Glimmering glaciers, Midnight sun and agonising war stories

The road trip in our camper van along the Helgelandskysten which follows the Norwegian Coast from Holm to Godøystraumen was truly spectacular.

Such spectacular scenery!
Amazing mountains
I couldn’t stop taking photos

The longest of the 18 Norwegian national Scenic Routes, the 433 kilometre journey took us through such breathtaking scenery that at times we felt as though we were on a movie set.

We loved this view
More spectacular scenery

The fact that this route includes taking six ferries was – for us two old salts – a particular draw although we ended up only taking four of these as we started the route further north, at Trondheim.

We really enjoyed all the ferry crossings
Getting on the ferry
There were some amazing views from the ferries

The second of these ferry trips – from Jektvik to Kilboghamn – we crossed the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees northern latitude (see my last blog “Crossing the Arctic Circle by boat”.)

The Arctic Circle marker

There were some real “wow factor” moments along the way including seeing Svartisen – Northern Norway‘s largest glacier (and the country’s second biggest).

Svartisen – Northern Norway‘s largest glacier

The sight of this 400 square kilometres glacier was breathtaking. Even under the dull skies that day this massive natural wonder glowed in a profusion of colour shades and tones – marvellous whites, turquoises, blues and even greens.

Svartisen – Northern Norway‘s largest glacier

The maximum thickness of Svartisen is an awesome 600 metres and it moves up to two metres in 24 Hours. In one section the glacial mass plunges from a height of 1200 metres. Unfortunately my iPhone photos just don’t capture this wonderful phenomenon in all its magnificence but you will have to take my word for it, seeing it was a fantastic experience!

Svartisen – Northern Norway‘s largest glacier

The route took us through many tunnels – one of them eight kilometres long which was followed after only a few hundred metres, by two additional two-kilometre tunnels!

The interior of one of many tunnels cut through the mountains

Considering it was summer, driving through the mountain tunnels was quite chilly. Some of them had unclad walls of which meant that they looked and smelt like caves.

Some of the tunnels were unclad and looked like caves

We spent a beautiful night just outside Bodo – a small town about 40 km beyond the end of the Helgelandskysten. We parked on the side of a fjord with a gorgeous view.

A million dollar view

Because of the Midnight Sun, we enjoyed the view late into the night. Up in the Arctic Circle it never really got completely dark – there was a kind of twilight around midnight but in the very early hours it was completely light again. This played havoc with our body clocks for a few days but we had good blinds for our windows and of course we soon became used to constant light.

Almost midnight and it was still dusk
Even on a cloudy night it was still light all night
Taken at almost midnight

Bodø wasn’t especially interesting architecturally but we found out that most of the town was destroyed during a Luftwaffe attack on 27 May 1940. The main town was rebuilt after the War and was finally completed in 1959 with the building of a new town hall.

Six thousand people were living in Bodø, and 3500 people lost their homes in the bombing. Miraculously only 15 people lost their lives (including two British soldiers).

The port at Bodø

After the attack the Swedish Government stepped in and helped build 107 apartments in the winter of 1941. These houses were built tightly together just outside the town. This small area, today in the heart of Bodø, is still called Svenskebyen (“the Swedish Town”).

The town of Bodø

From Bodo we pushed on northwards heading for the port town of Narvik. The town first came to prominence in the 1890’s because it had a large ice-free natural harbour which was suitable for exporting iron from Swedish mines. Today the port is still used for this purpose and around 25 million tons of iron ore is shipped from there every year.

Central Narvik

We enjoyed our stop here and were impressed with its very fine war museum. Previously we knew very little about how badly Norway, who had remained neutral, had suffered during the German occupation in WWII.

The fantastic War museum in Narvik

The museum tells many agonising stories of WWII in North Norway and the dramatic fight for Narvik in 1940. We were particularly impressed with the section that is devoted to universal questions relating to war and human rights.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Glimmering glaciers, Midnight sun and agonising war stories”

  1. What beautiful sights you have captured in your photos, Dot – especially the glacier. And the midnight sun! Travelling by road must be a wonderful way to see so much of a country like Norway with its widely scattered communities and remote villages. An amazing trip!


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