24.5.2016: (Finnsnes) - Harstad - (Risøyhamn) - Sortland - Stokmarknes - Svolvær - (Stamsund)

We have to get up early today. Breakfast at 7 a.m., at 8 a.m. we arrive at Harstad and enter our bus for the tour named "Islands of the Vesterålen".

The weather has turned reasonably good after last night´s rain.

Higher summits still in clouds though.

The Hurtigruten ship"MS Midnatsol" ready for departure in Harstad harbour .

We sail a large curve to put on with backboard as every time ...

 ... whereas Midnatsol is leaving.

Our bus first brings us to the Trondenes church

In the meantime, our ship is heading for Risøyhamn and Sortland.

The church was built in a gorgeous landscape outside Harstad ...

 ... inmidst the cemetery.

A very short service is held for the tourists.

Inside, the church is much more beautiful than outside.

Short round walk outside.

180 degree panoramic picture of the Vågsfjorden, as seen from the Trondenes church. The viking museum far right. Click here or into the picture for a larger display.


Lots of  oxlips are covering the cemetery

The church

Behind the church there is a small lake named Laugen. They say that in former days it was used for baptism (I´m not sure how they did during the winter ...)


The church

180 degree panoramic picture of the Vågsfjorden, far left the Trondenes church. To the right, the parking space at the Viking museum. Click here or into the picture for a larger display.

Once more the Laugen lake

Zooming in to the mountains behind the Vågsfjorden

Zooming in to the mountains behind the Vågsfjorden

We now take the bus to cross the island of Hinøya (the photograph has artifacts from the bus window)

Arctic birch forest.

View to the mountains at the northeastern part of Hinøya and to those on the neighbouring island of Grytøya.

The Straumsbotn is a brackish water lake - depending on the tide, water flows from the sea to the lake or the other way round.

It´s low tide now - water is flowing out to the sea.

View over the Øysund to Kråkviktinden (743 m)

Øysund, wit the small island of Kvæøya inmidst. A bridge has been built for the 800 inhabitants. The green belt along the coast is former sea ground (after the last ice age, the continent was much deeper) thus very fertile.

We branch to the south and drive along the Gullesfjord. Tverrelvtindan (1.118 m) in the background is wrapped in clouds.

We take the ferry over the Gullesfjord from Refsnes to Flesnes.

Taking pictures during the transfer turns out to be difficult. The view either goes through dirty window glass or between ropes and rigging.

However, on the car deck I discover two holes at each side presumably for the ropes if the ship is fastened after putting on with its side. My camera exactly fits through these holes.

Viewing to the North ...

 ...and to the southwest along the fjord.

Austerfjord to the east, Kjengsfjellet (681 m) to the right.

Southwest ...

 ... and north.

Kjengsfjellet and Reinfjellet (907 m).

We are approaching the opposite side of the fjord.

After a short drive, we stop at a small parking ground, where we get a wonderful view. Opposite the road there is a quarry.


Panoramic view to Gullesfjord. Click here or into the picture for a larger display.

Arctic birch forest.

We drive along the Gullesfjord, branch off along the lake Langvatnet, to finally drive along Sigerfjord heading North to the bridge over the Sortland sound. On the way, taking pitures is impossible. However, from the bridge we see our ship approaching - precision time work!

At 1 p.m. the ship departs, and we treat ourselves to the yummy lunch buffet. Afterwards, it begins to rain. So I draw back to the cabin, I am not interested in Stokmarknes and the Hurtigruten museum - at least at these weather conditions. At 4 p.m. I go back on deck.

Entering the Raft sound, spanned by a bridge near Hanøyvika.

Raft sound.

At 4.30 p.m.- we are gather for today´s next trip: the "Sea eagle safari". At full speed sailing, the crew puts a bridge to the small excursion boat sailing exactly in parallel, and we can walk over. A bit of a creasy feeling remains though ...

Wild landscape along the Raft sound.

We now put off ...

 ... the big ship.

The excursion boat offers lots of fish to the seagulls, so several dozens of them always follow our boat.

"I want more, please!"

Trusting animals.

Attracted by the seagull swarm, a very big bird appears: a white tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).

A few rounds before he takes the offered fish.

More seagull feeding.

In between, we sail into the Trollfjord - a second time on our journey, this time with a bit more rain.

Waterfall into the Trollfjord.

At the end of the fjords there is a water power station, and nothing else.

Nordnorge also sails into the fjord.

Back out into the Raft sound.

A slight rainfall for most of the time - good that the boat has a roof at the afterdeck.

Sunny spells in between.

A bit more sun ...

 ... makes up for gorgeous light effects.

On both sides of the Raft sound there are steep escarpments to high mountains more than 1.000 m high.

Summits in clouds, of course, but this doesn´t matter in this wonderful scenery.

A second "Sea eagle alarm":

This time, I manage to take pictures from the nosedive.

The eagle cannot swim. Therefore, the woman on board feeding the seagulls takes a syringe and pumps air into a big fish, too big for a seagull. Then, with hands up, she shows the fish to the eagles (the boat stops in the meantime). Then she throws the fish into the sea, where it swims on the surface due to the pumped-in air.

So, the eagle can grasp the fish very well.

Slowly it gets height again with its prey.

A second eagle shortly after, a similar scene.

A seagull chases the eagle. It seems to have occured that the eagle loses its prey. In this situation, the gulls are much more mobile and hope to get the fish - at least parts of it.

View back - a pretty rainbow.

Sunny spells.

Feeding more seagulls.

We now take the "shortcut" through the Øyhell sound, which is too shallow for the big Hurtigruten ships.

Susi is a bit wet in the meantime.

Another sea eagle.

We are approaching the southern end of the Øyhell sound.

Catching a view to Fløya and Jomfrutindan, both nearly 600 m high.

Great light effects.

One more sea eagle approaching ...

 ... takes a curve ...

 ... goes deeper ...

 ... and back up ...

Where is the fish now?

Found it at last ...

 ... and catches it.

Now saves the prey from the annoying hungry seagulls.

A last time experiencing the spectacle ...

before we reach at last ...


 ... the skerries and the open sea near Svolvær.

More light effects.

View back along the Øyhell sound.

Looking for last remains ...

Svolvær ahead.

Wonderful light once more.

Port entrance.

Modern houses, old style.

Still meditating the feast, although we already have put on in the harbour.

Our ship had to sail around the island of Stormolla (in the background), so it has not yet arrived.

We use the time for a walk in the harbour.

I explore the little town - the church is built on a small hill.

A pair of seagulls and one (or two?) chicks.

Departure time is 8:30 p.m. - at exactly this time we are scheduled for dinner. I enjoy the meal and get over the missing views - I did experience wonderful scenes at this part of the route on the outward journey.