The First Traveler of Træna, Helgelandskysten Norway
You may be wondering what is the secret of the passion and dedication to our work as travel specialists and trip designers. What are the goals we want to achieve together? We are travel specialists, but first and foremost we are travelers. We have the common idea that exploring leads to the rediscovery of the small things that still preserve great stories. Strong enough to stand through the storm and speed of modern times of an exasperated globalization can sweep away. And strong enough to be shared with others.
It is thanks to this research that we can share with our travelers adventurers to places where people live a remote life, and in some ways the Great History never mentioned.
Their remote life and distance are examples that can teach us how much every single life is worth, and how much the kilometers and differences don’t separate us, but characterize us as part of the same humanity. This is how a simple business meeting -for a team working remotely – becomes an opportunity to gain new knowledge and personal growth.
On a late August rainy morning, Ethical Travel Portal meets in Northern Norway and the destination is Træna.
The municipality consists of more than one thousand small islands off the coast of Norway. Four of the islands are populated: Husøya, Selvær, Sanna, and Sandøy. The islands lie along the Trænfjorden to the southeast and the Norwegian Sea to the west.
It is on the main island of Husøya that we met Ramona, our local guide, who took us out to explore the pearls of this Archipelago. Our first stop is Træna Museum, the town’s small museum. It is when she opens the doors and starts telling the stories that we learn what can summarize the concept of pure travel, discovery and sharing, with distance, but through unity.
In 1898, Theodor Holmen left his home in Træna Municipality to begin a journey which took him to Honolulu, Hawaii. Theodor emigrated just like hundreds of thousands of other Norwegians in the 19th century and he never returned to his childhood home. His sister Alma was born after his departure, she grew up in Træna and lived here until her death in 1997.
The two siblings never met, but in 1925 Alma received a camera in the mail. It was a precious gift from her brother. She started to document life on the islands, taking portraits of the people of Træna and sending the photographs to her brother in Hawaii.
This was the start of building history, well documented for the future. Their exchange of letters and photographs is a personal documentation of the entire 20th century, portrayed from two islands on opposite sides of the planet. Looking at her pictures in the museum, takes you on your own small travels where you put yourself in their shoes and dream away back in time. An amazing experience that connects the magic of travel so well.
In meeting with the locals, you will quickly experience proud inhabitants who have chosen to live scattered, but united in the middle of this timeless Archipelago. One great example has been given to us by Ramona Helen Remmen, our guide who is also the travel and tourism coordinator and developer for the municipality of Træna. She was born here, and after traveling and studying for many years abroad she now lives and works on the main island. Her hospitality and introduction to the main cultural and natural highlights were remarkable and gave us a glimpse of the passion and the deep connection she has always felt for her motherland.
When questioned about her decision to come back and settle here, Ramona says: “There’s few places in Norway where so much is happening in such a small place as Træna. With only 450 inhabitants it’s incredible how we just make things happen, despite the challenges of intricate logistics and temperamental weather. We have everything we need, and though we have breathtakingly beautiful nature; our most important resource is our people. It’s a tight knit community where everyone knows each other and watches out for one another. Seeing what we can achieve out here with the new fish factory, the new hotel and the annual festival inspired me to come back to live on the island, which I truly believe has an even brighter future ahead. We are brave and tough; and have an interesting history of weapon smuggling under the second world war and emigration to far off places.”
I firmly believe her decision has been revolutionary. A new world where young locals temporarily leave their remote places of birth to go and get to know bigger realities, to train and learn about business and life, but then return and give back their experience and knowledge to improve and promote their place of origin.
A story that takes up Theodor´s journey, but with a different ending. The new generations are now bringing the world to Træna to visit this unforgettable place and are on the front line to create new opportunities and cooperate together to implement inhabitants and housing, by avoiding emigration. A must place to visit.
– Written by Mathia Pacenti, ETP travel specialist, written after a team gathering
trip with Ethical Norway. Mathia also write for Resonate, check his stories here.