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Lofoten – my new home at last?

Moving countries is not as easy as it might seem. I don’t mean traveling, staying in one place for a month or two and then moving on. I mean committing to one place for a longer period of time. Going through all the paperwork, bureaucracy and ticking off countless boxes of the ‘to-do’ list.

But today I just want to celebrate finding my new home.

Hot summer day on Veienestind, Lofoten.

Hot summer day on Veienestind, Lofoten.

Originally from Poland, I lived in Wales for 10 years, in Germany for a year and recently I moved to the Lofoten Islands in Norway. Each country has left some traces in me, making me into some kind of a hybrid: an outsider and local at the same time. A simple question: ‘Where are you from?’, can result in a maze of answers. I’m not really sure how to identify myself anymore. Am I still a girl from an industrial Polish city? Or living in a small Welsh town made me into a countryside lover?

Lofoten Islands have been luring me for a few years. The seed was planted during my first visit and the love and longing to become a part of this magical place has been growing in me unconsciously ever since. It was probably my partner’s dedication to this place that made me want to explore it. Would I have visited and fallen in love with Lofoten if it wasn’t for him? Who knows, it doesn’t really matter now when I’m here.

Celebrating my birthday on Volandstind.

Celebrating my birthday on Volandstind.

Living above the arctic circle, magic of midnight sun, weather changing constantly like my moods and mountain peaks often rising straight from the sea. Polar night lasting a month which I have not experienced yet and feel both nervous and excited about.

No, I don’t know all the mountain names yet and still might get confused where the north and south is (especially after exiting an undersea tunnel)… I am a slow and cautious hiker and might never be super adventurous. But it doesn’t mean that I love the Islands less. It doesn’t mean that I don’t belong here… When writing these words I can just turn my head and look out of the window towards the fjord and the afternoon sun dancing on the mountains. And I smile to myself. I’m home.

All photos by Cody Duncan.

 

Summer light on Hornet.

Summer light on Hornet.

 

Flakstadtind summit.

Flakstadtind summit.

 

Winter hiking.

Winter hiking.

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Lofoten Ebook second edition out now!

Last time you’ve heard from me I was getting ready to hike the Kungsleden trail in Sweden for a month. To cut long story short: I didn’t do the whole 440km trail, as my left leg chose to be non-compliant. My slight injury forced Cody and me to take a break in the middle of the trail, skipping one section and finishing in the south. I will write more about it and share some amazing photos soon, I’m proud of myself, still managed to hike almost 300 km!

 

Autumn mountain reflection in river, Alisvagge from near Alesjaure mountain hut, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Autumn mountain reflection in river, Alisvagge from near Alesjaure mountain hut, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

 

Being away for 6 weeks means that we have a lot of catching up to do. So just one happy announcement: we have just updated our Seasons on Lofoten – Winter ebook photography and travel guide. Second edition introduces a new chapter about winter hiking, expands the northern lights section and the images portfolio. Check it out and spread the word! Cody has spend weeks, months and years on collecting the information and the photos. Most of the Lofoten stuff he provides on his 68north.com website is free, but to keep updating it we need some support.

 

Seasons On Lofoten - Winter: Lofoten Islands Photography Ebook

Seasons On Lofoten – Winter: Lofoten Islands Photography Ebook

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The best travel and photography guides to Lofoten

Midnight at Nonstind mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Ghost Whisperer jacket kept me warm.

Midnight at Nonstind mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

 

I’m often asked what’s my favourite place in the world that I’ve been to or would like to go. At first, it seems like a valid question, but somehow it’s almost impossible for me to answer. I am not the same every day, my moods and needs fluctuate, my memories of places are very subjective and dependent on personal experiences. I’m worried that if I name one place, it will automatically discredit all other amazing locations. I will say ‘A’ and then think “but I like ‘B’ as well”; and “what about ‘C’ where I had such a good time?” Not even mentioning that there’s so much ahead of me and so many places to visit.

 

How it all started

But I can definitely say that there’s one location holding a special place in my heart – Lofoten Islands in Norway. Named by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful archipelagos, I discovered the Islands only a few years ago thanks to my favourite photographer. Cody fell in love with Lofoten long time ago and his multiple visits inspired him to starting a website 68 North. It’s a wonderful resource greatly appreciated by visitors. Recently I have often felt on the Islands like traveling with a celebrity. Most people knew of Cody, wanted to shake his hand or take a photo with him. What I liked even more, some also invited us for a delicious pizza (Thanks Chris!).

