So, a village exists in the Lofoten archipelago off the coast of mainland Norway with only one letter in its name, Å, which is pronounced like a hybrid of “Oh” and “Au” (as in “Paul”). I always wondered who used the letter with the circle above it. It really does exist! (They do exist! Faint.)
We walked around a bit as we waited for the remaining passengers to come onshore. Miles disappeared for a bit after muttering something about making a bouquet of flowers. He reappeared some time later with a bunch of dandelions…for no particular reason.
Our first stop was the Stockfish Museum (Tørrfiskmuseum) where a guy with a sense of humor talked about the livelihood of the fishing village and showed us some mean-looking dried cod. The fish, after being captured, are hung on wooden racks outdoors to be dried by the constant winds. We were all intrigued by the drying process given that it rains so much in Norway but, apparently, it isn’t really a problem. The birds stay away from the hanging fish as they are more interested in live, fleshy ones caught from the surrounding waters. The climate in Lofoten, although above the Arctic Circle, tends to be mild due to the warm Gulf Stream currents. It’s pretty fascinating how ocean currents work.
We then boarded buses to head north through tunnels and bridges. As buses #1 and #2 were filling up, we made it to a third bus with a stuffed life-size cod toy by the front window. Fully embracing this, we proudly began to shout “Yea, cod bus!” Apparently, they weren’t able to make a proper sign to indicate “#3.” The toy was then passed around the bus for people to see what a cod looks like. I don’t know why but, I found this to be thoroughly amusing since it was just stuffed with synthetic materials and didn’t really tell much about the cod.
Next stop was literally just to take a photo. On and off the bus within a 10 minute timespan. I bring to you the village of Reine with Mount Olstind in the background. Ain’t it pweety?
We stopped at a blacksmith’s workshop but, instead of watching his demonstration, Hayden and I went to the small cafe next door and grabbed coffee and waffles instead. Time and money well spent, I say.
Heading towards the village of Ramberg, we stopped along the shore for another photo opportunity. Miles found an abandoned rubber boot (that’s singular) among the rocks and attempted to throw it at Hayden’s backside. He then found a large bucket cover and began to throw it around, thus, beginning our game of ultimate frisbee. While the older people watched us with part judgmental eyes, Hans walked over eagerly with his mouth open in excitement, ready to participate. “Having fun with the garbage, I see. Once you’re done, there’s a trash bin over there.” That was one of the crew pretty much telling us to behave. Yea.
Before heading to lunch, we wandered around a bit in another fishing village with amazing views of the fjord and several exhibitions detailing the history of the local fishing industry.
And, per usual, Hayden and I found a spot to stare out into the abyss and contemplate life. This is one of my favorite photos. As obviously noted, the photo was [secretly] taken by Sylvia, a fellow ship passenger who I now refer to as “big sis” and who is often seen with a lens so large, she carries it around in what looks like a baby bjorn. No joke.
Lunch was traditional Norwegian which included, big surprise, cod and several kinds of pickeled herring. Pretty tasty. A few days earlier, Hayden had taught us the concept of “cah-caw,” which involves making said noise as you steal food from someone else’s plate. I believe it is meant to be a distraction mechanism. I also believe it’s dumb, even though I am an active participant. Cah-cawing definitely occurred during this meal.
Above is a fjord so vast and gorgeous, you fall into life contemplation whether you intended to or not.
Afterwards, we headed to Borg and visited the Viking Museum which had a replica of the largest building to be found in Norway from the Viking period. The reconstruction was really nicely done and seemed pretty cozy inside. The real treat, however, were the ice cream bars that we bought back at the visitor’s center which totally added to the school trip feel. We then headed to Storvågan to visit an aquarium. It felt strange being there when we’ve been seeing wildlife in its natural habitat from the viewpoint of the ship. Clearly not impressed, Hayden and I grabbed some local beers and sat outside for a bit of drinky drinky. From coffee and waffles to ice cream bars to beer. What a great outing.
Finally, we headed to Svolvær where we reboarded the ship. As we stood on line to ride the zodiacs, one man accidentally pulled on a cord and activated his life jacket. He turned so red from embarrassment, he camouflaged into the sea of red G Expedition jackets. Poor dude. (FYI – included in the trip cost is a red water resistant Thinsulate coat which you can opt out of getting. Warm rubber boots are also provided for temporary use, mandatory to wear in the Arctic.)
The line then ended up being so long that Rachel, Miles, Hayden and I began coming up with song titles and lyrics with fish puns to pass the time:
Like a Sturgeon (Madonna)
What if Cod Was One of Us (Joan Osborne)
Salmon (as in Jammin, Bob Marley)
Stairway to Herring (Led Zeppelin) – This one was contributed by Paul.
Live Your Life (the chorus: mai AHI mai TUNA, T.I. Feat. Rihanna)
Bootylicious (“I don’t think you’re ready…for this jelly-fish,” Destiny’s Child)
If you can top this, let me know.
Photo credit: Hayden, using his GoPro
A short while later, we made an entrance into Trollfjorden in all its majestic glory. As we slowly made our way in, classical music was blasting from the speakers, in particular the Peer Gynt Suite composed by the Norwegian Edvard Grieg. Majestic to a whole other level.
Hayden, Flo, Rachel, Miles and me, affectionately known as the Norwegian Fjord Crew. (Photo credit: Hayden)
Initially, I was drawn to Norway because of the amazing nature photos I’ve seen but, after learning about some of its history, I began to respect the country at a whole other level. Due to its past suffering with extreme poverty, the country has been smart with its newfound oil wealth, saving over 95% of the profits and providing its citizens with an amazing social welfare system. Taxes are high as a result but, after knowing the reasons behind it, you realize that it’s serving a larger purpose. The Norwegians are also some of the nicest people I’ve met. They are welcoming to people no matter the origin and, after the atrocious 2011 terrorist incident, the Norwegians are more unified than ever. Yup, respect at a whole other level.