Norway
Nordland Fylke

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  • Day381

    We didn't intend to go far today but we did need to move on because the toilet was getting full. Luckily Will had found a nearby restplace with another of the space age toilet cassette emptying machines. There was a boardwalk a few hundred meters long that ended at a vantage point over the fjord. When we pulled in there were only about 3 other vehicles but as we were emptying the place filled quickly with cars, vans and two coaches. There was a business in the air and people conveyed a sense of being rushed, something we had largely escaped further North. The Lofoten Islands provide fewer toilet and bin facilities, meaning there is some litter. It is also the first time since entering Norway that we have encountered signs asking you not to stay overnight. After we'd managed to avoid a third coach reversing at an unnerving rate towards us as we tried to exit, we reflected that these islands, famous for their scenic beauty, probably get deluged with visitors in the height of summer.

    The scenery certainly was pretty. Small, low islands nestled in inlets, their grey rocks topped with thick moss, low growing heathers and wild berry bushes. Behind them, mountains rose precipitously into the clouds. We stopped just before the arching Gimsøystraumen bridge and took a short stroll through a delightful shoreside meadow brimming with yellows, purples and whites. Familiar Campions and Vetches grew beside plants we'd never seen before. On our return we saw a group of people photographing the ground. Upon further investigation we discovered they'd stumbled upon some Cloud Berries, a fruit that looks a bit like a pink blackberry and grows very close to the ground. There weren't many so we didn't pick and eat any, even though we were tempted.

    Crossing Sunnlandsfjorden onto the small island of Gimsøya we soon came to another, shorter bridge that took us to Vestvågøy, where we turned off the main road, allowing us to slow our pace and find a small area of rough ground, overlooking the Straight between the islands. It was a tight squeeze to get in but the views were worth it.
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  • Day385

    Ømmervatnet lake layby

    July 16, 2017 in Norway

    Our Arctic adventure had come to an end. After entering the Arctic Circle in Sweden, today we passed back over the line in Norway. This time the crossing was marked by 'The Arctic Circle Centre', a commercialised tourist trap that sold a range of 'Arctic' and 66°33' souvenirs and clothing. We ventured in but were soon put off by the taxidermied polar bear, seal pup, arctic fox and hare, eagle and moose interspersed with the pricey products they were trying to flog. We didn't like the mix of commercialisation and the display of these animals so we went outside to the biting cold wind and stinging rain. There was a field of cairns and a bare wood structure supporting a black, metal rod globe, similar to that at Nordkapp. The moors around still had snow patches and it wasn't a day to hang about outside so after a quick pee for Poppy we set off with the hot air blower on high.

    After an uneventful but scenic day's drive we found a pull off close to the road to spend the night. On the other side of the road was a lake but it was raining pretty much all evening so we didn't venture over to explore.
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  • Day380

    Feeling refreshed after a two night stay we were ready to cross over the Tjeldsundbrua Bridge onto the Lofoten Islands, famous for their beauty (and in Norway that is saying something!) On large Hinnøya we started to see light sandy beaches arching around coves. They were spotted with with piles of ochre brown seaweed and looked inviting. Verges bloomed with small bright wildflowers; purple clover, yellow buttercups and warm yellow Birds Foot Trefoil, backed by the taller white flowered cow parsley and occasional purple, pink and blue lupins. If Hinnøya was anything to go on, the islands would certainly live up to their reputation.

    When passing through the colorful village of Kongsvika we saw paintings of trolls and 3ft tall homemade models of troll couples. Apparently there is an 'enchanted forest' nearby where you can follow the 'Troll Trail' to get a chance of seeing one! The islands seem more commercialised than the Far North and bicycles whose baskets were overspilling with flowers beckoned you to various enterprises, including garage sales consisting mostly of traditional looking wooden items.

    Crossing over to the island of Austvågøya via a tunnel (no subterranean roundabouts this time), we stopped for lunch at a picnic site and a worker was laying on his stomach digging a hole by hand to put up a sign. He said they usually use a jackhammer but it was being used elsewhere and the sign needed to go up today. The sign said 'No Camping'. The worker added that it had no legal status and that he was still going to bring his camper van here!

