Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built.Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built. Continue reading “Vatican City”
Rome is one of these cities which I always used to leave ‘for later’: very beautiful, very popular, and very expensive for a student traveller. It was always also reasonably close and well connected, so the visit could be postponed for ‘a better time’.
When being in Rome you could completely indulge on walking through the streets, watching busy cafes, restaurants, bars and gelaterias (selling delicious Italian ice-cream), rolling through sunny piazzas or taking a stroll along the river… and never get bored.
Kjerag, together with Preikestolen, is one of the most famous attractions around Stavanger (and in Norway for that matter). The mountain cliff reaches 1100m above sea level and is known by a characteristic rock stuck between two cliff sides – a remarkable postcard picture if you only dare to step on top of it!
Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) is probably the most recognised tourist attraction of Stavanger region. It is also easily accessible comparing to other popular mountain destinations. It is hiked by close to 200,000 people every year! The cliff hangs 604 metres above Lysefjorden and offers scenic views in good weather conditions or gloomy looks on rainy days. A ‘must-see’ if you are visiting Rogaland!
After delivering the car back to Moskenes, we decided to put our tents above the lake in Sørvågen for the remaining few days. From there we had access to everything we needed: hiking path leading to Munken, Å and ferry in Moskenes.
After spending last two days comfortably in car and cabin, we were a bit lazier than in the beginning. Also, after not very reasonable shopping on the way back to Moskenes, we were quite loaded with ‘souvenirs’, which needed storing in the shade.
We managed to find a perfect location for the camping spot, that included even a fireplace area with benches – yeah, let’s increase the comfort level!
Views on the way to Munken: Tennesvatnet
Summer vacation in Norway = expect some snow
On top of Munken. In the background Kjerkfjorden and Helvetestinden in the clouds
The evening we still spent in the cloud, but morning woke us up with full sun. This increased the energy level dramatically and soon after breakfast we left the tents and started the trip to Munken (height: 510m).
The hike with only a small backpack feels so refreshing, especially with beautiful views around and the sun back over our heads!
If we have continued the boot trip instead of getting the car from Reine, we would be coming to Munken from Tennes. It is not the official ferry stop, but it is possible to request a drop-off in there when taking the ferry from Reine to Vindstad. The ascent from that side is pretty steep and the path goes up to the Tennesvatnet lake.
The hike was very pleasant and even though there was snow around, it was probably the warmest day of our trip so far. The trail is not particularly difficult and quite well marked for most of the way. The hike takes about 3h each way, so prepare for the whole day trip. There is plenty of water on the way, so no need to carry too much.
Using the opportunity, we managed to have a little ‘sunbathing’ in front of the Munkebu cabin. It is a DNT cabin, but it is not open (most DNT cabins work like shelters and you can use them, as long as you follow the rules and pay a fee). This one however, has a private key which needs to be collected in Moskenes in summer and Reine in winter. This is available only to DNT members after showing the valid membership card. So do not count on staying in this cabin without planning in advance! More information can be found here: Munkebu hytte.
The Munken peak welcomed us with plenty of snow and magnificent panoramic views. Even with clouds passing by from time to time, the place is magical and worth the climb!
For the night we came back to our perfect camping spot to enjoy the dinner by bomfire.
We decided to pay a visit to Å on our last day of Lofoten adventure.
The ferry back to Bodø was departing at night, so we had the entire day to enjoy.
Å is a scenic fishing village located literally at the end of E10 road. It is full of red Rorbu cabins standing on wooden pals in the sea water. Until end of 1990s cod production was the main economic activity. Nowadays, many of the Rorbu converted into lodges used happily by tourists coming to enjoy Nordic summer.
There are two fishing museums located in Å: Lofoten Stockfish Museum and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. Our choice was to visit the first one – Tørrfiskmuseum in Å: http://www.lofoten-info.no/stockfish.htm
The owner of the museum (Steinar Larsen) is definitely the highlight of the place. He speaks multiple languages (which he has tought himself on multiple trips) and is very keen on giving the history of cod fishing and production based on his own experience. He also offered us coffee and cookies which was very much appreciated :D.
The initial idea wa to hike towards Stokkvika beach, which is 6-8h hike both ways. The mood of the ‘goodbye’ and beautiful sunshine made us more lazy than usually and we ended up setting a sunbath + picknik at the Ågvatnet lake.
