April 5, 2023
April 5, 2023
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Day 1: Evenes

We arrived in Evenes via Moomin centric Oslo to a free car hire upgrade and vivid blue skies. Our next x7 days were to be spent exploring the Vesterålen and Lofoten Islands located on the same latitude as you’ll find the Canadian territory of Nunavut, a land occupied by ice, Inuits and polar bears, and the Russian city of Murmansk, where temperatures routinely plunge below -30C. We were as far north in the world as we had ever travelled.

It was a 2-hour drive to Blokken, the base for our first two nights with a half way pitstop at Gullesfjord Kafé for the freshest fish & chips we’ve ever eaten. We sat on the front deck in the full sun basking in our king cod feast. It was then on to the Blue House in Blokken passing spectacular mountain scenery that reminded us of the Canadian Rockies sprinkled with a dusting of the Scottish Highlands. We settled into our quaint cabin on the shores of the lake only momentarily unsettled by the cellar hatch door and the creaking rocking chair in the corner of the room.

Day 2: Vesterålen Islands

We were up bright and early for a visit to the local Sami farm with its antler wielding reindeer and jolk telling herders who are also fond of a little sing song. We then headed north up the Andoya Scenic Route with a surprise encounter along the way with a road running reindeer before stopping for lunch at the most spectacular beach at Sandvika where we enjoyed our improvised picnic lunch.

Next, we headed further up the coast to Andenes, blissfully bright in the sunshine, for our afternoon whale watching trip. Over the next two hours, our guide used sonar to locate the almost mythical Moby Dicks. We waited patiently, staggering occasionally across deck to warm our hands on the complimentary hot drinks, until finally a juvenile sperm whale surfaced to catch its breath. Five minutes later – with a majestic flick of the tail – it dived back to the depths in search of more squid. It was a brief encounter but well worth the wait with cinnamon buns all round in celebration.

Day 3: Svolvaer

We checked out of our blue cabin bidding farewell to the hobbit houses with their jaunty flags and drove down to Svolvaer for our RIB boat safari. Grateful for the heavy-duty, though faintly ridiculous looking, high-vis bodysuits and goggles, we listened attentively to the tale of the “Battle of the Trollfjord” – a typically Norwegian skirmish in 1890 over the not-too-trifling matter of fish that resulted in just a single casualty (cause of death: heart attack). Along the way we paused to throw fish heads to the white-tailed sea eagles with their 2.5 m wingspan. Between intermittent pincer movements by the local guileful seagull, we passed cascading waterfalls, towering peaks and rock trolls deep within the fjord.

After pizza in Svolvaer we headed to our new cottage in Kabelvag to relax, reconnect with wi-fi and binge watch Hijack with the lovely Idris Elba.

Day 4: Kabelvag & Henningsvaer

We awoke to a beautiful morning with bright blue skies and such spectacular scenery that it felt like we had teleported into the movie Frozen. The Lofoten Islands really are up there with some of the most gobsmacking scenery in the world. We strolled 20 minutes along the coastline to Kabelvag aquarium just in time for the seal & otter feeding. The young seals impressed with their bountiful energy and clapping moves; the older ones wise enough to know that the fish was on its way regardless. We enjoyed lunch on the pontoon next to the beautiful fjord.

After walking back to Kabelvag, we hopped in the car and headed to trendy Henningsvaer for our sea kayaking excursion. Henningsvaer was crammed full of Norwegians youths enjoying the 3-day music festival, Trevarefest, with late-night DJ sets, art, yoga, rock music and great food. The rocky outcrop islands popped with colourful tents belonging to the hard-core festival goers. We immediately loved Henningsvaer. We met our kayaking guide Thiago (half Brazilian, half-Finnish) and got kitted out in our gear before jumping in our kayaks to head around the calm bays and islands surrounding the area.  We saw arctic terns and kittiwakes, held sea urchins and tasted truffle seaweed. Our 3-hour trip went by in a flash. Afterwards, we headed to Henningsvær Lysstøperi for a fabulous thai green curry, enjoyed a quick kickabout on the world’s most northern football pitch before heading back home to Idris.

Day 5: Lofoten Beaches

We awoke to grey skies so decided to enjoy a lazy brunch at Hjørnet Kafé Kabelvåg. It was then time to head south towards the Lofotr Viking Museum. We arrived accompanied by rain so spent time indoors checking out the activities in the longhouse such as weaving, pottery and baking, and with a break in the rain, we hiked down to the lake shore trying our hand at axe throwing and archery. Luckily no limbs were lost.

From Borg it was time to head south to the beaches with perfect timing as the sun broke from the clouds. We hiked the coastal path between the turquoise shores of Haukland to Uttaliev beach and then headed to Flakstad to watch the surfers and Ramberg with its perfect crescent of pure white sand. It really is the arctic Caribbean. It was just a 45-minute journey from here to the iconic Lofoten village of Reine, the cover photo of most articles on these blessed isles and our base for the next two night in a characterful rorbuer cabin.

Day 6: Å & Reine

Unfortunately, the clouds had set in but we managed to explore the last stop on the E10 road, the historic village of Å (pronounced awe). Luck didn’t appear to be on our side today as the couple in front of us kidnapped the remaining cinnamon rolls from the two-hundred-year-old village bakery and the drizzle started to fall steadily. We checked out the fishing museum with its nightmarish rows of monkfish heads before travelling back to Reine to hop on the ferry to Vinstad for our 1-hour hike over to the spectacular Bunes beach. Even though the water was an inviting turquoise we resisted the urge to go for a refreshing dip. Dinner was at the fabulous (but fishy according to the kids) Anita’s Seafood Bar on the island of Sakrisoy.

Day 7: Back up the Isles

 It was a leisurely road trip back up the isles with our first stop at the wonderful Glasshytta Vikten glass blowing centre. We had a lovely hour filled with hot drinks and freshly baked cinnamon buns whilst watching a glass blowing demonstration by the friendly Ase whose hands must have been made of silicone. Our next stop was the Lofoten Seafood Centre near Mortsund where we joined an informative stockfish tour with a lovely break at Stamsund for a late lunch by the water. It was then onto our cabin near Lyngvaer where we dumped our belongings before heading back to Svolvaer for the kids requested final activity of the ‘Eye of Odin’ escape room. It was a bloody one-hour battle with Tore Hund of Gimsøya before we rose victorious, quite literally, in the dying seconds. We enjoyed a Chinese banquet by the harbour in Svolvaer to celebrate completing our mission.

Day 8: Back up the Isles

We packed the car early to get back to Gullesfjord Kafé for our repeat Sunday lunch of fish & chip. It was a fitting end to our trip having come a complete circle. We had spent the week surrounded by mind-boggling scenery comparable to New Zealand but just a short flight from the UK and we cannot recommend it enough.

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