Svolvær and Magic Ice

We headed back into the main part of Svolvær and sat by the scenic harbour to eat our lunch. We had a view of the ocean, the mountains (including Svolværgeita), and the town centre. Across the water were wooden racks with fish drying. All in all the scenery here is stunning at every turn.

Lunchtime harbour view
Racks with cod drying

We wandered around the small town after that. The town centre consists of only a few main streets and mix of modern and older buildings.

Cod drying in the sunshine in the main square.
The church in town. Simple but distinctly Scandinavian.
More traditional buildings in the town

We visited Magic Ice next, where you can see a large collection of ice sculptures. Magic Ice is located in an old fish warehouse freezer, therefore quite cold. We were given gloves and fashionable warm cloaks to wear. Then we entered, marvelling at the many ice sculptures, dimly lit in coloured lights.

A large rowboat all made with ice
A big face made of ice
Ice octopus
Cute little ice crab
Kind of creepy?

We were also given a drink of ice wine in glasses made of ice at the ice bar. You can order drinks there all day if you can stand the cold.

Intricate ice sculptures and our ice wine drinks at the ice bar

Once done, we headed for dinner. Again, once we got outside we caught some more beautiful shots.

Kayakers in the harbour

We ended up at the restaurant Bacalao. Aptly named, we both ordered Bacalao, which is a Norwegian dish recommended to us by our climbing guide Charlie. Bacalao is a tomato based stew of clipfish, potato, onion, red pepper, olives and garlic and served with bread. A satisfying end to this scenic and exciting day!

Bacalao for dinner. Tasty but not cheap (205 NOK or $32 CAD)

Rapellruta at Svolværgeita

I awoke today in Svolvær, relieved to be spending the next few days at this location and ready for some thrills to shake off any jet lag. It was around 8 AM at Benjamin’s house, and for breakfast I had muesli, blabær (blueberry) yogurt, a piece of cheese and a piece of ham. Then we walked into the town centre to pick up a rental car. It was a beautiful and refreshing sunny morning and on the way we passed over a bridge, under which the ocean flowed through to fill a mountain valley like a lake. Once we picked up the car, we made a quick stop at the Kiwi minipris grocery store to get some food for lunch. At the grocery store we learned that eplejuice == apple juice, but “appels in juice” <> apple juice.

Eplejuice and appelsinjuice

Next, we set out southwest to Kalle. The drive was nothing but gorgeous ocean coastline set against dramatic mountain scenery. The lodge Kalle i Lofoten was around the edge of a bay. There we met our guide from Northern Alpine Adventures who fitted us into climbing gear (helmet, harness and climbing shoes). Then, we headed back to Svolvær, at the trailhead to Svolværgeita.

We headed up the trail with our guide Charlie, who is actually from BC. He was friendly, chatting with us during the hike.

Our guide Charlie, and our final destination, Svolværgeita in the background
Already getting a glimpse of the town

The hike took 1 to 1.5 hours, entirely uphill. It was well marked, but we had to step over various large boulders. Luckily it was sunny and the trail was dry, so it was a good day for the excursion. Along the way, one could look back to see views of Svolvær, the surrounding mountains, and the Norwegian Ocean as we ascended.

Even from here you can get a great view.
A view of Skrova (the island in the distance)

We came to the end of the hiking portion, to a steep but grassy hill lined with rocks. The base of the Svolværgeita rock tower was very windy and cold. Here, we put on our climbing gear. There is more than one way up Svolværgeita but we are taking route 1, Rapellruta on the north face, as illustrated in this book below of climbing in the Lofoten, which we found at a later date in a café in Henningsvær. The description reads:

Rapellruta 48m. Fine climbing up the line of the abseil ascent, steep and juggy after a surprisingly tough start.

  1. 5, 28m. Struggle up the leaning groove to reach a resting ledge then step out onto the steep face on the left and plough up the ladder of jugs following a crackline to reach a ledge and double-bolt belay. Exhilarating climbing.
  2. 4+ 20m. Continue up the deep groove system on the left to reach the notch between the horns (view). Traverse right across the inner face past flakes (exposed) to reach the western arete of the Storhorn and climb this to the top. Cross the gap to a belay on gear on the Lillehorn. Take care with rope work on this pitch.
The way up the rock tower, as illustrated in a book

Charlie climbed first, then once he was at a higher section, Shawn went. I followed after. I climbed the rope ladders and had gone some ways, but it was not long before I was in a bit of a panic. I couldn’t find the next hand hold. The wind was also blowing strongly, and it was a cold wind so my fingers were going numb. I had a long way to go and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do other than fall off the cliff. However, there was really only one option, which was to carry on. Eventually, I grabbed at something and took a step up, then another, and the way to go started to get a bit clearer.

