Friday, 12 September 2014

Wonders never cease

The thing with long trips is that usually a lot happens :). Good stuff, bad stuff. Just stuff. Our trip to Lofoten was probably quite a lot more eventful than any ten days have any right to be, and filled with such awesomeness as I have rarely encountered!

From the first afternoon as we drove off the ferry onto Moskenes, to the last day as we floored it all the way from Svolvær to catch the ferry at Lødingen, one thing stays in my mind as a reminder of our trip, magical colours! There were flowers and leaves, waters, rocks and sometimes houses :). Not to mention the skies.

We'd picked up our little rented Hyundai from Bodø airport with some little trepidation, given its size (or rather lack thereof) as well as power (or rather, severe lack thereof :O). In retrospect, it did provide much entertainment during the course of the trip :). Who would have though that it would end up feeling almost at home on the narrow, often steeply rising or falling roads with blind corners everywhere! Once you got the revs right, that is :D.

We drove quite a bit, but hiked even more! Or at least it sure felt that way :). The first proper one was to Munkebu, on a beautiful sunny day. We walked along the edges of a succession of progressively higher lakes till we got to the hut, and then, quite by accident, ended up near the summit of Munken! The views were enough to have made the climb very much worthwhile. There were even blueberries on the way down :).

Towards the end of our stay in the south, there was the much shorter, but no less spectacular, hike to Reinebringen. It overlooks the town of Reine and is quite the fantastic lookout point with views all the way out to the mainland to the east as well as up along the jagged landscape of Lofoten spreading out to the north.

The day spent on the island of Værøy might not have properly qualified as a hike, given the absence of quite the verticality of the others and the presence of a tarmac road all the way to the top :P. However, it was a wonderful and very long walk :). And while we never got to see any puffins, the weather more than made up for it. As did the flowers, and the dog desperately trying (and failing) to keep up with its owner!

There were one or two other hikes, and a lot of walking around. But the one thing that has to be mentioned is our excursion to the beach at Horseide. Let me clarify at the outset that this isn't what you might call just another beach. It is the culmination of a fairly vast (by Lofoten standards) valley between some really sheer hillsides with not the slightest sign of civilization barring some distant washed up flotsam. Green, with the ribbon of a narrow river flowing through it, you would normally easily notice the deep blue of the lake half way down. You would also notice the really wide expanse of white sands, partly dotted with odd grass topped mounds, before the beach finally ends in the ocean.

When we finally made it to the top of the ridge at the farthest end of the valley from the sea, we saw none of this! On what was probably the rainiest day of the whole trip, we were already somewhat cold and damp from the hike up from Kirkefjord. And all we could see was a blanket of low clouds. The valley was a patchwork of white and grey with the occasional colour peeping through. But we figured, whatthehell, let's go for it anyway! After several hours, many many long miles, a very cold shivering lunch, a wade across the shallow end of the stream and having gotten as thoroughly soaked as it is possible for a human being to be (I had misread the forecast and decided to go hiking in jeans for a change), we were finally back on the ferry heading back to the fishermen's cabin we were staying at, still feeling somewhat amazed at quite how spectacularly things can change in just one day!

I realize I seem to have spent altogether too much time on a fairly long, miserable and technically, failed, stroll to the beach. But you see, that one day put all the others in such contrast as to have made the entire thing all that much more insanely brilliant :). Plus, I was still grinning madly at the end of the day, so there is that :D.

The days we actually spent on the islands, we stayed exclusively at these fishermen's cabins, or rørbuer. The first one on Sakrisøy was undoubtedly the one with the most character! Although the one in Ballstad comes close, for all the wrong reasons! So it was a good thing we spent the bulk of our time in the former. It even had a free row boat and everything :).

We settled into a routine of breakfast and dinner at the cabin and lunch elsewhere, be it on top of a particularly high boulder, in a cave, or some restaurant on the edge of the map. The dinners especially, resulted in some pretty awesome food adventures! At least one of which, I would have considered a disaster, but somehow all the 'food' that resulted was put away with astonishing appreciativeness. For this I shall remain eternally grateful :).

While the total distance from Å to Svolvær is just a bit over a hundred kilometres, we managed to cover several times that in getting there :). On the less than sunny days we drove just about everywhere! From wrong turns that ended up at surprising little museums (with a boat sticking out through the roof of the toilet, no less) to the Lofotr Viking Museum at Borg. From the far flung beaches at Yttresand and Uttakleiva, to the altogether more usual places like Ramberg, Nusfjord and Henningsvær. From random abrupt ends while trying to get to equally random lighthouses, to old historic remains and a very confusing head at Eggum. Past sleepy, almost abandoned little towns and through truly astonishing natural beauty. While all the time wondering if the car would make it to the top of the next hill :D.

And we went for a swim. Not at one of the nice, sheltered beaches like Ramberg. But at Uttakleiva. I mean come on! The water was cold beyond anything I have ever experienced! And even though the period of time I spent in the water may or may not count as a swim, I don't care. I officially went swimming while in Lofoten, and that's that! We could hardly have found ourselves a worse spot! As I'm sure the old couple looking on with the mildly bemused looks thought, while appropriately swaddled in many layers of warm clothing. Well, we could have tried Horseidvika I suppose, but at that point I don't think a swim would have got us much wetter.

Leverpostei and bread. Fights around puddles. Lots and lots of dried fish. And dried fish heads. Mile after mile of slippery tarmac devoured in a mad dash for a ferry. Surreal spiral currents on the water. Mile after mile of side roads driving past a never ending train of wonderful vistas. Bridges, and give-way traffic lights. Height comparisons while waiting on roadworks. Card games and stories. Fish jumping out of fish farms. Rowing on actual water for the first time in my life...

I should so have written this down sooner. It's been over a month and I am sure there is so much more that I am forgetting. As we ambled down to the end of the pier in Bodø, whiling away the last few hours before our flight back to reality, I couldn't help but wonder, how is it that sometimes everything, absolutely everything, just works out! Even when it doesn't, it somehow does :).

Currently: missing it all, all over again
Listening to: The xx - Intro

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