Feb 14th to 17th
14.02.2013 - 17.02.2013 -1 °C
A bit of a crazy start to the Lofoten Islands. There was a slight mix up with the planes. My mother and Melanie had booked at the same time as me but on a different booking number as I was able to get a special youth rate. Their planes were changed and so I assumed that mine were also. I assumed wrong. Turns out I was on the original plane which left an hour earlier, so exactly when we arrived at the airport. I went to check in as I couldn't get the machine to work and she told me that I was on the plane that was about to leave. Luckily it was slightly delayed so I pretty much ran to the gate, losing my mother's old swiss army knife through security in the process, and managed to quickly jump on the plane. I was also lucky as we had managed to catch the bus before the one we planned as it was running late, and that the lady at check in let my mother check in my bag under her ticket.
So I run onto this plane and it is the smallest plane I have ever seen, maybe only 30 people would fit on there. There were no assigned seating but the lady said to sit up the back so I sat in the back row which was a straight seat across like in the back of a bus. I actually ended up sitting next to a guy who worked in medical research in Tromsø so I learnt a couple of things about Norway and his research on the whole half an hour plane trip. Apparently Tromsø has a big university and is the cancer and heart centre of Norway's northern regions. He himself was working on recreating cells to heal people who have lost the cartilige in their knees, he tried to explain the whole process to me about growing the new cells and the large amount of trial and error involved. It was fairly complex for like 8.30, 9 in the morning, but it was quite interesting to talk to him. He also gave me a definition of a fjord, which I had wondered about as I was unsure about the exact classification. However later Melanie said she thought his definition was wrong so who knows, maybe he had made everything up! Cool thing was though, the plane company gives you a chocolate at the end of the flight.
But continuing on with the plane story. So after this half an hour of plane ride I arrived in Stockmarknes. I had an hour or so to wait so I wandered around to the check in/security area, so the other room of the airport, and I say airport in the loosest sense of the word, more like glorified shed. When I get there the security lady asks me if I am meant to be on the plane that is about to leave. I tell her that I am actually on the later plane to Stockmarknes. Unfortunately however that plane route got cancelled in January. So they chuck me back on the exact same plane, again I have to race my things through security. Unfortunately in my rush the first time I had just ditched all my liquids out and back in to my bag so they weren't in a plastic pouch which would have been simple, instead I had to dig around for them. So I get back on the same plane with the same flight attendant, who found it quite funny. Unfortunately the plane is full so I take the last seat which js actually a flight attendant seat. 30 minutes later and I am in Bodo, exactly where mother and Melanie arrived, I believe actually after me, after having to only take 1 flight. And just because I hadn't failed enough for the day I managed to fail at getting off the plane. As I was in the flight attendant seat my hand luggage had to be put away further down the plane. This meant I had to wait for everyone to get off before I could get it and leave. So by this time everyone except these people with a man in a wheelchair had disappeared. So I followed them, I swear, halfway around the airport on the tarmac until they went in a special entrance. I was like, ok I better say something, so I was like excuse me are you going in? They found it quite amusing and let me catch the lift up and pointed the way to the terminal. Rather embarrasing... I did realise I was wrong halfway through the walking on the tarmac bit but by that point the place was empty and I was committed.
So I talked to the people at the desk and explained the situation and luckily there was not too much hassle. They got me a ticket after about 10 or 15 minutes of organising on the next plane to Svolvaer, so the one mother and Melanie were on. This left about half an hour later or so and took about 20 minutes, pretty much back the way I had come, on the same type of small plane as before, although not the exact one again, that would have been quite funny.
In Svolvaer our bags ended up being left in Bodo. Although to be honest this was a blessing as we didn't have to lug them around all day, they brought them right to our accommodation! So that took a bit to sort out and then we thought there was a bus straight from the airport. We thought wrong. Again another shed type situation. So we spent ages trying to work out how to find the number for a taxi and just as Melanie started to call, one rocked up! So we went into Svolvaer for the tourist office and, having an hour to kill, we found a cafe for lunch. This was a massive success. I had a very tasty sandwich and mum tried a Norwegian speciatly of pancake with brown cheese, which she also loved. Then of course a vanilla slice for me for dessert, delicious!