    Moving on, we found a lovely layby just round the corner from the village of Laupstad at the head of a fjord. We'd decided to slow the pace a little and it was before 2pm when we arrived. We therefore had the time and energy to take advantage of the sunshine and launch the canoe down the steep slope on our first foray onto a Norwegian fjord in the Arctic Circle! We passed a small islet and travelled down the fjord before angling ourselves diagonally against the waves and crossing over to the opposite shore before skirting the village at the head of the fjord and returning to our overnight spot. The water was clear and we able to see the mix of sand, rocks and weed beneath us in the shallows. It felt very special to be able to be out on the water with the towering spiky mountains, their recesses still full of snow and their streams gushing down the sleek bare rocks that yeilded to verdant green moss, shrubs and a few hardy trees.

    One thing we've noticed about Northern Norway at this time of year is the lack of change between day and night. Because the sun doesn't set, there is little cooling and the morning mists are far less common. The colour of the sky remains quite similar and you don't get the amazing spectacle you otherwise would at sundown and sunrise. The steep angle of the land as it enters the water also minimizes the area of shore exposed at low tide. However, we've travelled south at quite a rate and are beginning to notice the dulling of light in the late evenings. The Lofoten Islands also have many areas with shallow shelving shores and as the sea emptied from the fjord we were parked by, it revealed a stretch of sand onto which the wading birds stalked. Vicky even went down with an umbrella and paddled out through the knee high water to the small islet we'd canoed past earlier.

    Just before 9pm Will was looking out on the bay and what did he see? Another Sea Otter scampering accross the rocks! He called Vicky and she managed to watch too as it traversed the seaweed and slid into the fjord. We couldn't believe it, after not having seen a Sea Otter for years and years, we see two different ones, on two consecutive evenings more than 100km apart! Amazing!
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  • Day382

    Flakstadøya layby

    July 13, 2017 in Norway

    The wind was blowing strong and cold and spattering Martha Motorhome with rainshowers. Continuing our journey south west accross the Lofoten Islands we passed a number of cyclists wrapped in fluorescent waterproofs, their faces screwed up tight against the inclement weather. It reminded us of where we are in the world and made us grateful to be viewing the amazing landscape from behind a windscreen and with blown air heating!

    In a way, the fact that the splendor of these islands still shone out through the hostile conditions is testament to their unique beauty. The sea was a dark blue fringed with rich turquoise and speckled with white caps. We travelled through boggy flatlands, with shallow ponds reflecting the sky and the white cotton grass blowing in the wind. The tall, triangular mountains were swathed in darkness, the thick grey cloud preventing light from penetrating directly and adding a menacing quality to our surroundings.

    We detoured off the beaten track and visited the quiet town of Stamsund for lunch. We saw very few people and several places were shut. There was a harbourside, whitewashed wooden board pub offering SUP (stand up paddle board) excursions and as we haven't yet eaten out in Norway we were tempted to lunch here, until we saw the prices. The £18 for a hamburger, £17 for a fishburger managed to dissuade us from that idea and we instead treated ourselves to a pastry and a custard bun from the small Cooperative supermarket when picking up a few essentials. Stamsund, like many towns on the islands, is a fishing port and there were lines of fish drying on the sides of buildings. Later on our journey we saw large areas of wooden racks assembled for the same purpose.

    Via a tunnel we arrived at the island of Flakstadøya and after a while made a brief stop at a busy beach restplace to change drivers and take Poppy out. There were several surfers in the water and some on the beach but the number of people and the weather put us off staying. After another little detour over a pair of adorable arched bridges and back, we parked up for the night at a roadside layby overlooking the sea and in sight of the next and our final Lofoten Island; Moskenesøya.
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  • Day383

    The rain having become heavier we drove onto our final Lofoten Island of Moskenesøya. We'd seen plenty of wooden racks for drying fish, but on this island we saw hunreds of large, light brown fish heads hung up on these racks like garlic or onion strings.

