Lofoten Islands – Norway
An Isolated Archipelago of Striking, Rugged Beauty
Nature is powerful in Norway, perhaps nowhere more so than in the Lofoten Islands, 123 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This 118-mile-long archipelago of small fishing communities set against a dramatic wall of towering snow-patched peaks – granite formations that date back several billion years – has drawn increasing numbers of mainlanders (and foreign artists) attracted to its seclusion, special light, bracing air, and unpolluted waters.
The traditional rorbu (fishing cottage) was traditionally built on the docks extending out over the water; today they are popular as rentals for their simplicity (and the insight into the local way of life).
This steep island-world is bathed in summer nights of eight-hour dusk, with the midnight sun shining from June until late July. Svolvaer (population 4,000), the main town for the islands, has a thriving summer art colony.
Ferries arrive here from mainland Bodø, where Edgar Allan Poe spent a number of years writing A Descent into the Maelstrom, describing the unique phenomenon of immense volumes of water flushed through deep, narrow gorges with the outgoing tide.
A maelstrom – the word, of Dutch origin, means “grinding stream” – is a furious, natural whirlpool (also known as a “kettle”) that creates a goose-bump-inducing howl. Before catching the ferry to the Lofoten, visit Saltstraumen Eddy on the mainland to see what mesmerized Poe.