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davidx Svolvaer - A travel report by David
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Svolvaer,  Norway - flag Norway -  Nordland
14255 readers

davidx's travel reports

Svolvaer for 2 nights and onward trip

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In my report on our Norwegian Coastal Voyage to Kirkenes, we left the boat at Svolvaer on the return voyage. This is the account of our stay there and our return south to Ålesund by bus and rail. A separate report on Ålesund and area will come later.

Near the rorbu - late evening
Near the rorbu - late evening
We had two nights booked in a rorbu and took a cab from the boat. Reception was closed but new arrivals were received by the bistro attached to the rorbuer site. After admiring our rorbu we had a walk around whilst there was still enough light for photography and then repaired to the restaurant to eat. I suppose we virtually had to eat there that night but we had no hesitation about returning the next night as well. The area was based on a history of fishing and was still covered in huge racks with a multitude of cod laid out to dry. I can’t say it was a pretty sight but it didn’t put me off cods’ tongues as a starter – thank goodness. There was a long breakwater where a whale was almost always to be seen – so we heard. We didn’t see it, although there was a rat to be seen at the water’s edge if that seems like a consolation! Above us the great ‘Lofoten Wall’ started, a range of mountains running right down the islands to the spectacularly named town of Å, where we intended to go for the bus ride next day. In the immediate vicinity was the ‘Svolvaer Goat’, a rock outcrop with the requisite ‘horns’, great in the view but not big enough to be photogenic in that great range. This fantastic mountain display behind the old buildings of the fishing and whaling industries, with the sun starting to fall through the sky like a massive ball was awe inspiring. However I had made a sad mistake. I’d checked what day of the week we would be at each place and avoided being at Svolvaer for the whole day on a Sunday by arriving in the evening of Sunday, April 30. I failed to register how seriously Norway treats Labour Day. The buses were on Sunday service, which in these parts means NO service so we were stranded, not too painful in Svolvaer. We saw the Labour Day procession starting in Svolvaer and, most museums also being closed, we really explored Svolvaer and the technically separate island of Svinøya, where we were staying – excellent but still no whale.

Favourite spots:
Our rorbu
Our rorbu
We were fortunate, in that our favourite was the immediate area round our rorbu. Many rorbuer were built specifically for the tourist trade but this one was the genuine article, a hut previously used by fisherman during the season, or, to be precise, half such a hut. The rorbuer in total with the associated church, industrial buildings and warehouses comprised a sort of village, on a separate island but linked with the town of Svolvaer by a large bridge. A breakwater extended well into the sea past drying cod and to the other side was the end of the fabulous ‘Lofoten Wall’ of mountains. If the charm of the place itself was not enough for you, there was a small art gallery in one of the old industrial buildings and the Reception building was like a living museum of what the rorbuer and village had been like. In addition to all this, the restaurant is really great, a lovely old building with a limited menu of fabulous food. We never got past the fish!

What's really great:
As I only discovered the ‘Togbuss’ [train bus] from a website after an e-mail inquiry, I am giving it here - Click on Nordtrafikk Buss AS Avd. Lofoten. It is possible to go by closely co-ordinated transport from further south to Svolvaer [bus], across on the car ferry where we joined, to Fauske [2 buses], Trondheim [night train sleeper], Åndalsnes [2 trains] and Ålesund [bus]. For beauty, the only problem is what to pick! The journey by car ferry is peaceful and magnificent at the same time. The small bus up to join the Narvik to Bodø bus to Fauske is fun but the larger bus route, high up through the mountains with ice-bound lakes nearly always visible was a treat. Every time you wake and look out from the train you have a picture postcard view. As for the branch line to Ånndalsnes from Dømbas on the Oslo line, it competes on good terns with the better known Flåmsbahn to be considered the most scenic in Norway [what an accolade!]

How it was once.
How it was once.
Svinøya Rorbuer, Gunnar Bergsvei 2
Telephone: +47 760 69930
Rorbuer [singular – rorbu] are fishermen’s accommodation which were used by numerous people during the fishing season and are now used for tourism – or often places purpose built for tourism to look as though fishermen once used them. These rorbuer are the genuine article.
They are not particularly cheap compared with hotels but it seems a far more interesting form of accommodation when in Lofoten. Breakfast can be bought separately in the restaurant and stored in your fridge in the rorbu overnight and it is quite enough to provide a picnic lunch as well. Our only reservation was that we didn’t find a way of heating the bathroom. Eveything else was great and you could get a 4 person rorbu if you prefer. [Ours was for two.]
The owner was most helpful and did some local phoning for us.

A bit of cod?
A bit of cod?
The Børsen Spiseri is obtained on the web by going to the website under ‘Accommodation’ and clicking on ‘Restaurant’. You can look at the menu there if you really feel the call! All other contact details are the same.
It is a delightful building, originally a warehouse, on the very edge of the sea.
We didn’t progress beyond the fish on our two visits – nor did we want to. I particularly recommend the foul sounding cods’ tongues as a starter. This was a case of curiosity rewarded. They’re delicious.

Other recommendations:
Later in the season it is possible to get boat trips from Svolvaer to the stupendous Trollsfjord, which is closed to shipping in spring because of the acute danger of rock falls.
Except on days when a Sunday bus service operates, it’s possible to travel to Å and back in a day, though I’m sure it would be even better to make some other stops overnight further south.

Published on Thursday December 30th, 2004

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Thu, Jan 13 2005 - 08:49 AM rating by gloriajames

makes me want to visit norway! 5*

Sat, Jan 01 2005 - 03:53 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report and nicely written

Fri, Dec 31 2004 - 12:38 AM rating by fieryfox

Hi David, this is an excellent write up about Svolvaer and Norway. I certainly found it most interesting. Keep up the good work!
Cheers. Farizan.

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