People who know me, know that I'm not a winter person. And yet, this season also has its magic (and I'm not talking about the ski races that I love to watch :-)). That's why I wanted to travel again to a place where the winter and the landscape are different from what we have in Switzerland. And so it happened that we decided to travel to the Lofoten Islands in Norway.
We booked through Kontiki, the charter flight was super easy and everything was perfectly organized. After a short flight with breathtaking views, we arrived and were surprised - Norway had lifted all covid protection measures at that time and so the mask requirement was already dispensed within the airport. A strange, but also a good feeling to get a bit closer to normality again. For the next 7 days, we had the following stops and highlights:
Here we arrived in the evening at the Hotel Thon. Before going to the supermarket to do some shopping, we went to the roof terrace to check out the view - and Booom! - the first Aurora Borealis appeared in the sky. On the way back from the supermarket, we were able to see it again before we were having a delicious meal at Egon Restaurant. The restaurant is very advanced in SelfService - you order and pay for your meal online - and it is served. I think that's great, how often do you have to wait to pay after each meal? That's solved in a smart way here.
In the evening we went out again to hunt for the northern lights but didn't see them in the same strength. What a start into the vacation!
On the Hurtigruten to Stamsund
Harstad was the starting point to board the famous Hurtigruten. After a great breakfast buffet, the morning was upon us. Unlike the rest of the country, we had to take a Covid quick test to get on board. This we did and shortly after we could celebrate Marco Odermatt's triumph at the Olympics on the ship :-).
We caught the newest of all Hurtigruten ships, the MS Havila Capilla - a top modern coastal ship- too bad that the Jacuzzi and sauna on deck were not in operation.
We stayed on the ship until 10 p.m., stopped at various stations, enjoyed the magnificent view (before the weather then unfortunately changed), bought nice, warm thermal clothing, soles and - very important - spikes at the ship store! If you ever go to the north in winter, you should get spikes for your shoes and you will walk on pure ice without any problems.
For lunch, we treated ourselves to a 50EUR per person (welcome to Norway :-)) - all you can eat - tapas lunch. The ship kept stopping for shorter and longer stops - in Svolvaer we then visited the Magic Ice Bar. When we arrived in Stamsund at 10 p.m., a real winter storm was raging, but the bus took us safely to our accommodation for the next two nights - the Statles Rorbucenter in Leknes.
Slow down in Leknes
Late in the evening we checked in at the Statles Rorbucenter for the next two nights. Rorbuers are former fishermen's cabins that have been converted into cosy vacation homes. Outside, the snowstorm was raging and we felt like the cabin was blowing away. When travelling with Kontiki, you also get a Northern Lights alert now and then on your mobile where it might be worth going outside - this night the weather was too bad.
Probably as a result of the weather we had no running water the next morning - but this was fixed during the day. The sun showed up and we explored the beautiful surroundings. The place is quite remote, it was great to enjoy the silence and nature. As a mini excursion, we visited the Lofoten Seafood Center to learn more about the important international fish business - stockfish and salmon farming in particular. The visit to the exhibition was free of charge. You also can visit the salmon farm for 40.- CHF per person on the boat, we did not do this but bought a fine piece of salmon to enjoy in our cabin as an apero. After a beautiful sunset, on the way to dinner, which we had booked (alternative would be to cook ourselves in the Rorbuer), the northern lights appeared again - yay! It was rather weak though, also because the moon was shining brightly. Nevertheless a beautiful atmosphere! And here's a spoiler alert: We didn't know yet that the best view of the northern lights was already at the beginning of our trip......
The stay was wonderful and I can well imagine that the place is just as magical in summer with the midnight sun as in winter.
Fun days in Svolvær
With a beautiful morning atmosphere, we left Statles behind us. By bus, we enjoyed a scenic drive to Svolvær, the largest town in Lofoten. The accommodation Svinoya Rorbuer was our home for the next 4 days and offered some highlights:
Wow, what can I say? When we arrived, the room was not ready. No problem, we went to eat in town in the meantime. After returning, the surprise: we were upgraded to the Rorbuer Suite! What a dream accommodation - it was like the dream of your perfect house turned into reality. 4 bedrooms, sauna, wonderfully bright, view directly on the water, a super kitchen - it's a great place to live! Accordingly, we took a lazy day to enjoy the benefits of the accommodation (ok, the weather was also once not too pleasant :-)).
Food & Drinks
In general, we never ate badly - the quality of food in Norway is very high and good. In Svolvær I can give these recommendations:
I have to admit, the activities are rather costly. Nevertheless, each of them was worth it:
We had a great time, surrounded by great people. In the travel group itself we talked to travellers, again and again, the Norwegians were all very friendly, helpful and with a good sense of humour on the road & at the hotel bar interesting conversations also developed.
We would have had also the possibility to rent a car. The distances from the accommodation to the city are long. Although the seaway from the accommodation to town is about 100 meters, we had to walk into town over a long bridge each time - on foot we had about 25 minutes each way from our rorbuer.
However, since we had booked various activities and were also picked up for this, it worked out well for us even without a rental car.
Overall it was a fantastic week with lots of adventures. We also heard that we've been lucky as it was actually the first week of 2022 where the weather conditions were good. People have seen blue sky and sun for the first time - crazy! Of couse I was hoping to see the Nordernlight dancing like crazy up in the sky - a sky-coloured in the unique green, blue and purple. But that's mother nature! And she has given us a magical week even without strong northern lights activities. Although weather conditions can be very rough up there, it is a very peacful place on earth and I enjoyed every minute - even when I was freezzzzziiing. Therefore, I am not disappointed at all but grateful that I was able to experience so many unforgettable moments and hope to be back one day again!