Open post

Rome

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.

Continue reading “Rome”

Lofoten hiking 2015 – part 4: Sørvågen – Munken – Å

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

Lofoten4

Summer vacation in Norway = expect some snow

Lofoten4-6

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.

 

Lofoten4-5

Å: the town on the end of the road

  

At Ågvatnet.

 

Lofoten hiking 2015 – part 3: Bunes – Reine – Lofotr – and the ride around the Islands

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.

Lofoten-hike3

 

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).

 

 

Reine.

 

View from Reinaknuten. Reine below.


Lofoten-hike3car1

 

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):

  1. We can have a warm bath!
  2. We can wash and dry our used clothes
  3. We can cook a big common dish in big pots
  4. We can stand straight while doing all of these
  5. We can watch the rain and clouds from warm inside of the wooden cabin
  6. 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!

  Lofoten3-4

Nusfjord.

  Lofoten3

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.

Lofoten hiking 2015 – part 2: Horseid – Kjerkfjorden – Bunes – Helvetestinden

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?

Lofoten-hike2a

 

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’

Bunes beach. 


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’.

 

 We started from going to Reine.

 

 

 

 

Lofoten hiking 2015 – part 1: Fredvang – Kvalvika – Horseid

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.

Lofoten_hike1

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old cabins in Fredvang.

Sandbotnen in Fredvang. Even rain didn’t manage to spoil it

Kvalvika beach. We were lucky to get a lower tide, as the passage over water was reachable. Not sure how much harder it is to pass with more water…

Kvalvika beach. View from the other side. And the sky started to open up!


Horseid beach. And the midnight sun
Horseid beach.

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.

Lofoten

Some places deserve re-visiting and Lofoten is definitely one of them. I took my first trip here in 2010 while studying in Trondheim. At that time I crossed the islands with bike. Now, 5 years later, I came back to walk it through with Gustavo and 2 more friends (Ania and Gregor). The idea was to take a hike through quite spectacular Moskenesøya island.
The trip was part of our summer vacation, but the weather quickly brought our minds back to reality. During a 10-day stay, there was no single day that I would spend without a hat and a jacket. Even with the midnight sun, the temperatures did not manage to get too high, but we didn’t complain – it’s just part of the adventure! 🙂

I have divided the trip into 4 stages. Read more about each of them below. But first, the brief introduction to the topic.

 

Lofoten_pan-2

Brief intro

Lofoten is an archipelago of islands located on the North-Western coast of the Scandinavian peninsula. It is part of Norway and consists of 8 main islands and multiple smaller ones.
Although it lies within the Arctic Circle, the climate in Lofoten is rather mild considering its latitude. This is the result of the Gulf Stream and its extensions swiping the coast with warm water brought from Florida, USA.

Few interesting facts about Lofoten found around the Internet:

  • The sun stays above the horizon continuously from late May to mid-July (phenomenon known as ‘midnight sun’)
  • The sun stays below the horizon continuously from early December to January (phenomenon known as ‘polar night’)
  • It is the largest producer of ‘stockfish’ (fish dried on the racks, usually cod) in the world
  • The sea is rich with wildlife and contains the biggest deep water coral reef in the world (Røst reef)
  • To the South-West of the islands, there is a system of tides and whirlpools called Moskstraumen

 

Location of Lofoten Islands and main cities

 

How to get there?

Plane. The easiest, most convenient but also the most expensive of the options. There are several airports around Lofoten, the main ones are in Svolvær and Leknes. You can get a direct flight to the heart of the archipelago using one of the Norwegian airlines: SASNorwegian or Widerøe.

Ferry. Ferries are a common way of transport in Norway and cities in Lofoten are also well connected with the sea routes . The cheaper option is to get a regular ferry that starts in Bodø and goes to Moskenes. The trip takes about 4 hours. Another alternative is getting the Hurtigruten or express boat. There is a lot of information about means of transport available on Lofoten website: www.lofoten.info.

Train. If you decide on taking the ferry, you need to get to Bodø first 🙂 The best way (besides flying) is to take the train (NSB). The trip from Trondheim takes about 10h, so it is the best to get the night trip. Tip: the view outside of the window is very monotonous along the way, so you can relax and sleep without a heavy conscious 🙂

Where to stay?

There are several camping spots around, but being in Norway it is very convenient to just pick your favourite place and put the tent there. Yes, it is free and allowed to camp in Norway,  as long as you stay at least 150 metres away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. Of course, if you decide for that, you need to behave and collect all your trash! You can find more information about the right of access here: www.visitnorway.com

If sleeping under the stars (or the sun if you visit in summer) is not your thing, you should try to book one of the Rorbu. These are old fishermen’s cabins located by the sea, usually standing partially on the wooden poles in the water, allowing easy access to fishing boats. There are plenty if them available around the islands (virtually in each town or village), but you need to be organized and book them in advance, as they are one of the big attractions for many tourists.

 

Main attractions

Lofoten is the paradise for outdoor activities and photography. The only problem that comes on the way is the weather: rather unstable, rainy and windy, however, sunny days and amazing landscapes compensate for even the worst conditions, so you need to stay patient, stock up with good weather proof clothes and start exploring.

If the weather is an issue, there are plenty of local galleries, small museums and cafes on the way. Some bigger places worth visiting are:

  • Lofotr Vikingmuseum in Borg: http://www.lofotr.no/
    •   see how the Vikings used to live based on the archeological discovery from the 1980’s of one of their houses.
  • Glasshytta in Vikten: http://glasshyttavikten.no/
    •  watch the process of melting and creating new glass objects. You can also purchase them afterwards or just sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee here or just opposite the road.
  • Galleri Lofotens Hus in Henningsvær: http://www.galleri-lofoten.no/nb/
    •  here you can admire more than a 100 of North Norwegian paintings, which makes it the largest collection of the kind.
  • Lofoten Tørrfiskmuseum in Å: http://www.lofoten-info.no/stockfish.htm
    •  one of my favourite – mainly thanks to a very attentive owner (Steinar Larsen), who speaks multiple languages and is very keen on explaining the perks of a fisherman’s life based on his own experience.

Fishing. Many people come to Lofoten mainly for this: either to catch or eat a cod. Although you can fish freely in the sea, you may need to take a boat to catch a big fish, which will be associated with extra cost. Fishing is not really my thing, so I can’t give too much of a first-hand advice.

Cycling is one of the most popular activities on Lofoten. The main road (E10) that crosses the Islands is often used by two-wheelers. However, it may be a bit busy during the high season, so it is better to choose an alternative route. One of such roads may be 815 on Vestvågøy, that I can recommend from previous experience 🙂 You can also take shorter trips around – just pick a map and plan your tour!

Hiking. There are numerous hiking paths crossing the islands. You can pick from longer and shorter tours leading to spectacular beaches and mountain peaks. If you are planning a longer trip (about a week), you may want to follow our path or a piece of it if you have just a few days.

Posts navigation

1 2