Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 4: Kirkenes

Gunnar is great, although I feel a little awkward staying with a family I've never met. We talk a lot about the area; the history of Russian relations over the years. I have to stay here for a couple of days while the local Russian consulate processes my visa, which can be used one time only, for four days. The travel agency that handles the visa application is pleasant, but bizarrely insists on replying to my (English) emails in norsk, even though my contact, like everyone else in Scandinavia, speaks fluent English. My Norwegian is serviceable, but not good enough to speak fluently at length; I'm secretly glad that someone is giving me an opportunity to practice for once.

Kirkenes is an interesting town, and Sør-Varanger has a free wi-fi network across the whole Kommune. While we're only talking about maybe 7000 people, it's pretty awesome; I can use my iphone everywhere without paying AT&T's insane data fees.

During the days I drive out to Grense Jakobselv, the northernmost point of the Norway/Russia border ('grense' means border), where I meet a bunch of hilarious Norwegian soldiers, bored to tears from guarding such a sleepy assignment; then down the Pasvikdalen. Back in Kirkenes, I shoot a lot at night; the midnight sun has a great look to it, but I would have liked a hair more darkness.

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