Once you get down to the bottom end of the Lofotens, it’s pretty much one road in and out, so you do keep crossing paths with the same vans. There are LOTS of motorhomes here; probably the majority of vehicles on the road. Most are Norwegian, German and Dutch, though we’ve also seen French, Belgian, Italian and British vans.
One thing that strikes all visitors to this end of the islands is the pungent odour of drying fish heads. They’re everywhere!
Apparently the fish heads are exported to Nigeria… for human consumption. Now you know something’s really really unpleasant when even the Scandinavians, who have a history of burying bits of animals, letting them go rancid, then digging them up and eating them as a special treat, won’t go near the stuff…. No birds or animals seemed to be showing any interest either….
This is the “officially picturesque” end of the Lofotens, where villages seem to have cornered the market in “most beautiful village in Norway / Scandinavia / the World / the Universe” awards. They’ve also come up with a cunning plan to make money on the back of this: parking charges.
The Lofoten Islands are full of visitors either driving around in motorhomes or disembarking from cruise ships and getting into fleets of coaches. There seem to be very few tourists driving round in cars, staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants. Which is a good thing as there aren’t very many local hotels and local restaurants. We passed a nice-looking cafe on Sunday afternoon; it was closed… (not that we were thinking of going in, but that’s not the point. There are lots of Germans here in big £100k plus vans that might love a “Kaffee und Kuchen” break; we’ve seen them in action in the supermarkets and cost would not be an issue).
So the question is, how do the locals benefit from all the tourism other than through a few extra jobs at petrol stations, supermarkets and tourist attractions like museums (though these are also thin on the ground)?
Charging motorhomes to park is an interesting idea. One village wanted NOK 200 to park up on the not overly attractive village car park. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t seem to have any takers. Reine, one of the well-known “pretty villages” (the previous photo was taken there) wanted an impressive amount to park on a car park next to a load of smelly fish heads:
I took a photo of the sign as evidence. Yes, this is just to park (there is a water / emptying station nearby but somewhat strangely, that’s free for anyone to use):
Now, Norway is a country where wild camping is perfectly legal, subject to obvious provisos like not parking too close to someone’s house. So we did the obvious thing and parked up just outside Reine, then walked in to have a look (about a 10 minute walk).
The evening brought good news: we found the Sally jam! It was masquerading as a pot of Lee Kum Kee chilli and garlic sauce (of which we do have several in stock). Hard to tell the difference when they’re all carefully packed in the bottom of a drawer….
So far so good. The next morning, things weren’t looking so good 😟 Kampington refused to start 😬 To be fair to Kampington, he’s generally very well-behaved, and has only ever had one unscheduled visit to a garage. He’s got exactly the same symptoms this time; won’t start cold but once he’s got a bit of warmth in him, he’s fine for the rest of the day. We’ve been revisiting our old posts on the subject from February 2015:
Mark got Kampington started using the tried and tested method of squirting a bit of WD40 up Kampington’s nose to make him sneeze…. (we did buy some “proper” starting spray in France last time, but it went off with such a frightening bang that we didn’t dare use it again). The question was what to do next? The repair in France in early 2015 cost 479 Euros. What if the same symptoms mean the same problem (another fuel injector?). We really don’t want to be taking Kampington to a garage in Northern Norway if we can help it; we’d only end up arguing over which one of us was going to sell a kidney to pay for it.
Whilst dithering, we decided to stick with our original plan for the day, which was to head to a marina at Ballstad, our second paid stop in Norway. We got all our washing done, Kampington got his first electric hookup since leaving home all those weeks ago, and we used the wifi to download plenty of TV from iplayer.
Things were looking a bit better this morning, which “dawned” (or more precisely, didn’t dawn, it being light for 24 hours a day up here at present) sunny and much warmer than it has been.
Kampington managed to start without interference, though with a bit of protest. He then belched a big ball of black sooty smoke all over the shiny white Bürstner parked next to us. Oops! It’s not his fault; he’s not well 😩
We’ve driven back up the Lofotens today and onto the mainland, and are now parked up at a lovely spot overlooking a fjord.
Fingers crossed for tomorrow morning 🤞