Stavanger area is not only mountains and fjords. There are several really beautiful beaches around, which are worth a visit! Jæren has the longest sandy beaches in Norway (total length is 11km), which are good for surfers and kitesurfers (due to frequent strong winds) but also serve as recreational areas for hiking and sunbathing (if you are lucky, well dressed or born in Norway).
Stavanger is very well known for its spectacular landscapes such as Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) or Kjerag Bolten, but there are numerous beautiful places that are less familiar to most of the tourists coming here.
If you are one of the curious visitors and have some extra time to spend, Sandnes with the surrounding hills will provide you with just a perfect dose of one-day trips well marked by local DNT (Det Norske Turistforening). More information with a map and trails can be found on their web page: www.ut.no.
How to get there?
Sandnes is a neighbouring municipality to Stavanger. If you do not have a car transport handy, the best connection is to get a local bus (check the timelines on www.kolumbus.no ). It is also possible to take a train, which may appeal to some of you 🙂 The train also opens the door to further destinations, but I will leave this topic for future posts. Check out the Norwegian railway for more information: www.nsb.no
As you get to Sandnes, you can reach closer routes on foot from the centre. However, Lifjell tour requires taking another bus (this time to Dale). The last stop is also your final destination and takes you to the start of the trail.
It is a perfect trip if you or the weather is somehow undecided 🙂 The full trip is about a 10-km hike, but there are marked paths that allow making it shorter or longer if necessary. If you are a kind of a person that likes to stay outdoors but with not much walking involved, you will find many pleasant spots to just relax. You can have your lunch in the forest, by the water or on the rocks, enjoying the view.
The hike itself, even though not very long, leads through a rocky terrain, which makes it more demanding. The very beginning of the path leads through a forest until it climbs on top of the rocky slope and follows along the fjord. This part is mostly a traverse and in few places, you can get a bit more exposure. In the most tricky spots, you can use the installed ropes and chains to get an extra support. However, remember that good boots are, as usual, a must! After reaching the ‘edge’ of the land, you will turn to climb Lifjell with a big antenna on the top . This is the highest point of the trip and provides a spectacular view of the area with Stavanger and Randaberg in the West. With a nice weather, you should be able to see the mountains of Sirdal to the East. There is quite a bit of descent ahead, but you can find pleasant snack or tea spots by the lakes before reaching Dale again.
The entire path is pretty well marked with standard red ‘T’ signs and plates with directions. But keep in mind, it is important to have a map with you or, at least, know the names of the main interest points you want to reach, so that you can follow the correct route! 🙂
Tip: you can buy a physical map in DNT shop in Stavanger centre, but you can also download the mobile version from DNT page for free.
Seeing the bad weather coming slowly from the sea, there was not much point in doubting the forecast for next two days.
Instead of hoping for the best we decided to embrace the situation and think of plan B. Thanks to technology, we managed to search the Internet for options. Since before the trip, we considered staying at least 1 day in Rorbu cabins. These are very characteristic for Lofoten: old fishermen’s houses, standing on wooden stilts in the water for the easier fish picking. Nowadays Rorbuer are mostly tourist attractions and provide accommodation for curious visitors.
However, because of their popularity, it is quite hard to get a place in one of them during the summer season. Again, we must have been lucky, as we found a cabin for this one night we needed.
The car rental is in Moskenes and apparently consists of more or less 2 cars for rent. The ‘Sunny’ became our lucky vehicle for the next 2 days.
Before jumping on the car, we still had time until the evening to explore Reine and its surroundings. Reine is a beautifully located town, very charming for pictures. It also felt like a real hit of civilization – after 4 days in a tent we could have coffee and ice cream!:)
To spend the day ‘our way’, we decided to climb the closeby peak – Reinaknuten for a better overview of the area.
The climb is short (ca. 1h) but very steep with a lot of loose stones, so need to be careful and watch the steps (and heads).
View from Reinaknuten. Reine below.
Getting the car required an evening trip to Moskenes. I scheduled with the car rental the time to pick up ‘Sunny’ and went with Gustavo, leaving Ania and Gregor with backpacks in Reine. As soon as we arrived at Moskenes, the long promised rain has arrived.