 

Winter dawn on way to Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Mountain Hardwear jacket.

Winter dawn on way to Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

 

Winter on Lofoten

Due to my photographer’s interests I’ve been to Lofoten mostly in winter and autumn. Magnificent views and magical atmosphere make you come back every year. What’s really important for a person like me, not always coping well with low temperatures, is that the ocean has a positive influence on the climate, so it’s not too cold over there (well, most of the time). When I still lived in the UK I was always given strange looks when saying what my holiday plans were. Look at this video below to understand why I could enjoy Lofoten in winter even more than a tropical destination.

 

 

Summer/Autumn on the Islands

Summer and autumn months are a bit better for exploring the Islands off the beaten track. This year I was able to experience the midnight sun phenomenon in June and I absolutely loved it. Hiking in the middle of the night with the sun shining above my head has become my new hobby. Never mind that we’ve had snow storms as well as sunshine on the mountain tops. Unforgettable experience.

 

 

Travel and photography guides to Lofoten

But as stunning as the Islands are, you must be prepared for changeable weather and various conditions on the ground. Nowadays, there’s a trend to sugarcoat descriptions and images of tourist destinations, everything needs to have a “wow” effect. As a result, people arrive at an advertised place and are surprised that it’s actually raining or the mountain is less steep than on a photo.

This is why Cody (with my humble help) created two best photography and travel guides to the Lofoten Islands. I’m not afraid to call them the best, I’m really proud of our work. Together with Cody’s beautiful photos, you will find all the information necessary before embarking on a trip to the Islands. You will know when to expect northern lights but also that unfortunately they are not a guarantee as some people say. You will be advised when to go depending on your expectations, what gear to bring and which locations to choose.

 

Seasons On Lofoten: Winter

Seasons on Lofoten: Winter

 

Seasons On Lofoten: Summer

Seasons on Lofoten: Summer

 

These guides are also special to me, as I took my first steps into designing ebooks’ layout. Watch out for more to come…

 

Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. My favourite Norrona fleece.

Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

 

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Reflections on Leaving Wales and Moving On

 

Pen y Fan sunrise in winter

Pen y Fan sunrise in winter

 

I published my last post almost a year ago! Many things have happened since and I needed some time off, especially that I haven’t really had a proper “base” to work from.

It’s the second time I am wrapping up my life for new beginnings. Hundreds of thoughts are racing through my mind, moving to another country is such a rare opportunity to rethink your actions, ideas, hopes and plans for the future. 11+ years ago I left Poland for Wales, to become a support worker in a small residential school for young people with learning disabilities. Little did I know where my life was going to take me, and that as of today I would officially be living in Bavaria, Germany.

 

 Carmarthen Fans - Bannau Sir Gaer with Picws Du in distance, Black Mountain, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales. April 2013

Carmarthen Fans – Bannau Sir Gaer with Picws Du in distance, Black Mountain, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales. Apr 2013

When a young girl, I always dreamt about visiting the UK, possibly spending there a few months to learn the language and experience the romantic vibes of the country. Like from Jane Austen’s or Charlotte Bronte’s novels: rainy moorlands, green hillsides and purple heather blown in the wind. (Not mentioning a handsome man with shaggy hair riding a horse in the background…)

Years later, after finishing my supply English teacher post in a primary school in Poland, I started looking for possible jobs in Great Britain. An advert of a support worker position at a school run by a charity seemed a perfect solution for me, combining my two passions: education and social care. I was even more happy when, after receiving a job offer, I could choose between two locations: either close to Oxford and London, or in a rural English/Welsh border countryside. You should know by now which one was my choice.

 

 Llangorse lake from Mynydd Llangorse, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales, April 2014

Llangorse lake from Mynydd Llangorse, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales. Apr 2014

 

I won’t lie, the beginnings were difficult. New place, new housemates, new job, new language (with what seemed like a hundred accent variations). Now I am able to look back with a smile at some situations which seemed scary and/or embarrassing at the time. Imagine a grown-up woman who feels (and probably behaves) like a schoolgirl trying to make new friends.

But most of all, I wasn’t fully aware that people with learning disability might choose to display aggressive behaviour as their means of communication. I had to learn how to safely deal with being punched, kicked, bitten, verbally abused and spat at. And in spite of that, there was a number of students I was fond of; witnessing their even smallest steps forward made me so happy and proud. I can’t even explain how it feels seeing a boy who kept hurting himself and us, turning into a young man who could fly on a plane to Lapland! With the promotions, my responsibilities changed. I still enjoyed what I was doing though, even with some staff members being the most challenging of people I had ever met!

