October 22 to november 5, 2022
This trip was proposed to us by Etienne, Stephane, Martine and Sophie. We leave all 6 for 2 weeks with the aim, notably, to see northern lights.
Friday, October 21st: at the very end of the evening, we leave the house to go to spend the night to the Campanile of Le-Mesnil-Amelot near Roissy to 2 hours of road in order not to have to get up too early tomorrow and to avoid stress. It is rather comfortable to make like that.
Saturday, October 22nd: we join Parkineo in front of the hotel to leave our car the time of our trip. It is the bazar: the guy is alone to receive the customers, to lead them to the airport and to make pay those who return. We wait a long time before leaving. Fortunately that we always take some margin. Arrived at the airport, we find the buddies and we are going to make the registration to Finnair. There too, it is very long. We pass the security: new wait, the photo bag of David is checked from top to bottom. Our flight of 10:50 am takes off with 10 minutes of delay, direction Helsinki in Finland. After a stopover of 2 hours, we go up in a propeller plane of the company Wideroe and we leave at 4:45 pm for Tromso. The descent is done on the tarmac. We are welcomed in the dark with 3°, the wind, the rain and sometimes the sleet which whips us the cheeks. The vacations begin well! We take the bus to return in the airport then we recover the car (1 hour of wait!). It is a Peugeot Traveller of 9 places.
Before joining our lodging, we stop to make some shopping at 8:30 pm in the Eurospar on the road which is opened until 11 pm. Then, we join under the rain and the snow our chalet in Lauklines on the island of Kvaloya. There are 6 cottages, a small store of souvenirs and what to go fishing in season. We unload our suitcases and the shopping under the sleet, it is not pleasant at all! The more so as we cannot approach by car of the accommodation, carts are at disposal to make a minimum of back and forth. The chalet is very nice, all in wood, which gives it a cosy side.
The wooden terrace gives on the entrance of the Fjord Nordfjordbotn. Well, for the moment, we do not see much! Dinner. Sleep at 00:30 am.
Sunday, October 23rd: up at 9:00 am. Quiet breakfast at 10:00 am. It rains, it snows, it is windy and it is 3°. Around 12:00 am, during a "hole", we leave the chalet.
The road is snowed but the car has studded tires. We succeeded nevertheless in making a small slide. We stop to make photos in the point of view Kattfjordvatnet on the road 862 (that the buddies call "the pass"): mountain, lake under the snow. It is very beautiful.
It misses just a little sun! We go until Ersfjordbotn which is at the same time the name of a village and the bottom of a fjord. It is nice.
We try to go to Grotfjord but there is a little too much snow on the road. We turn back. Return to Lauklines at 2 pm. We decide to make a "photo workshop". Etienne brought smarties that we put in a gratin plate aligned by color. On top, we put a transparent plate of the refrigerator on which we put drops of hydro-alcoholic gel. The goal is to take a picture of the drops that reflect the smarties. Several tests are necessary!
Around 4:00 pm, the sun sets. That makes bizarre! We take the aperitif at 4:30 pm (and yes, it is necessary to be ready in case there would be auroras and the breakfast is far!) Then we have dinner of steaks of reindeers with potatoes and carrots. A little strong in taste but it is not bad. At 6:00 pm, holes form in the sky. We are in the tequet for the auroras, the photo equipment is ready! At 6:30 pm, the first auroras appear. We settle down on the terrace. They are not very intense. The buddies who are used to see them are not excited at all. But, us, they are our first and we are already happy to see some. That lasts 30 minutes then that calms down.
We go out again around 10:00 pm during a quarter of hour but we remain on our hunger. We have the impression that it is already midnight or 1:00 am but no, it is only 10:00 pm... ah yes, but it is dark since 4:00 pm!... that seems long, that makes really strange...
Monday 24th October: we get up at 8:30 am. No rain or wind but it's cold, 2°.
While passing in front of, we stop again to make photos in Kattfjordvatnet
then at Ersfjordbotn.
