Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hurtigruten Journey

The Viking team's adventure in Northern Norway continued when we left Svolvær in Lofoten and traveled northeast to the neighboring archipelago of Vesterålen. Our ship, the MS Kong Harald, left port at 10 p.m. It may sound strange to travel a short distance on a cruise ship, but if you're familiar with Hurtigruten, Norway's famous coastal express, you know it's a great way to get from place to place on Norway's western and northern coasts.

For 120 years, Hurtigruten has been a lifeline to the ports along its route, delivering mail, supplies and passengers. Every day a ship leaves Bergen, stopping in 34 ports as it makes its way north. When it reaches Kirkenes it begins its return trip to Bergen, an 11-day roundtrip journey.

Over the years older ships have gradually been replaced with newer, more luxurious models. Today the 12-ship fleet ranges from the classic MS Lofoten, the oldest ship still in use, built in 1963, to the MS Fram, built in 2007. Accommodations, amenities and prices vary from ship to ship, but no matter which one you end up on, you can count on breathtaking scenery that gives Hurtigruten the well-deserved reputation as "the world's most beautiful voyage."

As the ships sail from port to port there are opportunities for excursions to enrich the travel experience. For example, at this time of year there's bird-watching, a feast at the Lofotr Viking museum, snowmobiling, dogsledding, a minight concert in Tromsø, a RIB safari to Saltstaumen, and sightseeing tours in the art nouveau city of Ålesund and Trondheim's Nidaros cathedral, to name a few. In other words, there's an activity, presentation or outing for just about every interest.

Our Hurtigruten adventure lasted only a few hours, so  I was glad that the midnight sun shone the whole time and we didn't miss a minute of the incredible scenery from Svolvær to Sortland. A highlight was a cruise down the narrow Trollfjord, just 100 meters wide at its mouth. When we arrived in Sortland around 3 a.m., I was grateful that the crew had called a taxi to take us to the local hotel. After a few hours of sleep, a shower and some coffee, we were ready to explore Vesterålen.

Want to read more about Hurtigruten? Be sure to check out Carter Walker's cover story in the January 2013 issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Exploring Lofoten

Hei, hei! The Viking team has been having a fabulous time in Northern Norway, and it's time to catch you up on our travels. After leaving Oslo, we flew to Bodø, and then on to Leknes in the Lofoten Islands. From Leknes we rented a car and took the scenic route to Svolvær, where we checked into the rorbuer on nearby Svinøya, just across the bridge from the main part of town. What a great introduction to Lofoten, with an amazing view of the fjord, the mountains and, of course, the cod drying right outside our window. Dinner at historic Børsen Spiseri gave us the chance to sample some of the local delicacies.

The next day we explored the area, including antique shops and cafes. A highlight was the Viking museum at Borg, a center of Viking activity in Northern Norway. The museum's interpretive center and Viking chieftain village are definitely worth the stop.

If you long to get out and enjoy nature, Lofoten has plenty to offer. For me, the biggest surprise in Lofoten was the white sandy beaches and emerald water. Who knew? It's a paradise for birders, photographers and even surfers!

While in Lofoten, we explored the small fishing villages of Nusfjord and Henningsvær, which gets my vote for the cutest town on the planet. We spent our second night in rorbuer in the equally scenic town of Reine. (Don't be fooled by the name: rorbu might translate to "fishing hut," but we were definitely not roughing it!) Another highlight of our trip: kayaking in the crystal clear waters around Reine with Sandro, the owner of ReineAdventure. Herlig!

From Svolvær we got on Hurtigruten and traveled northeast to Vesterålen. I hated to say goodbye to Lofoten, so instead I'm choosing to think of it as "until we meet again."

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Viking Goes to Norway

Greetings from Oslo and gratulerer med dagen! I'm in Norway with my colleague Jill Adler, art director for Viking. We've met up with Oslo-based photographer Nancy Bundt, and today we've been celebrating Norway's constitution day. It was a thrill to watch the three-hour childrens' parade stream past the palace. Who knew there were so many schools and marching bands in this city? We had an terrific view of the royal family, who never missed a beat in waving to marchers throughout the event. Of course, Norwegians throughout the city were dressed in their finest, with many wearing bunads from all areas of Norway. (Read more about Norway's beautiful bunads in our May issue.) For the most part, the weather cooperated with the celebration, and even a short rain shower toward the end of the parade didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd.

