“Tu es sûre que tu ne veux pas un gravol?”

“Non, non. Je n’ai pas le mal de mer.”

In translation, my mum offered me anti-seasickness pills and I refused under pretext that I do not experience something as lowly as seasickness. When the nausea hit, I was the only one to blame.

As the ferry left the tiny coastal towns and pulled out into open waters, my heart lurched into my throat. Appalling nausea left me breathless. It was clear that nothing in my complete city life had prepared me for this journey. My mum gave me a strange look as she saw my face go through diverse shades of I-might-be-sick-now. My cockiness at refusing the medicine turned into begging for 3 tablets. I shut my eyes and leaned my head on the motherly shoulder and lay there suckling at mandarin pulp, the only thing that seemed to keep the vomiting at bay. Diverting my attention on hard and sharp inhales/exhales, I managed to psychologically cover the noise of kids vomiting in paper bags.

Svolvaer Mountains
Diverting my attention on hard and sharp inhales/exhales, I managed to psychologically cover the noise of kids vomiting in paper bags.

After this beautiful image, let’s get on to the reason of our presence on this damn ferry. The trip had started some 12 days ago when my beautiful mother landed in London for the first time. After a bit of border control debacle that has no incidence with our story, we went on to doing what tourists do in London; London eye, pub food, all that. This was just the starting point. Our goal was the Lofoten Islands.

We flew into chic and modern Oslo where I spent days photographing its straight-lined architecture. We walked amongst the figures of Vigeland Park and captured their souls. We took breaks sipping coffees wrapped in blankets in the crisp November air.

The first leg of our train journey took us to Trondheim and then a second train departed towards Bodø where we exchanged our land travels for a fine and noble ferry.

Fog hanging on to mountains
It was November. The sun never rose higher than eye level. We remained constantly in the twilight zone.

Svolvær, our final destination, was a small town though the largest one of the Lofoten Islands. Out of season, the streets were dark and deserted. This was one of the reasons I had chosen Svolvær as our base for the next 5 days. During low-season, transport to the smaller towns of the Lofoten is scarce and most accommodation closes down as it is not worthwhile to keep them going. We found our little cottage at the end of a long street. We were tired after the day of travelling and the beds seemed royally comfortable. We slept deeply.

We rose the next morning to discover mountains imposing their presence through our bedroom window. They stood snowy and grey nearby. The fjord in our backyard was calm and the traditional red houses reflected in it like a mirror. It was November. The sun never rose higher than eye level. We remained constantly in the twilight zone. We took a bus to Kabelvåg for lunch and another day to Henningsvær for a coffee. The thin bridge linking the cities gave the illusion of riding on waters. Everywhere, mountains saw us staring up in awe. Their presence grounded the people of the Lofoten. The people were welcoming and quiet, like their islands.

Svolvaer Port
Every night, I watched the skies hoping for a glimpse of the green lights that announced the aurora borealis.

The sun set everyday in mid-afternoon. A lot of our day was spent in darkness. We didn’t mind. We ate hard-boiled eggs, buttered bread, cherry tomatoes, ham and cheese and chocolate cookies. We played cards and spoke of everything and nothing. Every night, I watched the skies hoping for a glimpse of the green lights that announced the aurora borealis. I listened to the forecast religiously, hoping for the perfect weather conditions. Even with all my preparation and hopes, when the skies did magically light up, I hardly believed it. Waking my mum in excitement, we watched the waves of lights above us, unable to explain the reality of the moment. The phenomenon stayed with me until morning when I woke and wondered if I had dreamed it. I hadn’t.

And then the rain started. Heavy rain and winds. The radio announced cancelled ferries and lots of indoor time. Our itinerary being tight-knitted, we decided on an earlier ferry as to not risk our train journey back. Our bags packed, we set off under grey skies but only light rain and hopped on the infamous ferry, which brings us back to me suckling on mandarin pulp. Stepping off the ride onto Bodø’s rainy shore, I took my mum’s hand tightly as we set off under an almost snowy rain towards a bed before our return to England.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it. Rudyard Kipling