NORWAY: THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN

It had long been a dream to get as close the north circle as possible. Maybe because I have always been romanticizing about sleeping in a see-through tent in a snowy landscape watching a million stars get shadowed by the northern lights. So, after I finished my bachelor degree it was time to go north. My good friend from Norway was interning in Harstad - a perfect opportunity to hop on that plane and go. Well, it was August, so seeing the northern lights was not very realistic. Instead, our plan was to bike around Lofoten and see the midnight sun from a boat. To be honest, I did not know anything about Lofoten at all, before Annette told me where it was, and even though I love being in nature, backpacking has never been my thing. Still, it did not take much for Annette to convince me that we should go explore the beautiful Islands of Lofoten and watch the midnight sun from Hurtigruten back to Harstad where she lived. 

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DAY 1: SO YOU SPEAK NORWEGIAN?

Arriving so far north was a true experience. I felt I came prepared, all suited up with a brand new backpack (of course only borrowed from another friend) and though to myself that at least the language would not be a problem. Annette speaks Norwegian to me all the time. Yet, I quickly learnt that what I thought was excellent norwegian language skill, here far up north, was nothing worth at all. :) Nevetherless, I managed to find my way from the Airport to Harstad Bus station, and was so happy to see Annette. The rest of day, was spent walking by the water, taking photos, drinking tea and catching up. 

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DAY 2: THE STRUGGLES OF PEOPLE WITH CAR SICKNESS

After spending one day and one night in Harstad, we packed our backpacks and our lunch bags. Annette had backed enough "pølsehorn" for 3 days. A strong cup of coffee and 10 min bike ride to downtown Harstad, we were sitting on a very early bus towards Lofoten. At this point I have to admit that I get terrible car sick, and if you do so, too, going by bus through Lofoten will definitely cause you some challenges in terms of of holding your breakfast inside. I was more than relieved when reaching our stop: Leknes. At this point we only had to find our way to the Hostel we booked - EASY - about 14km later we had already arrived, and still had time to look around the small fishing village, strolling through the local super market and watch the sun go down (well barely as it was still midnight sun season) behind mountains. 

By the way, I loved our Hostel, located by the water and straight out of a picturesque postcard from Norway. We were even so super lucky that we had the entire room, which was compatible for 6 people, entirely for ourselves. 

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DAY 3: EARLY DAWN OF MANKIND 

It was around 5 in the morning, and Annette would not go back to sleep. "Let's watch the sun rise" - she said. "Terrible idea" - I thought. Shortly after I found myself rowing around in a boat on the dark water trying the get the best shot of the shore and the sunrise. It turned to be one of my best memories from the trip, thanks to Annette and her early-morning-bird spirit. :)

It turned out, we had not been the only early risers at the Hostel. Nearly every single guest had already been up, fishing, cooking breakfast.... I adored the atmosphere and people's desire to just wake up early to the day and embrace it. 

After our breakfast, we once again packed our backpacks, prepared to embark on our big bike journey, from Standsted to Svolvær with a quick detour to Hemmingsvær. At this point, it has to be noted that our plan was super ambitious. 2 girls without prior "professional" biking experience, biking 66,8 km in one day, with at least 5-6 kilo heavy backpacks on our backs - do I need to tell you how my body was feeling after that? :D 

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When this picture was taking, we were still in the most ambitious mood, ready to take on Lofoten Islands with our bikes.

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In Germany you have a saying called "mehr Glück als Verstand haben", which google translate me with "fortune favors fools". I don't know if it is adequate. Anyway, the German saying is pretty much on point when thinking about how we were sitting in Hemmningsvær almost desperately discussing that we actually have very limited time to reach the departure of Hurtigruten, and in case we miss it, it would also mean that I would miss my flight 2 days later, as no bus goes back on Sundays. At that point, we had already put about 55 km behind us and were physically exhausted. Suddenly, a girl from the across laying backery came over with a plate full of cinnanmon rolls. They were about to close for the day, and she must of have felt our lack of sugar and energy from far away. 

In Germany you have a saying called "mehr Glück als Verstand haben", which google translate me with "fortune favors fools". I don't know if it is adequate. Anyway, the German saying is pretty much on point when thinking about how we were sitting in Hemmningsvær almost desperately discussing that we actually have very limited time to reach the departure of Hurtigruten, and in case we miss it, it would also mean that I would miss my flight 2 days later, as no bus goes back on Sundays. At that point, we had already put about 55 km behind us and were physically exhausted. Suddenly, a girl from the across laying backery came over with a plate full of cinnanmon rolls. They were about to close for the day, and she must of have felt our lack of sugar and energy from far away. 

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DAY 4: CHAMPAGNE AND MIDNIGHT SAUNA

We barely made it, but we made it to Svolvær just in time for the departure. One reason why it took us so long to get there, besides a clearly lack of physical strenght, was the scenery of Lofoten Islands, which is absolutely captivating and makes you loose all sense of time and place. We had to stop countless times to photograph rocky stones, sheeps crossing the street, water reflections and snailing roads.The detour trip to Hemmingsvær caused another 20km on top of the already heavy route we had dedicated ourselves to. I mean it when I say, it felt like a miracle that we arrived 25 min prior to departure in Svolvær and stored our bikes on the deck of Hurtigruten.

We rewarded ourselves with a long, and I mean very long, dip in the Jacuzzi while sipping some champagne.

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DAY 5: FARWERLL TO THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN

All good things come to an end, and so did this trip. It had been 4 intense days, where I definitely reached one of my physical limits, but where I also learned what the body is capable of. Still, I can only say that years later, this trip has been one of the most amazing ones, and I got to share it with a true friend. Next time, I would take more time to explore the beautiful Islands of Lofoten, crash more authentic wooden-styled Hostels and spend more time on lonely beaches.

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HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Stunning mountains of Lofoten
  • Beautiful sunrise over the sea
  • Homebacked cinnamon rolls 
  • Sheep on streets
  • Midnight jacuzzi & champagne on a boat

ITINERARY:

1. day: flight CPH to Harstad/Narvik 

2. day: Bus from Harstad to Leknes & bike-tour to Stamsund Hostel

3. day: Left hostel with our bikes towards Svolvær

4. day: Taking Hurtigruten back to Harstad

5. day: From Harstad back to Copenhagen