After sailing for 17 hours from Tromsø, I was exhausted, when I finally reached Lofoten Islands. I got off the ferry in Svolvær, the biggest town on Lofoten with just 8.000 inhabitants. I arrived at 6.30 PM on April 22nd and set out to find a spot for my tent straight away. I ended up walking to the end of the town without finding any good spot and since I couldn’t just set up my tent in someones garden or on the street, I decided to go back to the ferry and ask for help to find a cheap hostel. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a cheap hostel as everything nearby cost 700+ NOK, and I wasn’t going to pay that, so I decided to put on my heavy rugsack and walk through Svolvær, over the bridge to the island of Svinøya, where I finally found a great spot near the ocean. There was no one else around, only a few houses and a factory were close by. Putting my tent up went easily, thanks to my cousin Camilla, who had helped me figure it out back home in Denmark, so I was able to get everything inside before it started to rain!
So there I was, all alone in my tent, surrounded by the ocean and falling asleep to the beautiful songs of the birds. I must admit that I felt a bit lonely in the tent, as it had been such a stressful evening and this was the first time that I had absolutely no idea what to do and where to go, but it quickly passed and I fell asleep with a knife in my hand, since I am constantly paranoid, haha. I woke up a few times during the night because of the rain and wind, but thankfully, my tent proved that it could keep me somewhat dry in Norway (just not in Faroes… read here), although my rugsack did get a bit damp from the side of the tent.
The next day, I woke up to a nightmare. I could see the snow falling down on the tent, and I just couldn’t get myself to get up and get going. I wanted to wait until the snow stopped falling, but since it never did, I finally got up at 11:45 AM, opened the tent and looked out to a white world. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The day before, everything had been completely snow-free apart from the mountain tops, so I was shocked to see that everything – and I mean everything! – had been completely covered during the night. I wanted to pack up my stuff and the tent as quickly as possible, but I was freezing and after a while, I couldn’t feel my fingers as I tried to pull the pegs out of the ground. Eventually, I managed to get everything in my rugsack and I started the walk back to the center of Svolvær, where I would try to figure out what to do next.
Since the few clothes that I had with me were now very cold and damp from the night and I felt really cold and just couldn’t seem to warm up, I decided to only use the tent in good weather from now on, so I wouldn’t have to experience this nightmare again. Just then, I really felt like giving up and just going home, but I decided to find a cheap hostel for the night and then see how I felt in the morning.
This was the first time since I left Denmark that I had been considering going back home, but I later realized that this experience only made me stronger and one good story richer and looking back, I am really glad that I didn’t give up.
With help from a nice lady at the tourist office in Svolvær, I found a cheap hostel for just 240 NOK per night in the small fishing village of Ballstad, which is located about 1,5 hours drive from Svolvær. It was time to leave Svolvær and the crazy weather behind and head south in Lofoten, where I was hoping for at least a few days of sunny weather, so I could go hiking, which was my main reason for coming to Lofoten in the first place.
I paid 120 NOK for the bus, which took me through huge parts of Lofoten and the sights only got more beautiful the closer I got to Ballstad. Eventually, the snow disappeared as the bus took me further south and I was beginning to understand why Lofoten is so famous for its beauty. It really is a stunning place – in fact, it’s one of my favourite places in the world along with Faroe Islands and the Westfjords in Iceland – and the magnificent fjords, the tall mountains and the thousands of islands scattered everywhere never fail to amaze me.
I got to Ballstad at about 3 PM and walked to Lofoten Vandrehjem Ballstad, where I would be staying for the night. This is a place that I can definitely recommend staying at! The location is amazing and the staff is so friendly and made me feel really welcome. In fact, they even made me stay for another three nights because of their friendliness!