    The road was a collection of small bridges over sea channels and tunnels under near vertical rock faces. The lanes were narrow and it was sometimes difficult to judge whether we and the oncoming vehicle had enough room to pass without one of us pulling in at a wider section. Traffic lights controlled a few of the longer bridges, alternating the direction of traffic flow.

    After filling up and emptying at a van service station we headed to the Moskenes ferry port and parked up in the queue for the next crossing to Bodø, on the mainland, almost 100km away. We'd arrived as the 11:30am ferry was boarding but we only just squeezed on the car deck of the 1:30pm boat, so were glad we hadn't spent the time sightseeing instead of queuing. To occupy ourselves during the wait, we lunched before Vicky donned her rubber gloves and began to hand wash the undies in the sink. It struck us that this was one of the many differences between being on holiday and living in a van!

    The ferry was keen to leave and was still closing its cargo doors as we pulled away from port. We climbed up to the passenger area and went outside onto the rainy back deck to watch the contrast gradually fade on these beautiful islands, whose increasingly grey silhouettes looked like spikes on a dragon's spine. After a peak over the front deck we found a couple of seats and settled into our knitting and e-books for the journey that would last nearly 4 hours.

    As we neared the mainland the ferry was required to navigate through an archipelago of small islands before docking at Bodø, a large town with grey concrete buildings that brought us out of the fairytale world of brightly painted wooden cabins and back to 'civilisation'.

    We drove until we escaped the urban sprawl and stopped at Godøystraumen layby, part of Norway's tourist route. A small wooden footbridge led accross a deep, narrow channel that funneled the sea out of, or in to a fjord depending on the state of the tide. The rock formations were amazing, the layers having been turned on their ends and eroded so they looked like rugged humpback whales lying still in the shallows.
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  • Day384

    Saltstraumen Maelstrom & Dypen NR

    July 15, 2017 in Norway

    Today would be the first day in 24 days that we had fewer than 24 hours of daylight, the sun having set at 12:33am for a whole hour!

    We left our overnight spot earlier than usual to watch an amazing natural phenomenon - the Saltstraumen Maelstrom; a series of whirlpools that form at mid tide as the water drains between two fjords via the 150m wide, 3km long Saltstraumen Straight. It is claimed to be the world's 'largest' tidal current, moving 400 million cubic metres of water with speeds of up to 20 knots. You can see a video of what we saw on VnWTravels' YouTube Channel here: https://youtu.be/up-WRRksAv4

    Parking up with a group of other vans, we headed out, clad in waterproofs, to the apex of the large tall and long Saltstrambrua bridge that spanned the Staright, from where we could observe the spectacle from above. In the main channel, two wide bands of aerated water, whirling and bubbling like a jacuzzi, stretched downstream. It was difficult to believe this was the sea, not a river. Distinctively different colours of turquoise and emerald green were being stirred up and running alongside each other. We passed over Storeholmen, a midstream island on which a multitudinous colony of gulls was nesting and flying in to feed their fluffy speckled chicks, who huddled into the low vegetation or blended into the bare rock.

    On the far side of the island was a narrower channel in which many smaller tight twirls of water travelled with the current in lines almost perpendicular to the flow. These weren't infused with air like the larger ones and their cores were dark.

    On our return a speedboat boat came powering through the comparatively calm middle line between the two large bands of cauldrons (as they are known locally). However, when it hit the point at which the two whirlpool strings met it was pulled from side to side and struggled to keep its course. Rather them than us!

    After a warming cuppa and biccies in the van we had a wander down to the shore under the bridge to take in the maelstrom at close quarters. Many whirlpools were over 5m in diameter and it was interesting to see a marked difference in the height of the water bubbling up compared to that of the calmer sections. We spent quarter of an hour or so in a nearby centre that sold a few souvenirs and had an impressive photographic display of underwater scenes, many of them close-ups of fish or marine minibeasts, printed on large glossy boards (although we doubt they were taken in the Straights).

