Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 19, 2010

May 19: My food impressions so far

So today was a day at work, which was fun and interesting as usual. There was even a delegation of U.S. Army Generals visiting. We got to meet them and share a presentation with them.

I thought the blog post for today could focus on my Norwegian food experiences thus far! Everyone loves food, so I believe it’s a safe topic 🙂

Brunost - Norwegian Brown Cheese

Brunost - Norwegian Brown Cheese

Brown Cheese: It’s called “brunost” in Norway and it’s a caramelized goat cheese. It literally tastes like caramel meets goat cheese, which may sound strange but is SO good. It’s really great on toast with jam or on waffles.

Reindeer: So in one day you can see reindeer grazing then go to a restaurant and eat it, kind of like cows in North America. It was odd at first for me because I think of reindeer as Santa’s cute helpers, but in real life, they can’t fly – I can verify that now. But reindeer meat is quite good. It’s a bit more gamey than beef, but pretty much the same idea as venison/beef. The most interesting thing that happened to me regarding reindeer meat was when I ate out at a “Surf n’ Turf” restaurant and the logo was a fish and reindeer, not a fish and cow!

Open-face sandwiches: At lunchtime, and most of the time sandwiches are eaten, they are topless! But don’t worry, they are well dressed 🙂 Sandwiches hardly ever have a second piece of bread on the top, instead many Norwegians stack all sorts of goodies on the bottom piece of bread and eat it like a piece of pizza. Today I had a hard-boiled egg, cheese, salami, mayo, ham, turkey, cucumber, tomato, and probably more that I’m forgetting! Mmm they are the best, the taste of the sandwich contents are so much better without that second piece of bread.

Tubed Food: Picture a toothpaste tube, except with food in it. You can get things like tubed bacon and tube caviar. I have only tried the tubed mayo so far, I’ll keep you updated.

I’ve really been enjoying trying new food! I look forward to more. I will be travelling around the country in the coming weeks, so hopefully there will some regional specialties. Until then, it’s a constant guessing game of what I’m actually buying at the grocery store!

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 18, 2010

May 18: Pancake Tuesday

Published Article: “Ocean acidification could cause loss of biodiversity in Barents Sea”


The Barents Sea is particularly vulnerable to lowering pH levels and increasing acidification, say some scientists. Its cold water temperatures allow it to absorb greater amounts of CO2 than warm waters, meaning, the Barents Sea could acidify quicker than other water systems in the world, threatening biodiversity.



The Barents Observer got a little taste of Canada today – pancakes with maple syrup!

Some of my colleagues enjoying pancakes with Canadian maple syrup

Some of my colleagues enjoying pancakes with Canadian maple syrup

Chantaie and I decided weeks ago that we’d bring pancakes and maple syrup to our colleagues at the Barents Observer.

In fact, the suggestion to bring a maple syrup product came from the Norwegian Ambassador in Canada herself, Else Berit Eikeland. And, boy was she right!

The maple syrup was a hit with our new Scandinavian colleagues. The office was abuzz with the sweet smells of this not-so-common Kirkenes treat. Some had tried it before, others hadn’t.

One thing was certain at the end of the day: maple syrup = satisfaction!

Today was an exciting day journalistically, as you will see with the story linked above. I love journalism! It’s the best feeling getting deep into a story, becoming obsessed with its nuances and hearing someone pick up the phone when you call for an interview. I get to learn something new everyday!

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 17, 2010

May 17: Constitution Day

May 17 VLOG:

Fashion Journalism Story – “Chic Vintage in Trondheim Village:”


Today was Norway’s National Holiday, Constitution Day!

Everyone had flags on their homes, in their hair or flying from their cars. And, I’m pretty sure the whole town of Kirkenes was in the parade!

Norwegians celebrating May 17 in Kirkenes, clad in traditional dress

Norwegians celebrating May 17 in Kirkenes, clad in traditional dress

Now that last line, “I’m pretty sure the whole town of Kirkenes was in the parade” is actually very awing. The national pride in this town, and as I understand, this whole country is immense. Women, men, children and even pets were dressed in traditional costume, or in red and navy at the very least. Everyone from the local gymnastics team to politicians marched in a cross-town parade, with most of the citizens walking behind. The children’s band played the entire time, and hoots and hollers from onlookers never ceased.

