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Archive for July 23rd, 2008

Check the prices!

The 10 Euro lager

The 10 Euro lager

The Norwegian summer is short and hectic, and people tend to congregate at the prime watering holes whenever the sun pokes through. The locals come armed with their credit cards, prepared to pay what it costs. For foreign visitors, though, be prepared to pay 10 Euro for a 0.5 liter glass on the waterfront. If you seek out a more quiet place, the prices are more humane. There is an online list of places to avoid here.

People tend to blame the taxes, but the profit margins are high. The alcohol duty on a 80 kroner beer is about 8,50, and the brewery takes 17,50. You should be able to save up a bit for a rainy day on the difference.

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Eider houses

Eider houses

Or almost.

If the postings here seem a bit erratic, it is because it is vacation time, and I have spent two weeks on the coast of Northern Norway. Not a beery destination at all, Nordland county is one of the few without any micro breweries at present, but there are other things to do.

Like an excursion to Lånan, a group of tiny islands where they are keeping the heritage alive, harvesting eggs and down from eider ducks. Lånan is not inhabited during the winter, but when spring arrives, the eider keepers are there to prepare houses where the ducks can make their nests safe from predators of various kinds.

Eider down

Eider down

A lovely place on a sunny day in July, but imagine spending the winters there with nothing to protect you from the storm and rain sweeping in from the Atlantic. The highest point is just a few feet above sea level, and there is no vegetation to give shelter. Yes, there is fish in the ocean, but you can hardly blame people leaving for the mainland some decades ago.

A few families keep the tradition alive, taking care of the birds, cleaning the down and making the most exclusive duvets you can think of. There are about 500 birds nesting in man-made shelters, which gives a yield of a dozen duvets per year. Cleaning the down by hand takes about a week per duvet, and to buy one you’ll have to pay about 5000 Euros.

There are excursions from the main island Vega to Lånan every week during the summer, and the locals guide you around tell you about the traditions and serve you a nice meal.

Yes, there are eider eggs in the waffles!

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