I got talking to Gair this morning and he showed me some of his photos. They’re great. He teaches photography and concentrates on it in the wintertime when the Sjohuscamp is quiet. I was telling him that I was planning on going to Leknes and he advised me to go to Henningsvaer instead as Leknes is what everybody calls “Cowboy Town”, like in the Wild West films. It only has one main street and there isn’t much to it, compared to Henningsvaer.
I knew I would have difficulty getting places without a car but I was determined to do my best with the buses and was hoping that the weather would clear up a bit in Henningsvaer. It was snowing here again. It would take about an hour to get there, 45 minutes if the driver put his foot down! So I got the 12.25pm bus and was glad that I decided to go in the end because the scenery between Kabelvag and Henningsvaer was stunning. For part of the journey, it snowed like a trooper but just before we got there, it really cleared up. We turned off the E10 and the landscape changed from large and looming, snowclad mountains to rugged coastal views. The road hugged the coast tightly and it was like being in the middle of nowhere. Henningsvaer is on a promonotory jutting out into the sea. There were two bridges that we had to cross and on the second one, we were washed by the strong spray being thrown across the bridge. The wind was up to its normal tricks again and making its presence felt. The clouds in the distance were a mixture of colours from white through to all the shades of grey you could think of and they looked like they were going to spill their guts any minute.
I wanted to see the Engelskmannsbrygga (Englishman’s Wharf) Gallery, where they have a lot of ceramics and pottery on display. It provides homes and workshops for three arts and crafts businesses: Glasshytta Henningsvaer AS, the potter Cecilie Haaland and Tringa AS (photographer John Stenersen). All three would have been really interesting for me, as I have a big interest in arts and crafts. It said in the guidebooks that this building was on the main square in Henningsvaer but I couldn’t see any building with this name on it. There was one with a lot of scaffolding outside it and when I asked in the Brygge Hotel about it, the receptionist there said that yes, that was the building of the Engelskmannbrygga Gallery and it was closed for renovation. Just bloody typical! I was peeed off, to say the least because I was really looking forward to seeing it. It’s normally open during this time of the year, because I checked before I came here. But I guess it was a good sign that they were renovating it. Always good to hear that things are being improved.
I decided to walk further up the street towards the pier and stopped in this tiny little shop with an Open sign on the door. So I went in and it was a shop selling local food products and had 2 tables where you could sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee. There was a woman working there and she said that she had been living there all her life and loved it there. We were talking about Henningsvaer and the Northern Lights. I love talking to the locals because you get a real feel of what the place is like and how its changing.
I came back down towards the start of the town near the open water and found a small cafe open by the Brygge Hotel. This sold all sorts of ornaments and things for the house. They also served tea and coffee and a salad bar that you could help yourself to, for 100 NOK. Well it was the most delicious salad I have ever tasted. There was a combination of lettuce, onions, ham, cheese, pineapple, grated carrots, feta cheese, nuts and seeds, sour cream and fresh bread. There was a group of people who had come in the same time as me: 3 men and 2 boys. They were sitting at a table in front of me. I asked them where they were from and the said they were from the south of Norway, about 100km from the Danish border. They were just in Lofoten for the weekend, exploring. They were very friendly and I enjoyed the conversation we had.
The weather had brightened up even more by this stage and I walked around taking a few photos. I would love to see the town at night. It looks beautiful in postcards. My bus though was at 15.40pm and by the time I got back to Svolvaer, t was snowing heavily again and damn cold. So I headed back to the Sjohuscamp. There was a group of students who had just arrived. They are architecture students based in Norway who were doing some projects in the area. They were from France, Portugal and Norway, a mixture of guys and girls and fairly young too. Well young, meaning early 20’s. That’s young to me.
Around 7pm I walked over to Svinoya. Johanna said she would be working that night at 6pm, so I said I’d drop in to say hello before I went to dinner. The bar of the Borsen Spiseri restaurant is small but a lovely place to have a drink before or after dinner. There was a couple sitting there when I went in and the television was on low. In between serving people Johanna and I were chatting. She brought me a little starter of Norwegian flatbread, which is wafer thin bread, with black olives and sundried tomatoes and something like mayonnaise, which you spread on the bread.
Once I’d finished that, she said she’d asked the kitchen to cook a thin slice of fried, battered cod. That was served on a bed of oiled and vinagered lettuce. It was a small portion but it was enough to take the pangs of hunger away and it was very good of her to do that and she didn’t charge me for them. I had found out by this stage, that the Winter Safari boat trip had been cancelled because of the bad weather, unfortunately. They said to me though that if I wanted to see the Gunnar Berg Gallery nearby, I could see it between 10 and 12pm the next day. So I had planned on doing that. But then Johanna told me that she was going to a dance workshop the next day and she asked me if I wanted to join. It was swing dancing and she said that if I could pick up steps fairly quickly that I should do ok. I said that should be no problem. I had danced before and taken other dance classes in the past so I knew I’d be fine. There was a fee but she didn’t know how much it cost. It was supposed to start at 9.30am, at the local school. So I said yes, why not?
I headed back into town and wanted to try the Chinese restaurant: Ni Hao, which wasn’t mentioned in any of the guidebooks that I had. It was right beside Magic Ice, the Ice gallery and bar. The restaurant was quite spacious, with a few Chinese wall hangings, bright, with a pleasant atmosphere. The menu ranged in price from 145 NOK to 270 NOK for main courses, with a mixture of dishes from chicken and beef curries to sweet and sour crispy beef, duck and quite a few fish dishes. It also had a kids menu. There were 6 people in there and two waiters. I ordered the crispy sliced sirloin, with onions and vegetables and a sweet and sour sauce. I also had a very nice glass of white wine from Hungary. The meal was very good, well cooked and a big portion. The service was very friendly and efficient too. The total came to 279 NOK and I said that I’d definitely go back there again. www.ni-hao.no
After here, I ventured into Magic Ice, the Ice gallery and ice bar. It’s only opened fairly recently and accommodates the tourists getting off the Hurtigruten cruise ships practically next door to it. It’s open from 6pm till 10pm every day. I’d heard that it was a good bar to go to, with the ice sculptures and a bar inside. So I got there and you pay 95 NOK to get in. Of course the Hurtigruten voyagers get free entrance, as I found out later in the week, when I got talking to a Dutch couple who had just gotten off the Hurtigruten earlier. The sculptures are well done, all with the sea/fishing theme. In the centre is a big sculpture of 2 fishermen in a rowing boat. It was very distinguishable and there were other small sculptures such as penguins, seals, a polar bear, eagles, a big crab and a troll. It’s quite a large gallery with a few seats covered in skins, so if you want to sit down, your butt doesn’t stick to the seat! You definitely need your jacket and gloves on, as it’s below freezing in there. Even though I was the only one there, I had to have a drink. So I had a sambuca for 85 NOK and it was served in an ice glass. I’m sure it must be pretty lively in the summer. www.magic-ice.no
As I was leaving at 10pm, the Hurtigruten had just docked and the people looked like ants spilling out onto the dock from the guts of the ship. I went over to the Anker Brygge for a short while because there was a good band playing. But I wanted to get up early for the dancing in the morning, so I headed back after about half an hour. I kept a keen eye on the sky because it was clear and was hoping to see some sign of the Northern Lights but “not tonight Josephine”!