The sun finally rose at 10:53am, slowly lighting our surroundings and turning the sky into a kaleidoscope of colours. We were staying in an apartment right at the end of a jetty so the view from the many windows was incredible. It’s not every day you can prep breakfast whilst waving at a little sail boat gliding along the pink waters. We had a free day to explore the area so we put on our snow boots, stepped out the door and were smacked in the face by a wall of coldness. Our first challenge was walking along the ice rink, otherwise known as the main road. It was a very slow walk with me doing the awkward ice shuffle whilst stopping every few seconds to take photos. We passed the one village shop and the tiny ‘marina’ with about 6 lonely boats moored up. A quiet road led us past a handful of beautiful houses which were all detached, with gardens and quite a few had sweet little wendy houses. I couldn’t help but be nosey and look into each house as they all looked so warm and cozy…just to clarify I was just looking from the roadside, not flattening my face against every window. I’m not a total creep.
In less than half a kilometre we saw islands, mountains, traditional red farmhouses, ponds, horses and not a single person. We ended up veering away from the village though, and headed off on a walk up to a rocky outcrop. We reached a beautiful viewpoint where the sky was glowing orange from the low sun, mountains were silhouetted, and islands were dotted in the sea. Suddenly the sun poked out from behind a hill, right before my eyes! I was so excited as I hadn’t expected to see the sun for our first few weeks here. We continued uphill but somehow we lost the trail, which wasn’t much of a trail as we were just following one persons footprints in the snow. We ended up going well off piste up a sort of gorge where the sun beamed in and made it all turn orange. After a bit of bush-whacking we soon found the normal path and a picnic bench atop the mountain. We sat down and cracked open our brand new flask, ready to receive a face full of steam from the hot coffee we’d made just a couple hours before. Much to our disappointment it was stone cold and I almost spat it right back out, a bit like when you drink a tea without realising you’ve let it sit for hours and you instantly regret putting it in your mouth. Cold coffee aside, the view was amazing! There were islands everywhere and in the distance were the jagged peaks of the Lofoten Islands. To our right were the colossal mountains surrounding the village, the tips were turning red as the sun set, and that was our queue to head back to our cozy apartment and warm up.
The next day we began our volunteering work and headed out on a morning stroll to base camp, aka the old school. It’s a huge building and in the basement is over 10 rooms which we are painting. Once that’s done, over 40 shelving units are to be erected and the piles of tools, electricals, fishing gear etc are to be organised into each of the rooms. The building isn’t much warmer than outside so we stay in the clothes that we walk to work in…bit odd wearing a balaclava inside but with our cold coffee flask we have little to keep us warm. We’re enjoying the projects though and grateful that we’re not working outside in the wind. Also we’re very lucky to have really friendly hosts who let us pick and choose the hours and days we work so we can work longer days and have 3 days off a week. Generally with volunteering we work 25 hours a week in return for accommodation and food.
The walk to work is lovely and usually a great way to see the sunrise and sunset, which seem to blend into one another up here in the arctic. Even when it’s a gloomy, cloudy day, the scenery still looks dramatic. Clouds swoop past the mountains and waves crash towards the red huts built precariously close to the sea. We are still yet to see the northern lights which was the main reason we came to the arctic in winter. A week has gone by and no sign of them so we’re really glad we have two months here and are in no rush to see them. But sooner rather than later please Mother Nature…