To the end of the earth

Day 40. Saturday 22 June. 

A birthday missed but not forgotten. Apparently the England cricket team didn’t deliver the right present either – or perhaps they scrambled through? Haven’t heard a result as yet.

Focus today is North Cape, a 40 minute bus ride from the wharf at Honningsvag. We will stop there for 3.5 hours and there are a number of other excursions available: bird watching, fishing villages, and a mountain hike.

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To be exact, North Cape is not quite the furthest north connected land point in Europe – the honour seemingly belongs to a headland a bit to the west, across a fjord from North Cape.

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The tour guide later explaining that the connecting tunnel to Mageroy island meant that both were considered to be mainland. We will have to follow up on that: ‘The Englishman who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain’ sort of story?

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The day looked dry and there was even sunshine (and so there should be for midsummer!), but we were taking no chances, so had some wet weather protection just in case. The guide was chatty and mostly clear enough but for a brief moment T thought she heard him referring to the crowds moving away, so we should expect a good time on the cape, despite there being several huge cruising ships docked. As we climbed higher, the view became more problematic, with the wind blasting and misty cloud racing low. Then T realised the pronunciation and the ‘crowd moving’ was ‘cloud moving’ and while it was certainly moving, it was increasing.

The wind chill factor was extreme: we were looking for that one person – there’s usually one – who was in a T-shirt, but today the closest was a young girl in a T-shirt and cardigan, dragging after her parents looking unimpressed, albeit quite fashionable. We did a mandatory and very quick tour around the outside features snapping some photos of the mist before scurrying inside to check out the indoor offerings that had been enthusiastically endorsed by our guide: the story of the sinking of the German Navy’s ‘Schaarnhorst’ in WW II, the ‘furtherest north’ Chapel, the Thailand King’s postal service and the film on the North Cape.

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The ‘Schaarnhorst’ display was simple but an effective telling of the story, including of course the significant Norwegian input. The chapel was small and basic – appropriate for its use. We didn’t get to the Thai story, but the film, featuring the midnight sun, the landscape, the Aurora Borealis, the landscape, the industry, the landscape….was terrific.

So on to the bus for the return trip. The guide spoke most of the way about the Sami people, and some of the issues that they face. We’d been aware there were some historic and current issues because we’d watched the SBS series ‘Midnight Sun’ but were unaware that they hadn’t been recognised officially until 1990. The guide’s parents were Sami, and he noted that until recently there was a sort of shame in belonging, so much so that his parents and grandparents tried to hide their background, refusing to speak Sami and advising him to do the same. It sounded a bit like having convict ancestors in Australia, or an aboriginal heritage, until very recently. He was, however, one of the protesters in the 1980s fighting for change and cultural recognition, while his father was at the same time arguing to let things be. It seems that the difference in opinion didn’t lead to a family feud.

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Back on board…….eventually.

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We took advantage of the bright afternoon to venture into the hot tub on Deck 6 and we did need to regularly stand to cool the torsos. The rest of the afternoon passed with sunshine, wind and the ship dropping off and picking up cargo & passengers. The countryside is beautiful but bleak. We were intrigued by the small communities we passed by wondering, amongst other thoughts, what their social life was like with such geographic isolation.

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The deliveries are quick, with a side-opening ramp and gangway and a forklift shifting back and forth (tyres, bags of cement, gas cylinders, pallets…). Kjollefjord is typical of the little ports along the way.

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The wind turbines are a mixed environmental (save the world) blessing as birds get caught in the blades and the mobile homes are also mixed blessing as they impact the environment as well as the economy.

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Into the evening and the water is a bit churny, as we are outside the protection of the islands. The crew point out another ‘church’ feature: two rock formations called ‘The Church’ and ‘The Chapel’. They apparently have special significance for ‘good luck’ for the fisher-people and the Sami. We were, unfortunately and usually, the last in the line to get a photograph, so missed out on the spectacular views that some others were able to get many shots of (yes, grumpy, irritated old man).

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We sit by a big window, D with a beer, T with her unknitting (having decided that the single strand recycled yarn is probably not strong enough, and that 2 strands would be much safer…so a week of knitting becomes balls of yarn once again).

