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Norway: Vesterålen is not Lofoten!
13. October 2017
The headline says it all. Most people don’t know this and those few people living on this barely populated piece of land are annoyed by it. They see themselves as an archipelago of their own and they appreciate not being called ‘the Lofoten’. And now enough with the pettiness. Smart people combine Lofoten and Vesterålen – because it’s possible and because it would be sad not to see this part of Norway. On the distance aspect, this is no problem at all as the Vesterålen archipelago is just next to Lofoten. Just like Lofoten, the landscape is really diverse. It’s less dramatic but not less beautiful. In total it’s definitely more barren which means that in parts you won’t meet anything or anyone anywhere. It’s an unbelievably calm area. There are a few small villages, some houses standing alone on the way. And nothing else. Most streets aren’t illuminated by night, which is perfect for Northern Lights junkies like us. We stayed on Andøy Island and unfortunately only one night. In the afternoon, evening and night we explored the region and admired the Northern Lights. The next day we made a Whale Watching Tour. Whale Watching with Whale Safari Andenes We didn’t know much about Vesterålen before our Lofoten trip. Actually, we hadn’t even heard of it before. After a little bit of research, we found out that Vesterålen is famous for the Whale Watching tours and that we could book them online. This was the main reason for a detour here. We booked our tour with Whale Watching Andenes which promise you that you will certainly see whales. If not, they offer you a refund. This wasn’t necessary. The weather was perfect. We saw five sperm whales and as if this wasn’t enough a group of dolphins. Dolphins are rare in this latitude (according to our guide, this species of dolphins called grey dolphins were seen the last time in 1998). The gods were on our side this day. Bleik – the most beautiful beach of the Norwegian Arctic? Bleik Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen. A flawless white, fine and clean beach; Turquoise water and surrounded by an amazing scenario. Mighty mountains behind the beach while you can see the birds’ island Bleiksøya is out to the sea. Combined with tranquillity and Northern Lights at night, this was the perfect place on earth for us. Andøya West Coast As our return to Norwegian mainland was going to be a long experience anyway, we decided to drive along the beautiful West coast of Andøya(, making a small detour). We can’t say too much about it. In perfect weather, as we enjoyed it, you somehow forget to be in the Arctic which you would connote with anything but not with these pictures. One night in Vesterålen was definitely too little. You can hike here and visit different corners of the island. It’s just perfect just to relax and switch off your brain and gawk dumbly. For the next time, we know better....
Lofoten, Norway: Flakstadøy, Vestvågøy, Austvågøya!
4. October 2017
For the second part of our road trip, we left Moskenesøy and headed north/east/northeast/whatever and were expected by three more islands of the Lofoten archipelago: Flakstadøy, Vestvågøy, Austvågøya. They’re less known than the southern islands but not less beautiful. The good thing about spending one week in the North of Norway was having a lot of time for everything. As the weather up here is unpredictable (all kinds of weather apps were constantly lying to us), we could see almost everything in good and bad weather conditions. Believe me, here like nowhere else you want to have good weather. Means lots of sunshine, no matter how cold it is. Without it’s ok. But with it’s absolutely amazing. The diversity of landscapes is unbelievable. On the one hand, there are beautiful dream beaches with turquoise water. Some of those bays were among the prettiest we’ve seen so far. On the other hand, there are the wild and strangely formed mountains. And in between again and again cute picture-perfect villages with the famous Rorbuer, the typical fishing huts. It seemed as if some invisible superpower forces you to take more and more pictures of everything. Flakstadøy: Ramberg und Flakstad Stranda, Fredvang, Kilanleira, Nusfjord As all the islands aren’t too large, you can see everything worth seeing in quite a short time. Mandatory program on Flakstadøy: the beautiful beaches of Ramberg and Flakstad. While Ramberg Beach has something Caribbean on it, Flakstad Beach with the mountains in the background reminded us of South Africa. Near Flakstad Beach there is also the small Flakstad Church built in the 18th century. Another famous motive of this island are the two bridges in Fredvang. It’s a small fishing village which is geographically located on Moskenesøy but politically belongs to the Flakstad Community. Kilanleira was particularly surreal. You’ll rarely find something online about it. We googled this place after our trip as it was so pretty – turquoise water with mountains in the background and creepy silence. There are one or two stops along the road which you should use. Last but not least, the beautiful Nusfjord village. Fun fact: Actually no one is living in Nusfjord anymore. Come during summer time and pay the 10€ entry fee for the open-air museum that this former fishing village is today. Or do some illegal stuff. Better not. Between February and April, people here catch and process the famous stockfish before they sell them in Southern Europe as ‘typical food of the region’ (Bacalao in Portugal). Nusfjord lies idyllically in the Bottelvika Fjord and is surrounded by steep cliffs. As far as I know, you can stay overnight in the beautiful Rorbuer. I assume, this beautiful place must be really expensive. Inform yourself in advance and if you have enough money left, do it! Vestvågøy: Ballstad, Leknes, Haukland Beach, Offersøykammen Vestvågøy is located between Flakstadøya und Austvågøya and is the most populated island of Lofoten and Vesterålen. We had our second accommodation in Vestvågøy. It was located in Ballstad and is called Villa Ballstad. A great mansion with an amazing view of the village and the mountains nearby. Another place a little bit more populated on Vestvagøy is Leknes. Nothing special but perfect if you are self-catering and a good stop and orientation point. As far as the landscape is concerned Haukland Beach is the place to be here. The Arctic and pretty beaches are