If you were to get into a plane and fly to Oslo, and then continue your journey, high above the Arctic Circle to a remote group of islands inhabited by the fishermen, you would find yourself in what is called Lofoten, Norway.
And you would be in awe. Like, jaw-dropping, Jesus-Christ-this-exists?! Awe.
Occasionally in travel, you see places that completely blow your mind and change your perception of the world.
Here, you start out at sea level, but are never out of site of the drama of the steep rock faces and swooping slopes of the mountains above.
You find the fields between the sea and mountain dotted with fisherman’s shacks and pretty houses that are almost all one of three colors; red, white or a mustard yellow.
I have to admit, if you’re going to stick with one color palette, the Norwegians have really chosen ones that complement the backdrop.
The people are friendly and most speak some English. They go about their days without too much notice of tourists. The language is full of sounds like “ou” and has a rhythmic, bouncing pace.
For food you should try some cod, in lutefisk, bacalao or dried.
When I’m not up for fish, there’s always plenty of frozen pizza in the grocery store. This is, after all, Norway.
Dried cod hangs from wooden frames in fishing villages across the islands. This time of year, the best of the cod meat has been taken down to be packaged and sent out around the world. What’s left are drying cod heads that are used in animal feed.
“Oh, just thousands of cod heads drying in the sun.”
It’s called Tørrfisk, and there’s even a tørrfisk museum.
What can I say, dried cod is sort of a big deal.
Now, step away from the cod-drying racks and 50 feet to your left you can step into a field of wildflowers, complete with butterflies flittering around in the midnight sun.
To journey through the hills and into the mountains, be prepared for a steep, short hike. The midnight sun brightens up the sky and makes the colors bloom long after you should be in bed, adjusting to the timezone. We have been hiking until 2:00 AM the last few nights because the views at that time are the most spectacular.
I think after everywhere, Lofoten, Norway especially this time of year, is the most beautiful.
It doesn’t matter the elevation or where you are, there’s always something spectacular happening.
The mountains are cutting through the clouds in the midnight sun. The fog is rolling into the fjords. The bakery just finished the fresh bread. The little red hut is getting a fresh coat of paint while the birds fly over the wildflowers.
I mean really? Is this for real?
Yes, yes it is and I need to close my mouth because I feel like I’ve been walking around with my jaw dropped in disbelief for days.
Lofoten is incredible.