the birth of the pharaoh by Amon, 1 for the trade with Somalia (sending gold, receiving myrh), 1 for Hator and 1 for Anubis.

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After a super expensive coke break, we nipped round the corner to the valley of the queens - must less well developed than the valley of the kings, but no less beautiful we were allowed into the tomb of Tyti and Amenhikhopeshef (with a rather macarb mummified foetus at the back)...they were just as beautiful and well docorated as the tombs of the valley of the kings ;-) we also saw the entrance to the tombs of the sons of Ramses II - he had 39 wifes and over 200 childdren!!!

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The whole area is litered with sites and as we driving back we made a stop at the statues of Mennom - unfortunately theres not much left of the temple that was once here due to the earth quake in 27BC - but there are the 2 statues that would have once formed the entrance, huge sitting figures with Hatshepsut visible in the background - but it was once the funeral temple for Amenhotep III.

By this time we were ready for a lunch fit for kings, we dined in a roof terrace place with enough dishes for an army of stone cutters before heading back to the hotel for a lie down, watching the sun melt into the cliffs over the Nile.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Egypt - day 3 : Luxor

up at 5am for airport logistics - its totally insane, there are so many people, all trying to stand ontop of each other - thankfully we have a guide to wade through the throngs for us, and we get boarding cards and through security for a sleep.

To our delight we're in business class with great views out over the desert - geophoto heaven, accompanied with great food and coffee too - what a way to travel ;~)

In Luxor we had a room overlooking the Nile in the Iberotel - lovely - walking into the bank to get some change Soaz asked for some small change and walked clutching with a 3" wad of notes - rich at last!! we explored the town a bit, enjoying the heat, somewhere in the high 20s or low 30s by now. Lunch was taken sitting by the Nile stuffing our faces with a huge buffet, next to the key falucca boarding jetty. After buying some postcards - but abstaining from the stamps due the obvious rip off that was about to occur - we got stuck into some serious relaxing and pool time with fruit cocktails and a few lengths - really on holiday!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Egypt - day 2 : Cairo - the pyramids

Our guide whisked us away off to see the pyramids leaving with the minibus in rush hour traffic at 8 sharp (admittedly we were a little late getting up and had to nab breakfast from the table next to us ;~), well they did have croissant!!)

Whilst on the way we got a running commentary on Cairo's main sights and monuments which was very informative, just aswell as it turned out to be quite a trek taking nearly an hour to get there. The weather was a little hazy, visibility only some 500m in places (attributed to the farmers burning some crops allegedly), so when our very friendly guide said "regarde, la pyramide" we got very excited but couldnt see much before a faint skyline emerged looming above us - there it was - huge and in our faces!!

We bought our tickets and walked up to a quiet spot where we got a whole explanation on the "mastabah", or pre-pyramids, the old way of burrying pharaohs along with the whole family. As we became quite skilled at, we saw the carvings of the offerings process and lots of false doors to trick the nasty people who come to steal things!! Underneath the mastabah was made a hole/well and then a corridor leading to the burrial chamber. We also got all the history regarding pyramid construction starting with those found at Saqqara where the pyramid of Djoser started as a mastabah with a smaller mastabah on top of that, with a smaller mastabah on top of that, with a smaller mastabah on top of that, etc until it was up to 6 layers - looking like a very crude, stepped, multiple shouldered pyramid! then came the so called rhombohedral formed "pyramid" where they started with too steep a construction angle and had to change angle halfway up in order to meet at a sensible (and achievable!) height.

Thus, in Giza they found the correct angle resulting in the pyramid of Cheops, with a square base of some 230*230m and 146m high originally (its lost some 9m since as a result of limestone compression and the fact that the polished topping has been pilfered!) Each block is 155cm in height at the base of the pyramid, but only 55cm when you get to the top. As can be seen on the very top of the Chephrem pyramid, just to the south (the son of Cheops) a glittering smooth limestone finish was applied, which would have made them gleam in the sun, however, this has been weathered away and reused in other constructions so now they are predominantly bare!

To the south side of Cheops's pyramid they discovered the huge (and the oldest ever) wooden "solar" barque - sun boat - some 42m in length, burried along with Cheops in 2000BC in 1200 pieces (the all original ikea style!) as an essential tool for the afterlife.

