Travel: Arctic Circle, Norway – June 2013 – Day 11 onwards

Norway

If you missed the start of this journey, jump to the beginning  here:

Day Eleven

TRAVEL DETAILS:

Henningsvaer to Å

SOUNDTRACK:

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BLURB:

Wake up Henningsvaer and depart.  The drive to Å is only 75 miles but you should be able to make a day out of the journey. You MUST make a detour to visit Nusfjord. They charge 50 kroner (£7) to get into town but it is worth it. Visit the café and enjoy the waffles there, with sour cream and strawberry jam washed down with lovely strong coffee. Also worth stopping for a few minutes at Hamnoy and a little time at Reine. But your final destination, Å, is worth the trek.

Check into Å Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant. Lovely place to sleep. Super friendly and clean. And make sure you eat there too. Some of the best fish (loin of coalfish) I’ve had in my life.  If you’re there early enough, check out the walk you can do to the opposite side of the island.

travel photo Henningsvaer arctic circle norway - view from hotel at breakfast  - image copyright David J Rodger

Henningsvaer – view from hotel at breakfast – image David J Rodger

A new day. Breakfast is pleasant. I step outside to enjoy the view. But can’t stay long because this side of Henningsvaer is alive with mosquitoes. Twin-engined monsters. I wasn’t aware of such a problem on the other side. Not sure why that would be. Anyway, another black mark against the hotel. But Henningsvaer gets my smiles. It’s time to move on. We’re driving to the far tip of the Lofoten Islands today. About 75 miles we figure there’s a few things to see along the way

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travel photo arctic circle norway - the drive from Henningsvaer - image copyright David J Rodger

The drive from Henningsvaer – copyright David J Rodger

A final chance to drive this incredible 6 KM road that weaves along the edge of the sea.

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travel photo Lofoten Islands arctic circle norway - aerial view

Lofoten Islands – aerial view by unknown, please advise and I’ll credit

I grabbed this photo from the internet to try and demonstrate the context of where we found ourselves. All of my photos are from my POV, typically hemmed in by mountains with glimpses of the sea or fjords. Somebody in a small plane can shoot something like this awesome image. The Lofoten Islands are incredible. It is like being in a fantasy world.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Scandinavian cottage with grass roof - image copyright David J Rodger

Scandinavian cottage with grass roof – copyright David J Rodger

So picture it. You wake up with the endless 24 hour glow of the sun oozing through your quaint windows. Outside is alive with nature. You sup coffee and watch the shadow of the mountain creeping across the ground behind your comfortable little abode. Man, this place… what a place.

Plus a dedicated lack of mowing the lawn. I approve! Turn a flaw into a feature

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - the road to Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

The road to Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

The road got narrower. The landscapes much wilder. The weather changed frequently. Clouds forming as warm air was pushed up over the abrupt peaks and then tearing apart in a few minutes to the sun blast down again.

We’d heard good things about a place called Nusfjord. But that it was off the main route if you wanted to go there. I took the turning and the road barrels straight for almost a kilometer without a kink in it, directly towards this mountain range. Fantastic. And then you get to Nusfjord itself. And it’s just…

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Nusfjord

travel photo arctic circle  Norway - white wooden window frame in red painted weatherboard image copyright David J Rodger

White wooden window frame in red painted weatherboard – copyright David J Rodger

You have to pay money to enter the tiny town. This might make you bristle, but the parking facilities are free and the town has managed to maintain a wonderfully authentic historical vibe thanks to the funding it generates for itself. Park up and wander in. It’s nothing fantastic. It’s just, very nice. Good enough for us to spend three hours there. If do you go, make sure you check out the cafe and grab yourself some of their homemade waffle cake with sour cream and jam. Oh my God. We are talking goodness on an epic scale.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

The tiny harbour is green water. Even the rock formations are cute. The place exudes this vibe that says, thanks for making the effort to come here. Explore. Sit down. Relax

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Nusfjord harbour - image copyright David J Rodger

Nusfjord harbour – copyright David J Rodger

This is the extent of the harbour. Pretty darn small. Lovely.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - interesting and clever carpentry in Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Interesting and clever carpentry in Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

Parts of the small public spaces were dominated by these remarkable examples of functional carpentry. A mix of decking and “sit where you like” concept, because the wave-form flux and flow of the wooden structure could support your back wherever you decided to plonk your backside along one of the edges. Fantastic. Eye-catching. Thoughtful.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Karoline Cafe - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Karoline Cafe – Nusfjord – image David J Rodger

travel photo arctic circle  Norwegian waffle cake at  Karoline Cafe - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Norwegian waffle cake at Karoline Cafe – Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

Why you should definitely visit cafe Karoline. Traditional and very home made waffles, still warm. Sour cream and strawberry jam with a mug of strong black coffee.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Interior of Karoline Cafe - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

nterior of Karoline Cafe – Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

Context: the interior of cafe Karoline.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - the beautiful view from Karoline Cafe - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

The beautiful view from Karoline Cafe – Nusfjord – copyright David J Rodger

Context: your waffle cake and coffee with a view through a window overlooking the entrance to the tiny harbour. Notice more of the interesting carpentry down below.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - exterior of Karoline Cafe - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Exterior of Karoline Cafe – Nusfjord – image David J Rodger

