The Lofoten Islands is a long chain of islands of varying size connected by bridges and tunnels which are known for their majestic beauty. High peaks still with patches of snow rise almost straight from the sea in places. Small fishing villages and settlements are clustered in the flat areas. Cod fishing is still extremely important to the islands economy, particularly since it peaks in winter when there are few tourists. We arrived at the southern end at Moskenes and straight onto a narrow windy road which was barely wide enough for the van in places – lots of stops to let other vehicles pass us. Fortunately the road improved after a while – there was even a centre line in places.
Our campground was right on a beautiful white sandy beach and the second night we managed to move to the prime position right beside the beach. Only problem was that a persistent sea fog came in and it was too cold to sit outside and take advantage of our amazing view. Luckily the other side of the islands had blue skies and no wind. The locals are very hardy and sit outside in all conditions. Had to take a photo of this couple from Lappland in northern Finland. They were sitting on the beach in the fog drinking whisky and said it was much better than where they come from even in the cold and fog.
Our campsite had a very good restaurant which is unusual – had a delicious fish dinner and Richard could have some wine as he didn’t have to drive!
We explored the southern islands over the next few days. One thing you see everywhere are the fish drying racks. Some still had codfish heads still drying on them despite it being summer with the expected flies having their share. Dried cod is very common over here and used in many dishes. The southern most fishing village has the grand name of A.
Richard was keen to do some fishing so we found out about a local cod boat that takes people out fishing during summer and went out the first afternoon. Richard was happy because he took his own fishing gear and we managed to catch some fish but we felt for the other 3 tourists on the boat. The gear was useless, the young guy who took us out was totally disinterested in making sure everyone had a good experience, he hadn’t bothered to clean the boat at all since he had been out fishing for himself and the bait was old. I have a strong stomach but had to position myself up forward to get away from the smell (one time Richard’s lack of sense of smell was an advantage!)
One afternoon we thought a hike was in order so chose a coastal walk between 2 villages, about 4 hours and supposedly easy. After a few accidental deviations (Richard was in front navigating!) and negotiating a huge boulder field we realised the hike was taking a lot longer than we anticipated. The final straw was when we came upon a vertical handmade wooden ladder 15-20 m long ending in a rope in a rock cleft and saw how much further we still had to go. It was the first time we can remember not getting to our objective on a hike. But the scenery was beautiful. We met people on the way back with large dogs who did not know about the ladder. There was no way a dog could get down it. They were having enough trouble on the boulder field.
We also visited the village of Nusfjord which is regarded as the most original fishing village in Northern Norway. It has a beautiful setting. Some of the oldest buildings have been turned into open museums that you can wander through and see the fishing gear from the 1800’s.
While we are normally adverse to touristy venues the Viking Museum was rated as a must see. It was developed on the site of a major Viking archaeological excavation where they found the remains of a Viking longhouse and many other items. They had recreated the longhouse down to the furniture, clothing and everyday life. They were even making vegetable soup in a cauldron over an open fire inside.
The Lofoten Islands are an incredibly beautiful destination. After 4 nights in the southern part we are spending 5 nights in the northern islands. We have also been blessed with amazing weather. Apart from the localised fog it has been quite warm with lots of sun.
Next blog from Kabelvag in the northern Lofoten Islands.