    Moving on and inland, we entered the Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park and found home for the night in a restplace in Dypen Nature Reserve. Parked overlooking white water rapids bordered with trees and cradled in between two steep rocky slopes it was a beautiful spot. When the rain abated that evening we sat on one of the round wooden picnic tables with a glass of whiskey while Will did his best to keep a fire going in a stone circle with the slightly damp wood he'd collected. Swatting at the odd mosquito, we toasted to what would be our last night within the Arctic Circle for a while.
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  • Day386

    We didn't drive far today because we were looking for a good spot to spend a couple of nights and before long we spotted a small hard mud parking area at the end of a lake. We were almost on top of it when we saw it and had to double back, but we are so glad we did! The long thin lake stretched away from us between two high hillsides, the left covered with mixed woodland, the right barren save for a few small plants clinging on here and there.

    The rain that seems to have been with us almost every day since we entered Norway, was once again intermittent but we wrapped up and in a dry spell, launched the canoe and paddled it up to the head of the lake where we discovered a large waterfall! (Luckily it was feeding in, not flowing out of the lake!)
    It was worth getting rained on for this relaxing journey that quickly took us away from the road and into nature.

    The following day felt indulgent as we caught up with a few things, knitted, played guitar and watched the rain drops falling into the lake and glittering as they hit its surface. A pair of sandpipers occasionally flitted between the rocks on the shore and after a while we were enticed out for another canoe, this time getting out at the other end to scramble over slippy rocks to the powerful waterfall. All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing spot to stay.
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  • Day7

    1. Come together

    June 21 in Norway

    Auf den Lofoten hat das erste "Come together" der Teams des Baltic Sea Circle 2018 stattgefunden.

    Nach Mitternacht sind wir als letztes eingelaufen und haben uns neben 2 super netten Hamburgern, die auch mit einem Feuerwehrauto (Audrüster Lampe) unterwegs sind, niedergelassen.
    Einige von uns haben sich gleich mal in die 11 bis 12 Grad kalte Norwegische See gestürzt, um dann wieder fit mit anderen Teams am Lagerfeuer unseren Biervorrat zu vertilgen und die Erlebnisse auszutauschen.Read more

  • Day24

    Catch me if you can

    July 30, 2017 in Norway

    Am Freitag ging es bei schönstem Wetter nach Bleik im Norden der Lofoten. Unterwegs konnten wir bei 22 Grad an einem schönen Strand verweilen. 🏖
    Ins Wasser konnte man jedoch nur kurz, denn es ist eiskalt.
    An Andenes vorbei ging es wieder zurück nach Svolvær, wo wir übernachteten. Am Samstag gingen wir nach Reine. Einem schönen Ort im westlichen Zipfel der Lofoten.
    Danach gingen wir in Å (ja der Ort heisst wirklich so, die Norweger sind teils nicht so kreativ bei der Namensgebung) fischen und ein gutmütiger Dorsch biss tatsächlich an. 🐟 🎣
    Am Abend ging aus dem "Reine-Touristen-Rummel" zurück nach Flakstad auf den Camping. ⛺️
    Heute ist wieder Lofoten-Wetter eingekehrt. Es weht ein kühler Wind und die schönen Bergspitzen sind nebelverhangen. 🌬🌫
    Vielleicht ein guter Tag zum fischen, ganz sicher ein guter Tag um ein Café aufzusuchen. ☕️
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  • Day17

    Greetings from Guest Blogger Anita. Last night, as sensible people were windng down at 9pm after an early, Arctic Circle start to the day, we arrived at Svolvaer 68'N. Pulling in to the quay, there was a poignant memorial to the women who have lost men at sea and behind that A frame fish drying racks. Svolvaer was a small town, and after a walk around we would have been happy to hit the hay. Alas, on reboarding at 9:45pm, an announcement was made that at 11pm we would enter Trollsfjord and that it was worthwhile seeing. Although it was cloudy we were also interested to see how light it stayed that late and so stayed up. Trollsfjord is only 100m wide (the ship is just under 20m wide) and can be visited in calm weather, which we had last night. The crew handed out delicious fish soup to sustain the crowds there. We didnt quite make midnight, and there wasn't sun, but the light was bizarre and wonderful to experience.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Nordland Fylke, Nordland

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