After lunch we arrived in Bodo. We had booked ourselves onto a coastal walk. How could we not? We love the beach and couldn’t pass on the chance to walk this rugged coastline as well as learn about some of the local culture.
Bodo as a town isn’t as pretty as the others, however it is interesting to know that at 67deg north that if translated to the south we would be on the mainland of Antarctica. Despite being so far north, it is actually quite mild. The average temperature in January – their mid winter is -2 degrees and the city doesn’t get much snow at all. They maybe the brightest city on earth as they receive 24hr daylight during summer and in winter still get daylight between 10-2pm. The sun retreats behind the mountains, but doesn’t fully set.
The commerce is mainly trading of salmon and other fish. They have a university and the aviation industry employs about 10% of the population. There is an airport and airforce base here. There is currently a NATO exercise underway in the area and we have seen a number of navy vessels, jets and helicopters around in the last few days.
The Norwegians are very proud of their Friluftsliv culture – love of the outdoors. Our guide explained that back in 1905 when Norway gained independence from Sweden they looked to national role models to help redefine and differentiate Norway. The role models where outdoor adventurers (I didn’t catch the names unfortunately). The other fact in their favour is a 1000 year old law – dating back to the Vikings – of the ‘Right to Roam’. This law states that any land cannot be restricted for use and that farming, forest land must allow people to pass through it. So in effect there is no such thing as trespassing. We had noticed and commented previously on the young children out on excursions. This is a deliberate initiative to continue this outdoor life. No matter the weather children are made to play outside during recess and going indoors is forbidden. Baby’s are put outside in their prams. We saw this at a cafe yesterday. The pram with it’s rain cover was left outside while the mum went into the cafe. She did have her coffee outside later, but the baby was snuggled in and could enjoy the ‘rain on the roof’ of the pram.
On the walk we passed the red and yellow boat huts near the beach. The reason they chose these colours was explained that red and yellow are cheap colours. Red can be made by mixing fish oil with iron oxide and the huts painted with that. Yellow pigment is made from plant based materials. The white paint is most expensive and therefore only used for trimming. In some areas, fronts of houses were painted white to give the appearance of wealth where the rear would be yellow.
We walked along the coast a bit further and could see across to a number of islands. As part of Bodo there are about 500 islands. Some still inhabited by fishing industry. A larger one we could see quite closely has 48 occupants including a school for the 5 children living there.
There is a saying in Norway that the land and people of Norway both come from the bottom of the sea. The basis for this saying is that millions of years back when the tectonic plates were shifting the Eurasian and American plates collided and the Eurasian plate was lifted up out of the sea. That explains the land, the people came from a place now known as Doggerland. Doggerland was a land area until the end of the last ice age – about 12-10,000 years ago. It was an area of land between Great Britain and mainland Europe, now covered by the North Sea. They were hunters and farmers. As the ice melted and the land stated to disappear into the sea, they moved across a narrow channel to the land now known as Norway. Exploration of this shallow sea bed has revealed artefacts and evidence of farming communities back to the end of that time.
Further along in a small patch of forest area we stopped again. Our guide explained that we were standing on a Viking grave mound. The term Viking specifically describes the men who travelled from the Nordic mediaeval villages between the late 700’s AD – 1070AD. The 3 goals of a Viking voyage are 1. seek out new places for settlement, 2. trade goods, and 3. rob, steal and pillage. Some other info we learned about the Vikings were:
- Saturday they cleaned, bathed etc.
- For navigation they used Calcite. A stone which doubles the effect of light as it passes through it. They could hold Calcite up on cloudy day and determine where the sun was located.
Our walk took us onto the beach. Were were surprised to learn that there is coral local to these areas. The coral is white and needs cold water. It grows between 100-400 metres under the water and is crucial for sheltering spawning fish. We also found a strange looking jellyfish. Most unusual though was probably seeing ice on the beach!
Fishing is clearly a big industry in Norway, not just the north, but information specific to this area includes:
- Skry (cod) from the Baring Sea is traded out of Bodo
- The cod come down to Bodo to lay their eggs, and the eggs are carried by the ocean currents back to the Baring Sea.
- The fish are caught and hung up for months outside then months inside to cure.
- Klipfish is also produced here, which is salted and dried then sent off to Europe.
- 100years ago there was a law preventing the local fishermen to directly trade their goods outside of Norway. The merchants from Bergen and Oslo would sail north trade (insert Trick) the locals out of their catch and transported them piled high in open boats back down to make their profits from Europe.
As we came to the end of our walk, we enjoyed a hot cup of tea and it was around 2:20pm and we saw the most wonderful golden sunset.
A saying in Norway says – There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. True for today. We set out in rain and honestly the weather didn’t detract from the landscape. We were well prepared. We thoroughly enjoyed our Arctic Walk and information, a last minute inclusion in our itinerary but definitely worth it.