Tuesday 4th July – Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Weather: Small patches of blue sky so painted a smilie face on Ziggy, hit the accelerator and we were off!!
Decided to catch the ferry from Skutvik to Svolvaer – a two and a bit hour trip and half the price (Bodo to Lofoten was around $350 for our size motorhome).
A tight squeeze with only inches to spare between all vehicles front, back and sides – was sure we would lose our mirrors it was so close. Squeezed out of the drivers side door and went up the three levels to the top deck. A very calm but cold day on the water but no rain which made the trip very enjoyable – though had to cuddle a lot to keep warm when on the deck. Not much interesting to see as we crossed Vestfjordan until we reached Skrova Island.
Went through a channel that was not much wider than the ferry and passed by a lighthouse that you could almost reach out and touch as we sailed by. The village on Skrova was as pretty as a picture with homes spread along the hillsides and down to the waters edge – not much more than a little fishing village but really just wonderful.
A little while later we arrived at Svolvaer, a bustling town so different to Skrova.
Headed straight out of town to find a camp spot for the night a few kms away. Stayed at Austnestfjorden Rastplass, a popular tourist stop, which has a timber deck built leading to views of the fjord and mountains on one side and another set of 30 or so timber steps leading to another viewing platform on the other side. Buses, cars and motorhomes came and went until around 6 pm and it was pretty quiet after that.
We were very lucky as the rain had held off for most of the day but as we settled in to sleep, it rained pretty much most of the night.
Wednesday 5th July – Leknes, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Weather: patches of blue sky with heavy cloud.
Decided to head to the most southern tip of Lofoten over the next few days so took the E10 and headed south to our first stop at Borg. Everybody along the way has raved about the scenery in Lofoten and from what we saw yesterday and today – absolutely true. So fantastically beautiful and with a little bit of sunshine occasionally, it was more than spectacular. The colours were just amazing.
We visited the Lofotor Viking Museum along with coach loads of tourists, cars and motorhomes filling the enormous car park to capacity. Peak season has only just started here and six out of every ten passenger cars are motorhomes and caravans. We had hoped as we headed further north, the traffic would slow down – not so. It appears most are Norwegian plates and more seem to be heading south – thank goodness.
The Museum is a must to see as it covers acres and acres of land and has so much to offer in the all inclusive price. Firstly the main building is the history museum with artefacts from the Viking era plus a great little film. Then a short walk to a reconstructed Chieftains house which is massive (the largest in Europe we believe) and covers three large rooms with artefacts, decorations , crafts and Viking era costumed villagers ready to answer any questions you may have. Next a twenty minute walk to the harbour where they have an authenticated reconstruction of a Viking ship which takes tourists for a sail in the harbour. You can also try your skills at archery, axe throwing and horse riding for kids plus much more. This is really well done and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Enough for one day so off to Leknes. Our spot is set high on a hill overlooking the town, mountains and sea. Takes around 20 motorhomes here and at 9pm we have only 8 so should be a very quiet night.
Thursday 6th July – Nusfjord, Lofoton Islands, Norway
Weather: Cloudy mostly.
Travelled to the southern tip of Lofoten to a little fishing village called “A”. Never dreamed there would be a place called A but here it is, a complete fishing village at roads end. Can’t go any further south.
The village is really unique with its rust red buildings or Rorbu which are houses the fishermen lived in while fishing for months in the summer months when cod came here to spawn. The fishing industry is the richest in Norway (though we could say given the number of tourists here now – tourism would run a clear second).
The village has its own fishing museum, a cod liver oil factory, bakery (the cinnamon rolls are to die for – the aroma from the freshly baked cinnamon rolls from the bake house was like the Pied Piper luring all near and far to taste its wares) and many other buildings. Spent a couple of hours there and is really worth a visit.
We then started back north with the view to going off the highway and explore every little road that runs off the E10. So many beautiful little fishing villages here and the scenery never ceases to amaze us. Truly wild, beautiful and captivating. Just as well this is the age of digital photography as we are taking so many shots and each really does not do this country justice.
