Going with a Hurtigruten boat is very relaxing. It is basically constant eating, interrupted by sightseeing, taking pictures, cultural and other lectures and excursions.
On the third day on the boat, we entered the Vesterålen, a large group of islands north of the Lofoten. The boat is going always very close to the coast, passing many small and islands to the left and right. The views can often only be called spectacular – pictures often don’t catch the atmosphere.
In the late morning, we passed the first of the Vesterålen bridges that connect the islands with the main land:
The mountain get quite steep with tops over 1000 m, sometimes there’s snow left or a glacier on the top.
You can spend the whole day on deck or behind the big windows and watch this great landscape. Slartibartfast did really a good job! We were stopping in many little places where the Hurtigruten ship is the most important connection with other ports. In the afternoon, we stopped at the historic centre of the Hurtigruten lines in Stokmarknes. There is also the Hurtigruten museum including the old Finnmarken ship that gives an impression how the journey was in former times.
In the afternoon, we “set sails” for the highlight of the whole cruise: the passage through the Lofoten. We went through the majestic Raftsund, together with many little local boats. Everybody was on deck and people tried to get the best locations to make their shots.
The Midnatsol made a sharp right and a sharp left turn and we entered a very short and narrow side arm: the Trollfjord. Breathtakingly beautiful, but as you go against the sun, it is very difficult to catch this on a picture. Very steep rocks to the left and right and at the end of the short fjord, the small boats are chased away so the big Midnatsol can make one of its impressive 180 degree turns in no time. Truly masterly.
I have taken hundreds of pictures of which almost all are doomed to sink into digital oblivion. But the best scenery will be recorded in our minds anyway. That day we seemed to have many day tourists that just joined for the day and wanted to enjoy this part as well. In the evening we arrived at the capital of the Lofoten, Svolvær. We have booked (or as the tour guide on board would put it: “we have bøked”) only one guided expedition, and this is a special one: a trip with a speedboat! We received some waterproof gear and got on board of the RIB, equipped with two motors and 600 hp in total (!):
Well, this WAS FUN! We zoomed out to visit some iconic places and harbours and even watched sea eagles.
The boat made up to 48 knots (90 km/h) and jumped over the waves. It was cloudy now, but the scenery was nevertheless very spectacular.
After 1.5 hours, this was over and we returned to our ship with a grin on our face. We concluded the day with a local beer on the panorama deck. The Lofoten are really a special place and worth returning. The problem is, it’s quite a long way up here…
The next day was very relaxing and there’s little to report apart from some great views of the shores of middle Norway. At lunch, we passed an iconic part of its coastline: the Seven Sisters (NOT the ones in Sussex).
In the legend, Botnkrona (3,517 feet), Grytfoten (3,497 feet), Skjæringen (4,202 feet), Tvillingene (the Twins) (3,215 feet), Kvasstinden (3,314), and Stortinden (2,986) were all troll daughters of the Suliskongen, who kept them under strict control far up north. One night he fell into such a deep sleep that all seven maidens were able to sneak out.
But Hestmannen, the son of another troll king on the islands who had been eager for a wife, was lying in wait. He chased them. The sisters fled south down the coast, with several trolls chasing them, some of whom were trying to save them and some who were trying to capture them. But none of them thought of the sun, which turns all trolls to stone. When night eventually turned to morning, the troll sisters and their pursuers were petrified and became the mountain range that comprises the Helgeland coastline.
Somewhat later we stopped in Brønnøysund which is the middle of Norway; the southernmost and northernmost points are equidistantly apart. I was quite hot, close to 30 degrees and locals seemed to enjoy the good weather. I walked around a bit before I entered the ship again.Soon after we took off the next iconic view was on the list: Torghattan. Rising 258 metres vertically from the sea at Brønnøysundet betweed Brønnøysund and Rørvik. The mountain, with a distinctive hole right through it, is said to be the Brønnøy King’s hat. Remember the story of the seven troll sisters? The sisters were fleeing from Hestmannen, who was desperate to capture a wife. The King heard them and came to the rescue of the young maidens. However Hestmannen, who was infuriated that he could not catch up, shot an arrow towards the last fleeing girl. The King threw his hat towards the maidens to protect them. Just as the arrow pierced the hat, the sun appeared and its rays turned the trolls, hat and all into stone.
There is another, more scientific explanation for the 30 metre high, 25 metre wide and 160 metre deep hole in Torghatten. The mountain may have been pushed upwards after a period sitting at a lower level, during which the sea had gradually worn a hole through its layers of rock. It’s up to you to believe this version. But it seems much more rational to accept the version of an enormous troll knight that bangs an arrow through a hat mountain.
Later we watched the sunset on deck and went to bed early, this cruising is really exhausting!
The next morning we got up early. The boat was already in the harbour of Trondheim. At 7 a.m. we started our walking tour through the city. It was a Tuesday, but Trondheim’s rush-hour felt like a village on Sundays. People commuting on bicycles, few cars and few people in the streets. We walked through the picturesque Bakklandet quarter and crossed the old bridge with the portals of the 17th century.
We walked around the Nidaros cathedral and as it was not open yet, studied its western front. Although the foundations are from the 11th century, it burnt down several times and was totally reconstructed in a neo-gothic style over a hundred years ago. We strolled back to the ship and concluded that Trondheim must be a nice city to live in.
The rest of the day was a quiet cruise with stops in Kristiansund (we’ll come back here in a few days) Molde, Ålesund and Florø. There also time to wash our dirty laundry on board.
We had fantastic weather the last days, but now our luck seems to change. First clouds are coming in and tonight we will have rainy weather. Tomorrow at our arrival in Bergen the weather with be ok, but the following days on the motorbike will be more mixed. But maybe the end of the heat is very welcome!