Tag Archives: Norway

Midnight sun above the Arctic Circle

The world is big and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark – John Muir

June 2018, a long cherished dream comes true, I travel to the Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelago in the North of Norway. Traveling above the Arctic Circle at this time of year is a challenge. The 24 hours of daylight will give us the opportunity to make the most of it, and definitely makes sure we will lack some sleep.

We start our tour on the Vesterålen, where we drive to our first camp at Stave in the middle of the night. So strange to have clear views at midnight, and also very lucky as we see a few moose along the way. Unfortunately it will be very cloudy and wet for the next few days. Shame, however it does give the rocky landscapes an even more mythical atmosphere. We expect the Trolls to appear any minute.

In the next days we drive through this beautiful landscape, enjoying it a lot, in spite of the clouds. At some point we stop in Andenes. A lovely little town (northest I have ever been at 69° latitude) where whale safari’s leave for a 97%-chance-of-spotting-whales-tour. Well, we were in the other 3% and got pretty sick along the way. At some point even wishing the tour would be over soon. Luckily the fish soup in the restaurant next to the harbour made our day! 

We drive to Kabelvåg, where we will stay for few days. The sky is still grey, we cannot see much. Clouds are at 50-100m, covering the granite mountains which should be around somewhere. We still enjoy great coffees and cakes though. And the towns of Svolvær and Henningsvær. One is a city with shopping malls, the other a very rustic fishing village with the famous Stockfish hanging out to dry (and smell). We will be back at the end of the trip to see some sun a beautiful views on the mountains.

Slowly we head even more South to Hamnøya. This is the Lofoten we have seen on images. This is what we came for. The sun is showing it’s face more and more, and we are able to enjoy some of the most beautiful hikes in the region. We walk from Ytresand to Mulstøa, from Haukland to Uttakleiv and the beautiful Munkebuhytta trail. Man, the Norwegians have some very scenic trails to hike. Some a bit more tough than others, mainly for the muddy parts after the rainy days we had. The views are magnificent though!

In the meantime we just take in the unique views on the Reinefjorden. This is the view of the Lofoten, and we got it served with a blue sky 😍. Making more pictures than we can use, it just is breathtaking. The whole area between Hamnøya and Reine is simply stunning. There are a few small fishing villages with Stockfish and fish heads, giving some colour to the landscape. Just remember, in Reine the gasoline station serves great fishburgers and the Bringen Kaffebar great coffee and cakes to go with the views.

Our last hike is from Nesland to Nusfjord. Another great trail along the sea, up and over many granite blocks and with many amazing views on the mountains and coast. We even spot Norway in the distance, as well as a grey seal hunting in one of the bays.

Almost at the end of our holiday we decide we really should experience the midsummernight. We have dinner in our accommodation and go out again close to midnight. We need a beach facing North, so we drive to Flakstad. When we arrive there, we find many people in their campervans, waiting for the not setting of the sun. This is surfers beach, and even now some people are still surfing the waves. We walk on the sand, wearing sun glasses and watching the sun go down. And just when it is supposed to disappear in the see… it rises again. Birds are still flying around, people walking and paddleboarding. It is 2:30 am when we leave to go to bed. Our sleep pattern is completely disrupted by now…

Det var en glede å møte deg. Til neste gang.


The magic of Aurora Borealis

“The greatest secrets are always hidden int he most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it” – Roald Dahl
November 2012 I thought it was about time to make a dream come true. There are so many things in nature which are stunning and which I would really love to see, to experience. Many of the ones on my list I already could tick off, but not this one. I really would like to see (and hear?) the northern lights. Hear, because in my mind this phenomenon must make sound as well. Little did I know.

I mailed some friends and was actually a bit surprised that they all wanted to join. Nice! Better to share an experience, maybe even a wonder, like this with people I love. I mailed another friend of mine in Harstad Norway. She posted many pictures of the lights on her facebook page, so she must have some insight information and tips. One of my questions was when it would be the best time to spot it. Her response: February. All right then: time – check, destination – check, purpose – check. We just needed to find a place to stay, some flights and a car. Oh, and we need to decide which one of us is able to drive the studded tieres in the ice and snow.

We rent in a small, heated cabin on a campsite with a splendid view over the bay of Harstad. This is so nice. We are north of the polar circle (first time ever – check!) in Winter, so the sun has difficulties to rise above the mountain range in Winter. Most of the day is rather dim, even dark sometimes. What to do in the 4 days we are here? We hike in the Folkeparken in Harstad. It is beautiful in the snow with a lot of people cross country skiing and bbq-ing in the small shelters. Another activity is going on a rib tour along the coast. We see some of the most impressive cliffs with kittiwakes nesting there by the thousands and some white-tailed eagles. We hoped to see Orca, but they just migrated out of the bay the week before. Shame, but that is a reason to come back one day!

The main reason of our visit was experiencing the mystery of the Aurora Borealis or polar light. Of course it is a natural phenomenon and thus very unpredictable if and when it shows. First of all we need a relatively clear, dark sky and secondly there must be high solar winds activity. Things we humans cannot control, but which we were able to put in an app on our phones. A little help never hurts. February seems to be the best time to spot the light as the skies are clearer than in the other Winter months up north. Oh boy, and how lucky we got! We stayed 3 nights and we got 3 nights with the magic lights. How amazing. As it was very quiet and dark on the campsite, we basically could enjoy it all just by ourselves. The green strings of light dancing in the skies. And unlike the idea in my mind, completely silent. We stayed outside until we were completely frozen, completely enchanted by the magic. Wow! I cannot get enough and really hope to go back one day.

“Some moments simply insist that you just stand and breathe.”