We are well above the Arctic Circle at Andenes on our way to Senja, Norway’s second largest island. We are waiting for a ferry that will take us across from the mainland – a 1hr 45 min trip. Our latitude here is 66.19 degrees. That’s almost 3 degrees above the Arctic Circle. Each degree is approximately 111 kms, so that puts us around 350 kms North of the Arctic Circle.
It’s been raining all day, apart from one or two very short breaks. It’s a bit dismal driving in the rain with the visibility being so low. However, some of the waterfalls were very impressive, and you would expect them to be after two days of rain! All of the mountainsides were covered in thin ribbons of white water.
We didn’t have many photo stops today and we were early to getting to Andenes. We were first in line for the ferry but if we had missed this one at 5 pm we would have had to stay at the local hotel. This is the last ferry of the day.
Andenes, on a small peninsula, was an important fishing village during the Iron Age. By the early 1900s, it had become one of the largest fishing ports in Norway. A fishing fleet still operates out of here but as the Lonely Planet says, ‘it has a distinct end of the road feeling’. It is a very popular place for whale watching.
Andøya Air Station is located nearby and gives the town a distinct military feel. 333 Squadron of the Norwegian Air Force is based here with P-3C Orions. The squadron is Norway’s only surveillance squadron and stands as the airborne defence of northern Norway. Andøya Air Station is designed to handle fighters should it become necessary, The primary function of the six Orion aircraft is surveillance, mostly in the north and for both military and civilian operations. The planes are also the only aircraft that can provide assistance to stricken ships far from land. The aircraft frequently cooperate with the Norwegian Coast Guard.
As we traveled North today, the country side was clearly getting more remote. The were large areas of spongy moss rather than grass and the ground looked like peat. The birch trees were much smaller than those in the South. In some places, the surroundings looked very similar to the Scottish Highlands or South Western Tasmania. The road, while still made, was not in as good a condition as others further south. It was more narrow and less smooth.
The are a few things that we did not really expect to see this far north of the Arctic Circle. In one village, there was quite a nice white sandy beach. On a sunny day, I might have thought that I was in a much more temperate part of the world.
In the middle of nowhere, today, we came across a service station with a cafe at which we stopped for lunch. (Hamburger for me and a Hotdog for Jill. With a drink, each, the all up cost was around $45). The place had a real 1960’s appearance with Laminex tables and neon lights. Yes, it also has some photos of Elvis, but I do not believe that he was in the building today.
We came across this picnic spot by another long bridge and noticed that people here still have a good sense of humour.
We should arrive at our hotel on Senja after a 20 minute drive from the ferry terminal. We have already alerted them to our late arrival and have a reservation for dinner on their restaurant.