Saturday, 21 July 2012

surfing with Gunnar and Hanne

Our first day's ride takes us a relatively easy 25 miles onto Kvaløya island.  We're heading west from Tromsø and out along a series of islands to the Loføten Islands.  We have arranged to couch surf with Gunnar and Hanne for a couple of nights.  We want to meet some Norwegians and cycle-touring and camping in the woods isn't the way to do it.  They're a lovely couple, living in a fairly typical house out along a coastal road with magnificent views at the junction of two fjords.  The villages always seem fairly well strung out along the roads - with everyone having a fair bit of space between them.  The land around their house belongs to the local farmer - and most of these communities would originally have been fishing/farming ones.  The shoreline is dotted with tiny fisherman's cabins and boathouses.  The roads have changed things  - Gunnar works in Tromso and can commute on the bus quite easily.  He works to promote Norwegian innovations abroad.  And thus we learn of the origin of the cheese slicer, amongst many other Norwegian inventions.
our lovely hosts
We are fed well and get a chance to ask about life so far north here for them both.  Hanne uses a wheelchair and their house is adapted for her.  Their fridge is coated in magnets - souvenirs from places visited.  They enjoy European cities - a sharp contrast to their daily surroundings - and are about to visit Copenhagen using couch-surfing.  Is it true Norwegians work on average only 165 days a year, as our guidebook says? No-one we ask can understand this figure. 
The views out from their house are stunning - mountains and fjords.  It seems quite wild and remote here.

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