The Famous Five travelling
We were five young women from different parts of Finland who didn´t have so much in common. We all had ended up to study Tourism in south part of Finland and very soon we started to spend more time together organizing excursions during the weekends. Our fellow students started to call us Viisikko – ”The Famous Five” by the books of Blyton
It was many years ago and some years passed when we didn´t see each other very often because of the distance. Many of us were living abroad ( Eila still is) and many things had happened in life. We all have our own story to tell but we also have our common story to share. It is a story of friendship, respect and happiness. Four of us are connected again and we have started to organize excursions to spend time together.
Destination: LOFOTEN, Norway
Eila is living in northern part of Norway and was our responsible tourleader this time. We had a fligth from Helsinki by Oslo to Evenes ( Narvik). Years ago Lofoten was connected to mainland only by ferry but now we continued our journey by car ( about 2,5 hours).
As you can imagine the first couple of hours was all about talking and laughing – and very soon we arrived to Svolvaer – the capital of Lofoten. We had a nice lunch in ”Bacalao” by the harbor eating delicious local spicy casserole made of codfish ( turska). After lunch we continued to our basecamp – Sandvika camping resort in Kabelvåg.
Eila had booked us a modest but clean and cosy cottage with two bedrooms. We had decided to do daytrips, staying overnight always in the same place. Our main focus was, in addition to spend quality friendship-time, in hikig and conquesting some peaks.
1. Day: Kalle and its surroundings
There seem to be perfect hiking destinations everywhere in Lofoten. We started our active holidays by discovering the area of Kalle and had our first hiking tour of couple of hours climbing towards the peak of the mountain; after climbing a while we noticed that it was almost a never-ending route – when we thought to reach the peak another one appeared!
2. Day: Djevelporten and Svolvaer
Djevelporten (Devil´s port) must be one of the most visited peaks in Lofoten. Very rocky route started from Svolvaer cemetery which is in walking distance from Svolvaer center. There was no smooth start in that route, but the locals were hiking there even with small dogs!
In our way towards Djevelporten we also met people who were having another destination: Svolvaergeita which is the place for real adventurers; you can´t climb there without rock-climbing experience nor without proper equipment. You can see pictures and videos from Svolvaergeita in Instagram or Websites as we didn´t go there!
The final hiking destination was Djevelporten – Devil´s port where some people dare to climb on the block between the peaks and some are happy just to see the view… our choice was the second one. Greetings to those who did climb onto the block and gave permission to take a picture!
I have read about overtourism*) in Lofoten specially when talking about naturebased hiking tourism. I didn´t see the problem during our visit but need to admit that there were not such services as public toilets, open fireplace-areas, trash cans or drinkable water points in those routes where we were hiking but there might be some in longer routes.
I did notice some damage in subsoil caused by hiking – the same problem which we are facing in Finland and they do in Iceland. Some new innovations would be appreciated to solve that problem and as far as I know they have some plans in Iceland ( floting dockboards / kelluvat pitkospuut).
We also discovered the island connected by bridge to Svolvaer. There are two local symbols on that island; the statue of sailor´s wife waving to say goodbye and the racks to dry codfish. We were told by locals that they dry even the heads to make fish flour to export to Africa.
At the end of June we were lucky to experience midsummer sun and white nights!
3. Day: Uttakleiv, Haukland and Mannen
The distances from one place to another in Lofoten are not long and it took less than two hours to arrive to Haukland beach. You can park the car in Haukland, climb to the top of Mannen – the peak between two beaches- go down to Uttakleiv and then walk through the tunnel back to Haukland – there are safety vests to borrow if you decide to take that option. If we had got only one day to experience in Lofoten, I think this would have been the one
It took couple of hours to climb up to the peak and a little bit less to go down. The view was extremly beautiful all the time!
After the hiking tour the swim in Actric Ocean was the best thing to experience – or the second best after having a nice picnic in ”The Famous Five” – style with home baked choclate cake made by Eila. Special thanks to Eila for planning us such a great journey! Greetings to our local advisor Ellen for joining us.
Day 4 : Henningsvaer & The island of Skrova
The fourth day was the most urban one during our stay in Lofoten. The village of Hennigsvaer is very photogenic and we also found many paintings of the graffiti- artist know as Mr Hmm? there. Nobody knows who he/ she is, but his art is very well-known!
If you plan to travel to the island of Skrova, be prepared to have a ”mas o menos” – mentality. Mas o menos is Spanish and means that the schedules and things are happening in very flexible way. Make sure when leaving Svolvaer that there are ferries to come back the same day. Many people tend to stay on island the night over. We were promised to have return in same day – and we did. But it took couple of hours longer than we were first informed.
They promoted to have ”Fiskemarket” – Fishmarket on island and we headed to the market place thinking to have a huge variety of fishes to taste. But no – no fish at all! We entered the big tent and the menu was very local; whale meat and crepes with strawberry jam and brown Norwegian cheese. The atmosphere was very authentic and polite. The local happenings are the best places to get to know locals of all ages!
There might be some readers thinking that eating whale meat is a crime. I try to have open mind and find the way to understrand all points of views – I don´t eat any meat and it´s my personal decicion. The island of Skrova is known of its whale ”hunters” for decades and I only can trust that they do it in sustainable way.
There were nice routes to choose for many hours on Skrova island but we then thought we didn´t have much time because of the ferry schedule. We had a short hiking tour – and again – the view was awesome! While waiting for the ferry we had time to have a walk in the village and a dinner in a nice terrace by the sea.
5. Day: The happy end of this story
It started to rain in the morning and the rain didn´t stop till we boarded to our flight back to Helsinki in the afternoon. We took an other way to drive back to Evenes airport and had a nice stop in the village of Laukvik.
In Laukvik village we had a nice encounter with a Spanish friend of mine – Javier from Asturias who happened to be in Lofoten! Javier is professional in Tourism (Geoface.es) and geographer who has always had a special interest in Nordic countries and specially in Lofoten islands. He has been doing field surveys in Lofoten many years in many ocacions and that was the reason why he was visiting Lofoten this time as well. If you want to cooperate with him, just put in contact with him!
Thank you my dear friends for sharing this unforgettable experience in Lofoten!
Some practical tips
- By plane: Evenes airport and ”Lofoten Express” – bus if you don´t want to hire a car.
- By train: you can take a train from Sweden (Stockholm, Luleå or Malmö ) to Narvik and a bus to Lofotern. From Norway you can take the train from Trondheim to Bodo and ferry to Moskenes.
- There are local buses running in Lofoten – I would image it´s also easy to hitchhike?
Prices – quite similar to Finland (2017)
- Dinner: main course and a glass of wine: 30- 40€
- A glass of wine / bier: 8- 10€
- Coffee and sandwich: 8- 10€
- Cottage for four persons 145€/ night ( two bedrooms)
The service was polite, but there were very young people working in customer service and it was not very special. In Norway not only the cafés but also many restaurants have self-service and you first need to go to the cashier to order.
Hopefully they are developing the tourism industry in responsible way in Lofoten – considering the carrying capasity, natutre and respecting the local culture.
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