During my studies of physics in the 70s in Hamburg (Germany), my wife and I either travelled to Italy or southern France in the summer and regularly spend New Year's Eve at the Danish west coast, if we could afford it. There, when we watched the ocean, we often felt that we had already arrived on the northern edge of Europe. Further north, it would be dark and inhospitable, especially around New Year's Eve, we thought ...
However, when I was later invited to a research stay at the University of Copenhagen in 1978, we decided to use it as the starting point of our first holiday in Norway. During the ferry crossing over the Øresund from Helsingör in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden we already felt as if we had conquered a new continent.
We mostly drove our first VW Golf on gravel roads in Fjord Norway, were fascinated by the clarity, the colors and the indescribably enjoyable smell of the landscape, the overarching mountains towering over the fjord, the many rainbows and the variety of simple overnight cabins. On the 26th of August, the time had finally come when we found the following entry of our predecessors in a guest book: "Unfortunately we are already returning from the most beautiful spot we know, Lofoten. Never before have we seen such light and felt as one with the world as we did during our days on the islands in the Norwegian Sea. " The text was written in French and the authors were from Aix en Provence.
Immediately we knew: That's where we want to go! Two years later, we were able to make our dream come true. Through Stockholm and Helsinki, we traveled over 3,200 km through Finland to the North Cape and after another 1,000 km and taking various ferries, we had reached our main destination - Lofoten. Just a few kilometers after our ferry had arrived in Fiskebøl, we wanted to stop, admire, photograph, and enjoy the magnificent landscape every few hundred meters.
The Lofoten Islands were hardly accessible for tourists at that time and especially the overnight cabins we had become used to from travelling southern Norway were missing. Instead, there were many very basic rooms that primarily served to accommodate the seasonal fishermen from January to April and then smelled like cod for the remaining eight months of the year. In Mortsund, a tiny fishing village on Vestvågøy, we found one of these rooms directly at the Atlantic Ocean with a row boat right on its doorstep. And thus we became enthusiastic fishermen with rod and reel ourselves. Every day there was fresh cod, haddock, pollock, ling, rose fish or sometimes even monkfish and we went on trips around the fascinating archipelago.
Our inspirers from Aix were right: We fell in love with the fast-changing light, the crystal clear air, the mountains that seem particularly rugged in the mostly low-lying sun, the blue and green tones of the shimmering sea, the lonely beaches, the bright flower meadows and the joy of simply existing. This wonderful feeling of the sublimity of our earth is even stronger during summer with the continuous daylight of the midnight sun and with the northern lights during the winter months. The Lofoten Islands, northern Norway and the countries north of the Arctic Circle as a whole had captivated us! Apparently forever, because since our first visit we have been there eleven times, in summer, autumn and winter.
The Lofoten Islands were an entry-level drug for us. However, it did not stay this way forever since northern Norway has many more attractions for us: walks in the midnight sun, sleigh rides in the deep of winter, fishing, the northern lights, the scenic beauty as well as an abundance of photo opportunities. What is more is the sparse population, which enhances the unspoiled nature and majesty of the landscape to a degree that is rarely, if ever, experienced in Europe.
By the way, my wife and I are not into any kinds of sports. That is why we are less fascinated by surfing, climbing the rugged cliffs and in the ice, kayaking or skiing. However, these activities are attracting more and more visitors in northern Norway.
Despite all the enthusiasm, I do not want to conceal the fact that the unspoiled and sublime nature of the tourist hotspots no longer exists without restrictions. This primarily applies to the Lofoten Islands and the North Cape but also to Tromsø and the surrounding area. Here you have to tune out the busy tourism from time to time to try to absorb the remarkable sights. On the other hand, the area east of the North Cape is still untouched. Here, in an often wonderful light, the sparse landscape fills you with feelings of loneliness and reminds you of the constant struggle for survival.