Switching to 4 wheels freed us from sticking to one island only, so we decided to make the most of the next two days and go in the direction of Svolvaer. The plan was to sleep the first night in a tent as far as we get, then explore the area of Henningsvaer and Svolvaer and go back through Viking Museum (Borge) to the Rorbu in Sund.
The main lesson learned very soon: mosquitos also like cosy spots covered from rain and the wind…
We decided to stop for the night close to Henningsvær, in a sheltered valley next to the road. About a million blood-sucking beasts decided the same, so pitching the tents was a real race with time. Even after closing the zipper I had an impression that they try to sting through the walls!
Day 6 brought the main weather breakdown. And washed the mosquitoes (yupeee!). The clouds that came would have made our stay in the mountains completely miserable but at the sea level, they appeared quite picturesque.
Following our plan, we packed to the Sunny car and drove to Henningsvær. This trip was cut short, as the rain wouldn’t stop. Going forward to Svolvær had to be cancelled if we wanted to have enough time for Viking museum.
Located in Borge, the Lofotr museum is a reconstruction of the largest known Viking house, excavated in the late 1980s. The visit to the museum is an interactive journey through the long forgotten world. You can see, touch and experience the daily-use equipment, clothes and furniture. After seeing the inside of the museum, you can go out to stroll through the farm areas and get to row the Viking boat! 🙂 More info about the museum can be found on the webpage: www.lofotr.no/
After the leap into the history, we headed towards civilisation – Rorbu. This meant few critical things (numbers 1 and 2 took over as the biggest desires):
We can have a warm bath!
We can wash and dry our used clothes
We can cook a big common dish in big pots
We can stand straight while doing all of these
We can watch the rain and clouds from warm inside of the wooden cabin
We can sleep in beds
I have to admit, that this one night, even though not planned before, changed a lot our Lofoten experience somehow making it fuller. Rorbuer are, in the end, a must-do in here. Also, having still few days of hiking ahead (and some more behind), it felt REALLY good to refresh!
Viking museum in Borge.
We had to say goodbye to the luxury and come back to our wanderer lives. We have spent day 7 completely on the road, checking out all places which seemed interesting, stopping for pictures and enjoying the gloomy, heavy clouds above our heads. There are many ‘galleries’, ‘museums’, ‘antique shops’ or ‘handcraft centres’ around, so we never got bored. It was also the unique opportunity to do some shopping and try local specialties. Dried cod is a trademark from Lofoten, known all over the world, so it would have been a sin to skip it!
Dried cod is the main industry on the islands. Wooden racks full of hanging fish are the common view in the islands this time of the year.
Even with the clouds covering the sky, water still impresses with amazing colours.
Cod heads drying on the racks. These will be shipped to Africa, mainly Nigeria, where they serve as local delicacy.
On the road. The clouds hang low just above our heads.
Beach nearby Flakstad.
Carving on the entrance of Glasshytta.
Glasshytta in Vikten. A nice detour from the main road. Opposite there is a cosy cafe.
After a fair ‘warm-up’ the previous days, we managed to put ourselves together and continue the tour according to the plan.
From Camp 2 on Horseid, the next destination was a small ferry terminal in Kjerkfjorden that allowed the transport to Bunes beach. This was supposed to be a ‘rest day’ to sooth the soreness from previous afternoon stroll. It looked promising: short hike to the boat and then even shorter from boat to Camp 3. However, the long day and beautiful weather won again with common sense and we decided on another little excursion – this time for better digestion after dinner. The views were much worth the effort. And besides – who knows if we will ever come back to this place?
Day 3 woke us up with beautiful sun… and 2 jet planes passing just above our heads: entering the beach from the sea and crossing over the col we were going to pass through.
We started slow, as the ferry goes only few times a day, and we decided upfront that we won’t make it for 11am. The next one was at 3pm, which gave us plenty of time to refresh in ice cold river crossing the beach, pack and slowly walk towards the ‘port’ (see timetable here: http://www.reinefjorden.no/rutetabell.htm). After few stops for coffee and sunbathing, we caught our ferry ride to Vindstad.
