A Norwegian Cruise 11

Part 11: 8th Port of Call, Leknes, Nordland, District Lofoten, Municipality Vestvågøy, Norway

There we were, after a day and a half at sea, we had arrived in the Lofoten archipelago, well inside the Artic Circle.

The Silver Whisper docked at Leknes Havn, the cruise pier in Leknes

My husband hadn’t been feeling very well for a couple of days, so I wanted to go to a pharmacy for some meds for him, but I missed the bus into town by a whisker because it took me forever to climb down the steep and wet gangway stairs.

I asked the harbour master, if she could call a taxi for me which she very kindly did. It was funny to follow her phone conversation with the cab dispatcher who, it seemed, had never heard of Leknes Havn, as she had to repeat “havn”, the word for harbour, several times. I was tempted to shout, you know, where all the ships are, and we laughed about that after her call. We talked a bit while I waited for the cab, taking shelter in her office because it had started to rain again. I told her that I needed to go to a pharmacy – I remembered apotek from Ålesund – and when the cab arrived, she went over to it and instructed the driver exactly where to go, and to wait for me, and to bring me back to the harbour. The cab driver spoke English well, and I learned a lot about him growing up on his mom’s sheep farm outside of town and how much he liked to live peacefully in Leknes again after many years abroad. When I mentioned the dark days of winter to him, he just laughed it off. Only a few days, he said, no big deal. One stays home by the fire and reads a book.

Fortunately, everybody was feeling well again by afternoon, so we could proceed with our great adventure, a helicopter tour over the archipelago! This was our big splurge to make up for a couple of excursions we had to cancel owing to my stupid fall in the UK.

Our Whirlybird 🚁…
… and her pilot 👨‍✈️

The description of the tour said it was an 1h1/4 excursion which was a smidgen misleading because the clock started ticking with the transfer to the Leknes lufthavn LKN, then there were instructions by the pilot, of course, and a delay for refuelling. Ultimately, the actual air-time turned out to be only 25 minutes. Twenty-five fantastic and exciting minutes! Without a doubt, the helicopter tour was one of the highlights of our cruise – it was just too darn short!!!

When you look at the pictures, please know that I didn’t correct for a straight horizon or other viewing angles. This is how I snapped it. Also keep in mind that distortions and reflections owing to curved and partially tinted windows were unavoidable. Most of the time I was just looking and absorbing, not snapping pics anyway 😎

Near the right edge of the picture, one can see a bunch of “match sticks”, most of them carefully lined up. Those are fiskehjeller, drying racks to make tørrfisken, stockfish. We saw those drying racks all over the coastal North. Air drying fish, mostly cod, but also pollock and a few other species, is an ancient tradition that has been practiced throughout the Nordic countries since well before the Viking Age. It’s the least expensive way to preserve fish, because the fishing families can gut and hang the fish themselves and the sun and wind will do all the drying work. The dried product is lightweight and needs no further treatment for shipping. Fresh fish has a very short shelf-life, while stockfish can be stored longterm, providing protein year round. While in Norway, we also learned the difference between klippfisk (clip fish) and tørrfisk (stockfish). Do you know it? * 🤔 Before I tell you, let’s fly around a little more, shall we?

Snow fencing to protect the village down below at the foot of the mountain

Looking toward the open ocean

Nearly back on earth

What a treat!

* To answer my earlier fishy question, there are three types of preserved cod, or white fish in general:

A. Tørrfisk – stockfish -> air-dried cod or other white fish

B. Saltfisk – salt fish -> salt-cured cod or other white fish

C. Klippfisk – clip fish -> cod or other white fish, first salt-cured, then air-dried

Many, many years ago, in the mid 1970s, I spent a little time in a marine laboratory facility in Split, then Yugoslavia, now Croatia. For our farewell dinner we were served a dish made from reconstituted bakalar, salt-cured cod. Hands down the worst meal I ever had, because they didn’t rinse the fish properly, I suppose. Salt fish can have around 20% of salt content – and when you’re guests of honour, you got to swallow and grin…

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