Friday, 10 August 2012


Our route from Tromso takes us west across a stretch of islands ending with the Lofoten Islands pointing out into the North Sea to the oil and gas fields that have made Norway rich.  The Lofotens, originally settled and renowned for their fishing and dried cod exports, are now a major tourist destination and the roads across them are busy with campervans from all over Europe and big hairy Nordic bikers on noisy Harley Davidsons.  These farty Easy Riders all look a bit scary until you see them off their bikes and waddling around in their leathers, each and every one of them resembling nothing more threatening than my dad with a walrus moustache.  The real threat is from the campers, some of whom have a tendency to overtake just before blind summits or sharp corners.  The swearing and Agincourt signs are saved for the worst of these - Belgians who have never shared a road with a cyclist before.

10.30 at night on Andaloya

Our favourite islands are Senja and Andaloya - the first a series of craggy mountainous bays and the latter a flatter and sandier place.  We connect to them using ferries or hump-backed bridges, and in one case a sea-tunnel that is only 2km long but the climb out of it lasts an eternity.  The Norwegians are good at tunnelling.  On Senja the road frequently heads to the end of a fjord and straight into the wall of a rock cirque before popping out onto the other side of the mountains and into another long fjord.  The longest tunnel we ride through is just over 3 km long.  They're all lit, and some are lined, but they are either very noisy with traffic or eerily quiet with dripping water and neither of us feels very comfortable riding them.


In contrast, we love the ferry crossings.  Here there's a chance to dry out inside or enjoy the views across the water - depending on the weather.  But why is the piped music on board always cheesy sixties pop music?  The ferries are an opportunity for most holiday makers to indulge in waffles and coffee and ice-cream come rain or shine and indulge they do.  I'm just happy to have the chance to sit on the toilet for a change....

We can't really say that the journey out to the Lofotens was worth it simply because this was where we experienced the worst of the rain and headwinds and we lost sight of the mountains as soon as we arrived.  On our first rainy day a man in a van waves us to pull over.  The road is wet and busy. "Hey, it's your lucky day!" he greets us.  We're not impressed.  Then he hands us a brown paper sack with some locally-produced goodies - a 'Love Lunch'.  Now we're impressed.  He waves us goodbye and we head straight into a bus shelter to devour the lot:

The day ends with a camp at a tiny beach.  We're a bit wet and clammy and the sea beckons Gayle in.  It looks crystal clear and she's obviously enjoying it.  I follow her in - and instantly freeze in the arctic waters.  Parts of my body retract whilst others go numb.  Close up, Gayle's lips are blue and she has a purple face - I have to pull her out.  Our wash at a fresh water tap above the beach eventually restores us to normal.  The tea tastes good this evening....  

1 comment:

  1. Loving the stories from the road and we're so glad to see you still have that big ol' Chinese bag on the back of the bike :-) Travel safely folks. xoxoox Friedel & Andrew