Lieing infront of the Chephrem pyramid is the Sphynx where the natural bedrock has been carved into a huge lion, onto which the head of pharaoh Chephrem has been carved. All around the site there are small temples, all part of the burrial ritual and passage to the afterlife, of course in those days the Nile would have been much closer, but still 98% of the material is all limestone from nearby quarries, the Granite would have had to come all the way from Aswan - several hundred km south!

Egypt - day 2 : Cairo - the museum

we pottered off for a spot of lunch - nice mezze (with Soaz getting a side of chicken with the most meat ever!) - and then back in the minivan and into the traffic, Egypt were playing Cameroon in a very important football match - so about an hour later we started an epic sprint round the massive and extremely impressive Egypt museum.

On entry we discovered that Mr Mariette (famous french egyptologist) is the only foreign egyptologist to be burried in Egpyt - in the museum grounds. Also in the grounds we saw the papyrus and lotus plants in the pond - then we entered the building itself where we found ourselves in a huge attrium with statues everywhere, Ramses II standing tall on 4 corners - totally impressive! Our guide explained how names were written in Egyptian times - by a "Cartouche" and how to recognise whether the pharaoh was ruler of both or just either one of the lower/north and/or upper/south - by the style of their hat!! we foudn out that one the painting and respresentations women and girls were stylised in white with men and boys in yellow. Capturing and documenting the history and complexity was all the responsibility of the scribes, how had to learn all the symbolisism - in 3 languages, those being the "Royal" (used by the pharaohs), the "priests" and the "people".

There were so many things to see - the number and quality of artifacts were stunning - we were overwhelmed by them all - but ofcourse the highlight was the riches discovered by Carter in 1924 when he uncovered Toutankamon's tomb - up on the 2nd floor there is a whole area dedicated to his collection - with the headmask and russian dole style coffins being the centre piece which are surrounded by his jewels.

We could have spent days in the museum trying to understand all the wealth of history, but closing time and we headed off to get some supper. We walked up to the fruit market and bought some snacks before settling down to dinner at one of the road side vendors, and were swept up in a football frenzy, with Egypt scoring 2 goals during our dinner, the crowd went wild. We called it a night in readiness for our early start dictated by a flight to Luxor.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Egypt - day 1 : Cairo

Our plane was delayed by 12hours due to some KLM technical problem, so we had a curtosy evening at some out of town hotel in amsterdam before things really got underway...hence there was a bit of confusion about how was to pick us when at the arrivals hall once we got to Cairo in the afternoon, a few phone calls and our local french speaking guide from VoyagerTours swooped us up in a minivan for the Talisman hotel.

The reminder of the afternoon, after exploring our beautiful and tiny hotel, was spent walking around downtown Cairo. We headed here and there and no where inparticular but found ourselves walking around the car accessory "souk" and eventually down near the Nile itself - our first glimse - and then headed into the Hilton Ramses II for some mezze (tabouleh, babaganoush, tehina & hummus with pita bread, yum yum ;-)) washed down with some fresh guava juice.

This set us for a walk across to the great Cairo museum along the corniche, experiencing the rich touting of river boat tour offerings, and the true level of traffic intensity even at 8pm. The museum was huge and we really looked forward to our visit the follow day, however, we were "ambushed" by an interloper trying to sell his wares by pretending to be Dr working in the museum, but he did help us to cross the street without being moan down by all the cars! We clearly hadnt learnt though as 5 mins later it happened again with what was to become a familiar opening line...

Needing some sweet dessert, we braved the thronging crowds in what was obviously a highly respected local bakery, picking up a selection of treats using international sign language - point and hold up how many fingers!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

crossing the Hardangervidda på langs

video

Just enough time between getting off the flight and the departure of our train to Finse leaving from Bergen train station for an outside harbour side beer – sitting there in our sunnies and T-shirts we lapped up the warmth and rays down at sea level – next stop the winter play ground that is the Hardangervidda about 1000m up. It was the first weekend in May, our favorite nearby ski resort had closed the weekend before and we were off for the final challenge of the season, crossing the 120km from Finse to Haukelisetter on skis over the ‘Vidda, we had four days before we were due back in work…hhhmmmm, would we make it, would we get lost, would there still be enough snow, would the lakes still be frozen, what we would do in the case of bad weather, would we be fit enough, did we have enough whisky and what type of wax should we use? Well perhaps we should better have one for the road!