Context: external view of cafe Karoline and the window seat I was occupying.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Djr and a big fish head - Nusfjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Djr and a big fish head – Nusfjord

Okay. That’s a big fish

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - on the road to Å - image copyright David J Rodger

On the road to Å – copyright David J Rodger

We left Nusfjord with a smile cradling our souls. Epic drive back out, carving corners around the base of vast mountains that reared up from the impossibly close edge of the fjord. Then we’re inland, briefly, before the road swings us out to hug the coastline and the views were like this, again, and again, and again. I had to stop to try and capture the insane beauty of it. The flatness – that stretched away to infinity, with the sky and clouds reflected, smudge-like, on this shimmering blue mirror.

We’re now on the final leg of the journey, all these days driving North on the mainland from Bodo / Fauske, up through Narvik and Tromso; then island hopping with car ferries to Senja, and onto the Vesterålen Islands and then driving south, south, south onto Lofoten Islands – and here we are. Not far from the southern tip and a place called Å. Yup. Literally. That is what it is called.

Å

And I’m wondering. What the heck is it going to be like?

A few miles further on. Another glimpse of the sea and the striking FLATNESS of it all – with the horizon torn up by jagged rocks and the colours all reflecting back at you. Beautiful

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - stockfish drying beside a fjord - image copyright David J Rodger

Stockfish drying beside a fjord – copyright David J Rodger

The sky kept changing. One moment it’s clear blue sky and the next moment dark clouds are scudding in over the mountains – leaving a few golden beams to sweep down and pick out things. In this case, a wooden frame with stock fish drying in the air.

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Å

Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant  travel photo arctic circle  Norway - image copyright David J Rodger

Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant – image David J Rodger

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David J Rodger at Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant   Norway

David J Rodger at Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant Norway

Man. I was happy. Sitting there with the most wonderful sense of the sea beneath and around me. The building was on stilts in the water.

I ate some of the best fish (loin of coalfish) I’ve had in my life. Washed down with a glass of aquavit.

So. All that remained now was to catch a ferry tomorrow from Moskenes to Bodo, drop off the car, return to Fauske and spend some quality time with family before catching a night train back to Oslo. More quality time with family. Then a flight back to Blighty.

In the meantime, it wasn’t going to get dark and there was a whole evening ahead.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - fishing boat reflected on water in midnight sun at Å - image copyright David J Rodger

Norway – fishing boat reflected on water in midnight sun at Å – copyright David J Rodger

A rowing boat in a quiet nook beyond the harbour. Close to midnight the light becomes magical. The atmosphere even more so.

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Accommodation in Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant  travel photo arctic circle  Norway - image copyright David J Rodger

Accommodation in Rorbuer og Brygga Restaurant – image David J Rodger

The view from our room, up in the roof of the restaurant. The room was fab. Neither of us wanted to sleep. This was the “end of our travels” as such. The final night before we started the leisurely return journey.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - seagulls and misty mountains during midnight sun in Å - image copyright David J Rodger

Seagulls and misty mountains during midnight sun in Å – copyright David J Rodger

The same view, different angle. The sunlight started playing off the clouds that formed around and then clung to the nearby peak. Seagulls, smelling the fish being worked on down below, started going nuts with excitement. The atmosphere was potent, evocative. Finally I succumbed to the need to sleep and crawled into bed. Drifted off into wonderful dreams – never ending daylight streaming into the room and making the gently painted walls glow.

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Day Twelve

TRAVEL DETAILS:

Å to Moskenes (ferry) to Bodo to Fauske

SOUNDTRACK:

“Demons” this track reminds me of my final morning walking to end of harbour at Å, thinking about my journey over past few months: all the bullshit I’ve had to suck up and hold down.  Here I am.  A million miles away from it in space and my awareness of time.

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BLURB:

Leave  Å and drive to Moskenes (takes 15 minutes) where you can catch the ferry back to Bodo. Be wary of last minute cancellations of the 10.30 ferry. Happened to us. But we had booked in advance and so were able to jump onto the 2pm ferry which is more reliable. If you don’t have family in Fauske, then use Bodo as your stopping point. Go see Saltstraumen – the world’s most powerful maelstrom – just outside Bodo before you return your car.  From this point on you’re back to using trains.

travel photo arctic circle  Norway - tourist T-shirt and cool fish logo for Å - image copyright David J Rodger

Tourist T-shirt and cool fish logo for Å – image David J Rodger

I liked the place so much I bought the T-shirt.

Later, a mate online commented: a ‘Look I caught a deep one’ T-Shirt of I ever saw one.

