We’ve just come back from a trip to the Lofoten, a group of islands south of Tromsø famous for its impressive scenery 🙂 We left on Saturday afternoon, with the last ferry to Senja. The weather was grey, the sea was calm and reflecting the grey skies… beautiful!
We spent some time on this quiet beach in Laukvik, near Botnhamn where the ferry arrives. Later on we drove along the fjords with perfect reflections…
Soon the scenery became more spectacular, and we stopped at this viewpoint where they built a very nice wooden structure to take you onto the rocks where you have the view.
At night, we drove through patches of fog, which was really spectacular when seen from higher up!
We camped in Gryllefjord, as we were planning to get the ferry to Andenes from there the next morning. The crossing took 1.5 hours, and we saw lots of puffins and some dolphins on the way. In Andenes, we met up with a friend (Njål) who lives there. He showed us around Andenes. The lighthouse is made of solid metal!
Njål works at the Andøya Rocket Range which is located near Andenes. He gave us a tour of the range, which was really interesting. They launch rockets from here, for example for studying the aurora, and they do a lot of summer camps too. A really interesting place! After that we all went to Bleik, a very nice village a bit further south. We walked around for a while, below some impressions of the village, which has some really nice beaches! After a coffee and cake we said goodbye to Njål and continued on our way to the Lofoten.
That night we stayed in a cabin on a campsite in Sortland. The next day we made a quick stop in Stokmarknes. This is the “home” of the Hurtigruten, and there was a large museum including a ship. We didn’t go inside the museum, but it was fun walking around this big ship. You could even climb below the propeller, which is HUGE!
We then took the ferry from Melbu to Fiskebøl, and drove on a quiet road along the coast, to another place called Laukvik (there are many place names in Norway that are used multiple times, it can be quite confusing!). Below you can see some examples of decorated mailboxes, something you see very often in Norway. The photo on the right is a very creative one, with a painting that continues on the next mailbox… quite funny 🙂
Laukvik is a very nice village, we spent some time walking around. This shed and house are owned by a Dutch travel organisation, looks very nice!
While we were in Laukvik, I realised that the Polarlightcenter should be somewhere in this place as well. This is a centre about northern lights, run by a Dutch couple. I had been in touch with them a while ago, and heard about them every now and then as they are friends of friends of my parents (yeah, complicated). I had never met them, but when we drove past the centre we decided to knock on the door and say hello. We had a warm welcome, and got a very nice tour of the polarlightcenter, based in the old village hall, full of instruments to measure the northern lights – very impressive! They also told us about a great place to camp on the beach, so that’s where we slept. It was beautiful! Next to some old boathouses, overlooking the sea… We grilled some burgers and had a nice campfire afterwards… and a visit from more Dutch people living in Laukvik 🙂
In the morning, while Paul was still sleeping, I went to visit the other Dutch couple living in Laukvik. They had converted a sheep barn into an art gallery, which was very beautiful. I really liked our visit of this village, and meeting the people there! It started raining just after we put the tent away, and we started our drive further south. The views were nice, even in this rainy weather. We drove to Svolvær, the capital of the Lofoten. It was full of backpackers waiting for buses, and was really touristy. So we continued further south, through very impressive scenery… we made a nice stop on this big sandy beach in Flakstad.
We then took a smaller road to the village of Sund. It’s only about 2 km from the main road, but it feels so much more “real” and less touristy than many of the places in the Lofoten. The evening light was beautiful as we drove into the little harbour… stunning!!
Next to the harbour, we found this rorbu for rent (see the photo on the right below). A rorbu is an old fisherman’s hut, where they kept their gear and they had a small place to sleep/cook/eat as well. They have become very popular as tourist accommodation, but they are not all “original”, lots of them are newly built. This one was from 1880 though, and h
as been in use (as a fisherman’s hut) until 1998! We called the number on the sign, crossing our fingers that it was available. It was! We immediately decided to stay for 2 nights, as it was such a nice cabin and not expensive at all. The rowing boat in the picture on the left was included too 🙂
Sund is really beautiful and I couldn’t stop taking photos! The one below is taken late at night, in the last light.
The next day we visited Å, the southern most village you can reach by road. It came recommended by anyone we spoke to before we went to the Lofoten. It is very pretty indeed, but it’s a real museum village full of tourists. We did visit the Fishery museum there, but there was hardly any information on the exhibits (not even in Norwegian) and guided tours were given only once per day (and only once a week in English!), so we were a bit disappointed. Below some images of Å: nesting sea gulls on one of the buildings, and the stockfish (tørrfisk) museum. Stockfish is big business in the Lofoten, you can see the racks for drying the fish everywhere. But at this time of the year, they are all empty.
Another view of Å…
And some more seagulls nesting on this big building! In the museum, they had this monster fish on display 🙂
But we also found cuter creatures in Å, like this kitten hiding underneath one of the wooden buildings…
After leaving Å, we went to Reine, a small town a bit further north. Very nice as well!
The next day we had to leave our rorbu (we would have liked to stay longer!) but we decided to use the rowing boat for a few hours. It also had an engine, so we got out to sea quite easily. The views from the water were beautiful!
We tried our luck fishing from the boat, as we had heard that there is very good fishing here. Paul caught a small cod within a minute of putting his line in! In the other photo you can see his second catch: a saithe (or coalfish) – a very pretty fish!
I was using a different kind of line and did not catch anything. It had several hooks on it and was a lot harder to handle than the simple one that Paul was using. In the end, while fiddling with the hooks, I almost got one in my hand, and let go of the line… and there it went, lost forever… oops. Paul was feeling sorry for me, so let me try the other line and explained me his technique. Quickly afterwards I caught this big cod! (on the left). My first catch!! It was quite scary actually and I was squeaking a lot.. I didn’t even want to touch it, but as you can see, I got over my fear eventually (I’ve come a long way anyway, a few years ago I didn’t eat ANY fish products!). Still, I let Paul deal with the gutting… and while he was doing that, I managed to catch another fish. We had no idea what it was, we had to stop at the tourist info to look at a poster of fish species to tell what it was: a cusk, normally found in deeper waters.
We drove back to Tromsø that day, so we bought some frozen vegetables in the supermarket (they don’t sell ice so this was a cheap option 🙂 ) and put them in a box with the fishes to take home. It was a long but scenic drive home, with lots of rainshowers, spectacular clouds, rainbows, bridges and tunnels (up to 6 km long!). Paul’s parents arrived in Tromsø a day later, and we had the fish for dinner. I also picked blueberries while in the Lofoten so I made a batch of blueberry muffins. It’s so much fun catching/collecting our own food here!
I really enjoyed our little trip to the Lofoten, such spectacular scenery there. I’d like to come back in winter someday :). Now we have Paul’s parents visiting, and we’re all flying to Trondheim on Thursday for a few days of sightseeing around there. I’ll try to post some photos when we come back!