Vikings don’t surf – the Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands are famous for their winter fishing grounds, dramatic scenery, and excellent opprtunties for mountain adventures…so we thought we better go!

We caught the express boat from Narvik on an incredibly calm day, with not a white cap in sight as we zoomed past scnees of grey granite, green vegetation, deep blue sea, and occasional white birds and red fishing cottages.

All the settlements in the Lofotens are similar: red traditional fishing huts on the water front, and cod-drying racks on the peninsulars with large, modern shipwrights and fish processing factories out the back and around the corners. All the villages advertise their wonderful art, but in reality there is a limited amount to do in the towns. It is one of the most scenic places I have ever been (mountains rising out of the sea, old boats, quaint cottages etc…) but there is only so long that stuff can keep me entertained if I have no way (or time) to climb/ride/explore it.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to learn much about the current fishing industry here, apart from the fact that most of Europes fleet seems to go there for winter, and that the herring stocks have somewhat recovered after a crash 20 years ago. We did get a first-hand look at the industry’s waste management practices though: on the first night we camped very close to what appeared to be the local rubbish dump – very scenically located, mind you.

My highlight was a visit to the Viking Museum, where I was lucky enough to get to tour through on a day when they were having their first annual Viking festival. The huge, smoky chieftans house was filled with traditional food and artisans (singing, sewing, blacksmithing and knitting) and the long-boat shed was surrounded by costumed men very-convincingly trying to hack through each others chain mail and wooden shields with axes and swords. I’m pretty into this Viking stuff, and may have to read some of their epic stories (Sagas) and research my family tree : )

Gabrielle decided not to come in to the Viking museum, and instead sat in the coffee shop for a few hours…..FUN!

Before and after the Viking museum, I tried quite hard to organise a surf at nearby Unstad, especially as the waves and wind looked good for the next morning. Unfortunately the bus timetables, time and a likely expensive couple of taxi rides meant I had to miss out on a surf above the Arctic circle. You can check out some photos at the following websites to see what I missed out on:

http://www.wannasurf.com/spot/Europe/Norway/unstad/

http://www.the-arctic-challenge.com/galleri.asp?aar=2005

http://www.globalsurfers.com/spot.cfm?travel=Unstad&surfing=1334&land=Norway

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