Which made me smile.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - old window frame in red painted weatherboard rorbuer Å - image copyright David J Rodger

Old window frame in red painted weatherboard rorbuer – copyright David J Rodger

A brand new day. And time to leave. I do a final walkabout of the place. Time to say goodbye.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - danger electric cable sign at Å - image copyright David J Rodger

Danger Electric Cable, sign at Å – copyright David J Rodger

I head down to the far end of the harbour and walk out along the pier. Headphones on. MP3 of Imagine Dragons – Night Visions. The track about Demons comes on. Wow. So appropriate. All the demons I’ve had to face since September 2012. But this trip. It’s provided healing. Like I knew it would.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Å - image copyright David J Rodger

– Å –

A view of the place where we were staying and the restaurant on stilts. I’m missing it already and we’re not even gone yet

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Moskenes to Bodo ferry - image copyright David J Rodger

Moskenes to Bodo ferry – copyright David J Rodger

We get to the ferry port and discover that… it’s been cancelled. So we spend a few hours with the car and then come back. Lots of vehicles lined up hoping to get on. I pull up in the reserved line.  I had a booking at 10.30. They can bloody well take my ticket for the 2pm. And they did.

The ferry picks us up from Moskenes and scoops us back across the sea. 4 hours to the mainland. Then the mountains around Bodo come into view.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - Lofoten Islands from the sea image copyright David J Rodger

Lofoten Islands from the sea – copyright David J Rodger

Looking back. Goodbye Islands. You were amazing. We’ve been heading straight for nearly 4 hours and the mountain range of the islands is still in visible sight. Massive things. If you look to the far left, the tip of the Lofoten Islands, and then track back a little bit you’ll see the mounds above Å.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - approaching Bodo from sea -  image copyright David J Rodger

Approaching Bodo from sea – copyright David J Rodger

Looking forwards. The ferry has to navigate through a ragged line of large and dangerously small mounds jutting up out of the ocean some distance from the actual coastline. Stunning scenery.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - fishing boats heading out to sea around Bodo - image copyright David J Rodger

Fishing boats heading out to sea around Bodo – copyright David J Rodger

Final shot of the coastline. The ferry docked in Bodo. We climbed into the car below decks. Massive mechanical hatch groans open and we drive up into the bright light. Drive through downtown Bodo which is a big city. Then onto the main highway to the airport. Drop off the car – and there’s my cousin Åge. *big grins* We made it. Wow. What a ride!!!! Åge drives us the 60KM back to Fauske. Two blissful days with family ahead.

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Day Thirteen Onwards

TRAVEL DETAILS:

Fauske – Oslo – Home

SOUNDTRACK:

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BLURB:

The next few days for me are about spending time with family and not rushing back. If you’re doing this trip then you’re probably waking up in Bodo and due to catch the train back to Oslo (you’ll arrive there 18 hours or so after leaving Bodo).

David J Rodger in Fauske arctic circle  Norway

David J Rodger in Fauske, Norway

I went for a long walk this day. Down to the single main street that runs through the heart of Fauske. This is where my mum grew up. And now I’m here again. Good to feel her in the wind and catch her sparkle in the sea. Oh, and for those who know the story and the significance:  I saw a rainbow when we arrived in Oslo all those weeks ago. :o)

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Ugly cat Arctic Cat - apologies to my family in advance - copyright David J Rodger

Ugly cat / Arctic Cat – apologies to my family in advance – copyright David J Rodger

Man. That’s an ugly cat. Sorry to my cousin. But every time I look at this I just laugh. And I think the cat knows it.

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Rain drops on a window - image copyright David J Rodger

Rain drops on a window – image: David J Rodger

Lovely send-off by family from the train station at Fauske.

And then we were off. Building up speed, south, south, south. We would arrive in Trondheim around 6.30 in the morning, then normally would switch to another train for the long slog to Oslo but the train line was still out after the rock avalanche took it out a couple weeks earlier – the night we’d been supposed to be traveling. So at Trondheim we would be getting a replacement bus to Oslo.

It started to rain.

And, for the first time in nearly two weeks, we saw night fall.

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travel photo arctic circle  Norway - misty mountains -  like smoke rising from forest - image copyright David J Rodger

Norway – misty mountains – like smoke rising from forest – copyright David J Rodger

One of my abiding memories of childhood were the times I came to Norway. I have always adored these kind of scenes, grey clouds pressing down on emerald green forested slopes with mist threading through the trees like smoke.

And then I’m in Oslo. More time with more family.

And that’s it. The epic trip comes to an end.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the words and the pictures.  If you have any thoughts or queries about the trip, feel free to drop me a line via my online contact form.

https://davidjrodger.wordpress.com/about/contact-david-j-rodger/

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2 thoughts on “Travel: Arctic Circle, Norway – June 2013 – Day 11 onwards

  1. Excellent blog and fantastic photos. Just skimmed it so far but will read it properly next week. We’re flying to Bodø on 31st May, catching the ferry to Moskenes the following day, staying 5 nights in a rorbuer at Eliassen and doing a big chunk of your trip the other way around. Our last night is in Narvik before flying back to the UK from Kiruna in Sweden. Will print a copy of your blog to take with us! Might email you for a bit more info on some of the places that you ate, if that’s OK?

    • Hello David. Lovely that you’re able to make use of my words and pics. You’re going to have a fantastic time. Yes, feel free to send me some questions. Just use the contact form via this blog and I’ll respond (will have limited Internet end of May so apols if I go radio silent for while). All the best. Djr

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