Norway

Narvik: 21 June

Today was a travel day, 9.5 hours to go 240 miles, including 2 hours sitting outside a locked bus station. The buses were comfortable, though, and the day passed quickly. The same gorgeous scenery we’ve seen previously.

Our room is somehow associated with a Best Western, but it is rented to students during the school year. It was the cheapest room I could find, but still one of the most expensive I’ve ever stayed in.

We arrived after the restaurant had closed, and there are no others nearby. The receptionist brought out the trays that had been prepared for tomorrow’s breakfast and allowed us to make sandwiches–for a price, of course, but it was good.

Tomorrow we hit the DNT (hiking club) office as soon as it opens, then catch the train toward Sweden.

Advertisements
Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Bunesstranda, Å : 19-20 June

We were tired after Munkebu, but we had one more hike before leaving Lofoten–to Bunesstranda, a beach on the west side of the island. After that hike on Friday, I was too tired to post. Today, Saturday, we slept unusually late and made plans for the next few days.

Just north of Å, a fjord almost cuts through the island–the peninsula is quite narrow. We took a small ferry up the fjord to Vindstad, which is now a few summer cottages, but which used to have a school. Lots of scenery along the way:             
Then we walked over the peninsula to Bunesstranda. Going was easy because dune sand covered the rocks.    
and finally the beach.  

 
Looking back was pretty, too:   

 
Of course Roger couldn’t just look up at the dune sand on the mountainsides. We had to explore more closely, so up we went–about 800 feet. I admit the view was better from up there:    

  


    

   We saw a memorial in the rocks high up: 

 
Roger drooled over the rocks blasted by wind-blown sand:   

 
I liked the tufts of green:  

Although we have been on this island for 5 nights, we are still reluctant to leave. Å is a really cool place. Almost no cars, not many people, but many picturesque red fishing cabins.    
Our accommodation is in an 1840’s house.    
Tomorrow a 10-hour bus ride to Narvik. According to the schedule, we will have 243 stops. The views will be fantastic, though.

Categories: Norway | 3 Comments

Monkey Wrench at Munkebu: 17-18 June

We do not normally travel in high season. One, it’s usually too warm for folks who must protect themselves from the sun. Two, high season means more people and higher prices. Given that Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world (or is it the most expensive?), spending time here in high season was a hard decision.

But we wanted to hike in the Norwegian mountains and stay in the mountain huts. Hiking season doesn’t start til mid-June–before then, people ski to the huts–so we extended our trip to mid-July. With great expectations, we got the master hut key in Bergen. It was supposed to work in all huts.

We assumed the weather would be iffy on Svalbard, so we allowed plenty of time there, which we didn’t need, but we assumed the weather would be getting better farther south as we waited.

Not so. This spring, Norway has had record snow and rain. Huts that would normally be hiked to in June are still being reached by skiis. And it rained every day since we came south.

Until Wednesday. Finally, after all this waiting, a clear day for a hike from Å to Munkebu hut on a path mostly clear of snow. We arranged to leave my pack in Å, shopped for food, and set off Wednesday morning. The weather was finally beautiful. The trail had muddy spots,   
some scrambling spots,   
a scary-to-me cabled ledge,   

and

 

the friendliest cat we’ve seen since we left home,   
friendly Ukrainians who wanted their picture taken with us because “You are our heroes. You are so strong,”   
and toward the end, lots of snow. 

 
There were several plateaus along the way with astounding views. We could see the ocean on three sides:   
and even the mountains on the mainland.   
Remember the massive rock overshadowing Å? It doesn’t look as massive from above (right of center), and this photo was taken less than half way up:   
Finally, the hut came into sight in one of the most dramatic settings I’ve ever seen for a hut:   
We were ecstatic–until we realized that we didn’t have the right key. This was no “Maybe I didn’t do it right.” This was “Skeleton key doesn’t fit a Yale lock.”   
“Disappointed” was an understatement. “Pissed” comes closer and we turned back.

However, about halfway back, and before the chains, we met a Canadian couple and their grown daughter going up with the right key. The daughter lives in Norway and thus knew that this hut requires a different key that could have been gotten at a store near the start of the trail had we known (that is, if the Tourist Info hadn’t moved without advertising the fact). They invited us to go back with them.