Without going into too much detail, as I should not be talking about certain issues, the school I worked in got closed. For someone not knowing much about social care, you don’t know about all these crazy regulations that needs to be followed, even if it often means that paperwork is more important than people. Somehow the mountain was created out of the mole hill, and because of a few potential mistakes, many of great staff lost their jobs, and students lost a great place to learn and thrive.

I went through good and bad with so many great people. I learnt a lot about how to appreciate the uniqueness of others. I made friends for life, had my heart broken, fell in love with Scottish and Welsh landscapes, hiked my legs off and found my man (though not British and without a horse, but thanks to him photos of me were published even in Nat Geo!).

 

 Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. January 2013

Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Jan 2013

Summit of Glyder Fach with Tryfan in background, Snowdonia national park, Wales. June 2013

Summit of Glyder Fach with Tryfan in background, Snowdonia national park, Wales. Jun 2013

 

Closing off the school pushed me to make a decision: ‘should I stay or should I go’ – I could keep working for the company and just move within the UK. But I knew that it was time for me to leave, to explore new places. I really love travelling, but what I like the most is long-term experiences, the familiar and the foreign interwoven with each other.

It took me about a year to be where I am now, I have travelled through Europe to Norway and my beloved Lofoten, then went to USA, Poland, back to Lofoten and Wales, and finally here to German Bavaria. The most exciting part of my travels was to meet a great British couple who were travelling Europe in their van (check out their website VdubVanLife), and now we are planning together a really cool project!

 

Sitting around a campfire with Bee from VdubVanLife, northern lights above us, Storsandnes, Lofoten, Norway

Sitting around a campfire with Bee from VdubVanLife, northern lights above us, Storsandnes, Lofoten, Norway. Sept 2014

 

The big unknown ahead of me, thrilling and scary at the same time, not only due to starting in a new place and learning a new language, but also because of changing my area of work quite significantly and jumping into self-employment. (I even learnt to design eBooks, check them out).

I just wish that the school would still exist and I could sometimes check in to say hello…

 

Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. January 2013

Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Jan 2013

Sunset from the summit of Markan (602m), Lofoten, Norway. Sept 2014

Sunset from the summit of Markan (602m), Lofoten, Norway. Sept 2014

Very subjective guide on “city life” in Lofoten

Some people expect certain standards (like opportunities to eat out, drink and have fun) when travelling. Lofoten islands would not be this type of destination and the Italian guys from my other post learnt the lesson about it. It doesn’t mean though that the islands are a desolate and out-of-civilisation place either, which was a surprise for two German girls who brought all their food supplies in big heavy backpacks.

So can you do anything on Lofoten which is not outdoorsy? To be honest I can’t really say much about this subject. And it is not only that it is very expensive (which it is) to go out in Norway but I mainly go there to do more adventurous stuff or at least to be away from crowds. But there is always a time when you need to go shopping or feel like having a coffee in the café to warm yourself up after a busy or cold day. So below there’s my subjective guide about “social life opportunities” on Lofoten (“city life” from the post title is just a tease really).

Graffiti by Pobel in Henningsvær

Graffiti by Pobel in Henningsvær

I mentioned Henningsvær in my other posts, it is one of the places claiming to be the “Venice of the North” because of the great waterfront streets. It used to be a popular fishing village and although now it is getting quieter, it still has some “artsy” atmosphere about it (in a good sense). Café’s, art and photo galleries, climbing centre, etc., there is quite a lot to choose from. Unfortunately it is not very busy out of season and I could see some buildings in an urgent need of repair. More people need to go there to spend some money and keep the business going…

Henningsvaer, Lofoten

Henningsvaer, Lofoten

I sometimes wonder how it is going to be when I get older, how it will affect my energy levels. And there I was, admiring the views of Henningsvær when I noticed two elderly ladies having an afternoon stroll with their walking aids. They looked so interesting that I decided to take a photo and after running (!) to catch up with them I managed to capture two figures walking away with the speed I wish I had when at their age.

