My plan on visiting the Lofoten Islands was simply to relax. Write some songs, maybe, polish covers, draw a little, write a little – but mostly to get the hell out of the city (because they all feel the bloody same after not so long) and just chill. I succeeded admirably. I hardly woke before noon (not like it mattered when the sun didn’t set). I consider this the vacation portion of my journey. Why Stamsund, though? I’d met a German man in the Oslo Haraldsheim Hostel who told me I had to go there, as it was the best hostel he’d ever stayed at, and absolutely gorgeous. The ticket from Bergen wasn’t horrific so I decided for it.
The German man was completely correct in his assessment. It’s the best hostel. Ever. The whole thing is run by one man, who’s been running it thirty years – his father was a fisherman and owned the place and the owner simply converted it into a Vandrerhjem. His name is Roar. Great name, eh? The strangest sense of humour – very acidic and sarcastic (he’d jibe that I wasn’t behaving, or that people were complaining about me causing trouble) – incredibly laid back, the whole atmosphere of the hostel stems from him. It’s something of a haven. Many travelers return again and again to the hostel – mostly Germans, some French. One man, Stefan, used to come and stay six weeks every summer. Another man comes every summer for many years.
These regulars create this wonderful ready-made community. The place feels warm (well one day it may have broken 20, but the rest were in the low teens…). There’s a wood stove. A set of rowboats anyone can take out – to fish, to just row, whatever. Large dinners (usually by nationality). A shelf for leftover/free food. I lived off that shelf. For the six days I stayed at the hostel I spent 20 NOK – on a broccoli and some pølser. It was quite the well stocked shelf (though much less so when I left) – lots of rice, pasta, butter, onions, tinned vegetables, instant soups, tea, spices, the Scandinavian hard bread.
Now you’ll be wondering where I got my protein. The night of my arrival proved prophetic for the rest of the days I spent. The bus dropped me off at the harbor, about a kilometer and a half from the hostel, and a couple that was headed there gave me a lift in their rental. We’d hardly set our things down – it was nearing midningt, met a couple of travelers from Australia and England when someone alerted us that there was a boy outside wondering if we wanted some fish. Free. None of us knew what to do with it, but the boy – around 14 – showed us it was already cleaned and gutted and told us how best to cook it. He even chopped it into manageable portions. There was enough fish, easily, for the five of us.
I’d been basically starving myself (rationing the sandwiches I’d prepared in Bergen) so I jumped on the rice, cooked some onions and garlic and happily ate alongside. It was excellent. We cooked outside as Roar told us the smell would be annoying to the sleepers and around one in the morning we ate our free feast. The sun didn’t set of course, so it felt like a normal, if quiet, six in the evening meal.
Stefan arrived the following day and he always caught more than fish than he could possibly consume himself. At night he’d even fry up the extra fish for the rest of the guests and give it away before making the portion for his own family. So that was my protein :). And seeing as I’d slept so much over my forty odd hours of traveling, I stayed up far past anyone else – I figured, hey, it’s all the same, why sleep when the clock reads some arbitrary number, eh?