Right before the resting ledge was a bit of an overhang, which I somehow got over with a bit of a struggle and encouragement from Charlie who was now in sight. Here, I warmed my hands a bit before our group finished the final ascent. This last portion was easier for me, and the wind had calmed. Soon I was sitting atop the goat’s horn! There was a 150 m drop off the side, but a fantastic view of the area – Svolvær, Skrova, and the ocean and mountains in sunny weather. I also had the satisfaction of accomplishment and relief for having reached the top and completing my first mountain climb.

Hello from the top! We were actually both really scared here. Hahah
The beautiful view of Svolvær
Ocean and mountains in the distance

Note that we did not do the part in the book with the man jumping across the 1.5m gap from the Storhorn to the Lillehorn, ie. “jumping the goat’s (geit) horns”. You will find all sorts of pictures on the Internet of people making this ridiculous jump. Interestingly, we had picked Norway to travel to because this jumping activity was listed in Shawn’s book The Best Place to be Today: 365 Things to do & the Perfect Day to do Them as something to be done in June. Svolværgeita looked neat anyways, nevermind the jump. The climb itself was enough for me.

We were lowered down, then hiked back to the bottom making it back by 3:00 PM.

Going down. I have the green coat (Photo by Shawn)
I look happy because I’m almost back on solid ground (Photo by Shawn)
Going down. I have the green coat (Photo by Shawn)
Later we saw some Danish girls going up. They are at/near the top here.

We said goodbye to Charlie, who gave us some additional suggestions for places to go around the area. Wow, what an adventure.

The Ferry to the Lofoten Islands

The ferry ride to the Lofoten Islands was beautiful. It headed north along rocky coastline. I was weary from a few days of travelling, and yet with the excitement of being in this new land, my eyes were peeled to the window nearly the entire time.

This is the ferry we took, at the port in Bodø
This is the ferry we took, at the port in Bodø

It was a lengthy trip, over two hours with short stops to along the way, but the scenery was stunning. Even despite periods of rain. The trip was filled with rocky coastline, islands of rounded boulders and jagged peaks.

Little rocky islands

Most of the stops were along the mainland (Helnessund, Nordskot, Bogøy and Skutvik). Each of these locations were quaint little settlements. Too small to be towns, just small fishing villages or hamlets.

Second stop at Nordskot, 67°50’N
Third stop in Bogøy. While waiting at the port, I remember staring at a piece of fish hanging and drying above the balcony of a house.

In between these little villages stops, the landscape seemed quite remote. That being said, it was quite a surprise to see a long, narrow and sweeping bridge, which we passed under.

Modern feats of engineering in remote areas

Gradually, the mountains rose both higher and steeper straight out of the ocean as our journey continued on.

Dramatic, moody landscapes
Dramatic, moody landscapes
Some sharp peaks on that mountain!
Some sharp peaks on that mountain!

It was quite rainy when we arrived in Skutvik, but it looked like a picturesque little coastal village nestled among the mountains. Once past Skutvik, we crossed over to the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago off the coast of northern Norway. Across the water, the first stop was at the village of Skrova, located on an island with rocky terrain.

A lighthouse at Skrova
A lighthouse at Skrova
Rorbuer, little red fisherman cottages nestled in the rocks at Skrova
Rorbuer, little red fisherman cottages nestled in the rocks at Skrova

Once we left Skrova, it was not long before the approach to Svolvær, our final destination of this journey, and where we would be staying over the next few days.

Nearing Svolvær
Nearing Svolvær


Svolvær and the Lofotveggen (ie. Lofoten wall – the “wall” of mountains in the backdrop, )

We arrived at the port at 8:50 PM, entering almost directly into the main square.

Off the ferry and into the main square in Svolvær
Off the ferry and into the main square in Svolvær

It was about a 25 min walk with all our luggage to the outskirts of the town. There, we arrived at a house we’d booked through AirBnB. Our host Benjamin, a friendly Italian man showed us around before we settled for the evening and got a good night of rest.

