We’ve spent the past few days meandering our way to the village of Bleik, on the island of Andoya in north west Norway.
First stop after Olsborg was Bjerkvik, where we spent the night on the marina overlooking the town. There wasn’t much to see or do there, but it was nice and quiet.
The next morning we drove further along the main E6 road to a petrol station near Evenskjaer, and spent most of the day there using their washing machine and tumble dryer. Sitting in the café, I was also able to fire up the laptop and sort out all of our recent photos and tidy up the blog. When we were done we drove to the nearby marina where we stopped for the night.
By now we’d used up nearly half of our gas, and with LPG stations being few and far between we set off for Harstad the next morning and filled up with gas. Fellow bloggers Our Bumble had been to this area previously and visited the Trondenes medieval church, so we went to check it out. The church proclaims itself to be Europe’s northernmost stone medieval church, dating back to the 13th century. It was locked up so we couldn’t go in, but it looked impressive from the outside.
This area was also impacted by the events of WWII when the Nazis invaded Norway. They built a fortress here to house one of the four Adolf guns which were part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall defences stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the Arctic Ocean. Soviet POWs were used as slave labour to build the fortress in very harsh conditions, and many perished. There’s a museum next to the church, but we skipped this and instead went for a walk along the museum trail. Little remains of the fortress and POW camp, but the information boards had photos showing how the place looked during the war, and there’s a memorial to the Soviet POWs who died.
Leaving the museum, we made our way to our next stop at Sigerfjordveien. The most direct route required that we catch a ferry for a 20 minute crossing. We’ll most likely have to use a few ferries on our travels through Norway, where the alternative would be a lengthy detour burning up lots of diesel. The ferries charge by vehicle length, and if we’d been in a 6m van it would have only cost 115 NOK, but as our van is 7.49 metres long we had to pay 291 NOK – a big jump in price. We queued up for the hourly crossing, and paid the man as we drove onto the ferry. In next to no time we had crossed to the other side – it’s all very efficient.
We’d planned to spend the night in a picnic area overlooking the beach, but when we arrived we spotted another van parked up on the marina close by (there’s a theme developing here!) with a much better view, so we parked there. It cost 100 NOK which included electricity, which is fair enough.
Many moons ago I bought a fishing rod with the intention of sea fishing in Norway, so I spent an hour or so before bedtime casting a line from the wall of the marina. Although I caught quite a few fish, the tide was still rather low and so none were quite big enough to eat. I’ll have another bash next week when the evening high tide is at a more sociable hour.
Yesterday morning we left Sigerfjordveien and headed north to the island of Andoya. The road that runs along the west coast is another official scenic route, and it’s easy to see why. As we drove along we passed through some tiny villages, with lots of white sandy beaches in between, and the views were superb.
The campsite at Bleik is almost opposite the island of Bleiksøya, where thousands of puffins nest. We went for walks yesterday and today but unfortunately we didn’t spot any puffins or the white-tailed sea eagles which prey on them. It’s possible to get up close to the island on a 90 minute boat trip, but with the weather being very windy here, and the sea quite choppy, we gave that a miss. There’s a good chance that we’ll spot a puffin or two further along the coast in the next couple of weeks.
The campsite we’re staying at is very popular, though we’re the only van here from the UK. Facing direct north, it should be possible to see the midnight sun from here, but the weather was cloudy last night. We’re managing to get to sleep in the permanent daylight though. We have a routine now where we close all of the blinds at about 9pm and switch the lights on, even though it’s broad daylight outside. We then watch some TV before going to bed (we’re enjoying watching the trilogy ‘The Killing’ at the moment). Even though the blinds don’t completely block the light, this routine seems to trick our brains into thinking that it’s night time.
Tomorrow we’ll be driving back to Sigerfjordveien, and from there we’ll make our way to the Lofoten Islands. It’ll be Midsummer’s Day next week, which is a big thing here in Norway. They typically celebrate by lighting bonfires an hour before midnight and then feasting and drinking through the early hours, so we need to try and make sure that we’ll be close to a town rather than camped in the middle of nowhere.