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As we sat in the bistro area, D conducted another experiment, this time not involving beer. As people passed by he attempted to engage eye contact and then a nod and/or the Norwegian hello ‘hi’ (pronounced somewhere between ‘high’ and ‘hay’). Not sure how many wandered through, but he scored only one who maintained contact, smiled and replied ‘hi’, one who didn’t look away immediately and almost smiled, one who looked shocked, and everyone else whose gaze immediately slipped away, sometimes almost seeming embarrassed. D has discounted that it may just be him, but it is a possibility! It has been interesting that despite this reluctance to acknowledge, when people have been directly accosted they have been more than happy to engage and help.

We haven’t bought the full catering package, so tonight’s meal is the filled rolls from the breakfast buffet (with the Cassalero Diablo smuggled aboard) . We’re hardly starving! It’s been a slow boat ride to Kirkenes, with fabulous scenery and has provided a tiny insight into the culture of  this seafaring people. And meeting Elizabeth, the English widow of a tea grower (the one D escorted on Day 1 of this cruise), an elderly solo traveller from Kinloch in Scotland, was an extra treat. Elizabeth has a daughter who emigrated (a good move) to west of Mackay (Qld) some years ago and Elizabeth had stories to tell from her visits there. And today, she spoke of her son who skied from Bergen to Kirkenes (4 months in winter), then kayaked back and wrote a book of his adventure. Elizabeth is happy to be doing the route with Hurtigruten.

Adventures and some of the other sorts…

Day 39. Friday 21 June. 

A peaceful night, although the 8 AM start is just a bit early after our rather late finish: we seem to have lost that ability to party all night and bounce back next day.

After buffet breakfast, and being an organised pair, we book for today’s visit in Tromso and tomorrow’s trip to North Cape. It all went smoothly (the staff had changed, and D avoided Dad jokes) but nevertheless: Mistake 1!

We have four afternoon hours in Tromso and it seems a good option to take the ‘City Sightseeing Excursion’, all packaged in a timely way. Three attractions are included: the cable-car (sourced from Switzerland, as ‘the Swiss know how to do it’ our guide told us), the Arctic Cathedral and the Polaria centre. Mistake 2: We dress for cold and not so well for damp. We board the coach at the terminal, along with the group of talkative and loud Americans who shared their conversations with everyone within a 2 km radius and arrive at the cable-car entrance to find Mistake 3: a queue of at least 45 mins!!!! We’d seen similar in Bergen, when the cruise ships were in and had dismissed that as a bad joke.; here we were in Tromso and the joke was now on us (four big cruise ships were in), we were in a queue, in the open and it started to rain! Already the tour leader’s schedule was dudded.

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By the time we got into the cable-car cabin, having been overtaken several times by anxious and pushy queue jumpers, there was only enough time to alight, take a snap, then get back in.

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We were intrigued by the regulation-obsessed Norwegians view of adequate fencing on a cliff top!

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No point crying and no point looking at the bill! We arrived at the Arctic Cathedral for a 15 mins snapshot; a bunch of marathon runners was also there: tomorrow is the 30thanniversary of the Midnight Sun Marathon…Doug and Penny, where are you?

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Next, the Polaria Centre where seals perform their tricks for fish – a bit sad in our view – and the theatre shows a drone-video of the Arctic, followed by one of the Northern lights. T says that she’d love to experience the lights, but…

The rain has set in, hiding the longer vista and transforming the intermediate view into grayscale. Feeling in need of a hot snack, we opt for the hamburger and fishburger… or rather, the plates of roast potatoes with burgers on the side. D, even with his ‘Viking’ heritage couldn’t quite do the potatoes justice and  for T, it was Mistake 4 , as she never had a hope. It’s perfect weather for knitting.

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Time is on my (our) side

Day 38. Thursday 20 June. 

Our ship doesn’t leave until 10 PM – boarding at 9 – and our kind host has extended our check out time to midday, but T still has a restless night in anticipation of the move. But its an easy pack up, tidy and clean – the hard bit is what to do with the day?

It is an opportunity to see Svolvaer, as we’d planned, with galleries and museums open, unlike when we arrived a week ago. First stop is the Krigminnemuseum, which is a privately owned and curated exhibition of Norway in WW II, and in particular the German occupation. It has ‘old fashioned’ displays but the artifacts are excellent. The owner was present later in our visit and talking to a woman from America, whose father had served in ‘Little Norway’ in the US where Norwegian pilots were trained. She had some items that she wanted to donate: the owner said that this was the source of many of his unique items. Another item of mention was a painting attributed to Hitler, plus four Disney cartoon drawings that he is reputed to have done. The owner bought the painting at an auction for a pittance and was unaware of its provenance or the four sketches hidden behind it until it was opened on his return.