Two elderly ladies running away from me, Henningsvær

Two elderly ladies running away from me, Henningsvær

 

But back to my guide. Leknes is one of the main Lofoten towns but somehow it is not very appealing to me. It has all it needs to have but lacks some charm. There is an airport here and bus connections to all important places on Lofoten so one usually at least passes by. It also has a yearly country music festival which I missed by a few days without much regret to be honest. Because of the location I have spent a lot of time shopping or having a latte in the shopping centre called Lofotsentr. Tip: If you are after cheaper groceries, another supermarket called Rema 1000 usually has better prices than Co-op in Lofotsentr. Just opposite the road.

When meeting friends in Leknes we even risked a meal out in an Italian pizzeria called Milano. What I liked the most (being very indecisive when it comes to food choices) was that the price of a smaller (half-size) pizza was exactly half-price of a bigger one. And the pizza was good with price affordable even for UK standards. Cannot say it about beer though… One shop caught my attention when leaving the restaurant and made me question my geography lessons at school.

"Asia" shop in Leknes, Lofoten

“Asia” shop in Leknes, Lofoten

The most chance of social life one has in Svolvær. There is even kind of a town square there with shops, café’s and restaurants. I haven’t spent much time in Svolvær as we prefer the other side of the islands but it was busy even out of season. The shopping centre is bigger than in Leknes with more shops and food outlets.

Svolvær

Svolvær

Svolvær

Svolvær

There are so many other great places to grab some food or drink when driving around but it is so interesting to discover them on our own. So try and stop as often as you can on the way and forget about crowds as it is cheaper anyway to drink in a hostel or hotel. I will try to explore them a bit more next time although it might be difficult if I visit again out of season…

Stamsund hostel (gossips from Lofoten islands)

View from the hill near Stamsund hostel at dusk, Lofoten islands

View from the hill near Stamsund hostel at dusk, Lofoten islands

After a long long journey (which felt almost like going through 7 seas and 7 mountains…and it requires a separate post) I finally got to the beautiful Lofoten islands end of August. One day my companion sprained his ankle (apparently because he turned around to check on me being extremely slow…) and our hiking plans became very limited. So I spent quite a bit of time in the Stamsund hostel. I mentioned the hostel briefly in my other posts but I feel it needs more of my attention now.

It is the place with a soul, magical and ideal if one just needs to chill out and be lazy. It is funny how sometimes bad weather is welcome so one can just stay inside without any remorse, in front of the fire reading the book, chatting to people, making popcorn. (The last is a must if you go out with an American…). One can also try Norwegian fishcakes which are good but have a very strange spongy consistence and the fish flavour is really subtle.

Popcorn lunch in Stamsund hostel, Lofoten islands

Popcorn lunch in Stamsund hostel, Lofoten islands

The dorm in the hostel is 160 NOK which is around £16, the price reasonable even outside Norway. There are also private rooms in the main and other buildings around. You can use the showers, a washing machine or tumble drier for a small fee. But I need to warn you: There ain’t any pub around. I guess it came as a surprise to the group of Italian young men ready for a party at 11p.m. (If you want a pub, come to the UK, you can usually find one even in the smallest village.)

Norwegian fishcakes

Norwegian fishcakes

I have already written a few words about Roar who owns the hostel and who has given it its unique character. Apparently on YHA website Roar is described as eccentric. Well, his sense of humour might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he has made me laugh many a time. His reputation of being mischievous has been well earned and he has been blamed for many tricks (rightly or not like for putting stones in someone’s luggage. My favourite story is when one guy who was camping, was so sure that it was Roar messing up with his tent in the middle of the night, that he kept shouting to Roar to stop before realising after a while, that it was the wind…

Fishermen catching herring near Stamsund, Lofoten islands

Fishermen catching herring near Stamsund, Lofoten islands

You can borrow a rowboat to go out to the sea to do some fishing. But it may happen that you only catch fish when you are towed back by Roar after being lost… Yes, we are back to the same group of Italian guys. And they did not loose their optimism later on playing the guitar and singing late at night. I would probably enjoy it more, were I one of the young girls they tried to impress. Unfortunately I was just failing to fall asleep.

And another warning: Don’t expect northern lights or good weather on the first day of your arrival. Stamsund (and whole Lofoten) is not the place to just pass by and spend one night on the way somewhere else. You need to be patient, bribe weather gods somehow and hope for the best.

Stamsund pier at night, Lofoten islands

Stamsund pier at night, Lofoten islands

But going back to boats. I did not use a rowboat but I went along with Roar and another guest on his boat to watch fishermen catching herring. The process is not easy and it takes a lot of effort, especially when the weather is not too friendly. Maybe it is the name of their boat -“Eros” – which seemed to kept them in a happy mood.

