The Lofoten Islands: What can I say? Other than WOW!!!
Positively the most spectacular place I have ventured on my travels. After spending a few days in Trondheim, I decided last minute to take the Hurtigruten coastal steamer up through the islands and onwards to Lofoten. The cruise itself was phenomenal, and I could have easily stayed on board for another week, sailing the Norwegian coastline and its ever-changing landscapes. A snippet from my journey aboard the Hurtigruten reads below
“I came here to write. But with every ripple in the sea beneath me, one-thousand thoughts are washed away. Hours have passed now, and I have been staring at blank pages with a blank mind. Hypnotised by the ever changing landscape in front of me, I submit myself to the captivating charm of the Norwegian coastline. I am yours”
And that sentiment certainly didn’t stop once I got off the boat!
I arrived in Svolvær about 930pm at night, but I had emailed ahead to let the receptionist of my hotel room know that I was going to be a little late for check-in. Thankfully she waited around for me, and didn’t even greet me with an annoyed kind of attitude you would find in Australia haha she was very lovely and accommodating. I stayed at the Lofoten Suite-Hotel, which was a strange arrangement. I had never stayed in a shared suite before! You have your own room setups but share the main facilities (kitchen, dining, lounge) with two other rooms. Kind of like a fancy-pants version of a hostel.
Unfortunately the very night I arrived was the night of the March 2015 solar storms. Meaning, the aurora activity was going THROUGH THE ROOF!!! and right above my head was the most spectacular aurora that you could ever be lucky enough to see. But of course, where I was, there was 100% cloud cover. Yes, I cried.
I picked up my rental car the next day (thankfully Solvaer is pretty small, so it was all in walking distance) and made my way to Kvalvika Beach – the most stunning, remote beach you can almost kill yourself hiking to! (I would definitely recommend taking lots of water and food on this hike – it certainly isn’t a “short” hike like I stupidly thought)
After my hectic trek of Kvalvika Beach, I just wanted a warm shower and bed, so I made my way to the Bostad Hostel. When I went to check in, the lovely lady at the desk advised me that she would check me in to my own Fishermans Cabin as the co-ed dormitory I booked was “full of gross boys” (her words, not mine!). I felt like I had hit jackpot. The charm of these historical fishing cabins is, in part, one of the main quirks of the Lofoten Islands. And I got one all to myself!!
The next day, I head off south towards Å, which is about as far South as you can get on the main stretch of islands. When I started my journey, the weather was clear, and the ground dry. In an instant, I found myself driving through a blizzard that littered the whole landscape in a thick snow. What an adventure!
Theres not a lot down this way unless you’re a lover of fish, photography, or spectacular landscapes. As there is literally only a Fish Museum (fisk museum), where, conveniently, the hostel was located as well. A word of advice: Make sure you have a working mobile phone, because the reception for the hostel is not actually manned. The Lofoten Islands is such a quiet little place, that you will not find all the same conveniences that you would in the normal Western World. Think: remote.
When I checked in to my hostel I was all alone. But it wasn’t long before I met two backpackers (a French and a Czech) as I was packing my car to go light chasing! I packed them in to the car, and we started to head back toward Reine looking for some clear weather. We could see all of the Northern Light activity behind the clouds, but we just needed to find a bit of a clear spot – which proved quite difficult. Darned weather!
The next day, I said goodbye to my Czech hitch hiker, and took the French hitch hiker North, toward Stamsund. On our way, we stopped in at Reine to take in the famous Reine lookout view! Where we met local photographer Tommy Johansen, and watched the Solar Eclipse through his lens. So spectacular!!!!
We continued our journey North, making sure to stop at all of the scenic places along the way. Another famous view in Lofoten, is the thousands upon thousands of racks full of drying cod. Which is Lofotens main source of income and export. Naturally, the whole place reeks of dead fish. But when you’re adventuring through such an incredible part of the world, that is but a tiny price to pay!
I dropped off my French hitch hiker, Killian, and continued on my journey. I had seen Chris Burkard post pictures of Unstad Arctic Surfing before, so when I saw the sign to Unstad, I immediately made the left hand turn. The road got a tad bit sketchy, as it was covered in THICK snow. And I was cruising around in a tiny little Toyota Corolla (which actually held up pretty well in the 4WD like conditions I took it through). I would have loved to have spent more time in this area, it felt so remote, and so “homely”. I met a bunch of pro surfers, who were kicking around in the mountains, after a blizzard had swept through and taken their drone for a ride to an unknown location!
Crazily, I decided that afternoon that I was going to drive straight to Tromso. A 7-8 hour drive through a blizzard. Probably one of the more “dire” ideas that I’ve had in my time…. stay tuned for my Tromso blog post….