There was a lot to see and a lot to absorb: like most of those sorts of displays, several visits are needed to ration the impact. T wandered off to do some gallery viewing; D wandered without a target.

Meeting up again, checking watches: still 6 hours to wait! T suggested a walk, so we ventured on an ‘easy’ walk around some fresh water lakes just out of Svolvaer. We have become used to maps and diagrams bearing only some connection t reality, and the display board showing the 11 km, 4-5 hour trek was no different. There was a shorter internal loop and we decided to do that, estimating it to be about 4 km. Off we went in the direction of the arrow, onto what seemed to be the path, and took the first left as the map indicated. We passed a hint of where the Vikings who bequeathed D’s Duyputren’s Contracture might have come from.

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We came to a ski hut which had the same map with a ‘you are here’ marker: we weren’t on the track at all, but only at the start of the loop. Never mind! The track branched, so we went left; then the track branched, so we went left again; then the track branched, but the left track was so boggy we couldn’t walk, so we went right. The lake was accessible, T was tempted to pause (and even take a dip) but D was pressing on ahead, probably focused on the ship schedule?

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Eventually we arrived at the top of a hill to see another lovely lake below us, and a line of light poles along a track. This we followed, on and on, until we eventually hit a gravel road that took us back to the start point. Not sure how far we walked, but it was longer than the estimate!

At 5 PM D could hold off no longer and drove to the Hertz depot, adjacent to the Hurtigruten boarding wharf. T pushed the seat back & snoozed in the car: D watched the arrival of coach after coach, taxis, people movers, a queue of cars formed and he just HAD to know what was going on: simple – the south bound ship was due in at  7 PM. It duly arrived and D watched in amazement and bemusement as it disgorged hundreds and hundreds of passengers heading for a one hour excursion in Svolvaer. He went on board to ask the crew what the procedure was: they eyed him suspiciously but obliged. T’s knitting advanced. D did some writing.

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Dinner was pizza in town – ‘the big one is just right for two’ we were advised. It could have fed a family of five. T remarked to the waiter, who was a Palestinian by birth, via the UK, that she thought Norwegian food was bland to our taste, as we prefer big, spicy flavours. Yes, he agreed, but you should have told me and I could have added more flavours!

Our ship came in without fanfare: one minute it was not there, the next, it was gliding into docking position.

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Only a few passengers got off, and far fewer got on. Into our telephone box cabin, working out how to pull down the two single beds we’ll be in for the next three nights. ‘Out of harm’s way’, Timmy would have said.

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Then, again without fanfare, we were off.

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D did his good deed for the day helping an old lady negotiate the rolling deck.

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And some very good news: we take a detour up the Trollfjord, the one we missed by road a few days ago, and fortuitously decided not to visit on a (expensive) paid excursion. Yes, it was spectacular, and narrow – a delicate operation at the end to turn the ship on a circle to head out.

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Some happy campers were enjoying the peace and quiet until we arrived– it looked heavenly. The glorious evening demands lens-clicking.

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We want to book a couple of excursions over the next few days. D is asked by the lady on the Help desk, with whom he’d got on famously previously because he’d thanked her in Indonesian, whether she can be of assistance. D answers that he doesn’t know, because he hasn’t asked for anything yet. She is not at all amused, but her colleague alongside is: D hastily backtracks from smart-alec mode. Doesn’t help – he is huffily redirected to another desk. The young man grumpily asks how long have we been on board, implying that we should have done this much earlier. D answers, just a shade grumpily: ‘about 30 minutes!’ The young man retreats, but isn’t beaten: the system is down – come back tomorrow morning after 9 AM.

On the way out the Indonesian lady relents and registers D’s credit card against his room key card. Terima kasi!

Now, as it’s approaching midnight (but noone has told the sun), bed calls, the throbbing of the engines lulling us to sleep – once passengers in the adjoining cabins cease throwing their heaviest pieces of luggage against the walls!

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Breaking the ice

Day 37. Wednesday 19 June.

It has seemed curious to us, as mentioned previously, that Lofoten appears to refer to the islands generally below Austvagoy, which is where Svolvaer and we are located. Our trips have mostly been to those lower islands, prompted by the list of ‘must sees’ provided. So today we decided to head north to try to find out why.