I even donned a Norwegian badge and joined the parade! It was a great experience.

In addition to Norwegians in traditional dress, many Sami attended, clad their customary Gakti. I learned today that the Sami flag is a recognized national flag in Norway, and, Sami is an official language.

Another interesting part of the day was the soccer game. Apparently, it is tradition for a Norwegian team to play a Russian team on the National Holiday of May 17. Historically, the teams were made up of members from each respective army, but today’s game was fought between 14-year-olds! I guess the tradition has changed throughout the years.

FYI – The video above, “Chic Vintage in Trondheim Village,” was shot and recorded last week. After some technical difficulties, I have finished it and it’s live. Here is a description:

In Bakklandet, the old village of Trondheim, a vintage clothing store cozies up between two wooden, brightly coloured shops. It’s owner and chief designer, Hege Biermann, named it Stella Snella, and it’s home to not only vintage but re-designed originals.

The store’s seamstresses un-hem, un-zip and un-bustle fashions of past to create truly unique originals, made completely in Trondheim, Norway. “Chic Vintage in Trondheim Village” profiles this shop’s twist on a vintage store.

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 16, 2010

May 16: Bunkers and Jumpers

On Sundays, everything except the town’s two or three gas stations is closed. So Chantaie and I took matters into our hands and explored Kirkenes!

We went on a jog and then a walk through the city and really discovered a lot. First, Kirkenes is quite hilly – my thighs are still sore! Second, we learned that there are still a lot of functional bunkers from WWII in the city.

Mountain bomb shelter, transformed into recreation complex

Mountain bomb shelter, transformed into recreation complex

One bomb shelter in the mountain, built after the war, has been turned into a recreation complex! How neat is that?

Chantaie and I could not believe it. Hopefully in the coming days we can check out the inside.

Continuing on our walk, we saw lots of people cleaning up their front lawns. This is in preparation for tomorrow – Norway’s National Day, May 17. There are at least two parades passing through town, a big soccer match and much celebration, so everyone must make their front lawn presentable! I am very excited to experience Norway’s National Constitution Day tomorrow, it should be quite a sight and festivity to take part it 🙂

Our final destination on our walk was climbing to the summit of one of of Kirkenes’ highest points. You can see the whole city from atop it, as well as the fjord leading into the Barents Sea.

Chantaie and I enjoying a summit overlooking the Kirkenes Fjord and Barents Sea

Chantaie and I enjoying a summit overlooking the Kirkenes Fjord and Barents Sea

The view from this summit was spectacular and the sky was crystal clear.

Kirkenes is a very interesting place temperature-wise because it can drop 15 or 20 degrees in less than an hour. This is because the city gets its air from both Gulf Streams and the Arctic – which occupy two totally different places on the temperature spectrum. The Gulf air, which I have now learned, is the reason why Northern Norway does not have permafrost. It’s one of the only places in the world at this high latitude without permafrost.

Well I must get some sleep, the National Day parades start at 9:00 tomorrow morning and I don’t want to miss any of it!

FUN FACT: The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814.

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 15, 2010

May 15: Seaside Trip


Playful laughter, gentle waves and the serenity of seaside calmness – that was today.

Chantaie and I, with our new friends Lars Miguel and Jon, went to the seaside settlement of Grense Jakobselv. It’s the furthest northeast you can go in Norway before crossing into Russia. It’s about one hour from Kirkenes.

Chantaie, Lars and Jon in Grense Jakobselv

Chantaie, Lars and Jon in Grense Jakobselv

On the way, we drove through so many different terrains. It was really quite neat. First, we drove through a very rocky valley, with great protruding boulders. The land had a reddish tinge to it and the trees were windy and bare. I felt as if I was transported into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien!

As we continued, we entered a very snowy area where the snow beside the road was nearly a metre high at times.

Before we knew it, we entered an oceanic surrounding with yellowish grass and brown sand.