So in the islands we stayed in Ramberg for the first two days and in Svolvaer the last night, as we were flying back out of that airport. This meant most of our time was spent on the bus. However this really wasn't an issue as the main road throigh the island the buses take is a national tourist route and just beautiful. If we had taken a car we would have been stopping every 5 minutes to get out and take a photo. The thing to understand about the Lofoten is at this time of year they are just always stunning. They consist f mountains and hilly terrain covered in snow with lots of sea and cute little fishing villages consisting of red houses, many built half in the water on stilts. And the reason it is so stunning is the light, the whole day the sky looks like the end of dawn, with a beautiful soft pink lighting. Just amazing.
So where we stayed in Ramberg was one of these tiny little villages in a red cabin. The view from our window looked right over a little beach with mountains to the right. Yoi couldn't ask for anything more! Well except a kettle that is. There was a drip coffee machine but no kettle! We ended up having to boil the water in a saucepan and use the coffee pot from the machine as a teapot.
The islands are still bove the arctic circle so we were still hoping to get some lights but unfortunately is wasn't to be the first night. But best thing about this place; all you have to do to look for the lights is go out on the front porch! Dinner that night, and the next were rissoles and veg, which actually tasted pretty good!
So for our first day we went almost to the edge of the islands to a town by the name of Å. And we may have just gone there because of its name. Turns out it is actually quite nice, there is some big fishing museum there. What really attracted my attention though was what I had read about delicious cinnamon scrolls made there daily, but it was all a lie! Unfortunately apart from the museum, which we didn't really have any interest in seeing, the town was dead. This was doubly unfortunate as I was quite starving. So we went back to catch the bus only to miss it, I blame the guy at the museum ticket place/town general store (same place) who had spent half an hour going on at the museum. So we had about half an hour to kill, which actually turned out well as we went for a short work and found a great view to the ocean.
We headed back up the island to Reine, a fishing village. First thing I saw was a very cute looking cafe. It was like a cafe/decorative/some gardening stuff I think store. Anyway it was great. I had pretty much a fancy toasty which was awesome and we came back later to waste time for the bus and I had a chocolate cake. This was good but mum had a chocolate cupcake there for lunch which was loads better so mine kind of paled in comparison. So we went to Reine pretty much because it is a prety typical fishing village, if not smelly at times. I think there was also a bird watching group there so maybe there are exciting birds too. So we spent about an hour wandering around the village and taking lots and lots of photos as well as sinking into the snow alot.
So the second night we had major success withe the lights. We got some really good ones, made better by the water, the other houses and the mountain in the background. Then we all got into bed when mum looked out the window and said we needed to go back out. So out we go in our pjamas and jackets and they were fantastic! I swear there was even some reflection in the water, although the camera didn't pick it up. Mum went back out again later when she swears they were really good but I had looked out the window and they didn't look as great.
The next day we had to get back up to Svolvaer. Unfortunately the buses weren't as well timed as they were on the way down and we had to wait about 2 or 3 hours in Leknes, rather than the 10 minutes it was on the way down. As there was nowhere to leave our bags we took them to a nearby shopping centre and sat at a cafe the whole time. Unfortunately a rather unpleasantly smelling talkative Norwegian, I think mikitary, man was sitting at the table next to us. But fortunately I looked around the shops and found a moose cushion!
That night in Svolvaer we tried to find a restaurant to eat at but apparently they only did Italian food restaurants there so we just had meatballs. Which mum proceeded to eat cold out of a bottle, as in a drink bottle, for the following days... Too many days... Our last night to see lights tonight but it was cloudy so no luck. But not dissapointed as we had definitely seen some good ones so I was very happy!
A quite funny thing happened actually that night. We were staying in a guest house so we had a room with a bunk bed and a single. I was very glad I took the top bunk as Melanie managed so sit on the lower one and break one of the slats. Rather hilarious.
The next morning, quite early, we headed to the airport. Our plane wasn't til late afternoon but the next bus was much later and got there just after our plane left. So that meant we had to catch the early one and wait around in the airport for like 4 or 5 hours. I spent most of the time watching Hart of Dixie, luckily they had wifi there, and IT Crowd with mum. I also managed to fail at getting a cup of tea. I had to ask where the tea bags were and then thought the machine was for hot water when it was actually coffee, so made a coffee tea. Had to be quite embarrassed and tell the lady and try again. Luckily mum came and showed me which machine it was.