Fishermen catching herring near Stamsund, Lofoten islands

Fishermen catching herring near Stamsund, Lofoten islands

It is amazing how your stay in hostels depends on other guests. Luckily in Stamsund there is usually someone worth meeting. This year I met some Swiss girls and I had really nice chats with them, especially one when we were waiting for the sunset on the hill next to the hostel. International gossip about people you don’t even know is so cool! I am looking forward to next time.

Gossiping and admiring the views, near Stamsund

Gossiping and admiring the views, near Stamsund

Two flights and a ferry ride

I am getting ready for my journey to Lofoten. I have finally packed and got organised after quite an eventful day at work. I have helped to rescue a lost walker with 4 dogs and almost got lost on the way back. I usually worry a bit before my travels, and as there are strong winds, even gales around Lofoten, I checked if I should be OK with the ferry tomorrow. The answer was: “We have not had to tie down the tables, so it’s not a real storm”…

Bodø, Norway

Bodø, Norway

I am driving to Gatwick tonight and staying in a hotel. I can never understand why but somehow booking a hotel and car park is often cheaper than just finding a car park. I take my first flight to Oslo tomorrow morning, and next one from Oslo to Bodø. I will not have much time in Bodø as I need to catch a ferry to Moskenes on Lofoten. And then hopefully someone will pick me up as I will be too tired to worry about catching a bus or hitchhiking. I will be posting some photos on Instagram and Twitter so check them out.

Going to Lofoten islands again! Part 2

I’m getting more and more excited about my upcoming Lofoten trip. I mentioned before how special the islands became to me, and now looking at the photos, I somehow know why I want to go back… My trip starts on Monday, I travel to the hotel near Gatwick airport to stay the night and on Tuesday after two flights and one ferry ride I will be on Lofoten!

Fire place in Stamsund hostel

Fire place in Stamsund hostel

My first stop will be definitely Stamsund, especially that I have been promised a fishing trip! I think it is the best part of traveling, when you go back to far-away places and someone is happy to see you again. Quoting one of the ads, meeting people who make me feel better and hopeful again about the future of this world – priceless. There is a very small village near Stamsund called Steine, which I really love. It is a place you usually just drive through but as I was there on my first day on Lofoten, I like going there, looking at the fishing boats and remembering my first encounter with the islands.

Steine, Lofoten islands

Steine, Lofoten islands

Henningsvær, one of the Lofoten fishing villages, is called “Venice of the North” and although it is a bit exaggerated (especially if you visit the place in not such a great weather), it has a really nice feel to it. Nice enough to maybe think about getting a house… It is a place worth going to in any season, it has an artistic vibe and there is plenty of climbing, skiing or just bumming around opportunities.

Henningsvær, Venice of the North, Lofoten

Henningsvær, Venice of the North, Lofoten

Henningsvær, the only house I could afford...

Henningsvær, the only house I could afford…

One of the highlights of being on Lofoten are the beaches, beautiful, amazing and magical. The sand is so white, the water is so blue that you could almost forget that it is actually cold. Not for some surfer freaks though, who gather especially at Unstad to chase the waves. 2 years ago I looked at them with a mixture of surprise and pity, not getting why they would choose to immerse their bodies in cold water to spend seconds on top of the wave. And an idea of peeing into your wetsuit to get warm… But I understand that it is the passion which carries you through your life.

Ramberg beach, Lofoten

Ramberg beach, Lofoten

And then I became drawn to ice-climbing. Before I had tried it, I was adamant that it was obviously too stupid to be climbing in the cold weather surrounded by snow and ice. But I agreed to give it a go in the indoor gym in Glencoe just to show that I was open-minded. And I absolutely loved it, the idea of hitting and kicking the ice to climb up made me feel really good. All on top rope though, my skills (or lack of skills) don’t allow leading on ice. When we were on Lofoten in February, we found a good ice-climbing spot just at the tunnel wall on the road leading to the Unstad beach. On that day it would be surfers looking at me with pity in their eyes…

Having a go at ice climbing

Having a go at ice climbing

I just need to say a few words about the weather, it often rains and might be really windy (very strong wind when I can hardly stand upright is called in Norwegian “frisk bris” – “fresh breeze…). So if you are like me and your feet get cold almost all the time, make sure you bring the right clothing, windproof and waterproof. As we often do some hikes, I tend to choose lightweight stuff. One of these days I will write a post listing my favourite gear and brands. This time I will also take a medieval dress and nice shoes as we are going to the medieval music festival in Selb, Germany after Lofoten. It will all have to fit together with my sleeping bag, sleeping mat, hiking poles and toiletries miniatures into my favourite Osprey Talon 44 backpack. I will see how it goes, especially that I will be traveling only with my hand luggage and the weight can’t go over 10kg… Will I fit any chocolate?

