Andøya, an island hundreds of kilometres north of the polar circle. It´s part of the Vesterålen, a group of islands belonging to Norway. At the beginning of March 2015, this island was the destination of one of my journeys.
“Conditions can change in only a few minutes far north and the Arctic Sea is pushing heavy winds and storms against the coastline. That’s why you have to be well prepared and cautious. Otherwise you will find yourself alone in a freezing blizzard with no sight and orientation”
The preparations for this trip included weather and travel researches as well as shopping for suitable clothes like warm undies and a stormproof jacket. The coasts of Andøya are located near the Gulf Stream, that’s why it’s not getting colder than in Berlin or Hamburg by this time of year, but weather conditions are still quite different. Conditions can change in only a few minutes far north and the Arctic Sea is pushing heavy winds and storms against the coastline. That’s why you have to be well prepared and cautious. Otherwise you will find yourself alone in a freezing blizzard with no sight and orientation.
I started my journey in Hamburg and flew with Norwegian airlines to Oslo and from there to the airport Harstad/Narvik. About two hours in the air, around four hours travelling time. From the airport Harstad/Narvik it’s about two hours by coach to Sortland, one of the bigger cities of the Vesterålen. Having arrived there, I was picked up by car by one of my hosts – that was my last one hour ride ahead. I stayed with a German couple and their 15 huskies at the south end of the island.
With arriving in the middle of the night, I had no chance of catching a good view of my surroundings. When it’s dark up there, it’s really dark. Unless the moon is nearby or the northern lights are flickering in the sky. I woke up to the sound of 15 huskies barking and howling, a sound accompanying me throughout the whole week. And yes, it’s kinda cute at the beginning, but somehow annoying at the end.
Dressed up and outside the house I was able to take a first look at the landscapes. Mountains behind me, a tail of the sea and more mountains in front of me. I only knew pictures like that from books and the television, but having them right in front of you is simply amazing and hauntingly beautiful.
Mountains raising straight from the sea. Grey, sharp and like immovable forces. The cold and unforgiving depths of the Arctic Sea, pushing it’s waves merciless against the mountains. The never-ending battle of two giants.
Amazing landscapes, unpredictable weather and an odd isolation. I spent my days adventuring and exploring the island. Andenes is the island’s biggest town and has a long tradition in fishing and whaling. Most of the industry is gone by now, a nearby military base is now the biggest workplace in the area. I went to Andenes by bus and took part in a whale watching tour. The guide was a guy from my birthplace in Germany, quite a funny coincidence. He gave interesting facts about whales, dolphins and the marine environment. We left the harbor in a small ship and were able to see a small group of male sperm whales. They are so incredible and beautiful animals. I encourage you to read more about whales and how to protect them.
At the second last day, I was able to catch some northern lights, flickering above the water and the mountains. I often felt like Walter Mitty or Bilbo Baggins. An adventurer with no clue, but with a mind full of new expressions and a renewed love for the beauty of nature.