Thursday, May 28, 2009


My sister Shari is here on a visit, and we decided to go to Arctic Norway to see the Lofoten Islands. I did a few rounds of begging and propagandaing in the preceding months trying to recruit more travel partners (Shari and I travel well together but we did get a little tired of each other after South America.) It really came down to dredging the bottom of the barrel, but I managed to rope the aforementioned fresh-off-the-boat Americans into the trip. Okay just kidding, they are really fun.

So we landed in Bodø, some 200km north of the Arctic Circle, Wednesday evening. It's kind of a hole of a town, but definitely has some interesting features (read, skate parks and weird, empty carnivals sans meat-on-a-stick.) It's also surrounded by cool mountains, which is always a plus. We rented a cheap cabin in a cow-shit-laden field by the water and took a nap before walking into town. We ended up at a cool fisherman's pub filled with old people and took a few beers. We enjoyed ourselves, and so did the table full of beered up fisher-types next to us as they poked fun in norwegian at all of the tourists who only come to Bodø to hop the ferry to Lofoten.

The next day we made good on their stereotype and hopped the ferry the shit out of there. We didn't really plan our escape well though, and ended up a little short on food. Especially because we forgot about the holiday and when we landed on the island the only store was closed. There were some other touristy types on the boat that decided to go door to door asking for food, but we decided we weren't that hungry and ate an improvised iceberg lettuce and granola salad.
We spent the next couple of days hiking around and camped on a hill overlooking just about everything that is good in life. It was a really cool feeling to look up and down the chain of islands. Such a ridiculous landscape and feeling of isolation the way they come jutting straight out of the sea. Paradise.
I got a number for a kayak rental company and knew immediately upon talking to the guy that he was cool. I talked him way down on the prices, and an hour later he and his crazy British Columbia ski-bum friend picked us up in a SWEET old jeep. We took the kayaks out for an amazing paddle in the fjord and when we got back the guy showed us kayak-ski-touring videos and pics from his ski guiding in Morocco. He then got us a good deal on a fisherman's cabin with the best view ever.
The next day we rented a car and cruised north to see what we could see. It didn't take long before I was slamming the brakes though as we came across a perfect white sand beach surrounded by mountains. Sick. We would find two more later that day before driving through a tunnel and popping out in a field by the beach right as the sun was at its lowest. The lighting was amazing, and we went for a walk along the sea just to soak it in.

We camped right on the beach that night before driving back down to the same fisherman's cabin we stayed in before, but this time not before stocking up on good food and wine. Shari made us a delicious cod dinner and we played some cards.

The next day we took the bus up the length of the islands and to the airport outside of Narvik, where we pitched our classy little tents in the gravel and moose droppings across the road.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hyttetur på Hvaler

Spent the weekend with Ane, Martin and the two fresh-off-the-boat Americans Claire and Zac. It has been really fun to hang out with those kids again. I took the ferry across the Oslofjord to meet the others, and we cruised down to Ane's cabin at Hvaler. It's a bunch of small islands in the Oslofjord, linked up by a winding road. The landscape is really unique, with smooth rocks, woods and little inlets of saltwater.

The cabin is perched on the top of a big rock, with a nice deck looking over one of the inlets. They are in the process of remodelling the place, and I think Ane and her dad must make a pretty good team (she is studying to be an architect and he is a craftsman who builds sailboats/kayaks.)Anyway, we did what lazy cabin dwellers are supposed to do: barbequed, drank beers/talked shit and went on walks and row boat tours. Good times.

'You've gotta be f---ing kidding me, are those swans?'

They were. What the hell is this place?