Posts Tagged ‘Lofoten’

A week in the Lofoten

We spent the first week of August in the Lofoten. We had rented a small cottage there, but as it’s a long drive to get there from Tromsø (about 500 km, ~8 hours) we decided to leave a day early and take the tent to sleep somewhere along the way. We took a scenic smaller road following the coast. The weather was beautiful and warm, and we enjoyed a lazy dinner in the sun at this artwork (see photo below). We then continued a little bit further, and found a nice beach to pitch our tent. As a bonus, the sunset was really beautiful too!

Art at the coast The beach where we camped on the first night
Our tent Beautiful sunset!

The next day we woke up to pouring rain :( we continued on our way, only stopping in Svolvaer to buy some food. The house we rented was in Høynes, which was really only one street with a few houses and a farm. It was located in a very quiet part of the outer side of the Lofoten. It was almost always windy there. Sheep walked around the house, and the farm next door even had a sheep dog. A slightly crazy one, it was often chasing the ponies in the field opposite! This is the little house, which had a big view :D

Our holiday home in the Lofoten The view from the living room!

The next morning we woke up to sunshine! We decided to climb the mountain behind Reine. The distances in the Lofoten are quite large, because the roads often have to go around fjords. It was 80 km to Reine, quite a drive. We stopped a few times along the way, to walk along some beaches (we even ventured in up to our knees, but it was way too cold for swimming!).

Beautiful beach at Flakstadpollen The white beach at Ramberg

Another reason we wanted to visit Reine is the Eva Harr Gallerie. The art gallery in Tromsø has some of her work and we both really like it. It was a beautiful gallery, and it was great to see more of her work. We had only seen lithographs, but the gallery also had about 20 paintings. Really nice! The one below was my favourite. The gallery also sold her lithographs, and I finally made up my mind about buying one. I bought one called “Stjernenatt” (starry night), you can see an image of it here. I am so happy with it! I still have to get it framed, but I think it will look great in our living room :)

Eva Harr Gallerie - I loved this painting! Me with my purchase, so happy :)

After our visit to the gallery, we drove to the starting point of the hike. It was a very short hike, but extremely steep. And very muddy, so it wasn’t an easy climb. And you don’t get to see the view until the very last moment. The view however, is worth everything – it’s so spectacular! You look over Reine and several islands behind it and the open ocean as well.

Climbing up to this ridge wasn't easy, but this view is definitely worth the effort! View over Reine, incredible!

We climbed up a bit further, but at some point the path was following such a sharp ridge that we decided to turn back. Below you can see our view looking down, it was crazy! It was hard coming down on such a muddy steep path, you really had to be careful not to slip. Sometimes we had to sit down and continue on our bum ;) We made it safely down though.

Paul and the impressive view Our car (in the red circle) way down below

The next day the clouds were hanging low, and we decided to visit Henningsvær. A very nice place to walk around, lots of nice old wooden buildings and cosy cafes.

Henningsvær Old wooden building on sticks

We also visited Kabelvåg, the town centre is very small but also fun to walk around. On our way back, the clouds were hanging around the mountains like a hat, it looked really cool!

Bike & colourful house Cool cloud!

We decided to climb a peak called Hoven, the mountain in the photo below. It’s not that high – 368 m. The clouds were constantly hanging around the top, so we were a bit worried we wouldn’t have a view. It was very windy on the top, and the view kept disappearing behind the clouds, but it was quite impressive anyway. There are some nice sandy beaches in this area!