A simple answer is that there is much less infrastructure (larger towns), greater distance between towns and fewer tourist attractions. That is, unless you count magnificent mountains rising straight up from the sea, green forests and hills, residual snow down almost to road level, scenery, scenery…but no shops, galleries, rorbru or a café that serves other than brewed or capsule coffee. As senior hipsters we have insisted on espresso coffee: it was just not available, that we could discover, north of Svolvaer. Someone will, I’m sure, remind us it’s a First World problem.

After a long drive, we arrived at Lodingen, having passed over the tiny island of Husjorday – basically a nub of land connected to bigger islands by two bridges.  There was not much happening in Lodingen, although ferries passed to and from regularly. A brewed coffee was enough to provide the adrenalin rush needed to become crazy brave, and to find a swimming beach.

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We did it!

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The beach had a small toilet block with a change room facility, so we avoided being arrested for indecent exposure, although D in his black speedos was still borderline. He was disappointed that he didn’t have red ones – he’d have liked to dedicate the occasion to an appropriate Australian icon.

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We must admit that there was very little time spent immersed – any longer and there may have been bits brittle enough to drop off. And just an aside: Benbecula is Latitude 57 degrees 26 minutes 50 seconds, while Lodigen is 68 degrees 24 minutes 35 seconds – and the Arctic Circle is at 66 degrees 33 minutes. T & D have established the Lodigen Senior Australians Sea Swimming Club as the first two founding members. The challenge is out there.

Having thawed out, the picnic lunch of whale salami/bread/cheese was in positively balmy sunshine. The return to Svolvaer included an impromptu side trip which ended up at Sortland on the island of Langoy. And this was the very first view (in the distance) of any sort of Norwegian military presence (apart from the bunkers at airfields we’d commented on previously). Is there an Army?

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We really had no idea where we were going – D was in any event somewhat distracted by being followed by the Politi for 50km of the journey. Again, no espresso machine to be found, but we did score some nice salmon for our final evening meal in Svolvaer. But any interesting observation is the number of houses that dsplay the Norwegian flag, usually as a pennant.  We’d noticed this first on the train trip from Oslo to Flam.

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Tomorrow we board the Hurtigruten ferry ‘Nordlys’ at 10 PM to head north to Kirkenese – arriving on Sunday 23 June. It’s unlikely that we’ll have internet connection during that time so this may be the last post until we arrive in Oslo. T’s knitting should have advanced and she might actually do some music homework. Not sure how D will fill his time and 3 days without news will be a stress.

Exactly where are we?

Day 36. Tuesday 18 June.

After yesterday’s long day on the road, visits closer to home are planned. Our target is the Lofotmuseet, in the area now known as Storvagan, on the site of the city of Vagar which in the 1800s was the location of a major fishing enterprise.

The site contains 11 buildings, plus is the start point to a 2 km historic walk. As rain threatened we decided to do that first. The ‘trail’ is aptly described: a narrow foot pad through knee high grass, with directions provided by small wooden signs that did not include any text, and were often discreetly positioned so that they were hidden from casual sight.

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That system worked and we missed the sign to the statue of King Oystein, but fortunately met two very helpful young boys who were able to redirect us in excellent English: one claiming proudly that they were the best in the class at English; the other later told us he could speak four or five languages (his arithmetic apparently not as good): English, Arabic, Norwegian and one other we missed. We asked why they weren’t at school: tomorrow is the last day before two months summer holidays. So with a bit of help we found the king – he also scored the indignity of a large gull sitting on his crown.

The museum was terrific, telling a story of the fishing industry that made sense of a lot of what we’ve seen and heard, both here and previously in Norway, the Faroes and Iceland. The buildings covered all aspects; the original rorbuers (fishermen’s huts) were an eye-opener: 8 – 12 men sharing the space, and if you just count the bunks, that makes for interesting evenings.

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The original manor house, which has had a varied career since the last owner went bankrupt in 1901, was a wonderful contrast in lifestyle and privilege.

A shorter touring day (although 7 hours on the go didn’t seem short) had us back in the apartment by 5.30, ready to walk down the hill to Borsen Spiseri on the little island of Svinoy, which is reputed to provide excellent stock fish dishes.

Fortunately, the light rain stopped for our hike to the restaurant. D had investigated alcohol + driving regulations and, as expected, the two are not tolerated (>0.05=prison). We’d booked a table at Borsen, according to rave reviews, in order to do THE THING, ie the codfish (aka stock fish when dried).

