The First Year - Memories from Our Journey

During the first year we've visited places that we didn't even dream to exist when we started Abandoned Nordic. We traveled to many places without a clue what we would find. We explored abandoned sites in -30 degrees celsius and in oppressing swelter. We visited locations in the wilderness, in the middle of cities and even above the water.  Sometimes we were looking at small details and understood the big picture. 

When we started, we didn't plan to go so far, so fast. The adventure pulled us in and now we are here. The possibilities of this project are almost endless and that is driving us forward. But the most important reason why we are doing Abandoned Nordic is the joy of adventure.  

 

Here are just a couple of memories from our first year:

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It was a chilly but sunny afternoon in Rummu, abandoned and partially sunken prison. The bright sunlight created strong contrasts into the sand formations on the beach of the quarry lake. A large quantity of scuba diving gear was laying on the ground. The preparation. A long walk to water and a dive into cold, 4-degree water. The scene above the surface was like from a dream. The amount of light could shape the contrast into underwater structures as well. I was done shooting when my fingers were numb from the coldness of the water. We headed to the surface. After that, it took 10 minutes before the pain ceased.    

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After a long day of shooting in Eastern Finland, we decided to stop in a familiar place. It was a dirty abandoned power plant. We climbed inside  through a window with our gear, it’s not always easy and this time we really blew it. One of my lenses fell into a waste oil container. We rapidly picked it up from the container and began drying it with everything we got. We even stripped some of our clothes to get more fabric for the job. We managed to dry the lens and luckily were spared from buying a new lens worth around 2000 euros. 

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We were facing an underground tunnel in the ground floor of an abandoned mental hospital. This particular tunnel was just small part of a network of tunnels linking all the beautiful old buildings in the area. The beams of our flashlights revealed smudge covering the tight tunnel floors. You could only move forward by crouching, and avoid feeling claustrophobic. 

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A fence was between me and an abandoned warehouse building in Milan, Italy. I was nervously waiting for a good moment to cross the fence, avoiding the looks of people passing by. Nobody paid any attention to a woman casually using her smartphone. I managed to get over with a couple of scratches thanks to wild bushes next to the fence. When I entered the building, it was the first time I witnessed a compete nature take over-scene: the green had covered everything, floor, walls and the ceiling. A mesmerizing sight.

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Patarei, an old soviet prison with a long and cruel history. The last execution took place in 1991. A fascinating visit for a photographer with tons of details, a fully equipped surgical operation room for instance.  

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Old brown Lada was standing in front of the town of Skrunda, Latvia. This type of vehicle could be seen very often in this part of the continent. An old woman was sitting inside the car with an open window. She passed us two tickets to the town in exchange for some coins. It was like entering a circus. The abandoned military town of Skrunda spread out in front of us. Once a home for many was now a sad tourist attraction with a hint of utopia still visible. 

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I am just a small man! Laughs an old man. Stench of vodka is in the air. He uses the car ramp of an abandoned soviet military base in Estonia to fix his own van. I just had asked if he owns the buildings. I was trying to polite. The trees had hid the entire base well. Google Translate helped us to understand each other. The present was facing the past. I thanked and disappeared to the forest.  

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She was staring at us suspiciously when we were eating some bread and snacks in the warmth of our car. Besides old women selling vegetables, Paldiski was filled with empty buildings and sad history. “A Town with a Future!” was the new slogan here. We were unwanted visitors in this town. I smiled to her but she never returned the gesture. Old submarine base was wiped out of the map, but not from memories. 

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The shelved were filled with yellow papers. The room was high and dry. The documents contained technical information about the structure and the machines as well as old commercials, agreements and information about chemicals. The old air-raid shelter was now a shelter for all the historically important pieces of evidence. Above the shelter, a massive pulp mill was slowly rotting away. We had heard rumors about an old woman who had filled the room with all the papers she could find from the mill. The room was like a time capsule, laying dormant under the abandoned factory.

Kimmo & Tanja/Abandoned Nordic