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.
We did it!
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.
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?
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.
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.