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Our Polish waiter was engaging, affirming our wine choice (cheapest – but not cheap – and Spanish) and then mentioning that his sister is currently living and working on a working visa in a Queensland city, near a desert, population around 80….yes, it’s Bedourie! Well, Bedourie is, from memory, a channel- country town on the fringe of the Simpson red desert, has very hot springs that we couldn’t immerse in, a night rodeo that we went to in 2017, and camel races that we missed by a few weeks. She is ‘killing flies’ and doing something related to bar work; he was amused and bemused that local policeman drinks at the bar and then pulls over the other customers! Sounds accurate. We shared a marinated reindeer entrée, sweetish due to the red onion marinade, accompanied by a striped beetroot shaving and  little red ligna berries, a local wild product, on a bed of rocket.

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Then came the 2 cod dishes: Royal & Risotto. What to say: yes, the fish flakes beautifully, white and succulent, but the flavor is SO SUBTLE. Accompanied by stronger flavours from the prosciutto (Royal) and chorizo & mushroom risotto, the meal was very nice but…We know that we prefer bigger flavours. Seems like big effort: hydrating the dried fish for a week, changing the water daily, then adding a bit of salt before cooking.

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However, as an ecological whole-food source over many centuries, it works and D was able to enjoy another serving of steamed, buttered potatoes. As we walked home, we thought of the flavours of bream, flathead, leatherjackets, trout…that we enjoy without big accompaniments. What would Norwegians make of T’s fish curry (+100 spices)?

There was a small group of three at an adjacent table – D thinks two were American and one Canadian. From casual snatches of conversation, he would like to add another law to Godwin’s Law but hasn’t yet come up with a name (Pelosi’s’s First Law?). The law is similar: As a discussion on problems in contemporary US or world politics grows longer, the probability of  Trump being blamed approaches 1.

 

 

 

On the road again

Day 35. Monday 17 June.

A road trip today – 130 kms south to the town of A on the island of Moskenoy, via recommended stops of course. But it is a late start: the thumping above is muted this morning, allowing a ‘second sleep’ – this hardly matters as there is no night and we can just skew our day to the right. Just to prove that not every summer’s day in Lofoten is blue, today was shades of grey and rain is forecast mid-week.

The trip takes us onto three new islands: Hamnoy, Flakstadoy and Moskanoy and through a few towns.

Coffee at the bakery at Leknes, about halfway on the outward journey. Unlike our visit late Saturday afternoon, it was packed, but the coffee was as good. And a lone local gull demonstrated that it favoured human food scraps; this is the first time we’ve seen this behavior on our trip.

The glass blowing at Vikten Glasshytta had drawn a small but very appreciative audience.

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Spectacular workshop gallery & location and T was taken by the architecture as much as by the glass. Now has plans for a beach shack.

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Along the road to Nusfjord, looking for the third of the ‘sculpture in the landscape’. It was not there – just one of the problems with large scale, sketch maps where the symbols cover a couple of square kilometers on the ground! We eventually found it a smallish ball of ??? sitting on a circle of white pebbles. It’s a pity that none of the sculpture pieces have information, but maybe that’s the point, letting them just BE within the landscape.

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The fourth and final sculpture was a big cairn shaped as an imposing regular cylinder. There had been either some vandalism or deterioration, as some of the stones had fallen, but not enough to ruin the effect and the colourings were perfect.

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We passed by Flakstad, sort of missing it from the road, but turned back to check out the church, built from Russian timber and with a Russian ‘onion’ below its spire. It was, of course, all closed up – open at 5 PM, and none of the music offerings fitted our schedule (there are festivals and concerts in July & August).

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There were two obelisk memorials on either side of the entry path, dedicated to soldiers who’d lost their lives at Narvik in WW II – we assume they were from the area. A third gravestone, fairly new, was very sad. The family, who had lived in the late 1800s, were listed: the youngest child died in 1852 aged a couple of months, the next aged about two died a couple of years later, and then an eight year old died in October 1862, a ten year old in November that year and then the mother, aged 38, in December. We wondered what had happened in 1862 in the area…flu??? The father died at much later around 60 years old.  For a small hamlet, the adjoining graveyard was huge.

Outside Ramberg we stopped for a walk on the white beach: then we spotted a couple of Orcas surfacing – they were quite a way out but magical anyway. The water looked inviting, but the weather precluded any real thought of finally diving in. D was tempted to meet the challenge, but squibbed it.