Near the beach of Grense Jakobselv was a stone church. It’s over 150 years old and was built by the Swedish King Oscar II. There didn’t seem to be anyone in it, but, at the foot of the church was a very interesting graveyard. What made it interesting was the fact that some gravestones were over 100 years old, and many had lost their etching altogether. More interesting though, was the diversity. The names on the gravestones were from many different countries and cultures including Norway, Sami, Finland and Russia.

King Oscar II Chapel

King Oscar II Chapel

The beach and surrounding area were of course a true beauty. It was very cold as the Arctic wind brought in the waves from the Barents Sea. We found King Crab remains and even a large fish skull.

Grense Jakobselv Beach

Grense Jakobselv Beach

On the way home to Kirkenes, we drove though fog that had settled into the hill tops and above the thawing lakes.

I’m discovering that Norway has a very diverse geographic makeup. In one hour, you can drive through snow, pine tree forests, rocky and barren land, mountains and even go to the seaside. I must say, I am falling in love!

Fun Fact: Grense Jakobselv is 2,556 km from Oslo.

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 14, 2010

May 13 – 14: Kirkenes



The past two days have been extremely eventful! In fact, I didn’t even have a chance to blog yesterday because of it. But I think I’ll be giving you enough video and journalism now that you’ll be totally satisfied!

May 13 was a national holiday in Norway. It’s called Ascension Day. So in light of having the day off, Chantaie and I took up an offer to go hiking in Pasvik Valley. Apparently hiking is one of the favourite pastimes of Norwegians.

In my last post I talked about the land being barren, but that’s just near the sea. We discovered that once you drive about 10 or 15 minutes inland from Kirkenes (which is located right on the sea), the terrain changes. You enter beautiful pine forests! It’s really neat. Hiking in this Arctic region is very fun!


  • Climbed to the a peak and saw Arctic mountains
  • Ate dried, smoked and salted reindeer meat
  • Tried some mountain berries called Crow Berries
  • Learned how to lasso
  • Saw a herd of reindeer grazing
After climbing a peak, looking out on Arctic mountains

After climbing a peak, looking out on Arctic mountains

Reindeer we saw, grazing in a meadow

Reindeer we saw, grazing in a meadow

After we got back from hiking, we learned that May is typical brown bear season and tourists often encounter them while hiking – eeks! Good thing that didn’t happen to us!

To watch our adventures in hiking, follow this link:

May 14 has also been quite the special day as I published my first story here at the Barents Observer! It is a print version of the “Wave Energy” video I produced earlier in the week. This print story allows me to present the story in a different way with some new information.

You can find my print story at:

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 13, 2010

May 12: Arrival in Kirkenes


I am 400km above the Arctic Circle!

Wow, it’s really unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I can’t believe I’m actually here at one of the most northern outposts in the world.

The terrain is barren yet pretty. I assume it’s the permafrost that ensures the trees aren’t larger than shrubs and the mountains remain very rocky. There is some snow on the ground but it’s not really cold outside (about 10 degrees Celsius).

So, this morning I left Trondheim for Kirkenes. I will stay here for three and a half weeks reporting with the Barents Observer.

The Barents Observer covers news from the Barents region (northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia). The first day on the job was fun and I look forward to more!

I can’t wait to explore the Barents Region. I can see now why the Arctic really is one of nature’s treasures!

So I am still not jiving with the Arctic sunlight. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping without nighttime – been awake for 40 of the last 43 hours. I’ve only managed to take two cat naps! I really hope that I will sleep after this post 🙂

Tomorrow, May 13, is a national holiday in Norway. It’s called Ascension Day. We have the day off work, which perhaps will give me some time to recover from my lack of sleep, work on some stories and explore the region.


Unlike the vast majority of Norway, Kirkenes is located east of neighbouring country of Finland. Because of this, travelling directly west from Kirkenes actually changes the timezone forwards. Furthermore, when travelling directly east from Kirkenes changes the timezone forward by two hours instead of one.

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 12, 2010

May 11: Last day in Trondheim

Today has been VERY eventful! Where shall I start?



1. First off, I finished my first truly journalistic piece of work:

Yesterday I interviewed Jorgen Hals, doctorate student and wave energy researcher at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU).