We realize that there is a coffee near the pontoon where we make photos. The Bryggejentene which makes also store of decoration and souvenirs. We decide to go to take a hot chocolate. It is 1 pm. A very nice Frenchwoman is waitress and she makes us the detail of the card. She advises us the fish "Lutefisk" cooked in a particular way. She tells us the story: a long, long time ago, a man who kept his fish in a shed with his tools, paint cans, cans of more or less toxic products, saw it burned. At that time, in order not to lose the fish, it was recovered, washed and consumed. The hot chocolate was thus transformed into a fish dish. You have to try the local specialties!
I am not fan, the fish is not cooked enough for me, on the other hand the accompaniments and the sauce are good. We go then towards Tromso with stops photos on the way on the Fjord Kaldfjord. We stop to make some races. In Tromso, we are going to visit the arctic cathedral. The road between the parking and the monument is hyper slippery. The cathedral, built in 1965, is very original with its triangular shape.
The stained glass window is quite impressive.
Then, we take the cable car Fjellheisen which goes up to 420 meters of height in Storsteinen. The view on Tromso is magnificent, especially at sunset when the lights of the city light up.
We go down again at the fallen night and we return to the chalet at 6:00 pm. Aperitif, dinner. Around 8:30 pm, a small aurora appears in the sky. We always observe it from our terrace. It is prettier than yesterday. But that does not last. Around 10:00 pm, green colors appear again in the sky. A little stronger this time.
The aurora is there for almost an hour. Then it fades away. Around 11:30 pm, in pyjamas upstairs, Sophie and I are ready to go to bed. Etienne makes then a last check in the sky and there, he discovers a beautiful aurora. We put back our warm clothes over our pyjamas and we go out to join the others. Waouh! This one is bigger and more intense than the others. Superb.
It remains during almost half an hour.
Tuesday October 25: up at 6:30 am to see the sunrise at the Kattfjordvatnet pass. The sky is colored of pink little by little and in front the mountain starts to light up. The reflections in the lake appear progressively. It is very beautiful.
We return to the chalet at 9:30 am to take the breakfast. We leave at 10:45 am direction Sommaroy. There is a beautiful sun but it is only 4°. We stop often on the road to take photos. Sommaroy is connected to Kvaloya by a bridge.
The island is very small. We stop at the level of a camping situated between the port and the beach. The beach with its white sand and its transparent blue water, would make us almost think that we are in the Caribbean... if it is not our ski pants and our big down jackets!
We continue the visit by taking the main road which divides then in two roads, one on the left and one on the right ending both in dead end.
We go then to take a hot chocolate in the café in front of the camp-site: the Hvafrua Kro. On the road of the return, we cross reindeers.
More photo stops on the road...
Return to Lauklines at 4:30 pm. Dinner at 7 pm. No aurora.
Wednesday October 26: up at 8:00 am. We buy candies, souvenirs in the store of Lauklines. The owner is talkative... but the weather is nice, there... we have to go for a walk!... So, we leave at 11:30 am. We are going to make the tour of the island of Kvaloya by the South: Nordfjordbotn, Kaldfjord,
then we fork on the road 858 South. The owner of our accommodation spoke to us about a wreck of boat. It is situated near Tisnes. It is rather photogenic.
Further on, on the road, in Straumsvegen, we discover rock engravings dating from 4500 years BC.
Then some stops photos on the road. In the southern extremity of the island, we have the joy to find a café/restaurant: the Yggdrasil Farmhotel Retreat & Spa. It is very cosy with a nice decoration. A conference takes place in a closed room at the bottom of the restaurant. The manager wants to welcome us for a hot chocolate and a waffle.
Too good! We discover the famous Brunost (Brown Cheese in English): a kind of cheese which looks like the texture of the cheddar but in brown and with a taste a little caramelized. We continue our tour and there, on the road, reindeers in a field. Hop, stop photos...
On the west side of the island, a small church can be seen.
We birfurque to go to visit it. It is the church of Hillesoy. Damn, it is closed. But we hear noise inside. Finally, a man (the priest?) opens us and let us visit. The inside is all in wood with even a stove.
It is not very big but it has a beautiful small organ. One buckles the loop at the fallen night! and return to the country cottage at 4:00 pm.
Thursday, October 27: up at 8:00 am. It rains but the sky ends up clearing. We leave at 10:00 am towards Tromvik with quite a lot of photo stops on the way. By skirting Kaldfjord to go towards Grotfjord, it is more mountainous. It is very beautiful.