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By now, around 3 PM, rumbling tummies reminded us that it was time for lunch. T wanted a hearty soup so we entered an unpretentious Kafe – lowering our heads to get in. One customer later unfortunately forgot to do so. We opted for fish (cod) & chips, and were delighted: so often the expectation of fish and chips is not matched by the reality.

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Onto the much photographed village of Reine, by which time the strip of land between mountain and water had become almost non-existent.

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There, the art gallery Eva Harr beckoned, but we are reluctant to pay for admission to commercial artists’ offerings particularly when we don’t know the artist or the style and subject matter. Maybe we are spoilt.

Our last call was A, at the end of the E10 main route and home of the Lofoten Fishing Museum, where every aspect of this historic industry is explained. Needless to say, as we arrived after 6 PM, everything closed up, but that did mean we could wander through without an entry fee.

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Having visited most towns and villages in Lofoten, we are struck by the amount of tourist accommodation available, much in the form of the ‘rorbuer’. And how organized is the tourist industry! Another noticeable feature is an almost complete lack of rubbish/graffiti and the waterways, despite the volume of diesel traffic are pristine. Full marks to whatever they do here to preserve the environs.

Driving has been overall pretty easy – other drivers are careful, perhaps even overly so, and the use of passing bays on narrow roads has worked well. There was one scare today – a car overtaking a bus, heading towards a head-on collision with us. Fortunately a combination of heavy braking by us and an on-the-ball the bus driver who also braked avoided a nasty situation.

Rain began to fall lightly as we returned to Svolvaer, with the temperature hovering around the 11 to 13 degrees that it had been all day.

Rest Day

Day 34. Sunday 16 June.

This blog is a cooperative activity: we take turns in writing the first draft, we both edit/add to that, and we jointly select the photographs. T suggested, for the previous post (Happy Days) that we independently draft the blog and then compare the results. There was an interesting (and frightening?) similarity in the result!

Our resolve to have a slow day, and do some admin, finally happened. T wanted a brunch of mushrooms, lemon, wilted spinach…so we duly headed into town to source same, to find that all the stores were closed: the only supermarket open in the whole of Lofoten was a ‘Kiwi Mini Pris’, just up the road. An understanding local explained the facts to us, as well as giving directions; our host later added that this was not a religious thing, but rather to give everyone a day off. The mini part was accurate: it was a section of the main store, but it was able to provide the items we needed to survive until Monday (D had re-supplied beer ahead of Sunday).

So after breakfast, with no expectation that anything would be open – we were right – we wandered into Svolvaer, still hoping to do some galleries! Nothing open, not even the local church, then across the bridge to the tiny island of Svinoya, with an endless view.

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There were more rorbuer, the quaint, red fisherman’s cottages, but many of them seemed to be of more recent construction to cater for those wanting that unique experience.

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Some workers didn’t get the day off: the pallets of dried fish were being moved around on the wharves.

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Being a Sunday, we of course went to church, to the Lofoten Cathedral. Due to a scarcity of preachers, services aren’t held every Sunday, and in any event turning up at 1.30 PM meant we were pretty sure to miss it anyway. Again, a lovely but understated wooden Lutheran church dating from 1898.

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We think (because the wording in the brochure is ambiguous) it was ordered by King Oystein to service the itinerant fishermen (3-4000) who were given precedence in front row seating. Why was not explained, but if the fishermen we know are any indication, it was probably because they needed saving the most or they needed most prayers for their catch.

One of the ‘must do’s’ on our list was to have a swim in the Arctic Sea, or close enough to claim bragging rights (we’re actually in the Norwegian Sea – albeit between the Norwegian Sea and the mainland) – but let’s not quibble: the water is still arctic cold. That was a target today, anticipating that the current fine weather may not hold. There are several signposted swimming spots south of Svolvaer, and we dutifully followed the signs but could not discover anything that looked like a swimming spot. We remembered passing a spot to the north previously, so headed there, to find some sand, some rocks, mirror water and a few families picnicking.

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T bravely took off her shoes and socks and ventured in to mid-calf: does that qualify as a swim?

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And, adding to our comment yesterday about the destination of the fish heads, our host advised us that they are in fact donated, rather than sold, to African countries, as a humanitarian gesture. Google didn’t seem to support that view. We have observed a number of possibly ‘African’ families here and wonder about immigration/asylum matters. One of them had 6 daughters: double our luck.