So we did. We were wiped after climbing 3,000 feet, but we had a fantastic night at the hut. We even stayed up for midnight sun.
Some photos from the hut:                      
We came down today (Thursday) in time to catch the bus to that infamous Tourist Info. They offered to not charge us for the stay at the hut, but we paid anyway, and we finally got the ferry schedules we wanted.

As we waited for the bus back to Å, we were treated to bucket loaders of dried fish.  
Tomorrow, we take the fjord ferry across the interior of the island, then hike to a beach on the west coast.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Å: 16 June

The E10 ends at the fishing village Å, pronounced “Oh,” as in “0h, my gosh, this is beautiful!”

and

and

Getting here was another amazing bus ride:

and

and

and

and

and

and

and

and

“Å” could also stand for, “Oh, this stinks.” Millions of fish are drying around here on racks like these:

I’m wondering how much bird poop in on that fish, considering that gulls like to sit on the racks:

We also saw gull nests:

We wanted to get some info on ferries, so we walked 11 km round-trip to the Tourist Info, only to find that it had moved 5 km farther away, so we are unsure where we will go from here.

Tomorrow is set, though. We will leave some of our stuff here and hike to a hut in the mountains, spend the night there, then return to Å on Thursday. I will be surprised if the hut has signal.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Kabelvåg: 15 June

Kabelvåg is a simple fishing village. We are overnighting here on our way to Å. Yes, another travel day, but what a day!! This may qualify as the most beautiful bus trip ever.

The first part of the trip was rather ordinary only because we’ve become used to everything being beautiful. Neat houses and red barns, lakes, well-kept fields–just the usual Norwegian tidiness.

Then we boarded a ferry and looked ahead. Photos do not do justice to the massive wall of mountains we faced.

and

and

For the rest of the trip, we were mesmerized by views:

and

and

and

and

and

Kabelvåg is a frightfully expensive little fishing village. This tiny hostel room with bath down the hall is one of the most expensive rooms I’ve ever slept in. To compensate, we heated up a frozen lasagna for dinner. It was surprisingly good.

Tomorrow Å.

Categories: Norway | 1 Comment

Puffins!! 14 June

It was still rainy and cold when we awoke this morning, but the wind had much diminished. We both had the same thought–puffins!! No buses run on Sunday, so we dressed warm and walked the 11 km road to Bleik. The waves were a bit choppy for a small boat, but we had an excellent pilot.

Our guide said there are 100,000 pair of puffins on this island, thus 200,000 in all. As we approached, we began to see them in the water,

and

but they would fly away as we approached.

We looked at the island cliffs and saw nothing but tufted grass. The guide said their nests were in the hollows under the tufts.

and

And

I was getting concerned. Was this all we would see? Then suddenly, it was if we were in a swarm of mosquitoes. Puffins everywhere!! Thousands of puffins swarming in the air:

and

and coming out of their nests:

and

and

There were also about a dozen white-tail eagles looking for lunch–each eagle eats about two puffins per day.

I wished for a better camera than our point-and-shoot, but accepted that this was more than photos. This was an experience to be savored. I have been fascinated by these “sea parrots” since I first saw them in a children’s picture book, and here I was in a swarm of them. I will not need photos to remember this moment.

As we turned to leave, my last shot was my favorite of the day, just like I remember from my picture book:

When we left the cabin, our intent was to hike back along a coastal trail that follows a ridge line. However, when we got off the boat, dark clouds were gathering over that ridge. A couple from the excursion gave us a ride back to our warm cabin. On the way, we met these guys:

Tomorrow we head south toward the Lofoten Islands and hopefully better weather. First stop Kabelvåg.

Categories: Norway | 1 Comment

Stave: 13 June

“The best-laid plans of mice and men…” We did indeed have plans when we scheduled three nights here. Instead, we get the weather we thought we would have on Svalbard. It is very cold and nasty out there. Rain and sleet can be horizontal.

