Norway: The land of the vikings, the fjords and the midnight sun. No matter how many photos as you see, nothing can really prepare you for how breathtaking it really is.
The last week of April, Josh and I visited the Lofoten Islands, way up in the Artic Circle, where the winters are illuminated by blankets of blue and summers are golden, lit by the midnight sun. We missed both the Northern Lights season as well as the midnight sun so it was pretty quiet, being in-between seasons. We tend to always gravitate to an area off-season which has its pros and cons but I can probably explain that in another post.
We began our trip in the sleepy stop-over town of Bodo. I researched things to do there before we left and, didn't really find much, and that's because there really isn't much. Like I said before, we went off-peak so most things were closed. There isn't really a drinking culture in Norway so there weren't any bars or cafes you could sit in to watch the world go by, and even if there were, we wouldn't be able to afford drinks, but luckily (in a way), we arrived to a snow storm so hid away in our room for the afternoon and planned our time in Lofoten.
One thing I will say about Bodo: try to stay near the airport unless your budget allows it. Due to the storm, we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel which cost us over £20 for something that would have been a 20 minute walk. Another piece of advice: never take a taxi on a Sunday! The tax increases by 60% and on Saturday it's a 30% rise. Not sure if this was just because we were tourists and couldn't argue against it or whether that's just the way it is. I've done some research online but couldn't find anything, so if I'm wrong it'd be fab to know! The rest of the time, we walked everywhere: to and from the ferry port and we also walked back to the airport on our way home which took 20 minutes. Also note: buses are limited on weekends.
Once the storm had subsided, we'd decided to venture out and experience our first Norwegian sunset by the harbour after we'd eaten our Subway sandwiches (since that was the only thing we could afford! Perhaps next time we visit, we'll save up and make sure we've finished university?!)
It was crazy how beautifully calm the sea became; only half an hour before, the waves were crashing against the pier on which we were standing. It was the first of many beautiful sunsets for us; we didn't get a bad one whilst we were there!
The first night we spent in Bodo was at the Bodo Hotel. The rooms were relatively small and quite comfy and the breakfast was average. We knew Norway would be expensive so we didn't expect a luxury hotel. However, compared to our second hotel in Bodo, which was a similar price, I wouldn't say it was worth it.
Our last night was spent in the Scandic Havet which was stunning. We had a large room overlooking the sea, a shower to die for and access to the rooftop bar, which made our last evening far more enjoyable than our first. The best thing about the Scandic Havet was the breakfast, and when breakfast is good, I'm a happy girl!
Our room in the Scandic was stunning; beautiful decor, a large bathroom and most importantly, comfy chairs overlooking the ocean. I could have stayed there forever watching the long sunset. The restaurant wasn't ridiculously expensive and the menu looked good, although we chose not to eat there. But we did have drinks in the rooftop bar. The next morning, we went down to the breakfast restaurant and I was in heaven! Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and we were surrounded by pastries, eggs to order, meats, fruit, fish, bread, milkshakes, smoothies and even macarons! I was too hungry and in awe to take photos but believe me when I say it was wonderful. The photos I'm adding are unedited from my phone so the quality might not be fab and I always forget to take photos of most things (e.g. the room and the breakfast) but I'll get into that habit next time! I'd definitely recommend a stay at the Scandic Havet. There are a few Scandic hotels in Bodo so it can be a little confusing.
If traveling to Lofoten, there are several ways of getting there depending on your plans. Ours were to stay in Å, and it was cheaper and more convenient for us to take the ferry from Bodo. It isn't the most spectacular place and because of plane/ferry times we had to spend the night there on either side of our trip. Most people seem to be connecting in Bodo, so it's almost like a commuter town. Next time we go, we'll make sure we stay at the Scandic Havet again so we can sit and look out at the sea all evening from the comfort of our room.
Other options include flying to Svolvær or Leknes, usually via Bodo: Norwegian Air only fly as far as Bodo and from there, you'd have to get a flight with Widerøe. Alternatively, you can get a flight to Harstad/Narvik from Oslo. The website I found best for info about getting to Lofoten was 68 North, which has very succinct and detailed directions as it were: http://www.68north.com/info/getting-to-lofoten/
Next post will be about travelling to Lofoten and our first day, keep an eye out and make sure you subscribe!
Lots of Love