Påske i Lofoten, dag II : Sea, Fish & Snow
Originally published on The North Way, my previous blog …
If you did not read it yet, here is the link to dag I. Enjoy! ;)
My alarm clock has been set to 5 AM … and did not ring. But I went to bed so excited about the sunrise’s lights that I wanted to exploit for my photographs, that I naturally woke up around eight (ok, it’s not 5, but it is pretty unusual for me to wake up naturally that early!). However, a quick overview through the window of our wooden sleeping room convinces me to immediately go back to bed for another 2 hours of sleep.
10 o’clock: we wake up and have a quick breakfast and a little conversation with our German fellows. The sun is showing, then hiding. Then showing again … Seems like we will also have a very unstable weather today (yay!). After a last goodbye to our host, we take the road to Leknes in order to find an open tourist office… but everything is closed. Everything! This is something you have to know when you go to Lofoten: almost everything is closed out of the touristic season. And this is even worse during the easter holidays: everything is closed in the whole Norway during these days!
Back to the main road, we enjoy the gorgeous landscapes along the way. We are surrounded by rough and snowy mountains falling into the ocean. A few rorbuer (fisher cabins, remember?) here and there let us imagine how life could have been here before, when cars and electricity were not discovered yet; when people lived out of their catch and enjoyed a hard but simple life. When suddenly, a memory comes back to my mind. I have already seen this place before. This road, this valley, those mountains and farms … Yes, I’m pretty sure we went there during our first Norwegian trip back in 2007. A few kilometers further, I am comforted in my thought. We already went there! This place is called Vikten. This is a small village with a museum of glass objects. The village in itself is not really interesting, but the place is breathtaking: big stormy clouds are enveloping high peaks and the sun makes its best to enlighten a strong winter sea. Rough seashores, sandy beaches, stormy clouds, fighting sun, high peaks … This is a perfect place for some pictures, don’t you think?
I must admit that this photo shoot has been pretty harsh. After having sinked down to my knees in snow, sand is also planning to make fun of me today. This trickster is mixed with good old sleet. I can’t see it, but I can definitely feel it: my shoes are drenched … Anyway, this place is so awesome that I just don’t care and continue. I need to go further to take better pictures. But further means risks … Risk of being drenched by the strong waves crushing all around, but also risk of being taken away by the sea. I take this risk but stay reasonable. Excitement can lead us (as photographers) to do pretty dangerous things and the ocean does not seem to be in the mood of tolerating any mistake today. Though, after a big breath, I take position for a few shots. Then, when the wave approaches, I run away. I keep on repeating this parade a couple of times, then go to another place … and do the same again and again. But at the end, I am pretty happy with the result!
After a quick lunch in the car we continue our way to Nusfjord, a small village with lots of rorbuer. This place is probably veeery touristic during summer and it seems like all the rorbuer have been recently built (or at least renovated). We find ourselves going from a rorbu to the other using wooden bridges, which is pretty funny considering the thick layer of snow recovering them. And then we find out this typical scandinavian behaviour: the keys of the rorbuer are … on the doors! What? Who said that we could have slept here for free? … Well, I must admit that this has been tempting considering how cosy they are! ;)
After this quick visit, we are happy to find an open cafe in which we meet … our German fellows! It seems like there are not thousand different ways to visit Lofoten…
Warmed up, we decide to leave the cafe and go back to the car. It’s snowing more than ever before. It’s quiet. Peaceful. The smell of the sea adds that little extra that makes this exact moment a memorable and magical one.
The sky is white. The road is white. We are literally surrounded by white. Hopefully, red sticks are placed along the road. Otherwise it would be impossible to know if we are driving on or off the road! We now take the direction of Ramberg where we should find a nice sandy beach. Here, step after step, our foots walk on a snow that is progressively replaced by sand. The only sound we can hear is a soft melody sing along by a slight breeze and by the sea. We can see a distant storm on the horizon. But here, now, we are living a perfect moment of tranquility. We are sharing this beach only with a few sea birds resting on the rocks or playing around. A wonderful experience of loneliness. But as you have probably understood, weather here changes quickly and it only takes a few minutes until we are heading back to the car because of the snow. Again. But that’s fine, we have accepted this condition for experiencing the majesty of this place.
On the way to Å (the last village of Lofoten before the Atlantic ocean) where we have booked a room for tonight, we are once again rewarded. A gorgeous sunset is unveiling in the incredible village of Sakrisøy. A huge rough and snowy mountain is erecting as a Norse giant, protector of this handful of yellow rorbuer. Warm and shining lights are breaking through the thick grey clouds, last remains of a past storm, and are reflecting on the sea under the village. This is a vision from another world. This is Norwegian magic!
A few steps away, a strong smell of fish can be perceived. Of course! Fish is drying here… Hundreds, thousands, … No, even more than that! Maybe hundreds of thousands cods are drying here on these typical wood dryers. This is an incredible vision. The closer I come, the stronger the smell. But I shall be brave to provide you the best images of Norway.
Lofoten represents for Norway an important fishing harbour. Tons of dried cod are sent from there to the rest of the world. The best customers (as I was told, but I did not double checked) are Italy for the cods flesh, and Africa for their heads. The heads are full of proteins and are consumed as a soup or used to make food for the dogs. Also, Norwegians love to eat cod’s tongues and cheeks. I asked a couple of friends here and the answer was : “ït’s excellent!”. Well, seems like we should try one day!
Last step for today, the last village of Lofoten: Å. This is not everyday that we can see a city called by only one letter! But as we say: the shorter, the better ! What? That’s the opposite? ;)
This village’s predominant color is red. Red because of all the rorbuer. This and a strong smell of fish makes Å a very interesting village. And it does not take long until I find some friends: seagulls are nesting on an abandoned factory. This is quite fun to stop for a moment and observe the way they behave. They are usually in couple and as one of them is moving away to fetch stuff for the nest, the other one is keeping it warm. And when the one that left comes back, the other and all other gulls around scream like they are crazy!
After this wonderful but exhausting day, we take a moment and relax with the sound of the distant squabbling sea gulls, dreaming of all the beautiful moments we experienced today. Then, we fall asleep.
To be continued…