The Lofoten Island – love at first sight

Haman Group has a fishermen’s cabin (Rorbu) of our own. IMG_0267

The reason for this is that Lofoten probably is one of the absolute highlights in Scandinavia. The nature is spectacular, the people are friendly and the combination of nature, sea and mountains raging into the sea is unique.
Add the best fish you ever eaten and the midnight sun to this and you understand that Lofoten is something you should not miss.

Carl Wilkinson from Finacial Times wrote this article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c79255c0-59b2-11e1-8d36-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1o2H00Zhw

There are many ways to come to Lofoten. Either you fly in to Leknes, Svolvaer or Evenes or you can go to Bodö (you come by car, train, airplane or bus) and take the ferry to Moskenes. I always go to Body and take the ferry since it brings me direct to the most beautiful part of Lofoten.

When I arrived in Bodö the sun was shining and the street cafés were full of people. Imagine Bodö is 150 km north of the polar circle and at the moment you find the best weather up here in all northern Europe.

In Bodö I have my “vehicle” in the basement of the Rica Hotel. It is not the car – it is the old bike.
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It works perfectly for me and makes me mobile during my stay. If I need a car, you can always rent a car at the harbor of Moskenes.

This year the ferry company invested in new ferries and they are both more comfortable, faster and I also have a feeling they are more stable in hard weather.
The ferry crosses Vestfjord and if you are lucky you might see whale. I was lucky 3 days ago and even saw orca’s playing, jumping and “waving with their tails” just outside Moskenes harbor.
http://www.lofotposten.no/lokale_nyheter/article6697445.ece
It is magnificent to see these big animals jump and swim like acrobats.
This is a small film when the ferry arrives in Moskenes, Lofoten

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The ferry arrived  at 20.30 in the evening but it is the time of the midnight sun so it never gets dark. I jumped on my bike and after 10 minutes I could not resist to stop at Maren Anna and have a glas of wine on their terrace.

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At Maren Anna you find local good food and sometimes they also have dance and music. It is a very popular place for the locals.

Now I can look forward to some beautiful and relaxing days. Perhaps I will take my bike and go to Skarisöy and get some fresh shrimps.

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Hurtigruten – the original coastal voyage

My colleagues know that I am a better person in the afternoon, ie. I am not quite as nice in the mornings. Therefore they booked breakfast for me on board Hurtigruten in the morning! Thank you!
I started my trip in Harstad at 8.30 and had a lovely breakfast while we left for the Vesteraalen Islands. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurtigruten.
Unfortunately, the weather was grey and foggy so I did not make any pictures.
We arrived in Stokmarknes and in the harbor you find the Hurtigruten Museum. It is a museum free of charge for Hurtigruten travelers. Here it is possible to go on board on one of the old Hurtigruten ships and to learn about the importance of the Hurtigrute for the people living in the remote norwegian coast.
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At 18.00 we arrived in Svolvaer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svolv%C3%A6r , the capital of Lofotenhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lofoten . Immediately I took the bus down to the southern part of Lofoten. The more south you come, the smaller and more winding the roads get. The more south you come, the more stunning the nature is and you have a feeling you are “in” the nature.
In Tind, 500 meters from Å (Å is the small village where the road ends), Haman Group has a small rorbu-cabin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorbu For me, Tind is the paradise on Earth!!!
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Goodbye Sweden – Hello Norway

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Abisko is very close to the Norwegian boarder so when I left I headed west and very soon I were in Norway. There are two ways of going from Sweden to Norway here. One possibility is by car and the other by train. The first time I came here was about 20 years ago and then I went by train http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Ore_Line. I still remember that I wanted to write in my diary during the train ride, but had to stop because it was so beautiful outside that I just had to look out. Some 10 years later I was here again and full of joy I drove my car from Sweden to Norway and was so disappointed because by car you miss this incredible beauty. So now, another 10 years later, I go by train.
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I left Abisko together with a Chinese student. We talked a bit during the tour. When we crossed the Swedish-Norwegian boarder and we saw the first glimpse of the Rombaksfjord he just turned to me and said; – You must be very proud living in this country. I don’t know if he ment Sweden or Norway, but it doesn’t matter, I live in both countries. And Yes, I am very proud of my part of the world!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rombaken

Narvik has a very interesting history, but unfortunately I had just some minutes to catch the bus to Harstad and arrived there in the evening.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narvik
Tomorrow I will embark the Hurtigrute and sail through the Vesteraalen Islands to Lofoten.