Finally our last road to explore was to Nusfjord where the fishing village here is one of the oldest in Norway. It was so busy with coaches and people everywhere. We couldn’t find a park so headed out of town and are staying in a wild camp a couple of kms away right on the water with mountains all round. Might head in to visit early tomorrow when the crowds are not so huge.
Really can’t believe how busy it is here – can’t wait for the tourist season to finish so we don’t have to compete for everything.
Friday 7 July – Svolvaer, Lofoton Islands, Norway
Weather: blue skies – no rain
Headed back to Nusfjord fishing village in the morning and was lucky enough to take the last space in the motorhome parking area. Quite a bit smaller than A but just as unique. Some great walks in every direction – mostly up hill – where the views were spectacular again. In the village they had drying racks for the cod and the smell was indescribable. We actually went into the souvenir shop and had to leave as they were selling the dried cod in bags and the stench filled the room where there were clothes and other items for sale. Suggest it would take a long time for the smell to get out of the clothes.
Lots of boats in the little harbour each trying to offer fishing trips for the keen angler. We wanted a fishing trip as an option while in Norway but it is just too cold on land so think it may be way too cold out to sea.
Still in winter clothes, seems like there have been only a couple of days in the last four months where we have been able to wear shorts and short sleeves and then only for part of the day.
Next port of call was the Vestfjorden waterfront town of Henningsvaer. The side road off the highway was steep and windy and not much more again than one lane. So much traffic that we would have to stop at every 20 metres or so to move into a lay by to allow the traffic past. The scenery was well worth the drive, but any other month than July would be better. The road is shared by cyclists and walkers as well which adds to the frustration of getting to this town.
Henningsvaer is very touristy and has great waterfront cafes and shops. We took a walk for about an hour from the main car park right around the point where beautifully restored Norwegian homes took up places on the hillside along the waterfront.
Had planned to stay in this car park as it was advertised in Campings as a free motorhome camp but they have placed a restriction of a six hour limit now. Way too busy for us as we prefer quite places so headed out of town to find somewhere to sleep for the night.
Passed by quite a number of seaside villages with drying racks some still full of drying cod. Did not want to camp near any of these.
Stayed again at Svolvaer where we had stayed on Tuesday night – really busy here too and by 8pm there was no more spots available. Had a lovely Swedish couple camped next to us – only very young and slept in a little station wagon. Temperatures at night are in single figures now. Think we can remember back a long time ago to doing something similar but not in temperatures less than 10.
Saturday 8 July – Arstein, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Weather: very cloudy with the occasional small patch of blue.
We’ve had enough of the tourists already (we do not classify ourselves as tourists but long time travellers!) so decided to get off the main highway at the first opportunity and lay low until at least tomorrow afternoon.
Headed along the E10 until we got to Evenskjer and then peeled off on the 825. So pleased we did as the road was super quiet and except for a small patch of a couple of kms, was excellent. Ziggy hugged the mountain side most of the way with several smaller Fjord’s almost lapping up beside the roadway. Tranquil waters surrounded again by mountains, some snow topped.
Found a Vinmonopolet (bottle shop for wines and spirits) in Evenskjer and after checking with the bank manager, ventured in to check out the prices. We are down to about two nips of rum and one bottle of wine left now. The wine has been stored ready to consume and celebrate when we reach Nordkapp (North Cape). Beer can be purchased in all supermarkets (except on Sunday’s) but wines and spirits can only be purchased at a Vinmonopolet which is Government run and taxed at 25%.
Took out a mortgage and purchased a bottle of rum and 4 bottles of wine – thought it would be more expensive than what is was. Might celebrate tonight!!!
We have camped at Arstein on the Gratangsfjord with a half dozen other motorhomes – all from Norway. A tranquil setting with no buses pulling in here tonight – hurray!!!!