So we took the easy way out–a short 10 km bus ride to the fishing village Bleik. There was nothing to do in Bleik except look longingly at the bird island that supposedly has 150,000 puffins that we won’t see, but it was an enjoyable outing. The wind and rain were much less there than here.

Tomorrow’s weather may be good enough for a hike–or not, but our cabin is cozy with a great view, good food, and good wifi so we can plan our next adventures.

A few photos:

and

and

and

and

and the puffin island Bleiksøya.

Tomorrow depends on the weather. We have learned that it can change quickly.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Stave: 12 June

Stave is on the island Andøya on the west coast of Norway. As the crow flies, we are about 40 miles northwest of where we were this morning. To get here, we went 150 miles and it took us 6 hours.

There was even a bit of excitement. We had to change buses 3 times. The last change was supposed to be at Bjørnskinn, which was not the bus’s final destination. We bought tickets from the driver to Bjørnskinn–he repeated the name after I said it. We kept looking for Bjørnskinn and never saw it. Finally, when it was past time for our stop, I asked my seat mate to speak to the driver. He got a shocked look on his face and said I should have told him we wanted to get off??

However, he signaled a bus going the other way and we switched buses. That bus dropped us off where we could catch our next bus before it got to Bjørnskinn, which was a ways down a side road. All’s well that ends well.

At one of our layovers, we bought enough food to cook for ourselves for 3 days because there are no Sunday buses. As we contemplated what we would do with all this food if we missed the bus, my seat mate said, “Just go to a house and knock. They will take care of you.” I’m glad we didn’t need to do that, but it was good to hear.

This campground is quite isolated. We came here to hike a coastal trail and perhaps see puffins. We haven’t met him yet, but it is run by an American.

We are presently wondering how we are going to deal with the 25+ mph onshore “breeze” expected the next couple of days with temperatures in the low 40’s. It is quite a howl. At least we have an ocean view from our window.

Some photos of our journey:

and

and

and

and

and

and

and

and

By the way, this is a major highway from the Swedish border through these islands. As we met a big truck on a curve, the truck’s rear end forced our bus to graze the guard rail. Better that than the truck.

The view from our window:

Tomorrow we haven’t decided yet.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Tjeldsund: 11 June

Tjeldsund is a hotel/campground near the Evenes airport–nothing more. Why it deserves a listing on the map of Norway is beyond me. I chose it simply as a crash pad after flights from Longyearbyen to Oslo to Evenes, which is on the west coast of Norway about 25 miles west of Narvik. Our room is a shipping container. We didn’t expect much. We got a lot.

Our flights yesterday were smooth, no hassles. We were glad we didn’t have a tight connection in Oslo, though, because a flight from Pakistan arrived at the same time and we went through passport control together. The line moved like a snail, but for us an apologetic smile and a quick stamp.

It was well after 23:00 when we got off the bus at the hotel, but of course still light–we are still above the Arctic Circle. As we walked along the road in the rain, a car stopped and a lady insisted on giving us a ride.

As I said, our room is a storage container,

but it is quite comfortable. It has large windows in back, a complete kitchen and toilet with shower. After fretting that we would have no access to groceries, our host invited us to go into town with him this morning. Milk and eggs made dinner much more enjoyable.

The map showed a hiking trail starting near here, but we didn’t expect a view. This was our surprise reward. It was an easy 5-mile trail.

and

and

and

and

and

Tomorrow we go north to Stave.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Longyearbyen: 9 June

Spring is finally coming to Longyearbyen as we prepare to leave. The snow on the mountainsides is visibly diminishing. There are hints of green,

and

and today for the first time we saw flowers.

These people will have maybe two months to enjoy the color before winter returns.

We washed clothes and packed. We went into town one last time and said goodbye to our resident reindeer, three of them this time:

We also saw some pretty birds:

and

and

We visited the small church–Lutheran, I presume, with an unusual pastel-colored interior.

Tomorrow, we fly back to Norway. I probably will not post because with a long layover at the Oslo airport, we will spend about 10 hours in transit and arrive late at our destination. When I booked, the connection was several hours better, but the airline changed the flight time. We have reading material.

Categories: Norway | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.