When I arrived at the hostel, I was told that the dorms were full, so I got a private cabin instead for the same price, which I really didn’t mind, as I was cold and felt rather disgusting after the night in the tent. I had a shower, washed my clothes and then went back to the main building, where there was an art exhibition. The cook, Eran from Israel, made me try some sushi, which I really didn’t enjoy haha… Sorry Eran 😉
The next day, I woke up early and was actually ready to check out from the hostel at 12 AM, but since my clothes were still wet and the weather was bad, I decided to stay for another night and moved to a dorm next to my cabin, where Isabelle, who was a part of the art exhibition, was also staying. For the rest of the day, I really didn’t do much, as the weather only got worse, so I just spent the day in the main area using the free wifi to plan the next couple of weeks of my journey and learning Hebrew with help from Eran. In the evening, I was invited to a dinner by Yngvar, the hostel owner, and I joined him, Isabelle, and his two friends from Oslo, Espen and Erling. Later on, Clara from Kentucky also joined us and we ended up having a great time and getting a bit drunk. I felt really happy to have been invited to the dinner and to get the opportunity to get to know these great people and Yngvar even offered me a job as a washer-upper, so I could stay at the hostel for free for as long as I wanted. I decided to change my plans for Sweden and stay in Ballstad for another two nights. During the dinner, more people came by and I met Yngvars good friend, Tore Coughlin, who is a well-known model agent in Norway. He told me that I should become a face model, which I was absolutely stoked about – and I have decided to try it out!
The next day, Eran, Espen, Clara, Isabelle and I had decided to go hiking on the mountain behind the hostel, so we got up early and enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet in Espens and Erlings cabin, before heading off to the mountain. The hike was quite easy to begin with, with steps leading the way and lots of branches to hold onto, but it soon got much harder, so Isabelle, Clara and Espen decided to stop halfway as Eran and I continued to the top.
The view from the mountain was spectacular! I have honestly never seen anything like it and the pictures really don’t do it justice. It was a lovely day for the hike as well, as the sky was clear and the sun was shining, so everything about it was just perfect. Eventually, Eran and I got to the top, where we found a guest book and wrote our names and the date, and then Eran decided to continue the hike to another mountain in order to take a special picture for Tore, as he wanted to paint the mountain from a certain angle. I decided to wait for him, as I was too exhausted to go any further. But there was snow on the top of the mountain, so I got really really cold while waiting for him. While I was waiting, I met a nice couple from Czech Republic, who I later found out were staying at the same hostel as me!
When Eran finally came back after what seemed like two hours, we walked down the mountain and I got so much snow in my shoes, under my feet, so I thought that my feet would never feel warmth again. Also, I’m absolutely terrible at walking down mountains, so Eran had to hold me half the way, haha! We got back to the hostel at 3.30 PM and I went to get ready for the evening’s party and then helped clean the dishes while Eran made the food for the party.
Espen and Erling had invited everyone to join them that evening and had bought loads (!) of alcohol, and everything was free, so I just let myself loose. The couple that I had met on the mountain also joined us and we had a really fun time! The party continued to 3.30 AM and then Isabelle, Clara and I decided to join Espen and Erling for the afterparty in their cabin, which ended in a movie and going to bed at about 8 AM.
I woke up the next day at 12 AM, got ready and then went to work for some hours at the Sunday dinner. In the evening, Eran and I were invited to Tore’s house for dinner with two Polish guys as well. It was great to get to know Tore and his cute (and famous) dogs better and he was telling us all about the modelling world and his very inspiring life. It was a great evening and a perfect way to end my Lofoten adventure!
Even though things were tough in the beginning, Lofoten has been really good to me and it’s been an incredible experience that I will never forget. I am so glad that I decided to stay at the hostel and it is really lovely having such great friends all over the world. I feel very lucky!
I proved to myself that I can get out of a sticky situation and actually make something good come from it. I feel like I’m more capable of surviving in the wild by myself now. I don’t know what exactly, but something changed me during my stay in Lofoten.
I left Ballstad at 11.55 AM Monday morning and started a two-day journey to my next adventure: Båtsuoj Samecenter in Sweden!