Keeping warm

Keeping warm

For more information about Lofoten click here.

Going to Lofoten again! Part 1

Stamsund Hostel, Lofoten islands

Stamsund Hostel, Lofoten islands

We all have places we had visited once and since then they have made us want to come back often times. Lofoten islands seem to have this influence on me, always on my mind when thinking about my next trip destination (even if my always cold feet are begging me to go somewhere hot). I first heard about the islands or I should say saw them, on the photos taken by a photographer enchanted by Lofoten. Especially one of the photos made me fall in love with the islands and filled with the urge to go and see by myself. I have visited the islands twice since, once in Autumn and once in winter. And in two weeks I am going there for the third time and it makes me so excited that I need to share with you some of my thoughts.

My first visit in Autumn 2011 didn’t disappoint me at all, quite the opposite. I am not sure what it is I love the most about Lofoten, probably the combination of mountains, ocean, bright painted houses and the far-away location. As my work requires an intense contact with people, often displaying challenging behaviour, I am somehow drawn to places where it takes at least two flights or ferry rides to get to. It makes me feel that I am really far away from everything else, I leave all the troubles and pettiness of the world behind me when stepping on the beautiful islands.

Boat ride around Stamsund, Lofoten islands

Trying not to look seasick, near Stamsund Lofoten islands

A good weather on the first day of arrival contributed to my first impression of the islands. Early sun was lighting the mountains and ocean as we drove on the bus towards Stamsund and it felt blissful. Stamsund is a small town (to be honest even bigger places on Lofoten are small in comparison with mainland cities) but what makes it a great destination for a budget traveller, or someone who likes meeting interesting people, is the hostel. It’s run by Roar who is my favourite hostel owner (position previously held by a positively crazy Irish guy Kevin). The hostel consists of a big building with two kitchens/living rooms and dorms. There is also an extra building with private and family rooms and a few rorbus scattered around. There are always some “regulars” there, people who come and visit every year and it makes it a really great place to stay. One can meet a French chef who prepares delicious food using freshly caught fish… Or one can be offered a great boat ride and then try the hardest not to be seasick… The hostel is affordable (even for our standards as the prices in Norway are soooo high) and a must-stay place in my opinion. I remember my first day when tired after the journey I was lying on the wooden decking in the Sun with water gently moving underneath… The hostel is not open all year round so check before you come.

Fish dish cooked by a French chef in the hostel in Stamsund

Fish dish cooked by a French chef in the hostel in Stamsund

Reine is another one of my must-see places. The iconic view of the town from the bridge is excellent but if you are fit enough to hike Reinebringen, the views are even better. Hiking up presents with a bit of a challenge, especially when it is muddy and slippery (most of the time), there is a steep section with a rope one can (or in my case have to) use to make the ascent and descent easier. I went up there with two mountain goats (one American and one French) and my usually slow pace seemed even slower, especially on the way down when trying to avoid slipping and falling down into the trees below. Well, it was fun and the views and my sense of achievement when I got to the top were far greater than I could imagine.

Reine, February 2013

Reine, February 2013

Reinebringen, September 2011

Finally on top of Reinebringen, September 2011

Another lovely place to see is Å (the shortest village name I have ever heard). Very small and probably much busier in the summer season, but I love just walking around the cliffs and looking at the ocean when one photographer takes his time to shoot the scenery. It was even more interesting in winter when I visited islands for the second time in 2013, it was all covered in snow and mysteriously quiet except of the waves. But be aware, if you visit Å in winter you need to be able to walk on ice, and I don’t mean walking on the lake, Norwegians just don’t seem to be de-icing roads, pavements or walkways on Lofoten…

Walking around Å, Lofoten islands

Walking around Å, Lofoten islands

Å, Lofoten islands, February 2013

Icy “pavement”, Å, Lofoten islands, February 2013

I will write some more about Lofoten within next few days, but if you need detailed information about the islands or just want to see beautiful photos of Lofoten, click here.