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Northern Norway - Islands and Encounters

Posted 13/7/2019

Looking back on a week of island hopping in the Artic Sea

We followed the Eurovelo 1 = Norway's National Cycling Route 1 from Tromso to Bodo. You will not be surprised to hear that we had intense contact with the landscape. Weather changes also fast from one hour to the next. Sometimes I could not change clothes fast enough to cope with the cold wind downhill, the sweating uphill, the chilly tunnels, the sudden rain....

But the encounters were particularly nice. First, we met Michael (again), a long-distance cyclist from Bavaria on a sabbatical just like we’re. We had met him for the first time in front of the Tromso museum. He has a very relaxed, calm way of communicating - and a good dose of self-irony and humor. He also keeps an amazing balance between being on his own and enjoying being with other travellers. We enjoy his regular updates ("travel reports") which he sends to a list of  people interested in his trip. Contrary to us, he gives quite a detailed account of his days, thoughts, small challenges encountered etc.


Second, we met a nice couple, Ingrid and Hans-Juergen from Constance Lake in Germany on the camping site in Andenes on the Westeralen Islands. He had decided some time ago that he would cycle to the North Cape and back, she managed to get 2 months off from her work  to accompany him at least on the first leg of his trip (funny enough, her nephew was a colleague in my former department).


An encounter of a different kind was that with a series of sperm whales which we met taking a small whale watching boat at Andenes harbour. After a short introduction (the one I had was by a young marine biologist from Bremen) about the life and biology of these animals, it was all the more impressive to see them from maybe 80 metres distance in the sea.


The forth encounter was Gerhard from Germany. Gerhard now lives in Norway. As a chemist, he works in the famous fish oil / Omega 3 business. We met him because we were looking for a space for our tent on our way to Stokmarknes. He even cut the grass for us, offered us a much-appreciated shower, then brought some bananas and a beer. And together with Per, a local Norwegian married to a Thai, we spent a nice evening chatting until midnight about why one changes ones life and the location where one lives....

Encounter no 5 took place on the evening of a particularly challenging day of cycling the Lofoten: heavy traffic, strong winds from all sides, two consecutive nights of wild camping and two skype meetings with our construction group had left us without energy, battery and unfortunately we were also out of gas. When we finally reached the camping site, it turned out it was no longer a camping site... we asked at a house that appeared as guest house on google and they too had stopped renting out rooms, but the owner offered us his cabin on the lake shore with sauna and everything for free, he provided us with milk and sausages and we spent a wonderful night there. On the next morning Rudolf told us his father had been a German soldier, who died in combat. We left well recovered and with a gift of freshly caught fish. 

We are impressed and touched time and again by the generosity of people we meet.