Sometimes you go to Lofoten to ski, sometimes because you want to sail. We were going because Theresa had heard from everyone she ever met that Lofoten was awesome.
And how can you ignore that? So we were going.
I messaged Eivind, a mate of mine who I had met in Australia in 2004. A Norwegian. I had run into him again in 2007 in Norway, and who I thought: why not? We’re on a world tour. Better visit everyone in the world. So I asked him where he was, and he said in Molde, but that he would soon be in Digermulen in Lofoten, arriving by boat, and that 2016 was the perfect year to meet up.
And so to Å, at the end of the alphabet (Norwegian) and the end of the road (Lofotonian), we motored. This is the drive to Lofoten from Tromso: Wow, look at the fjords. (Another corner..) Man, I can’t believe how spectacular these fjords are. (Corner) far out, these fjords. Better stop for a photo, it can’t get better than this. (next corner) Shit, I’ll stop, this must be the best one, I’ll take a photo here. (next) No, this. This is the best - one photo here.
About an seven hours later, you have managed about 19km, and the day is slipping away (not that the sun sets, so I guess it doesn’t matter). But you feel like you need to get some where. Anywhere. Make a few kilometres maybe. Ok, that’s it: this is clearly as good as the landscape could be. This is the money shot. I’ll stop for this one, take this photo.
Lofoten calmly responds with: You’re a rank amateur. The landscapes haven’t even begun.
And they haven’t. As a result, a 200km drive along a string of islands out into the Norwegian sea, at 68 degrees Latitude, can take weeks. So it was that we were tootling along at about 7pm, when we passed a sign for Digermulen. I remembered this was where Eivind would be. We stopped and discussed. We decided to head out to Digermulen. As the reader I feel like you might disparage me, feeling all proud that I remembered the name of a place on an island. Woop-di-do. But, I ask you, consider that I saw a lot of place names. That most were confusing. In fact, all were Norwegian and unpronounceable and ultimately all were confusing. It was a feat of mental prowess of the highest order to remember the name Digermulen. About 20km down the side road is Digermulen, and we were keen for some Alle Manns Ratten. Some beach. Some view of distant peaks and reflections of islands in the ocean. And we weren’t disappointed. The beach, a fire, some pasta, some Gin, and the next day we went to find Eivind.
Digermulen has a cafe. It is part of the general store, and you can get coffee there, but not wifi. This meant that while we were caffeinating satisfactorily, we weren’t able to contact Eivind. We went into the store and asked the checkout chick if she knew someway we might contact Eivind. Maybe she knew him. He’s tall. Stands out. Digermulen is small. She knew him. He lives up the road, has a white house and blue car. We would finish our coffees and go there. While we were finishing our coffee, the girl (I never learned her name in an attack of rudeness) came and told us that Eivind was in fact most likely on his boat in the marina. The marina is about a 30m walk from the shop so she took me there, pointed out the boat (there were only two to choose from. “Marina” is a stretch, let’s say pontoon), and went back to work.
“I’m looking for Eivind” I said to the giant blonde man coming towards me after I knocked on his boat and interrupted a conversation he was having. “I’m Eivind” he said. I guessed he’d change, the last time I saw Eivind, he was lean and brown-red haired. This guy was robust and blonde. Possibly a viking. We had a chat for about an hour about what the hell I was doing. About his boat, and about who I was looking for. Eivind, obviously. Wait. Which Eivind? Nordebrg? Hang one one second, said Eivind: Eivind is coming to Digermulen next week!
Could it be true? Does Eivind know Eivind? Eivind grabbed his phone and phoned Eivind, and pretty soon I was talking with my Eivind, and organising that Eivind would look after us, tell us how things were, and generally entertain us for a week until Eivind arrived.
We spent some days with Eivind, Liza, Ragne, Mikel and Tove. Climbed the hill and slept in a (nearly completed) sauna on the beach.
We toured Lofoten and made good use of Allemansratten, a scandinavian concept that all people have a right to the land. This means that you can camp basically anywhere, provided you’re not a dick. Not smashing crops or bunging your tent in the front yard of someone's house, but in general, if you’re out of sight, don’t trash the place, take your rubbish away, and generally are there to enjoy the place, you can stay for a night in one place (provided there isn’t a big “no camping” sign). So we did, swimming in fjords and lakes, visiting the largest viking longhouse discovered, and meeting more people.
One of our campsites was behind a burned out house, next to a lake. We had roamed around looking to make it to Reine so we could take a hike we’d heard of. There was precious little flat ground available for a tent and the locals in this place had the shits with tourists trashing the joint (very popular tourist area, and no one likes a tourist). We were having some trouble finding a place to sleep. Finally we rode past this spot. It had a slightly difficult access, so we parked the bike up the street and walked down for a look. It was flat, next to a lake, shielded from the road by the old burnt out house, had plenty of firewood, and no one else camping there. Perfect. We wandered back to bring up the bikes, and Theresa jumped on hers, and zoomed off, securing the place while I was still messing around getting my helmet ready.
At the risk of going on too long, let me explain something at this point. Theresa likes to take her time. Sort things out. Helmet, sena cam, jacket, one glove, other glove, on the bike, give it a shake, make sure things are together. In short, it can take 5 minutes (and typically does) for her to transition from “about to leave” to “moving”. This time it took less than about 3 seconds. She’s convinced the reason we got the prime camp spot was her snappy movement.
So we camped and hiked. We took photos, and organised a Russian visa (or did we? Hint: not yet), toured, and camped (check out the Norway photos, they speak for themselves). Eventually, we made it back to Digermulen and found the right Eivind.
And that’s not as quirky as finding the wrong one, so I’ll leave it there.
Next: How Digermulen became the next hot concert location.