two terms that actually don’t really fit. But when you are here it suddenly fits. Water temperatures are definitely fresh (even though locals see it differently). But on warmer days sunbathing is definitely possible here. Furthermore, there’s the Offersøykammen, not far from Leknes. It’s a mountain with a fabulous 360° view over the island landscape. The hike is a little exhausting, but it only takes about an hour. It goes steep uphill. There’s a side street next to the E10 where you can leave your car at the parking. From there it’s just uphill. With nasty weather (see pictures) it’s wonderfully uncomfortable up there. The view compensates a lot but you can’t stay there for long. Better hike up on a better day. We just couldn’t do it because of time reasons. Austvågøya: Svolvær, Vatterfjordpollen, Austnesfjord & Sildpollness kirke, Henningsvær The last one of the three islands on our trip back is called Austvågøya and was the last stop before we landed on Vesterålen. It is the largest island of Lofoten. Therefore it only makes sense that the only city of the Lofoten archipelago called Svolvær is located here. On the one hand it’s a good shopping opportunity, on the other hand there’s a quite pretty church. North of Svolvær, there’s the most surreal place ever: Vatterfjordpollen. For photo fetishists and actually for everyone else this place is a must. Same goes for the Austnesfjord with the Sildpollness kirke which lies on a peninsula and is surrounded by mighty mountains. From a parking place you have a perfect view over the whole bay. The church seems to be absurdly small in this surrounding and somehow it looks like a painting. Friends of pretty fishing villages are also very welcome on Austvågøya as they will see beautiful Henningsvæer here. They call it ‘Venice of the North’ which is just a little bit exaggerated. But it’s still an amazing place. Henningsvæer is located in the very south of the island and lies actually on two islands just off the coast connected by bridges. Getting here alone, passing Rørvik Beach and driving along the wild coast was a dream. Small islands everywhere, great bays and a beautiful panorama are part of your time here. On sunny days you can see the contours of a huge part of Lofoten from here....
Southern Lofoten: Moskenes!
29. September 2017
As mentioned a few times in this blog, we made a road trip in Southern Norway one year ago with a Volkswagen Van and got an overload of landscape beauty. This time we headed to the North of Norway to see the Northern Lights and were totally surprised: The beauty of the north even beats the one in the south and turned us to real Norway lovers. Maybe there’s something more beautiful out there. Maybe not. At the moment we don’t know. Tell us if you know a better place. We‘re always willing to worship pretty places. Moskenes After a long warm-up and a picture post, this is finally the first post about our Norway road trip. We arrived on a Friday night, stayed somewhere near the airport (there are many offers on AirBnB) and headed to Moskenes the next day. Moskenes is the name of the southernmost island in Lofoten; this region is the most famous part. Especially Reine village is in constant presence when it comes to Norway pictures. The mountains here are steep and the villages fit perfect to the scenario. The villages here are so small; most of their streets don’t even have names. That’s why a lot of times booking an accommodation made the host sending us the GPS coordinates so you can find the place. So be prepared and bring Google Maps (or any other system) with you. The ending –øy is something you should keep in mind. It means island and for obvious reasons, you will face it many times. On the financial aspect: The Moskenes Island is the most expensive region of Lofoten. There aren’t many accommodations or generally speaking a lot of civilisation in this region. Therefore booking in advance at least for the main season would be a good idea. We had the following places on our bucket list: Å i Lofoten, Sørvagen, Sakrisøy, Hamnøy and Reine. They’re well-connected by the E10 (more about it on the previous post). Å i Lofoten Probably the place with the coolest name. Å means ‘stream’ and is located like the other places on the eastern side of the Moskenesøy. Back in the days, people made their living with fishing. Today it’s just a Museum Village. The Rorbuer, the traditional red fishermen’s shacks, were the prettiest here. As Å depends on tourism during the summer months, the appearance of the village is really important. Sørvagen We actually didn’t have Sørvagen on our radar. Buton our way back from Å, we made a coffee break here. The café is called Maren Anna and Coffee and Cake were worth the 13€. The beautiful but annoying cat was for free. Reine We were most excited to see Reine. First of all because of the amazing landscape. Secondly, we wanted to hike the Reinebringen. Unfortunately, over the last years so many tourists had the same idea and nature just couldn’t handle it. The local tourist information told us, they’re building a new hiking trail to the Reinebringen and it will probably open next year. Sometimes you just have bad luck. Thank God, Reine, in general, is incredibly beautiful and we had good weather that day. Sometimes you just have luck. Sakrisøy This place is located between Reine and Hamnøy and actually nothing special. But this is the place where we had our accommodation. It’s called Sakrisøy Hostel, but we had one of the deluxe rooms downstairs, it doesn’t have anything to do with a hostel. It offers parking opportunities, a nice host and you can even decide whether you want a room with shared bathroom or your own. Sakrisøy looks amazing from the opposite island (Olenilsøya), hiking the little path up. The colour of the water is incredible. Hamnøy And another picturesque place where nothing ever happens. There are a few accommodations here (especially Rorbuer) and restaurants. Looking, taking pictures, leaving. That’s it. In total, we totally loved this region. We stayed at Moskenes for two nights. Depending on the number of hikes you want to make (more than one), you should plan more nights. What bothered us a little bit: The lights were too bright in the villages to see the Northern Lights. Seeing it with the naked eye as well as on photos was hardly possible. We had to leave the villages to go to ‘darker’ places. It’s sad because otherwise, the villages would have made a perfect scenery....