When we leave Oslo tomorrow morning, we'll fly to Bodø, and our adventure in Northern Norway begins. We'll be heading to Lofoten and Vesterålen, and then we'll hit the island of Svalbard. While we're traveling by land, sea and air, we'll be seeking out experiences and searching for stories we hope Viking readers will love. Stay tuned, and happy Syttende Mai!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Viking Says "I Do"

Photography: Amber Procaccini, Dress: Posh Bridal,
Styling: Faith Brue, Crown: Ingebretsen's. Flowers:
Carra Otten, La Petite Fleur, Cake: Cakewalk, Northfield 
Love has been in the air recently, and the Viking team has been busy planning a wedding. From cakes to flowers to accessories, we've been finding fun ways to combine Norwegian heritage with modern style. OK, maybe no one actually got married, but our bride looked every bit the part!

All these wedding details added up to a photo shoot for our upcoming July feature, "Tying the Knot in Nordic Style." Art director Jill Adler wanted a location for our shoot with plenty of natural light that was near our Minneapolis office, so she chose Soltvå apartments in the north loop. In the building's party room (boasting plenty of modern Scandinavian style on its own), there was plenty of room on the "big day" for an art director, two editors, a photographer, a pair of florists and a couple of stylists to gather and create the wedding of our collective dreams. Just think: all the creativity and fun details, with none of the stress of a real wedding!

If you're a long-time Viking reader, you may recognize our "bride," Kara Eliason, from the magazine's masthead. She's a former associate editor who has also worked as a proofreader and writer on our team. Now she can add model to her list of contributions to the mag.

When it came to dessert, we turned to Cakewalk of Northfield, who didn't shy away from a request for a rosemaling-inspired wedding cake. They also created a traditional kransekake (almond weath cake) for the occasion. Instead of a traditional bride and groom cake topper, we went with fresh flowers arranged by Carra Otten of La Petite Fleur.

In addition to the photos we shot that day, we're including wedding photos of four couples who have tied the knot in Nordic style. We hope you're inspired by the stories of Nina and John, Denise and Tom, Riita and Ron, and Helene and Åge. Look for them in the July issue of Viking!

The crew discusses accessories. How much bling is too much? 
Photographer Amber Procaccini works with florist Carra Otten of La Petite Fleur
to get a perfect shot of the cake, created by Cakewalk of Northfield. 
Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sons of Norway ISO: Director, Insurance Services

This just in: Sons of Norway of Minneapolis, MN is seeking a Director, Insurance Services. 

This position is primarily responsible for providing leadership and direction for the Insurance Services Department, including employees in New Business, Underwriting, Customer Service and Claims. The person in this position keeps the society in compliance with privacy, US Patriot Act, Anti-fraud reporting requirements, as well as all state insurance department regulations.

As the director, this person acts as the Chief Underwriter and monitors all risk selection activities, including the underwriting and approval of applications, working with reinsurance companies, the medical director and various vendors used in the underwriting process.

Ancillary duties include handling and resolving all complaints received from members, creating and monitoring the department budget, as well as a variety of project type work, when needed.

Supervisory Responsibilities
Manages six employees and is responsible for the overall direction, coordination and evaluation of selected business units. This responsibility includes recruiting, training, assigning and directing work, appraising performance, and rewarding and disciplining employees.

Job Requirements:
•    A Bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university is required
•    5+ years of Life Insurance underwriting experience is required
•    5+ years of Life Insurance underwriting management experience is preferred
•    Demonstrated communication and human relations skills are a must. 
•    Position must be comfortable communicating with all levels within the organization
•    Internet and database savvy as well as knowledge of payroll systems, spreadsheet software, contract management systems, word processing and email is required.

Reasonable accommodation may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of this position. 

To Apply:
Please submit your cover letter, salary requirements and resume to:
Sons of Norway
Attn: Mike Wnek
1455 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Syttende Mai, Decorah Style

How will you celebrate Syttende Mai? If you live anywhere near Decorah, Iowa, consider checking out the celebration Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is planning. It begins with a street dance by the Footnotes, Decorah's old-time Scandinavian dance band, on the evening of Fri., May 17. The celebration continues on Saturday with a children’s parade and family activities. Following the parade, Decorah’s Nordic Dancers will perform on Mill St. next to the museum’s Main Building.

The celebration events are free and museum admission is also free on Sat., May 18. Don't miss the chance to take in the museum's current exhibit, “The Sámi Reindeer People of Alaska,” with gallery talks at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. by Vesterheim curator Laurann Gilbertson. For more information, visit the Vesterheim website.

Looking for a celebration near you? Take a look on page 8 in the May issue of Viking to find more information on some of the largest Syttende Mai celebrations happening on both sides of the pond.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Vesterheim.