Next day presented itself with clear sky but considerably colder. After cyclin tg over 100km the day before, I wanted to take it easy. The traffic had picked up considerably, though, so cycling did not prove as comfortable as up in the north. Cars, caravans, busses were rushing past me, and I had to keep strictly to the right side of the narrow E10, the main traffic artery through the Lofoten. Fortunately, the climbs stayed moderate, and apart from some exceptions, car drivers were exceptionally considerate.
First on my list was Svolvær, the Lofoten capital where about half of the 10,000 of the archipelago’s inhabitants reside. But as the town did not quite appeal to me, in truth, I found it a quite ugly, I just hopped into the shopping mall to do my groceries. There I bumped into the camp owner of previous night, who was on his usual Saturday outing with his wife.
I did my shopping and fled, heading to Kabelvåg, which just lay 4km away and was supposed to be an authentic fishing village. On the upside, the traffic had subsided beyond Svolvær, making the journey onwards much more pleasant. Everyone, it seemed, had went for Svolvær to spend the Saturday in the “city”. Kabelvåg is the oldest fishing village on the Lofoten, and had once been the biggest town before being outstripped by Svolvær. The cod fishery and stockfish production has had its origins at Kabelvåg, with its market place being the biggest along the coast. It still is quite charming, with many colourful, wooden houses, quiet streets and an old, lovely harbour. However, as everyone with two legs and a 4×4 seemed to have gone to Svolvær, the place seemed deserted and a tad depressing. I found a nice café at the market square, which, given its lack in life, looked folorn and run down. Yet, the café had a wind protected sun terrace, and I decided to take a break. The restaurant turned out to be quite nice, and in hindsight I should have had lunch here. Why I had opted for a bad, overpriced grilled sandwich at Svolvær’s mall stays a mystery to me, but this left me to choose tea and cheese cake instead.
Next in line was Henningsvær, for which I had to turn off the E10, followng a very curvy and hilly single-track road around ragged cliffs and archipels. Henningsvær itself is spread out on several small islands, which are connected by short but steep bridges. Stop lights coordinate the traffic, allowing only one side to cross at a time. However, the traffic lights do not consider a cyclist’s slower pace. When starting out at green, I still ended up meeting the upcoming traffic in the middle of the bridge. In the end, I ignored the lights and just ascended. At one point of my crossing I would be going with the correct flow after all.
After my slight disappointment in Svolvær and Kabelvåg, Henningsvær turned out to be treat. It’s a charming old fishing village, which preserved its original environment. The traditional architecture of the quayside buildings, warehouses and the rorbu cabins – stilt houses which served as accomodation for the fishermen – is still prominent and gives the village an authentic touch. Cod fishery and stockfish production is still eminent at Henningsvær, the village’s outskirts are lined with the monumental fish racks, on which the cod is hung up to dry.
Additionally, a vibrant art scene has developed in Henningsvær. The former caviar factory is now housing an art gallery, and throughout town one can witness some fine street art.
Originally, I had planned on camping a bit further north, but spontaneously decided to spend the night in Henningsvær instead. I got lucky and found the last, reasonably priced room available online. It turned out that the room had actually already been taken. Thus, I was upgraded to an appartment in a rorbuer. Blessed with luck again. I rounded up the evening with a stroll through the village and delicious bacalao, the Spanish variant of the Norwegian stockfish.