What you should know about the Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands!
24. September 2017
After our six-hour stopover in Oslo, we continued our flight and landed at Evenes ‘Lufthavn’. An airport so small and cute, it made us smile thinking about calling it an airport. As we arrived really late, we stayed for one night somewhere not far from here and continued our drive the next day heading to the southernmost Lofoten island called Moskenes. Before we start telling and showing you about all the beautiful places, we wanted to give you some hard and soft facts for the school of life. Maybe you’ll need them, maybe not. Norwegians are the nicest people on earth They really are. And because of this and the fact that Norwegians don’t seem to know any bad, they don’t even lock their doors. There’s nothing going to happen anyway. And because of this, please be nice as well so this will never change! E 10 – Lofoten’s main road The European Road E 10 goes all the way through the Lofoten archipelago. In total, it stretches over 880 km from Å i Lofoten to Luleå in Sweden. During our road trip, we were using the E 10 again and again; many of the most beautiful views and most amazing beaches are located next to the ‘Lofoten Motorway’. Navigation was quite simple; just take the E 10 in direction north or south through countless tunnels and over even more bridges and you will see the most beautiful places. But don’t forget to explore some of the sideroads, too! Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands are located north of the Arctic Circle Lofoten is an archipelago of 80 islands located 100km to 300km north of the Arctic Circle. They belong to the county of Nordland. Vesterålen is an archipelago with six islands and is located north of the Lofoten. The islands belong to the counties Nordland and Troms. Mild temperatures Though located north of the Arctic Circle (Vesterålen reaches 70° northern latitudes), both archipelagos profit from the Gulf Stream and temperatures are quite mild. Midnight Sun and polar night Both are amazing. If you want to see the midnight sun, you should come here between the end of May and end of July. Between December and January, there’s polar night and it’s all dark up here. To each their own! Northern Lights Paradise As ‘Aurora borealis’ somehow sounds like a mysterious disease, we’re using the terms Northern Lights, polar lights or Lady Aurora. You can see them year round north of the Arctic Circle. Of course, it’s difficult during midnight sun but otherwise, it’s the perfect region. One and half year ago we were in Iceland in March and saw them for the first time. Unfortunately, it was extremely cold so we decided to visit the north again when it would be warmer. And it worked for us! September was the perfect month. The end of September might be even better as in the beginning of September the night starts really late. Temperatures were comfortable and to our fortune, we were able to see the strongest Northern Lights in the past 12 years. We were in heaven. The Northern Lights were the main reason for us to come back to Norway. And of course the landscape and so on. Rental car is a must It won’t work out without a rental car. It doesn’t matter if a rental car, a camper or anything else. But you definitely need means of transport. Definitely with heating. There are busses. But if you lived in the countryside before, you know how awful bus connections in rural areas can be and they’re even worse here. Accommodation is cheaper in September We booked our accommodation via booking.com and AirBnB and they were astonishingly cheap. Except of Reine. But it’s generally expensive there. July and August are the most expensive months and definitely the most crowded. Dried fish is disgusting The North men love fish. Everyone knows that. A speciality of the region is dried cod (Torrfisk). Jan thought it tasted ok (diplomatic as always), I think it’s disgusting. It tastes like nothing and smells awful. But hey. To each their own! You can do a lot here As said before, we came mainly because of the Northern Lights and the landscapes. As we have noticed, you can do a lot more here: like hiking, kayaking, boulder, diving and go swimming during the summer months (water temperatures are usually warmer until the end of November than the outer temperatures). And watching birds in July. If the weathers permits. We wanted to do some hikes but couldn’t due to weather conditions. The weather is the general problem here. It just has its own mind. We had three beautiful days during one week. We did as much as possible on these days. The other days were a bit nasty and windy. Just think about a plan B for those days. For example: We had one accommodation with a sauna. Perfect!...