In the course of my travels, I have ended up in some pretty interesting places. The well-traveled big cities, the amazing capitals of the world, the out of the way towns, the middle-of-nowhere train stops, and the places off the beaten track, have all been trampled under my foot. My backpack and I have been to 45 countries (hopefully more to come) and have experienced things that I often struggle to even believe truly happened to me.
One of the most interesting places I have ever ended up is the tiny fishing village of Å). Å is located above the arctic circle, on the amazing Lofoten Islands.
How I ended up in this place was a story of loving the country of Norway too much and not wanting to stop exploring it once I had hit my major destinations. So after a lot of train rides and stops in interesting small towns up the coast of the country, I ended up on the islands.
Å was a wild frontier, in my mind. The town was miniscule. One store, one restaurant, one real place to stay. A place where I could eat whale steak in the evening, and enjoy the absolutely phenomenal beauty of the fjords during the day. Å was such a small town, that once I had arranged a ride in a fishing boat with a local, to get to an even more remote area of the fjords for an incredible hike, I was given the keys to the local convenience store.
The owner wasn’t awake yet, and a friend of his had the key. He told me to go in and take what I needed. I would be able to go back later to pay for what I had gathered for my day of hiking and exploring. I was pretty floored by this, not exactly something that happens all the time in our untrusting, big city lives.
I came to think again of Å over the past couple of days as I contemplate an Alaskan road trip during the summer. I like the idea of the frontier, of the last inhabited places, where people become communities due to the isolation of their location. To me, it is almost fairy-tale like. Hence, the reason for remembering Å, possibly the place where I felt the most connected to the people there, as they quickly accepted me into the circle of their small town. I was the traveler who was visiting their daily lives, and they respected me for that, as I respected them for their ways. Fishing, and making lives for themselves in what could otherwise be seen as a desolate area of the country. I consider the natural beauty that I was able to see on the islands, highlighted by the town and area surrounding Å, and consider myself lucky. I have been able to do some things on the road that were perfect moments. Being able to stand on the quiet shores where the frosty North Atlantic meets the Arctic Ocean, staring up at the beautiful mountains rising up from the sea to create some of the most picturesque natural beauty I have ever seen is a true point of thanks and appreciation.
Norway was a fantastic place, one of the countries I have loved the most. Part of the reason for loving this place was my time on the Lofoten Islands, and that, in turn, was a big part due to the people and village of Å.
I often hesitate to write about certain places I have visited, because I have accumulated almost too many stories to tell, and I don’t know that my words are able encompass the time I was able to spend in such an interesting, and off-the-track place like Å. But since it was sticking in my head over the past while, I figured it was time to try and tell a little something about the village with the one letter name that I was lucky enough to visit.