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With a beautiful story of light and emotions the cycle of the Three Northern Tales comes to its end, and together with Jamie and Sandra of Upendo Vibes, we travel to the Lofoten Islands, in Norway, to finally greet the winter and finally get ready for the summer!
I believe that everyone should visit Norway once in a lifetime. Believe me, this place is magical, and you leave a piece of your heart there.
For us, travelling and living in a 1990’s Volkswagen T3, it was a godsend to meet the wonderful inhabitants of this land. Prior to our leaving we had been warned: "be careful not to break anything while you are there because everything is so expensive". Indeed, the cost of living for us mere mortals is certainly a lot higher than expected (a ½ litre bottle of beer at the supermarket costs from 5 to 7 euros), but that wasn’t going to stop us. In fact while in Norway, our van did "decide to break down" and not once but 3 times! However, we immediately discovered that the reserved nature of these people hides an innate desire to help those in need and without expecting anything in return. In all three cases we were rescued and assisted by people we had never seen before, who gave us their advice, help and support and in some cases even provided shelter for us. Many of them are now friends with whom we keep in touch regularly.
Norway is not only the home of beautiful people, but it is the magical casket of heavenly places. Starting from the south to the far north, there is always something to amaze the visitor.
We have travelled the country far and wide from Oslo, which we immediately fell in love with, an incredibly huge city by the sea. It is just two minutes from the ski resort centre with chair lifts, ski lifts and beautiful slopes surrounded by fir trees, overlooking the sea, which stretches out in all its majesty. Oslo personally reminds us of three very important places: La Spezia, the seaside town where we come from and where we grew up. Milan, the large metropolis where we live today when we are not "on the road” and last, but not least Trentino, a magical place that brings to mind our many skiing holidays and the place where I spent my summer and winter holidays as a kid. Oslo reminds us of all three of these special places and it was the first place we saw when we visited Norway. We then continued slowly north, hampered by the odd mechanical hitch and surrounded by frozen lakes, the endless sea and mountains. We walked along long frozen beaches we admired the fjords from both land and sea taking a ship from Stavenger to Bergen. We saw elks, reindeers, eagles and seals. We ventured onto snowy footpaths and tried to walk over frozen lakes. It would have been interesting to explore the surrounding territories on a sled dog ride or on a rented sleigh motorbike. Most Norwegians have at least one of these at home and at weekends you can find hundreds of them darting around on the fresh snow.
The place we remember most fondly of all is the Lofoten Islands. The islands are accessible by ferry from Bodø if you want to start exploring them from the South and from Bognes if you prefer to start from the North. We chose to start from the North and travel from Bognes - Lødingen, visiting the islands to the south as far as the village of Å, and then retrace them back to the North to continue our journey to Nordkapp. We chose to cover the same route twice so as not to miss a thing and to take in every single detail, every magical postcard view, and so it was.
The main aim of our European tour was to see the famous Northern Lights and these islands are very well known for being one of the best locations for watching this phenomenon. The aurora borealis can be viewed from October to March, so if you are interested in this once-in-a-lifetime experience plan a visit during this period. There are lots of apps available for forecasting the best places to see the Northern lights. The evening we left Bognes for Lødingen we received an app notification, which gave us a good chance of seeing them that very evening. We were thrilled we would have seen them from the ferry! At the port, waiting to sail we saw something in the sky, a barely perceptible glare due to too many lights from the city. We walked towards a faintly lit pier and found a “no trespassing sign”: totally disregarding it we continued on towards the sea far from the city lights. And finally we were able to catch a glimpse of something more: it was like a cloud with a long shape, but it had green reflections, and was slowly moving. We stood in awe, speechless! It was soon time to catch the ferry and we had to run back along the pier but unfortunately, once on board, the wind and ice prevented us from standing on the deck and so we saw no more. But we were not discouraged as we had more days to spend on the islands.
The following day, we checked out an app and found a beach, far from the villages and annoying lights, where we could spend the night. The beach of course had no sand but was a stretch of snow, which in some places came knee-deep and made it difficult for us to get to the shore. It was wonderful.
Evening came early, and after dinner the aurora borealis alarm was triggered. It began as the night before, with a faintly coloured glow that stretched across the sky, like one huge single-coloured rainbow. The minutes passed, we started taking picture and then all of a sudden it appeared, an explosion of colours, green, yellow, red and pink, indecipherable colours that started to dance rhythmically to a silent music. Within half an hour the sky above us was a beautiful collision of colours. We did not know where to look, where to point the camera. We took shot after shot at an uncontrollable speed, as the colours became more intense, longer, wider, more colourful. It went on like this all night. 3 hours to amaze us, to make us cry with joy, to capture memories, as we stared at the sky completely dazed, at - 15 degrees. Then, as everything slowly started to fade, we returned to the van, frozen, but immensely satisfied, and overjoyed.
Thank you Norway, we'll be back. Who knows what else you have in store for us this summer .. See you soon.
EQUIPMENT: Before leaving we were sure we would never be able to face the extreme Norwegian temperatures - 15 degrees. To spend 3 hours on the beach at that temperature is a long time, but we both wore the Frontier and Command Down Jackets, and we were able keep our body temperature constant thus allowing us to experience an unforgettable evening. The Trango Tower boots, were our inseparable companions of adventure throughout this Nordic journey. Our feet remained dry and warm all evening.
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