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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

Vikings

We started the day, as we do most, in search of coffee. Tragically, our best hope was at the cafe at the Viking museum, which didn’t open until 10:00. So we took the long way round, against satnav directions, via the slow north road. More picturesque that way, too. Doubly tragic, the Viking Museum cafe had awful brewed coffee stewing in a jug. What a wasted opportunity!

On the positive side, the Viking Museum was terrific. By arriving early, just after ten, we caught a lecture in English, which was very good. It confirmed something that I’d read recently, that Vikings weren’t a people as such, Viking was an activity that the Norse undertook, from about the late 8th Century to about the twelvth. The pilliaging was mostly of England, apparetly, which is why we know about it. When not Viking, the Norse were fisherman farmers, and traders, not vastly unlike the local villiagers today.

We then proceded to tour around the southern coasts of Vestvågøy, picknicking at a conveniently located church, Stamsund Kirke, on a knoll overlooking the village of Svarholt, after picking up provisions at a supermarket in Leknes.

Continuing after lunch, we came eventually to the end of the road, at Skaftnes Gård (Farm), a museum in the vein of long-term family home donated to the area. The keeper was a returning local who had grown up in the region, but spent most of his days at sea. A tremendously interesting cove, who told an excellent tale of the history of the house, the smithy, boatshed and chippy that worked there, and the family that had lived there. As a sailor, he was very keen that he would be sailing the viking sailing boat in the viking festival, which starts on the 8th (two days from now).

After that, evening coming on, we proceeded directly to our accommodation here at Ballstad. Dinner at the restaurant here, and then a walk along the harbour groin to the lighthouse. By that time, the sky had cleared and the sun was peeking out wherever it wasn’t blocked by a mountain. And funnily enough, parked outside the restaurant was a viking sailing boat. I bet it’s the one that our museum curator is going to be sailing in the viking festival in a couple of days’ time.

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