I wasn’t expecting to have much to say about the last few days. I looked at the weather forecast and rain radar before we left Rorvik and found that virtually all of central and southern Norway was covered in rain. The rain depression is also moving north so that meant that we would have rain for the next few days at least. That’s just what it has done – rain!
The drive from Rorvik to Ness on the Island of Vega took us through a few more tunnels and on two ferries – one across a fjord and the second across the sea to Vega. The first ferry trip was about 25 minutes and cost around $30 and the second was 50 minutes long and cost $50. We had lunch in the cafeteria on the second ferry . I am sure that we were the only foreigners on both ferries. (it makes me very thankful that I was born in an English speaking part of the world, as English is very much the world’s second language).
There was very little ability to stop anywhere, so we just kept driving through the rain to get here. Here are some photos of the scenery along the way.
When we arrived at Ness, we had some difficulty finding the place where we were staying, mostly because of my preconceptions. I was expecting a cluster of holiday cottages with a sign and a central office. Instead, we just found a row of cottages along the waterfront with no one nearby at all. After a lot of searching and asking a few people for help, we found the cottage (Toppan Bue) with a phone number on the plate by the door and the key hidden behind the bell. I think that it’s rather quaint. Jill thinks it is ‘rustic’.
We woke this morning to more pouring rain and gale force winds. The cabin does have a washing machine and a dishwasher but the best thing is a slow combustion wood stove. It’s only 11C today, so the warmth is welcome and makes the rain less depressing.
By mid morning, we decided to get out and explore regardless of the rain and we also needed to buy some more petrol. We ended up driving along every road on the island. Like Iceland, all the road signs pointed to farms, so we often ended up at a farmer’s gate. The island is not greatly scenic but does have some interesting little harbours.
Then supermarket is the centre of town. In fact there are two supermarkets here – more like what we would call a ‘general store’; the Spar and the Coop.
The most significant thing about this area is its connection to eider down. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and their website describes it in the following paragraph.
“The cluster of dozens of islands centred on Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, forms a cultural landscape of 107,294 ha, of which 6,881 ha is land. The islands bear testimony to a distinctive frugal way of life based on fishing and the harvesting of the down of eider ducks, in an inhospitable environment. There are fishing villages, quays, warehouses, eider houses (built for eider ducks to nest in), farming landscapes, lighthouses and beacons. There is evidence of human settlement from the Stone Age onwards. By the 9th century, the islands had become an important centre for the supply of down, which appears to have accounted for around a third of the islanders’ income. The Vega Archipelago reflects the way fishermen/farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living and the contribution of women to eiderdown harvesting.”
The building next door to our cabin is the Eider Museum. I spent an interesting time talking to the woman who runs it and asking about the eider ducks. Here, they build little shelters in which the ducks can nest. The female ducks pluck down from their breast to keep the eggs warm and when the chicks leave the nest, the down is harvested. The shelters are lined with seaweed as it is clean and prevents a lot of seeds, grass and rubbish getting into the down. The down is brown in colour, very soft and very expensive. A genuine eider down doona currently sells for around AUD$8,000.
In the museum, we came across a journalist from the local paper who was writing an article on tourism and an article about a potential fish farming operation in this world heritage area. Being the only tourist in town today, I was the obvious choice for an interview so I guess that I will appear in the next issue of the paper. A few moment of fame for me somewhere in which no one will recognise me at all!