Crossing the Arctic Circle has never been so warm (alas only for the first two days)
While in our native lands raged the heat the long-awaited holidays arrived, and with them, the Arctic dream came true.
After having spent a good amount of time waiting at the departure gate at Malpensa airport (such a short time to let me consume half the reading scheduled for the next 8 days) we finally took off. At the Oslo exchange we only had the moment to take a first breath, then run through diametrically from the terminal A to the terminal D to get in time on the connection.
So we finally arrived in Bodø, a charming Norwegian town that faces, in just three ferry-hours, the Lofoten archipelago.
We were warned about the different cost of living, and for this we brought freeze-dried supplies from home for the journey, but we were certainly not ready for a 300% increase in food, especially for beer. Fortunately, or sometimes as compensation, as soon as we left the restaurant on the first evening, we found ourselves in front of our first arctic sunset.
Just enough time to digest the bill and we returned to the warmth of our room, soon to be forgotten. We allowed ourselves the beauty of three hours of sleep, and at 2:30 am we left the hotel towards the ferry that would take us, finally, to the Lofoten.
As you can imagine, just few misfits like us choose the ferry at 3 am, so we had a floating playground to explore and despite the prevailing sleep we snuck up to the “VIP board” equipped with seats à la Men in black and panoramic view on the bow. After 2 hours of navigation mixed with sporadic naps, the Lofoten wall stood out on our horizon.
Arrived in Moskenes, we had only enough time to get our bearings before getting into the saddle of the bus that would take us to Leknes, only 30 minutes walk away from the long-awaited campervan. A local girl seeing us trudging on the last kilometers of dirt had the good heart to give us a ride to the pick-up point, not before making a break close to her potato field to show us her timelapse project on the growth of such precious tubers.
Handshakes, some signatures and we are riding the fireball.
We tested it immediately with a first ride to Ramberg, famous for its long white beach made of fine sand, interspersed with our first shored jellyfish and childrens.
One thing that struck me immediately was how much the weather conditions didn’t affect at all the inhabitants of the place, for us Italian rain is often a defeat, but here where rain, wind and cold are constant companions children play on the beach, make castles and dams even in the heavy rain at 10 ° C.
We certainly couldn’t be cornered as well by some rain, and the rivulets of water dugging changing dark paths in the white sand were calling strong to be ignored.
The equivalent of our house by the sea or in the mountains here is called Hytta, an isolated building, often detached from the road network and camouflaged thanks to the classic roof covered with grass and moss. It seems that the Norwegians go crazy for these corners of solitude and peace.
Enjoyed the first taste of this archipelago we went down again to the south, entering the town with the shortest name on Earth: Å
The clouds began to move North, and to celebrate the first ray of sunshine we opened a Milanese lyophilized risotto on the edge of a mini fjord, where even a canoe took a bath, perhaps exaggerating a bit with diving.
In these towns is very common to find residues of the famous outdoor drying practice of the Stokkfisks. The drying period is from April to July, so we were already well beyond the maximum limit in which we could hope to find expanses of fish put to dry, we did not lose our mind for this, unlike someone else …
Greeted Å after a hearty meal that has long exceeded the expectations we moved to the most famous town of the archipelago, Reine.
The constellation of islets is characterized by emerald green seabeds, cliffs and Rorbu: the classic local red houses that from around 1100 have been built across these areas to accommodate the fishermen during the winter fishing season, and since some years they have been readapted to hotels and rooms for tourists.
The village is dominated by a mountain called Reinebringen from whose summit one has an uninterrupted view spanning to the farthest fjords. The only obstacle to overcome is the path of ascent, now officially closed because of the redevelopment works that are slowly creating a stone staircase to the top, pity that the accessible stretch stops just before the last almost vertical meters . Given our endless luck in the days before the weather had not been benevolent, giving rain and storms without a break, and the last stretch of climb was reduced to a slide of mud. Armed with stubbornness and enthusiasm, however, we managed to climb, dodging Chinese folks in free fall and tourists more accustomed to fastfood than the paths.
The view from here is certainly worth the effort of mud and sweat.
Perhaps blessed by the sweat poured, just before descending we heard a rustle in the air grow stronger and stronger. I only had time to take a single picture in passing but it was worth to witness the first meeting “wild” with a sea eagle.
As we headed back in suits of mud and sweat we opted for a first night in a real campsite, just for the comfort of a shower. Little did we know it was going to be also the last until the end of our adventure.
On the second day we left for a fishing village that over the years became a symbol of such, Nusfjord.
The admission fee is worth considering that in case your friends or relatives to go in those areas within a year, their entry would be free.
Also here we find the faithful jellyfish to patrol the waters, without reference points it will be difficult to give a dimension to these docile creatures, but trust in reading that the diameter was around the meter.
Pinkish urticant umbrellas.
The village is a small pearl of colored Rorbu and small museums; while observing the horizon we noticed the return of some uncomfortable friends, the clouds.
Running from the coming storm we arrived at the umpteenth hidden treasure of this archipelago: the town of Hennigsvaer. Here two sterns welcomed us chasing a game (or skirmish) in front of our van.
Given the strategic position, central enough to reach the most beautiful mountains in the area, the core of mountaineering and ski mountaineering is concentrated among these houses. A pub in downtown acts as a meeting place for sportsmen, with a bulletin board for activity proposals and a small shop containing all the essential material in about ten square meters.
To add up, the urban landscape is the same as seen in the previous postcards, but always new and enriched by a fantastic soccer field, just as big as the peninsula on which its built on.
I’d say that’s not bad as a beginning for an adventure!
But the wildest part, and I would even say bestial is just around the corner.
Stay tuned for the next updates of the Arctic adventure!