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Published: August 3rd 2014
Bjerkvik through to Lofoten, Vesteralen and Senja Islands, Norway 2 and 3 August 2014
To get more information on the Islands, we drove to Hardstad which developed around 1870s around the herring industry. The northern Norway cultural festival on the summer solstice is also held here.
We got information on ferries between the Lofotan & Vesteralen Islands from the very helpful Tourist Office, used their free WiFi, saw their incredible swimming pool which is built under a mountain in the centre of the town, and then drove towards the Lofoten and Vesteralen Islands.
We saw that there was a significant historic site for the WW2 at Trondenes fort, just outside Hardstad. Here lies the Adolf Cannon, which is the largest remaining naval gun in the world on land. During WW2 the Atlantic Wall was developed along the Norwegian coast by the Germans. They saw Norway as their supply of iron ore from Narvik which is only 90kms inland from Hardstad. They also saw the fjords as a place to hide their ships and submarines, so was very strategic. They built 4 guns during 1943 in this area, all of which are intact and one of them, the Adolf
Cannon, is now a museum. The guns are now a part of the Norwegian defence system.
The cannon is 40.6cm calibre. It's massive! The original intent was to use these guns on battle-ships but the new H & J class ships were never built, and the cannons were never deployed as coastal forts in Norway, Poland and by the English Channel.
The cannons had an armoured bulk-head and were placed in open 'wells'. Below and next to them were bunkers for ammunition, guard quarters, a power station, sanitary installations, heating/ventilation, and an emergency exit. The 4 guns were all built in 12 months.
At the end of WW2, there were 450,000 German troupes positioned along the Norwegian coast.
After the very interesting tour with a special guide and after we were escorted by Norwegian military personnel through Defence Land to the cannon, we drove out and looked at the old church and then headed for the Islands.
The coastline of the Lofotan and Vesteralen Islands is dominated by sharp peaks, some of which were as high as 700m. Small towns and fishing villages lie at the water's edge. Some of these settlements are deserted and
others are thriving. The land is mostly made of hard granite and gneiss rock, but slate, sandstone, and limestone are also common, and the lowest elevations contain marine deposits. Because of the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerlies, we experienced in Norway, higher temperatures and more precipitation than expected at such northern latitudes, especially along the coast.
We 1st drove to Svolvaer which is the most important town on Lofoten and is regarded as its 'capital'. It's a bustling harbour town receiving town status in 1996. It is a good transport link which makes it an important gateway for tourism on the islands. The Hurtigruten coastal express stops at Svolvaer. The 11-day round trip of this cruise runs daily and stops at 34 ports along the Norwegian coast all year round.
We headed further west and then turned around and drove to Sortland and stopped at a shopping centre to have lunch. In these 2 hours of driving, we went through 8 tunnels, on a sub-sea tunnel, over 3 massive bridges and several small ones which joined the multiple islands making up this archipelago. One oeldsundbrua.f these bridges, which connects Hinnoya with the mainland is 1001m long and towers
76m above the waterline. They call it Tj
Sortland is in the middle of Lofotan and Vesteralen.
Once on Vesteralen islands, we drove out to Nykvag (Langoya Island) which is not on the usual tourist rout. It was beautiful and had everything: sharp peaks, steep rocky/granite mountains, fjords, lakes, rivers, glacial valleys, dairy farms, villages and towns. It was beautiful. We drove to the island of Andoya which is in the Vesteralens and travelled along the western side of this long, narrow island, which was the scenic route. We had the North Sea on our left, which was incredibly calm, and stark, craggy, high mountains on our right. Occasionally we drove through farmland which has been farmed since the Stone Age.
The last town we drove to was Andenes, which is on the northern tip of Andoya and is the ferry terminal where we were catching the 3 hour vehicle ferry to Senja, yet another island along the coast of Norway. We were on our way to Tromso. Andenes has a large fishing quarter and a really well developed waterfront. It also has a Polar Museum and the world's most northerly launching pad for rockets and scientific
balloons. We was big aerials everywhere.
We saw where the ferry was leaving from, the next morning at 8.45am so we parked down at the wharf and then went for a walk into town. We found a great little pub and had an arctic beer amongst other tourists. We also walked to the light house and around the town. Other than one building where there was a very lively band practicing, the town was very quiet for a Saturday night. We stayed at the wharf overnight, looking out over the harbour, watching the sunset..beautiful! It did however shower with rain occasionally during the night
The next morning we got in line to catch the ferry 1 hour before it departed. The trip to the Island of Senja took 1.5 hours and all went to schedule. The ferry entered a fjord at Gillefjord on Senja Island.
After leaving the ferry, we drove along the western coastal scenic route of Senja. As soon as we turned the 1st corner after coming off the ferry which was along a fjord, we were confronted with this big, artificial hill which was the home of many trolls. A family had developed the
sight, next to their house. There was free admission and next to it was a shop and cafe with all the trolls you could imagine. Fascinating.
We then drove on past more rugged, high mountains, driving through 6 tunnels and over several bridges along the way. We mainly hugged the coast, stopping off at several of the designated scenic stopping facilities. We only had 100kms to drive to get to our next ferry which was from Botneamn. This ferry was going to Brensholmen on Kvaloya islands. We then drove 53kms to Tromso.
For those of your interested in ferry prices, the Andenes ferry cost 593 NOK (about $100 AUD) and the Botnhamn 301 NOK ($50 AUD) and it saved us over 100kms and we saw some spectacular scenery. Win:win all round I reckon!
PS. sorry about the number of photos but I combined 4 areas!!!!
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