Arriving in Kiruna and Jukkasjärvi

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In the evening I arrived in Kiruna, a city mainly known for its important iron ore. During World War II this iron played an important role even if Sweden did not participate actively in the war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiruna.

Today travelers come to Kiruna to visit Jukkasjärvi (18 km outside Kiruna) and the ICEHOTEL http://icehotel.com/
My first impression is that this is a really well organized and professional place. Everything is logic, effective, designed and “makes sense”.
There are guests from all over the world and it is a kind of strange to find a small village in a middle of Lapland that is like a melting pot of people from all over the world. The last time I felt equally international must have been on the Dubai Airport.
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Arriving at the ICEHOTEL I was warmly welcomed by Beatrice, from the Press and Marketing department at the ICEHOTEL. We had a fantastic dinner (I feel like an old gramophone that repeat myself all the time) and we had capercaille. My spell check keep on showing a spelling error but it is not – it is obviously a very rare word. See here … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capercaille You can eat them and it was good!
At the ICEHOTEL the main chef is a globetrotter and extremely good, experienced and internationally trained in his profession.

My plan was to sleep in one of the cold rooms of the ICEHOTEL and I needed some mental build-up and that gave me the best reason in the world to visit the bar.
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2 glasses of wine later and it was almost midnight, I decided it is time to go to bed. It was an experience to sleep in a room made of snow and ice. You sleep in a thermal sleeping bag on a bed built by ice blocks, a wooden frame, mattress and it is topped with reindeer skins.
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In ICEHOTEL it never gets colder than –5 to -8ºC, regardless of the fact that the outdoor temperature sometimes drops down to -30º. After a bit of practicing how to keep my face warm by wrapping the sheets around it but still have free space in front of the mouth I slept the whole night. In the morning a lovely lady woke me up with a cup of warm lingonberry juice.
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The ICEHOTEL is a unique hotel and product with a lot of things to do. I tried Ice driving that is not only a lot of fun; it is also a good training if you drive on snowy roads like I do.
Fredrik showed me some exercises with the four-wheel-drive Mini’s he has in Jukkasjärvi.
At the end we changed seats and he drove… WOW! I have a lot to learn how to drive on ice.

On the road…

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I am the General Manager of Haman Group and my name is Anette Karlsson. Born on the countryside in southern Sweden, studied in Cologne in Germany and today living a life divided between my two homes in Sweden and Norway I feel European and Scandinavian at the same time.

For me it is extremely important to be updated and to search for new possibilities for our guests. I want to know what we offer in order to be sure that our guests get the best experience in Scandinavia.
Tourism, destinations and products have totally changed in Scandinavia during the last 10 years. Tourism in Scandinavia used to be about scenic group tours, individual car tours and city breaks to one of the capitals of Scandinavia, but today’s guest is looking for excitement, exclusivity and unusual destinations.
I started this blog because I want to share the Scandinavian spirit with you and I want to write directly “from my heart”. I apologize for all misspellings, grammar errors I do in the English language.
English is my third language but I am constantly working on getting better. Never the less I write this blog in English so the most people can understand me.

The tour can start!

Follow me!

Scandinavia during winter time – YES!!!
Follow me on my trip in northern Scandinavia in January. During two weeks, I will stay north of the Arctic Circle and explore possibilities in Sweden and Norway on my own.
Starting with a flight to Luleå and probably visiting the TREE HOTEL, the ICE HOTEL, ABISKO, HARSTAD, HURTIGRUTE AND LOFOTEN.

I will test the best and most special accommodations, travel with public transportation, hitchhike, eat the best meals and meet locals. JOIN ME!

Anette Karlsson
General Manager
HamanGroup

HamanGroup AS consists of Haman Scandinavia AS, Terra Nova Scandinavia AS, Authentic Scandinavia AS and Scandinavian Incentives AB with offices in Oslo and Stockholm.