Lofoten - Celebrating the New Year in the dark
Why should you travel to the beautiful island during the time of the year when there is only 4 hours of daylight? Snow covered mountains, dramatic winter storms, peace and astonishing Northern Lights would be our answer.
Last update January 2017
4 days over the turn of the year
It started with an unplanned 12 hours drive
The plan was good: Flying up to Bodø, buy food and wine, then enjoying a 3-hour ferry trip over to Moskenes and, after just another 10 min by car, we would arrive at our "rorbue" in Reine, in perfect time for a typical Norwegian early dinner.
These "rorbue" are usually small cabins directly at the waterline that originally were used by fishermen during the fishing season. Nowadays they are renovated and, depending on the type, equipped with all kinds of amenities. Our had floor heating, a modern kitchen and a fire place, to create a cosy atmosphere and to forget the world outside.
But we were not quite there yet: The week before the west coast of Norway was hit be a strong storm. We knew the storm was travelling north, but we hoped it would disappear on the way. Unfortunately, this was not the case. We learnt at the harbour that the ferry discontinued its service, still too much wind. The only ship that continued its service was a Hurtigruten boat but again we had no luck: That day, it was the MS Lofoten, the only ship in the fleet that cannot take cars onboard. Great start into our 5-day holiday!
After a short discussion we decided not to stay overnight and hope that the ferry goes the next day, but to drive all the way around the Vestfjorden: 660 km, in the dark, with a storm out there. Maybe not the best idea we ever had, but hardly 12 hours and one break later, we arrived in one piece at Reine in the early hours of the the next day. Somebody needed a whiskey here.
Snow, rain, wind, darkness - couldn't be better!
We recovered quickly from the long drive and started enjoying to be pretty much by ourselves at a location where usually thousands of tourists wander around. Yes, the days were short and one day we couldn't really leave the cabin because the storm had fully arrived. But we used the opportunity to read a lot and prepare and enjoy the meals in peace. For the first time since quite a while we had a sense of time again, in a good way.
The day after the storm was definitely the most beautiful day: Still some clouds rushing over the sky and a cold breeze reminding us that we were close to the artic circle, the views were stunning. The characteristically shaped mountains around Reine, already painfully beautiful to look at before, were now covered with a thick layer of new, clean, bright white snow. We drove and hiked a bit around in this winter wonderland and couldn't get enough of it in the 4 hours of daylight.
After a quick trip to the village of Nusfjord where
absolutely everything was closed, but suddenly a busload of Japanese tourists appeared out of nowhere, we returned into our little cabin and prepared ourselves for the turn of the year.
At midnight, the Chinese lanterns that we brought along to welcome the new year were quickly ripped apart by the fresh wind. So we had plenty of time to enjoy the fireworks, which were astonishingly big - and, best of all, the Northern Lights that suddenly appeared in the sky!
What a way to start the new year. We still get goosebumps thinking about it.
This was our 4th attempt to see the Northern Lights and we were not disappointed: Although the weather forecast wasn't too promising, the app gave us a 50% chance for something to see and suddenly there they were!
At first behind the remaining clouds of the past storm, then on a clear black sky. Simply beautiful.
We always wondered how fast the "curtain" of light really moves, whether we would see different colours and strong the lights really are. The last one first: Admittedly, the lights come out stronger on the pictures below than they were in reality.
But not by much.
And they indeed moved like a curtain in the wind, not hectic but slow and peaceful. They faded away and appeared again. The variety of forms were much larger than we thought they would be.
But any description falls short of the reality and the sensation one experience in such a winterly landscape. Yes, it is a platitude but it is true nevertheless: You have to see it for yourself.
There are 4 sculptures from the "Skulpturlandskap Nordland" on this stretch of the Lofoten, of a total 35 pieces all over the North-West of Norway.
We managed to visit three of them, none of them without effort: The first one we initially did not find because of all the snow, the second we saw only in the dark because we ran out of daylight and for third we paid with wet and cold clothes because we didn't pay enough attention to some dark clouds ("it is just 1.3 km, we will manage just fine").
Despite all this, and maybe because absolute nobody else was around here and we had plenty of time to enjoy it, they all left an impression on us.
Enough to decide that we want to see the others as well during the next years. :-)
Distance from Oslo
2 hrs by plane to Leknes plus 1 hr by car to Reine, or to Svolvær, or to Evenes, or to Bodø and by ferry to Moskenes
Northern Lights, if you are lucky
Small villages, often within a stunning scenery such as Reine, Å, Nusfjord, Henningsvær, Svolvær
4 sculptures of the Skulpturlandskap, distributed over the southern part of the Lofoten
Overnight stay we can recommend
Eliassen Rorer (pay attention that you take one of the 2 cabins with a fire place), rorbuer.no
Short days and long nights call for good wines: Vinmonopelet has only 2 shops, one in Leknes and one in Svolvær
Click on the map for opening the right clipping in google maps in a new window