Now, harnessing electricity from wave energy isn’t a new thing phenomenon, but Hals has created a unique prototype. His machine can operate all three common methods of converting wave energy into electricity – air turbines, hydraulics or electric machinery. The machine just has to be told which conversion method to use. To Hals’ knowledge and my further research, no other wave energy converter can switch between all three methods.


2. My blog and YouTube videos have been getting a lot of hits! In fact, they are now featured on the Norwegian Government website and on the homepage of the Norwegian Embassy in Canada’s Website.

This is so exciting!

3. MAY 11 VLOG – Last Day in Trondheim

View the MAY 11 VLOG on YouTube at:

Today was my last day in this beautiful city of Trondheim, and as you see from the vlog, I had some great interaction with the locals 😀

4. Interviews

It was my second day of interviews for my story research, and again, very intense. The interviews were all back-to-back and I felt like I was on a major assignment from a national daily the way I was jetting around the city! It was fun!

I spoke with the CEO of a salmon egg production company, solar energy scientists, a wind energy researcher and a biotechnology expert. I visited a few labs at the university too. I should have some work (print or video) up soon regarding this research.

Also in the coming days, watch for an audio-visual slideshow I did today about a neat re-design/vintage shop in owned, operate and fashioned by a Trondheim clothes designer named Hege Biermann. Fashion seems to find me everywhere!

Well, I didn’t even go to bed yet – it’s May 12. I’m having trouble with the jet lag still! I need to go though, my plane for Oslo then Kirkenes leaves in a few hours. See you there!

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 10, 2010

May 10: Trondheim Day 2

Today was a journalist’s dream day – in-depth and meaningful interviews juxtaposed with wonderful pockets of sightseeing.

My journalism isn’t ready to go online yet, so until then, I think you’ll enjoy my sightseeing vlog from today on YouTube:


First, I went to the Directorate of Nature, where I spoke with various managers about subjects including sustaining biodiversity, the polar bear preservation treaty among Arctic countries, the impact of energy on biodiversity and fish farming. I then went to the National Seafood Association, the NGO that acts as the liaison between the seafood industry and the government. They represent individuals such as fish feed producers and fish farmers.

FYI – Canada isn’t the only place where fish farming is a hot topic.

My my interviews from today will become a print journalism story in the coming weeks. I really learned a lot from my interviews with these two organizations today.

The last interview of the day was at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. What I saw there was quite neat.

I interviewed a research fellow named Jorgen Hals, who, with his team, has developed a machine which converts energy from ocean waves into electricity. It’s a renewable resource because it literally doesn’t take anything from the Earth. Now, this type of research has been developed before, but Hals’ device does something completely new. Watch for my TV story on Wave-Generated Electricity in coming days…

As I said, amidst my six hours of interviews I did manage to see some sights.  Dont’s forget to check out the MAY 10 VLOG for the pictures and commentary 🙂

FUN FACT: Trondheim is a completely wireless city – you can get Internet anywhere

Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 9, 2010

May 9: Arrival in Norway!

Video Blog on YouTube for May 9:

I am in my fourth and final city of the day, Trondheim. It is beautiful! I spent this evening walking around the city, taking pictures and grabbing some dinner along the way. It didn’t even start to get dark here until about 10:30 p.m.!

Everything people say about the country (i.e. the people are very friendly, the landscapes are gorgeous, the food is wonderful), seems to be true so far.

I will spend the next two days in Trondheim doing research for my story ideas. From receiving guided tours of new biotechnology experiments, to visiting a fish farm and a wind mill facility, my days will be jam-packed with appointments. It should prove to be quite interesting and hopefully propel my articles.

On the flight from London to Oslo this morning, Chantaie and I actually met a Norwegian journalist. He’s a business journalist and we shared a great conversation about the Norwegian and Canadian economies.

It’s 12:30 a.m. here in Trondheim, and it’s finally dark outside.

I was having a hard time getting to sleep because it was bright outside for so long. I didn’t even eat dinner until 10:00 because I actually thought it was about 7:00 using my Canadian-standards of judging “lightness.”

Well I hope you enjoy todays video blog (vlog), it was a fun one to shoot 🙂 Tomorrow I will have news from my first day of meetings, interviews and research!

FUN FACT of the day: Norway’s sales tax is 25% – now that puts Canada’s to shame!

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