North wind was supposed to be perfect for me, since I was going direction south. So much for the theory. Starting from Henningsvær this morning, the road, unfortunately, led north and I had the wind directly upfront. It had picked up speed and I had to pedall hard to master upwind AND uphill. It even got worse, when I had crossed over to Vestvagøy. Now the wind blew vigorously from the side, driving me across the street, so I had to hold on with all my strength to keep the bike upright and on the right lane. Ever so often, the front wheel would jerk upwards or swerve to the left. It felt like riding a bucking horse. Fortunately, the traffic was low, and most cars watching me struggle slowed down and passed in a wide berth.
I was cold, hungry – despite the quick lunch I had on an open field – and quite annoyed because I just had found out, that the café at the Viking museum, I had looked forward to very much, would not open before June 1st. Just then, in the middle of nowhere, a café came into view. Someone must have heard my curses and taken pity on me. Or simply: the trail provides. Café Gamle Skola, the building had once housed a school, now having been transformed into a cute, hyggelig sanctuary, welcomed me with warmth, food, and hot beverages. With a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a piece of a delicious homemade tiramisu cake, I snuggled up on an old fashioned sofa, savouring the warmth and washing away the cold and misery.
Invigorated and in a much better mood, I set out to tackle the next 16km to the Lofotr Viking museum at Borg. During excavations the remains of an ancient long house were discovered, the largest Viking building ever found. The 83m long house, seat of the local chieftain, had been recreated just a few feet away from the excavation site, its original outline still visible. Inside, the former layout had been reconstructed, exhibiting in detail how living quarters, stables and work space were all arranged under one roof. During the day, typical craftsmanships are demonstrated and Viking meals are cooked over an open fire. However, as I had spend unscheduled time at the café, I reached the museum with twenty minutes to spare before closing time. Nevertheless, I went in – at least for a reduced price – because I was curious about the long house. Unfortunately, I had been so late, all craft demonstrations and exhibits had already been stopped for the day. Quite a shame, as this probably would have been most interesting. Additionally, down at the fjord two reconstructed Viking ships were exhibited, a road leading down to the waterline. But the road was so exposed to the wind that I couldn’t get around the curve. I almost landed in the ditch instead, so I quickly relinquished this plan. It was rather time to find accomodation for the night.
Unstad campsite was closest, though located up north. I hesitated to go upwind but there was no real alternative. After cycling up two unexpected hills, I came out of the last tunnel and the secluded valley of Unstad opened up in front of me. Walled in by the mountains from three sides, the remaining side made up of a beautifully curved beach facing the ocean, and a handful of houses huddled in the middle, it looked quite magical.
I pulled up in front of the Unstad Arctic Surf Camp, the most northern surf school in the world. Back in the 1960s two young Lofoten fisherboys, working on ships around the world, discovered surfing in Australia and brought the idea back to their homeland. They had built their first boards with the help of the Beach Boys: their album Surfin’ Safari had just hit the charts – and sported a surf board on its cover, which served as their modell. The first ever (built) surf board of Norway can still be seen, as it is on display in the Camp’s lounge.
I had planned to camp but the tent field lay very exposed to the shore (yeah, I know I am a wimp). I enquired for a cabin and was shown a little cabin, which I could barely afford. The “love shack” was cute and really tiny, the double bed just fitting in. It looked so cosy and inviting, and, above all, I would be happy with anything to keep me out of the wind. However, as the key could not be found, and some other issues arose, yet again I’ve been in luck for an upgrade. I Moves in to the next cabin, which was hardly any bigger than the first one but really fancy and gorgeously furnished. Well, if the small cabin had been the “love shack”, I’d definitely call this the “honeymoon suite”.
To top everything else, I had been in for another treat. Camp owner Marion, whose father was one of the two men, who originally introduced surfing to the Lofoten, had prepared a seven course dinner for some other guests, and I had been invited to join in. I hardly knew myself, as dish after dish was being served, one more exquisite than the other. What a blessing after this awful day! I ended the day warm, dry, with a full stomach and light heart – and head after digesting the feast with two Linie Aquavit. I was surfing on a cranking wave of bliss! Truly epic!