By Sarah Jost
During his visit to LA just before I left for Norway, Geo and I discovered a shared love of grey, windswept beaches like you would find along the coasts of Maine or England. We agreed that there is something inspiringly, achingly beautiful about such a landscape.
Arriving on the island of Moskenesøy by ferry at 10:30pm, I immediately knew the Lofoten Islands would be one of those special places. On the southern island of Moskenesøy, which spans only 60km, the inland is monopolised by awe-inspiringly massive mountains, pushing the island’s small population of 1,263 to the coast. As such, many of the inhabitants’ small red and white wooden homes are built either on stilts over the water or directly on the docks. Everywhere you look are wooden frames from which dangle hundreds of drying cods, the island’s biggest (and, besides tourism, likely only) industry.
It was just a ten minute drive from the ferry to the tiny village of Å, where we would be spending the night. Amidst a steady, driving rain, we searched futilely for our hostel accommodation’s reception for nearly an hour before a kindly woman informed me that the reception was located ‘just down the road, before the tunnel, across the bridge, and halfway down to the water.’ Oh. Luckily, the midnight sun cast a magical glow about everything, even through the grey of the clouds and rain. The quiet of the village and the preternatural lighting made it seem almost as if we were in another world, and made me much less conscious of my increasingly soaking shoes.
Back at the hostel, we were stunned and overjoyed to find that firstly, our room was incredibly lovely, feeling more like a one-room country cottage than a 4-bed dorm in a hostel, and secondly, that the pungent odour of the cod hanging outside didn’t penetrate the hostel’s walls or waft through our sea-facing windows. Our room hung directly over the dock and water below, and you could make out the misty shapes of small, rocky islands in the distance. In a completely not scary but tingle-inducing kind of way, I was reminded of the scene from The Ring when the frightened horse jumps into the ocean from the ferry. There was a similar odd silence, the kind in which you could believe that anything could happen, ghostly or otherwise.
Despite it being midnight and having spent the day driving six hours and taking no less than three ferries, I was suddenly filled with a surge of excitement. Accompanied by my partner and my mum, I grabbed my camera and bounded outside. From the steep wooden staircase of the hostel, I was surrounded on the right by the ocean and on the left by shimmering slate mountains that seemed to rise up vertically directly from the ground. A peaceful, enchanted grey and peach light played across the entire scene, and mysterious, wispy clouds hung around the mountain.
We walked down the empty main road, captivated by the otherworldly light reflecting off the glistening pavement. In the stillness, the only movement or sound came from the dozens of seagulls soaring through the skies and calling to one another, kings of the non-night.
I couldn’t sleep for hours. The soft, warm lamp light in our room provided the cosiest contrast to the damp cold outside and I found myself thinking how wonderful it would be to spend a month or so there, reading and writing and taking it all in. The midnight sun graces the Loftens from about the 4 June to 8 July, and I imagined how I would adjust my schedule to sleep from 2pm-10pm, waking each night to bathe in the ethereal light of the midnight sun, walk the deserted streets, and spy on the world that lives at night.
In the morning, it was unspeakably hard to make myself leave, but I knew that something just as magical might be waiting on the rest of the islands, and to be sure, there was, but I still hope that one day (and night) the midnight sun and I will meet again in Å, and next time, I’ll stay.