Meandering through Bodø

First off, the pronunciation of Bodø is actually like “Booo-duh”. It didn’t take long to learn that Norwegian pronunciations often don’t sound like how one would expect from the spelling.

During this quick visit in Bodø we headed from the airport to the harbour on our walk. It was a short distance past homes, and as we began to approach the water we visited a playground, where there was also an old war bunker.

The war bunker

After going down the slide in the playground a few times, we continued on to the waterfront and along the promenade lined with small boats. It was a small and quiet town, with a mix of old and modern (though not as old as most European towns. Bodø is only 200 years old). While peaceful, it also has a bit of a “wild” feel to it with the cold Norwegian sea and backdrop of mountains. We had pleasant weather during our walk but a hint of storminess was on the horizon.

The promenade in Bodø
There were few people around, so it is quite peaceful here
All the yachts (Photo by Shawn)
All the boats on the dock. (Photo by Shawn)

We purchased our ferry tickets before buying some maps of Lofoten and Andøya at the local tourist centre and a bookstore in the Cochs shopping centre called Ark. Next, we headed back to catch the ferry for 5:15 PM. As we left Bodø it began to rain, quite hard at times but not enough to obscure the dramatic Norwegian coastline as we travelled still further north.

From Home to Toronto to London to Oslo to Bodø

Time for another new adventure, this time with my friend Shawn! We left home around 9:30 PM from Edmonton to the airport to catch a late flight. Passing quickly through check-in and security, we boarded our flight to Toronto around 11:30 PM, which left at 11:55 PM.

On the flight, I mostly tried to sleep, although I did not sleep the whole time. It was fairly uneventful. We arrived in Toronto at around 5:00 AM and played silly chance games on the free-to-use iPads at the Pearson airport. As the shops started to open, we got hungry and went to Lee’s Kitchen. We ordered some shao mai chicken and shrimp dumplings, and chiu chow pork peanut dumplings to share, where we also played a few games of Hive.

In Norway, there’s a 1.5 m jump that can be done across two rock pinnacles (more about this later). But anyways, we were trying to see if we could jump that far in the airport. (Photo by Shawn)

We boarded the flight from Toronto to London at 8:20 AM on a dreamliner. On this flight, I slept some and watched The Scorch Trials, the second movie in The Maze Runner series, which was good overall. The movie was action packed, though the plot build-up in The Maze Runner was better. I slept some more, then played some games on the flight entertainment system. We arrived in London, England late in the evening at about 8:40 PM. There, we met with Shawn’s aunt’s and uncle’s, greeting us with excitement. From there we headed out to get some food at a KFC, eating spicy chicken, coleslaw and french fries. It was very nice of them to all come out to meet us during the stopover and treat us to tasty fried chicken.

Randomly taking pictures at the airport near the Yo! Sushi restaurant

Back at the airport, we had to wait to check in, so we finished picking and booking our accommodations in Oslo for the end of our trip. I also tried to sleep, but the seats aren’t too comfortable in the London Heathrow airport and there was also a loud alarm thing that kept going off…  ugh. 😕 After checking in we ate at EAT. I had duck gyoza dumplings for breakfast. Finally, we boarded our next flight around 6:30 AM. The flight from London to Oslo took about two hours, but was slightly delayed. On this flight, I fell asleep, mostly the whole way. In Oslo, we picked up our bags and passed through customs very quickly. Then, we picked up food for lunch at the airport 7-11 and got a SIM card for emergency mobile use.

For our final flight of the “day” from Oslo to Bodø, we checked in again, and went through security. At the gate, we ate our pastasalat with curry and kreb from the 7-11. This flight left Oslo at 1:05 PM with a duration of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Finally, our stretch of flights (but not traveling) was done for the day, and we headed out of the Bodø airport at 3:00 PM.

It was exciting to finally get to explore our destination a bit! Bodø is a small town with a population of around 50,000, and just north of the Arctic Circle (in terms of latitude at 67°16’48″N, it is north of Iqaluit and Iceland). It was a 15 minute walk from the airport to the harbour, where we were to catch a ferry to the Lofoten Islands.

Houses and a peek at the harbour

Norway 2016 Gallery

All photos currently published from my Norway 2016 trip are displayed in this gallery.


Norway 2016