We do not advance very quickly, we are all the time stopped ! The reflections in water are superb.
We arrive at the small village of Tromvik, at the end of the island because it is about a cul de sac, end of the road! You should not be afraid of the isolation! We make some photos of the port.
Then we look for a café or a restaurant but there is none. Half-turn. We stop in Ersfjordbotn in the café Bryggejentene for our hot chocolate break.
We go then to Tromso to make some shopping and return to Lauklines around 5:00 pm. There are small auroras around 8:00 pm but they are not very intense.
Friday October 28: up at 9:00 am. Very cloudy sky today. We start a new "photo workshop" which consists in photographing the colors of a soap bubble. The principle: put the room in the dark, put under a lamp on a black bottom (a tee-shirt for example) a cap of objective where we put a mixture of water, dishwashing liquid and glycerin (to maintain the bubble longer). And you need a blower to make the bubbles with a straw! The top of this bubble makes beautiful colors appear. It's fun and makes for some cool pictures.
That occupies us one moment! Then, we prepare some dough for crepe. And while she rests, we are going to make a ballade on foot along the road of our chalet under a sky always so covered. In the return, we dine of our crepes. We finish the evening by making our suitcases because tomorrow, we change of area...
Saturday, October 29: up at 7:00 am. It is still under the rain that we load the car. Departure at 9:15 am for the island of Senja. We decided to take the ferry in Brensholmen whose departure is at 10:45 am. It always rains and there is wind, we cannot take advantage of the sight from the bridge. We go out quickly nevertheless to make some photos.
We accost in Botnhamn where the weather is not better. One of the tunnels on the road 862 which leads to our accommodation in the West of Senja being closed for works, we must make the turn by the South: roads 861, 86 then the 862. At 2:00 pm, we arrive at the place called Bovaer near the village of Skaland, almost at the end of the Fjord Bergsbotn. We look for our lodging for the week, "The Grand Piano". We discover the house at the end of a pier, not accessible by car.
Photo of another day without rain! :
It is necessary to carry the suitcases, still under the rain! We are welcomed by Georg, the owner. He makes us visit this atypical house, rustic of which a part is on piles and directed towards the sea on three facades. Also called "The Castle with crows" (Krakeslottet), he explains us that it is an old fish factory of 1899. The house has been restored and transformed during 50 years. Apart from accommodating tourists, it hosts a music festival and an art festival in the summer.
It has 34 rooms, 12 emergency exits, 40 fire detectors, about 20 beds, doors and rooms in all directions, a grand piano, an upright piano and a harmonium, a sauna in the lighthouse, two large rooms for festivals, a large workshop with boats
as well as two annex buildings, one of which is used as a bedroom. Georg made us visit the main rooms which we will need but we discovered other rooms as we went along. In the decoration, it is very kitsch. There is everything: recuperation, old accessories or ustensils, "things" of the sea (shells, dry seaweeds...), drawings of the tourists... it is a bazaar without name of which we do not discover everything of a single glance. Considering the rotten weather, we do not go out, we settle down quietly. Then we dine in the big kitchen on a heavy wooden table which went 2 times to the North Pole told us Georg.
In the evening, we make an exit towards the South of the island in the hope to see auroras. We wipe a snow storm. We find a small hole in the sky which lets appear an aurora.
But it is all that we shall see this evening.
Sunday, October 30: Up around 8:00 am. It still rains and it is windy. We are not going to make much again today. We go out nevertheless quickly to make some outside photos of the house.
Then we go through the house in all its corners to photograph all its hidden treasures! Then, we make our third "photo workshop": the oil drops. It is only necessary to put water and oil in a transparent dish, to raise it slightly in order to slide under a tablet with a background of colors. And let's go for the pictures!
Monday October 31: up at 6:00 am to go to the sunrise at Tungeneset ("the Devil's Teeth") at about 15 minutes of road, on the 862. The sky is decorated with pink which is reflected on the sea and on the small pools in the rocks. It's a beautiful sight.