The path from Horseid to Bunes beach is not marked through the mountains and the main route goes through the sea. Some people manage to pass, but the peaks are very sharp and fissile, so you need to be prepared for a challenging climb.
Bunes beach is probably the easiest to reach from Reine and the main road and we could feel it by the number of people and tents (it’s only about 1h walk from the ferry terminal). It was not very easy to find a good strategic spot for our Camp 3. We chose the hill over the beach, just to avoid unnecessary climbing with our full backpacks, especially that we were determined to catch an early ferry the next day.
Instead, we dropped the excess of load in the tents and went down just with our cameras to touch the sea.
On the way to Helvetestinden. View towards Vindstad and Reine.
View from Helvetestinden.
View towards Kjerkefjorden. On top of the mountain col.
Trip from Kjerkfjorden to Vindstad – about 30min of ‘different perspective’
The dinner definitely didn’t feel as well deserved as the day before, but we spent a beautiful day with amazing views and were pretty content with it.
The thing is, we ALWAYS want more. Especially when it’s sunny! So there was this peak right above our camp – Helvetestinden (602m). You can guess our idea for a ‘post-dinner walk for a better sleep’ 🙂
The hike takes about 1.5-2h both ways. It is moderately challenging walk, starting with quite steep climb over the scree. The last piece before the top may be the most difficult as it is exposed and requires walking along a narrow ridge.
The views on the way and from the top of the mountain compensate every effort taken to reach it. Turquoise sea and surrounding peaks highlighted by the ever-setting sun will stay in my memory for a long time.
The weather in Norway can be very moody and I guess we were lucky to have it so generous during these few days. This was about to change as in the morning we saw the darker clouds piling over the horizon. It was time to start thinking about ‘plan B’.
There are flights from several Norwegian cities directly to Leknes or Svolvær, but we chose a more adventurous option, which included 4 means of transportation (why would we go for one only!). So we flew from Stavanger to Trondheim, spent a day wandering around, took a night train to Bodø, then ferry to Moskenes and a bus to the start of our trail. I have to say I really liked the ‘day in Trondheim’ idea – it awakened nice memories and gave me a chance to share a little piece of my student life with Gustavo. After 2 days of travel, we finally put our tents in the sun on a beautiful mountain pass near Fredvang.
On day 1 we woke up inside a cloud – great beginning of the trip in a wet tent. ’Luckily’ we were tired after the travel and managed to sleep half of that day through the bad weather. But you just can’t stay in a tent forever, can you? So we decided the rain was not going to melt us and moved out to face it. The interesting thing is that when you look from inside it always seems worse than it really is. Even though soaked all over, we managed to enjoy a trip around to neighbouring cliffs over Sandbotnen.
Waking up on day 2 was not much better than on day 1, but we came all the way there to walk a bit rather than stay in a tent just over Fredvang. 🙂 So we packed the backpacks, collected our wet equipment and started the hike. Since the first day was not very productive, we had a great idea to catch up on the second one (because the days are long, so we can!). We faced a moment of hesitation after a cozy stop for lunch at Selfjordhytta, but somehow managed to leave the temptation to stay there and went ahead.
What makes a difference for the hikes on these latitudes: you are released from the pressure of waking up early in the morning to use daylight and can live on your own clock. However, this may be very deceptive and can encourage you to walk for 15h just because it happened to be sunny…
Using the sunlight and much better weather than the day before, we walked a big piece of trail, reaching the Horseid beach almost at midnight.
After the long day trip, it felt really good to pitch the tent and start the bonfire, while watching midnight sun swinging above the horizon. Now, I have to say that finding wood for fire on a beach close to a swamp is not the easiest task, so making it work felt even better! 🙂
The drawback of that pleasure was getting overexcited with the heat and trying to dry my shoes for too long, too close… At least they didn’t burn completely and I didn’t have to use sandals for the rest of the trip. I know, that pictures don’t show this, but temperature was close to 0 °C.
Day 3 started with amazing weather. Tired after the harsh ‘warm up’ from the day before, we headed towards the ferry port (Kjerkfjorden) to cross over to the next destination: Bunes beach.
Many of the beaches in Lofoten face towards North, which makes them really good locations to enjoy midnight sun. On the other hand, they become the darkest parts of the islands when the winter comes. For the same reason, all the main towns are located on the southern coast.