Hoven Me on top of Hoven Beautiful sandy beach seen from Hoven

The next day we decided to go for a trip with the boat. We put the boat in on a sandy beach in a calm fjord, but as soon as we reached the open ocean the waves were 1-2 m high and it was quite rough. This was my first experience of waves like that in a small inflatable, and I felt like I had to hold on very tight in order not to bounce out. I didn’t really enjoy it and even felt almost seasick, so in the end we turned back to dry land. Phew ;) Of course the weather calmed down then. We walked around for a bit, enjoying the views, and collecting some drift wood for the stove at the cabin – it was quite cold and we fancied having a fire! (for some more photos and a map of our boat trip, see here)

Reflections Lots of flowers and a nice view

On Wednesday, it was sunny again! And there was hardly any wind, so we decided it was a perfect day for taking the boat into Trollfjord, a very narrow side fjord of Raftsund. It was such a beautiful day. The first photo shows where we put the boat in the water. The second photo shows a group of buildings we passed on the way, it looked so idyllic.

Raftsund, where we put the boat in the water Nice houses on the water

Trollfjord is narrowest at its entrance, about 100 m. The large Hurtigruten and other cruise ships often go in there, it must be very impressive with such a big ship. For our small inflatable though, it was easily wide enough :D. We were the only boat in the fjord, it was beautiful. We put the boat on land at the end of the fjord and had some lunch. We then went for a walk to a lake. There is a hydroelectricity plant at the end of the fjord, and we had to climb over the pipe :D

Our boat in Trollfjord Climbing over the pipeline The valley we walked through

We walked up to a lake, which was a really nice walk though not very easy as it was (again ;)) very muddy. And the lake turned out to have a huge concrete dam and concrete beach so it wasn’t as scenic as we were hoping :D. It was quite late when we got back to the boat. There were lots of jellyfish in the water, and I discovered that they light up if you take a photo using the flash. They are so pretty! These ones are called moon jelly and they don’t sting so nothing to worry about :) Paul taught me to drive the boat, it was fun! He also wrote an article about our trip here.

Moon jelly - there were lots of them! Captain Hanneke :) Pretty sunset

We came back from our trip to Trollfjord really late at night, so we didn’t do very much the next day. We drove to Stamsund, and enjoyed a nice dinner in the restaurant there.

Really nice restaurant in Stamsund Rorbuer in Stamsund

On the way back, I took some photos of abandoned houses. I find them quite fascinating, I always wonder how they became abandoned, what the story behind them is. They are great subjects for photos, with boarded up windows and completely overgrown gardens. But you do have to be careful, as I found out when I took the second photo below…. somebody was actually still living in that house and suddenly appeared in one of the windows… OOPS!

Abandoned house Abandoned house - except this one wasn't!

Another abandoned house This abandoned house was our neighbour

Friday was our last day in the Lofoten and we decided to walk along a nearby beach. We started the walk in Eggum, where there’s a ruin of a radar site used by the Germans in WWII. The photo below is taken through one of its “windows”. The beach here is facing the open ocean and full of driftwood and items lost from ships. There is so much wood around that someone is building a kind of hut. Very nice!

Eggum seen from the radar site Hut built out of driftwood

Some of the wood was full of holes from woodworms. Paul took some really nice photos of the holes and the tunnels, while I was picking some blueberries :)

Driftwood with holes and tunnels from woodworms Picking blueberries

Most people walking on the beach continue all the way to Unstad, but we started quite late and didn’t go that far. We walked until the lighthouse on top of the cliff. Nice view!

The nice view from the lighthouse The lighthouse

There were lots of sheep walking around (with bells on), it’s crazy how high they climb up sometimes. Some were also just enjoying the sunset :)

Paul and sheep :) A sheep enjoying the sunset

When we came back to the car, lots of campers had found a place for the night. The Lofoten is full of campers and caravans parked everywhere. Our car looked so tiny in between these big campers :D

Our Caddy looks tiny between the campers!

When we came back to the cabin, the sunset was really beautiful, and reflecting in the very calm sea. The first photo shows our little house on the right :) What a view for our last night!

Sunset, our cabin is the white house on the right Spectacular sunset

The next day we drove all the way back to Tromsø, it took all day. We had one more day of holiday left, which we used for another boat trip, and then it was back to work for both of us. It wasn’t easy to get up at 7 again :D we would have liked a much longer holiday, but that’s life I guess ;)

Lofoten

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!