A rather sleepy 4hour journey through Voss and then up through the tunnels past Myrdal saw us arriving at Finse, still broad daylight at 8pm and just in time for dinner, only after our first, albeit short, ski from the station to the cabin, the first test down a rather alarmingly steep slope on our narrow “fjellski”. Seriously tucking into large helpings of salmon and trimmings we chatted with the locals about our plans, only to be alarmed to hear that our next objective cabin wise was closed already, we would have to revise our whole crossing strategy going for a relatively short day on day 1 and then 2 long days back to back, before getting a “short” day to finish. Oh well, we’d better quality control the Glenlivet and play a few rounds of cards to brace ourselves for a mear 20km on day 1, all in the name of fact finding, we were going to have plenty of light, that was sure, and was certainly on our side weather wise.

We woke the following morning to perfect, wall to wall blue sky and a breath taking view out west over the Hardangerjøkulen, awesome and totally inspiring, there was nothing for it but to saddle up and get waxing – serious discussions on wax colour and the number of layers and we were slipping and gliding our way towards Kjekkja. We were off, totally nice feeling to be away, and it wasn’t long before we were in shorts and wide brim hats poling along the tracks and nice spring snow. More wax on, wax off, we settled into a rather civilized routine of cruising along for a couple of hours before a nap in the sun accompanied by a few sandwiches and a flask, as well as few running repairs on feet and kit before heading out on the next leg, repeated 3-4 times during the day.

Although a fairly short first day, we were pretty glad to see the Kjekkja cabin loom up in the distance with the promise of another slap up dinner provided, all you could eat and a bit of chocolate cake for desert. We were even blessed with a free glide downhill all the way to the front door, sweet! But still about 100km to ski before reaching Haukelisetter and this rest of the time we would have to be cooking, fingers crossed the weather would hold and the self serviced cabins hadn’t been locked for the season. Just checking the Glenlivet hadn’t deteriorated with all the activity we crashed fairly early in readiness for a bit more of an epic distance on day 2.

The scenery was really something special. Although the snow was melting rapidly before our eyes, and we estimated this might be the last weekend we could have made the crossing without some serious lake detours, the plateau landscape was vast and immensely expansive, with whiteness stretching endlessly in all directions around us. We could see way back towards the Hallingskavet as well as the jøkulen behind us whilst ahead uphills seemed to run on forever at an albeit gentle but relenting gradient, a bit more red special perhaps to see up the top of this one, looking forward to along relaxing glide down the other side! We’d loaded up big time at breakfast from the smorgasbord of salmons and cold cuts and home made jams compiling a serious collection of Norwegian style open sandwiches to keep us fueled up til, well, perhaps first lunch at least. We definitely felt in the rhythm now, even managing to put in some skating along with the more traditional classic poling action; that was until we came across a couple of locals who were doing, an albeit shortened, crossing in 2 days, some 50km each day. We paused for a friendly pair of ptarmigan before reapplying yet more suncream and debated whether it was warm enough for klister. Sense got the better of us and we settled for some dried apricots and a few grabs of go nuts.

Our target for the day was the little, winter, self service cabin at Sandhaug. Certainly in the wilds here, we fetched our water from the now melting lake, dragging the barrel back to the cabin over ths snow cursing the need to ski another inch after what felt like a epic distance already, not realizing until after the event that we had most likely been standing on very thin ice to do so. What followed was perhaps more of a science experiment than a dinner. Totally misunderstanding the label and trusting our Norwegian skills a lot more than we should have done, Swedish meatballs were added to tomato soup and some kind of pasta affair – all suitably washed down with Glenlivet and followed by a few rather incomprehensible rounds of cards, we realized we were now seriously in danger of prematurely running out of crucial whisky supplies, obviously time for bed!

Day 3, distance wise almost half way there; we’d decided to go via the Litlos cabin, although it was closed, partially in an effort to avoid getting lost or straying into dodgy terrain. But quickly realizing progress was decidedly slower as a result of complete lack of ability to control the weather and resultant clothing combination we quickly realized a change of course was required; a cunning short cut was order of the day. Feeling confident in our skills built over the last few days we headed directly south hopefully cutting out two sides of the triangle, not withstanding the incurrence of a rather large looking ascent near the end of the day…oh well, what the hell, maybe we’d see some wild reindeer apparently calving somewhere in the area.