We stay there a moment. We continue then on the same road and we stop at the bottom of the Fjord Ersfjord. The beach is nice as well as the view on the mountain. We go until the pier, then we get ready to leave again. Almost arrived at the parking lot, Stéphane, Sophie and me take a sprint to return on the beach. The 3 others: "but where do they run like that? A ray of sun illuminates the mountain which is adorned with gold.
It is of any beauty. The road leads us then to Senjahopen in the Fjord Mefjordbotn via a long tunnel then to Mefjordvaer, end of the road.
The small village, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is very nice with its pier and its colorful houses.
But still no café or restaurant! The tunnel being always closed, we turn back. We go towards Hamn. Very small village where, here also, the water is very transparent and turquoise.
Surprising to see that in the big North! Some kilometers further, we arrive at Gryllefjord. We go to the bottom of the fjord
then we take a little height by taking the road which passes above the tunnel. Well, that does not bring much!
The sky is very covered and it begins to rain. We continue nevertheless at the end of the road 86, until Torsken - end of the road. We do not even get off the car: it rains and there is apparently nothing to see. Not even a restaurant or a bar. At 3:00 pm, we return on Gryllefjord to go to nibble something. Not having a lot of choice, we go to Widsten Handleri, which is a small grocery and which makes dishes to take away. A small granny holds the store and she prepares us burgers and a pizza. We settle down on the only table of the room. It is not bad. We are back at home around 4:45 pm.
Tuesday November 1st: up at 8:00 am. It is slightly covered this morning. At the end of our fjord, we stop at the footbridge of Bergsbotn. The clear view is very beautiful with its snowy mountains.
On the road, we make a stop because there are superb reflections in water.
We return then to Tungeneset to make locations for this evening in case there would be auroras. We take advantage of it to make again photos and we go up to the small lighthouse.
We return to see in Ersfjord then on a small road which turns out to be blocked a little further. There is a mine and it is forbidden to pass. We make some shopping before returning to the house around 3 pm. We make ourselves a small snack and we mould, as some would say! We make a stroll until the beach at the end of the house and we return by passing in the village. Then we prepare croque-messieurs for this evening. The conditions being good, we go to Tungeneset towards 9 pm. The auroras are at the appointment.
It is too beautiful! That lasts a long time, since we return to the house at 1:00 am.
Wednesday, November 2nd: up at 6:30 am. The weather is announced not bad, we have to take advantage of it. We continue our visits in the fjords of the West. Well, considering that we necessarily pass by the footbridge of Bergsbotn, we make a stop photos. We catch the road 86 to go to Sifjord. But we are still stopped during the road, this time because we see reindeers in a wood.
Too good! But they don't let themselves get too close. We do not advance very quickly in car. Must say that the landscape is very beautiful so we want to make unceasingly photos!
We gain altitude, so there is more snow.
We pass in front of a lake with magnificent reflections.
It is very quiet, we have the impression to be alone in the world. But no, reindeers are not far. Those seem to be wild: no collars nor marks.
Some last laces of road
and we arrive at Sifjord, named after the fjord and the village.
Then, we go along the coast, we pass in front of a waterfall, we pass in a tunnel. At the exit of this one, we are dazzled by the sun and the blue sky. We arrive at Flakkstadvag. Lost in the middle of nowhere, this village is very cute. Oriented South-West, it benefits from the sun all the day as soon as this one shows itself.
There is a small grocery store. We are going to see if we can get there hot drinks and something to nibble. It is held by another small granny (they work old people by here!) who does not speak a word of English and who does not know how to operate the coffee machine. Fortunately, she is helped by a young person (her grandson? we see him later at the wheel of a tractor giving hay to the sheep, it is necessary to be multitask at the end of the world!) We settle down with our coffees and teas on a table outside in the sun. It is 12°, it is very pleasant this sun which warms us. We make a small stroll in the village, from the beach to the church.
We leave this small paradise. Considering that there is only one road, we pass again to Sifjord at the hour of the sunset towards 14:30! No, we do not get used to it! Return to the house around 3:30 pm. Towards 18:00, some green appears in the sky. We take out the devices and we settle around the house - a blow in front of, a blow behind. That begins slowly with small pale green volutes.
