Arriving on Lofoten in autumn almost directly from Greece feels a bit like going from a come-as-you-are beach party straight into a symphonic concert. There are similarities, but overall it’s a different experience altogether.
Both coasts offer azure blue, crystal clear seas and boast beautiful sandy beaches. But where the Greek seas are warm, welcoming and over-fished, the waters north of the arctic circle, teeming with life, will stop you cold, quite literally, when you think you’ll use it as your ersatz-bathtub as you have gotten used to further in the South.
Both countries’ locals seem to be overwhelmingly open and welcoming towards foreigners. Only mingling with them by employing the well-proven strategy of hanging out in a taverna for an hour or two until you have found five new friends doesn’t work up here. There aren’t any tavernas. Nor anything coming even close to the concept. And, really, the petrol stations with their offerings of questionable hot dogs and interestingly coloured burgers don’t count, really.
Elk warnings aside, both traffic systems use almost identical road signs. However, Norwegians actually seem to take these literally, strangely without employing any creative liberty at their interpretation. I’ve not had a single opportunity to witness a car going against a one-way street at break-neck speed, nor a bare-headed motorcyclist texting away on his smartphone while with his other hand revving a monstrously loud bike across the main square. Here, at 68° north, drivers will stop a hundred metres before a pedestrian crossing because they somehow have a premonition that you might possibly consider crossing the street at some point in time.
Try that in, say, Zakynthos Town.
And then there’s the weather. Both climates are influenced by scattered landmasses interacting with the sea and all sorts of complex things happening in the process. But while in coastal Greece it’s fairly safe to say tomorrow’s weather will be somewhat similar to today, the only thing you can rely on on Lofoten is that the weather in the next hour will certainly be different from that half an hour before.
Here I had experienced heavy rain, warming sunshine, a fierce storm and even snow. All in one day, that is.
And photographically? There is also the similarity of some well-known, cliché motives you will find in both locations, perhaps on Lofoten a little less so than in Greece. But while my main challenge in Greece was to find unexpected, unusual motives and deciding what to include anyway, the challenge on Lofoten was rather one of choosing what to leave out.
Any landscape photographer’s paradise! Images to follow soon.