The Lofoten Islands
In this week's travel feature, local travel couple Louise-Anne Manasco and Max Pizarro takes a look at the Norweigian fjords.
By Louise-Anne Manasco and Max Pizarro
The Norweigian fjords have forever portrayed Norway as a country of natural beauty, with its magnificent dramatic landscapes surrounded by many deep narrow waterways which meander inland off the North Atlantic Ocean.
With such a magnificent coastline which stretches the entirety of the country, there was a need to pick out a specific region which was feasible to explore and enjoy within a week.
The Lofoten Islands, arguably Norway’s most beautiful corner, is an astonishing archipelago which continuously leaves you astounded as you turn each and every corner across the 1227 square kilometres of dramatic mountains and peaks, towns and beaches that are all surrounded by sheltered bays and narrow waterways as well as the open Atlantic Ocean.
With such dramatic landscapes, from the flat coastal plane fields and turbulent, surf-swept white sand cove beaches to the sheltered, glistening calm waters of the lakes and deep fjords surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountains, you just feel like you will never have long enough!
Along with its contrasting landscapes are also the extreme fluctuations throughout the seasons which see long warm sunny days stretching 24 hours of daylight in the heights of summer to then a move towards the freezing months of heavy snowfall which close in on 24hrs of darkness during the lows of winter.
This combination between the magnificent landscapes and extreme conditions is what makes it one of earths more captivating (in our opinion) destinations, grasping the attention of such a diverse audience, inspiring artists and photographers, exciting mountaineers, alpine skiers, kayakers and adrenaline junkies whilst fascinating nomads who love the great outdoors, adventures and basically a brand new destination which offers a unique experience.
The potential for outdoor activities and adventures, its traditional fishing history, a diluted number of tourists, and of course some great opportunities to see the Northern Lights were all additional draws which made our choice of destination so easy.
Prior to the days of Nomads, outdoor enthusiasts and holidaymakers, although it still is in today’s day and age the Lofoten Islands were primarily small fishing villages and the centre of great cod fisheries.
Throughout the winter months (January – April), the cod migrate south to the waters surrounding the islands to spawn and is when the world’s greatest cod harvest takes place.
Having visited the islands in March, we were able to witness the harvest in full flow which was pretty spectacular considering the quantities that were unloaded from the boats.
Both during and after the season, a percentage of these fish do also create a very unique and distinctive sight throughout the islands which is the hanging of hundreds and thousands of cod on wooden racks which line the foreshore.
As the world’s oldest known preservation method, Stockfish is produced, whereby the unsalted fish are dried out by the continuous cold sea breeze, reducing its weight considerably (ideal for transporting) whilst retaining its nutrients.
With conditions neither too warm nor too cold and the additional touch of airborne salinity, the cod dangle in the idyllic conditions for the perfect results.
The combination of cod quantities and the perfect drying conditions means no other country is able to compete with this successful process and is therefore why the locals are proud in what they do as they say “That is our money that you see hanging there”.
Along with the traditional sights of the stockfish, are also the characteristic traditional Rorbeurs which are the old fishermen’s cottages generally raised above the water on wooden stilts. Conventionally painted in red, the majority of the Rorbeurs set up for visitors have kept the traditional colours, however there are a number painted in yellow.
Are you a keen traveller? Or do you enjoy short weekend breaks up the coast? The Chronicle’s weekly travel feature is open for local writers to share their experiences of the places they visit. Contact the Chronicle to find out more.