Day 6 - June 9, 2013 - Today’s Port Leknes, Lofoten
By Sue Flood, General Naturalist and filmmaker
Co-ordinates: 68.1333° N, 13.6000° E
Weather: Overcast, light drizzle
Air Temperature: 9C
I was delighted to be back in the Lofoten Islands with Silversea, two years after my first visit. Although the weather wasn’t ideal, it was still a lovely day in the islands – one of my favourite ports of call in Norway.
We drove from Vestagoy to Flastad via the undersea tunnel that was opened in 1990. As we entered the tunnel, a very high-pitched squeal could be heard. This was an acoustic deterrent that had been developed to prevent foxes passing through the tunnel from one island to another, as after the tunnel was opened, foxes had started using it to prey on hares on Flastad! The noise has proved effective in keeping the foxes away so that the hares are now much safer from predation.
Our guide Lisa explained that one of the most sought-after gifts for people to take home as a souvenir from the Lofoten Islands was jam, made from the delicious wild cloudberries on the islands. These berries cannot be cultivated so are collected by hand from the wild. Several guests purchased the delicious jam at our first stop – the beautiful and historic fishing village of Nusfjord, one of Norway’s oldest fishing villages.
Nusfjord is a UNESCO site, with beautifully preserved fishermen’s huts, or rorbu, dating from the nineteenth century, though archaeologists have confirmed that the rorbu cabins have been on the site from as early as 400AD. One of the most remarkable facts about the site for me was that Nusfjord had electricity two years before Oslo and New York, thanks to the power station which dates from 1905!
The local area has proved extremely successful as a cod fishery for over a thousand years due to the combination of temperature, salinity and depth of the sea water, which provided near-perfect conditions for the cod to breed. Cod are still prepared here in the traditional way – wind-drying the fish in pairs by hanging on racks. The attractive houses proved to be a highly photogenic subject for many of the guests and I enjoyed helping them with their photography.
Interestingly the red coloured houses used to belong to the poorer residents in the community, the red colour originally being achieved with a mixture of animal blood and cod liver oil! The yellow houses belonged to wealthier families who were able to afford the more expensive yellow paint, which was apparently imported from Italy. We were also able to see the cod-liver oil refinery – though for many guests this brought back some unpleasant memories from their childhoods!
After a brief photo stop on the shores of Flakstad, at the beautiful white beach with its impressive surrounding mountains, we then drove on to the Lofotr Viking Museum, the site of the ancient Viking Farm that was accidentally discovered by a farmer ploughing his field in 1981. The main building was huge and had been reconstructed as a living museum to show how the Vikings were thought to have lived. Although history isn’t my favourite subject, I was impressed by the displays of artefacts found on the site. Returning to the coach, I was thrilled to hear and then get a very good view of a curlew in the field at Lofotr – this beautiful bird, with its long, curved beak is a rare sight in the UK.
In the late afternoon, the expedition team gathered on deck with guests as we sailed through the spectacular scenic fjord of Trollfjorden, whose narrow entrance made for a spectacular backdrop for the numerous photos. A wonderful day!
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