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Scandi-Trip Part IV

Following 4 days of our Scandinavian travels are dedicated to northern Norway, mainly Lofoten islands. Long, boring journey towards north is interrupted by crossing the arctic circle, the only place worth mentioning. Arctic circle is border of area where polar day / night occurs at least once a year. We could not witness it, but still, even at midnight, sunlight was visible on the horizon (in case it was not cloudy). But it was nothing special, I would really like to experience polar day and also northern lights which we could not see this time of year as well. Back to crossing the arctic circle: plain empty country on the plateau, clouds maybe ten metres above us, cold, wind, herds of reindeers and tourist centre without tourists. At least gift shop (with all kinds of arctic circle themed clothing) was there so we spent most of the time shopping – because main tourist season is over there were lot of discounts.

Near Bodø, we looked at the worlds strongest maelstrom (tidal current) from the bridge but it was around 11 pm, so it was not very visible. I have also seen living elk for the first time. It was standing by the road and it was huge. Since that moment we started to take elk warning signs more seriously. In Bodø we boarded almost empty ferry to Moskenes on Lofoten islands. It was 3 hours long sail at night. Me and friend were sleeping on chairs on board, rest of the crew remained sleeping in the car despite the fact it was prohibited (resulting they were locked in the car deck). On Lofoten we slept more to gain strength to tomorrows hike.

Lofoten is an archipelago of which islands are interconnected with road bridges and tunnels. Area of all islands is covered with mountains which are tall, sharp and dramatic – different to mountains we have seen so far in Norway. From what we have heard, Lofoten were supposed to be uniquely beautiful but there is a risk in visiting them. And that is weather – if it is sunny it looks like from a fairytale, if not (which is quite often), it just does not pay off to spend so much time traveling to get there. Unfortunately we were not lucky and weather was bad. First day it was raining and mountains were being alternately covered and uncovered with mist and clouds. So for moments we were able to see the beauty partially (and yes, it was very nice) but we wanted to climb up some peak to see more. So we waited in caravan playing games and when it stopped raining we departed. But after ten minutes it started to rain again and we had to return back. We ended up completely wet. So with sadness on our faces we drove further through the islands hoping for better weather the next day. On the way weather was better and we discovered beautiful sandy beaches, the only problem of whose is that water is cold all year round here (but that did not stop some old grandma to swim in there). Our first night here (again some lonely place by the sea) was quite scary, because strong wind was rocking with the car and we were not sure whether we will not wake up turned on the side. But it was fine.

Next day it was still cloudy, but not raining. Great, let’s have some hike. Because of the absence of marked hiking paths here, we more or less randomly picked place to stop, looked up to the mountains and pointed at valley between two mountains – our destination. It looked quite innocently, but it ended up as 5 hours outing with quite high technical difficultly (only three of us went there, we told remaining friend (girl) that we are back in maybe 2 hours). Elevation was around 650 m, and it was very steep (up to 60 degrees). Pathless climbing complicated the hike a lot, at first we had to cross electric fence for sheep (it hit friend – they have to hear his scream on the other side of the island), then we have to walk through dense bushes followed by dominant part of loose rocks. Bonus: sheep shit everywhere, sometimes sheep as well (god, how they could climb up here?). Before reaching the top I went alone to rocky ridge, but it was too much adrenaline to me (such a height on both sides, loose rocks, no path) – so when I frightened started to shake I went back and caught up the rest. When we reached our highest point, we enjoyed the view and went back (different way). Steep descending was dangerous and friend who was constantly scared of falling into the moss-covered hidden gap between loose rocks, falled into the moss-covered hidden gap between loose rocks. Literally seconds after talking about it. The fall looked scary, he was really shocked and we thought that maybe we will have to call a helicopter. But it was ok at the end, little bit of blood, no broken arm or leg. So we did it. Very nice hike.

The northernmost place of our trip (and of my life so far) was Ardenes on island Andøya. Long driving without meeting any car and finally arriving into this sleepy coastal town had just one reason – whale watching. And it was great. It was 3 hours long wet and windy cruise on small (30 m) former fishing boat with guides and other tourists. Hydrophones were used to track the whales. We were lucky, we saw 6 huge (16 m) sperm whales – each one for maybe 5 minutes. Talk of the guides was informative and I know now much more about this nice animals (in addition I still have a piece in the fridge).

And that was our last stop in Norway. What follows now is long long drive through Sweden, Finland and Baltic countries back home. We still have interesting cities to see but all of us feel that the core of our journey is over. Excitement decreased, living together in caravan non-stop is becoming more and more annoying and we are starting to think about our normal lifes. But there is 6 days more. Let’s see…

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