In February, the hosts of HI Norway went on a study trip to the Helgeland Coast in Northern Norway. They spent three days on a boat at sea, fishing, and exploring islands. Here are some of their impressions from the High North.
After arriving at the airport in Sandnessjøen, our group of 20 hosts and employees of Hostelling International Norway drove down to the harbour where two beautiful old fishing boats lay. The “Nykværing” and “Leiskjær”. They were going to be our floating homes for the next days. The group was split in two groups, we installed ourselves below deck, and the boats began their journey towards the sea.
From the moment we sailed out of the harbour and started our voyage, we were overwhelmed by the magnificent landscapes. The Helgeland Coast is a truly dramatic place, with high snow-clad mountaints, magnificent fjords, and small fishing villages on the mountain sides. The sea became more and more restless as we set course towards the small island of Lovund.
Lovund is a tiny island, in the open sea just below the Polar Circle. It is dominated by a magnificent mountain, dominating the whole island, and famous for its large population of puffins. We spent the evening at the lovely Lovund Hotell, where we were served a lovely meal with local salmon. That night, magical Northern Lights were dancing in the sky. We spent the nights in the boats, falling asleep to the rythm of the waves and the sea.
The next morning, we visited Nova Sea Foods, the biggest employer on the island. Afterwards, we set out to the open sea. The waves were high, and the weather was, well, quite bad. We had some snow, some hail, rain and wind. But as the Norwegians say: there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. So, in our thick jackets, we spent time on deck trying to catch our first fish.
That evening, we spent at the Augustbryggo restaurant on the island of Seløya. They made a wonderful meal for us, and even the mayor of the town came down to hold a speech for us. He had also brought his accordeon, and together with a friend, he played some tunes. From our group, Svein Inge from HI Geilo and Robin from the main office, played some traditional Norwegian music on the Hardanger fiddle.
The third day was a wonderful day. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining bright. We spent some time fishing in the open sea, and we explored a deserted fishing village on a far-off island, Sørgåsvær. It was amazing to be at that lonely, melancholy place. The wind was blowing, the sea was glittering, and the Seven Sisters mountain range was visible in the distance.
After having caught a lot of fish, we sailed to the island of Herøy, where we had dinner at Herøy Brygge. They prepared the fishes we had caught, and made them into a lovely traditional meal. After the last night in our boats, we sailed back towards Sandnessjøen, with a blue sky above and a calm sea underneath us. The adventure in the North came to an end, and we returned home to with backpacks full of memories and stories.
We would like to thank the participants of our HI study trip to the North, for making it such a wonderful adventure! We would also like to thank Augustbryggo, Lovund Hotell and Herøy Brygge for their warm hospitality.
Text by Robin Van de Walle
Pictures by Robin Van de Walle, Amarílis Coelho Rocha and Emília Barreto.