Then that intensifies a little, the green becomes darker. We all go in front of the house because it is there that that occurs the most. My tripod does not go up high enough, I am obstructed by the barriers of the pontoon. I move away a little on the access road. Suddenly, the sky becomes green everywhere, spirals appear.
It starts to move, it moves very fast and the green becomes more and more intense, some pink appears.
I can hear my friends shouting their joy. I am there, alone, mouth full, hypnotized by this spectacle which gives me shivers and I am at the limit to have tears in my eyes. I just have a finger that moves to trigger photo poses from time to time, I get used to the noise of the triggers. I don't even know if the framing is always right. I want to see with my eyes what is happening in the sky. It's magical, grandiose.
It's an incredible sight. Then the intensity decreases but something happens on the other side of the house. Hop, we embark the tripods and we move. Green and pink trains make their show.
Wow! It goes through the whole sky.
It's crazy, this evening! Around 7:15 pm, there is a drop in activity. One has just lived one hour of madness. We are going to eat quickly while recovering from our emotions. Towards 9:00 pm, that starts again with incredible forms and colors.
They are everywhere, in front, behind, above the house and the lighthouse. We go back and forth around the house.
Around 10:30 pm, clouds make their appearance and transform the auroras into green "mush". We pack up the photo equipment. What a fantastic evening! By looking at the technical data of the auroras, we realize that it was KP7 on a scale which goes until KP9. To say that it was very strong and intense.
Thursday, November 3rd: up at 6:30 am. Today, we are going to visit the North of Senja but we have to make the detour by the East because the tunnel of the road 862 is closed. Usual stop now at the footbridge of Bergsbotn with small pink clouds of sunrise.
Then we take the road 86 towards the East. Some stops photos on the mountains which illuminate and on landscapes of any beauty.
A few kilometers on route 561
then on the road 862 and we arrive at Husoy around 12:00 am. It is a very small island hung to Senja by a pier.
The entrance is through the port.
We make a tour in the village and we go on foot until the lighthouse.
Well, no restaurant here either. But there is a grocery store. We enter there and oh... happiness!... young girls sell waffles and coffee to the profit of an association for the children reached of mental disorders. After this small snack, we turn back because, as often, Husoy is a dead end. We go to Fjordgard to finally not see much because it began to rain and the restaurant at the entrance of the village is closed. For once that there was one, it is not luck! On the road of the return, we assist to a magnificent sunset at 2:30 pm!
The sun being long to set, we have time to change place.
It's very beautiful. Return to the house at 4 pm. We pack our bags because tomorrow we return on Tromso. It was planned for Saturday but being nevertheless rather far from the airport and our plane being around 11:00 am, we said to ourselves that it would be better to get closer to avoid getting up too early and making the road in the dark. Georg, the owner, was great because he paid us back the day of Friday. We found a house in Tromso 10 minutes from the airport.
Friday, November 4th: up at 7:30 am. We say goodbye to Georg and to his Castle to the Crows.
We leave Senja, after a last stop at the footbridge of Bergsbotn.
Other stops follow along Route 86 to Finnsnes.
We catch the highway E6 and, around 1:30 pm, we make a pause in the restaurant Vollan Gjestestue in the city of Nordkjosbotn - burgers or pastas for the guys, salmon for the girls. It is not bad. We continue our way up towards Tromso with some stops photos along the Fjord Balsfjord.
We arrive at Tromso at nightfall around 4 pm. We join the house of rent and we settle down. Not a long time because we leave to try our luck on the side of the dawn. We go to the "pass" Kattfjordvatnet then to Grotfjord but it does not happen much.
Return to the location and dinner.
Saturday, November 5: up at 7:00 am. We leave at 9:00 am towards the airport. We return the keys of the car. We take back our plane with propellers directly on the tarmac and we take off at 11:50 am for Helsinki in Finland. We arrive at 3:10 pm. Having only one hour of stopover, we do not drag. But the boarding gate is not far, we have therefore the time to buy a sandwich that we eat standing in the line of boarding. We land in Paris at 6:10 pm. For once, our suitcases are the first to arrive... except the one of Stephane. He received a message in the plane warning him that it had not followed. We phone to Parkineo which comes to look for us and we recover our car. Return to the house 2h00 later.
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC