The Maelstrom and Å.

You have heard of a maelstrom of course, but have you ever seen one, a really big one, a hundred metres across?

To create a really good maelstrom you need to move massive quantities of water through a relatively narrow gap. To be able to see it properly you need to be suspended above it. Nature provided the moving water (400,000,000 cubic metres in six hours through a 150 metre gap) at Saltstraumen near Bodø in Norway and very conveniently the Norwegians built high bridge across it. All you have to do is lean over the side and look down. Which surprisingly few people do.

The museum/village of .When you reach Bodø, driving north on the coastal road, you have a choice of continuing up the mainland (on the 80 and E6) or taking the four hour ferry trip to the Lofoten peninsular (technically they are four or five islands but since they are all linked by bridges it feels more like a peninsular).

Probably the best argument for going via the Lofotens is the museum/village of Å at the very tip of the Lofoten peninsular on the island of Moskenesøy (about 5km south west of where the ferry lands). About 25% of the tiny village of Å is a museum dedicated to the history of fishing and fish processing in the village. The other 75% is a lived in, working fishing village. It is often difficult to tell which is which. Here you can lean more about the supply of dried Norwegian cod to Italy and the manufacture of cod liver oil than anybody could reasonably want to know.

Just beyond Å is another maelstrom in the Moskenesstraumen strait, this one first described 2000 years ago by Pytheas is also featured in the writing of Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe.

In Norway there are lots of road signs illustrating the sort of animal you might care to collide with in the next few kilometers. As well as the traditional sheep and cows, as you go further north, both moose and reindeer are offered. These signs are often very specific e.g. "moose between 0.3 and 8.2km" or "reindeer between 0.1 and 5.6km". Just occasionally you are offered both animals concurrently! Whilst contemplating in what way I should drive differently when threatened with both reindeer and moose, rather than moose alone, I did have to stop for a couple of reindeer.

On a slightly related note I was somewhat surprised to see on the notice describing a moose at a zoo we visited that whilst they grow to about 750kg you can only expect to get "350kg slaughtered weight". Similar figures were given for all the animals that you might even consider eating. I don't recall that London zoo supplies this information.

We had originally decided not to visit Nordkapp but like everybody else found ourselves inexorably drawn there. We are currently camped about 90km short of the Nordkapp Experience with a small herd of reindeer to our left and and a couple of dolphins in the sea to our right.

Stephen Stewart.

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