Norway offers many spectacular ferry journeys. But few match the crossing from Bodo to Stamsund. It was the original section of the Hurtigrute (set up by the once remote Lofoten islanders to get their fish to more lucrative markets further south). Now it's increasingly part of the Bergen-North Cape cruise route, but the lower decks of the boats are still ferries, shipping goods and passengers at the many ports en route.
There's a long stop and much loading and unloading at Bodo as it's the end of the rail line from Oslo (on which I travelled) so most grades of accommodation, including B&B, are not difficult to find there.
Like most ferry crossings a fine day helps. Views of distant island peaks 40 miles away stretch half way across the northern horizon soon after leaving port. It's also a two-hour journey open to the Atlantic, so it can be rough. For me it was calm and sunny.
The peaks of the Lofoten Islands became more distinct, more jagged, more enticing, 1000 metre peaks touched with snow here and there, as the ship plods towards them. By half-way across they are a child's picture book of fairy tale mountains surrounded by sea of many shades and hues spanning the horizon and with hints of the bright yellows and reds of the traditional fishing villages just visible along the shore. Everyone's on deck to savour the view.
Alas Stamsund arrives all too soon. Alas as not only is it this journey's end (the ship continues its equally spectacular route through the islands eastwards), but it's not much of a place either. It has a youth hostel and a hotel, but is mainly a small working port. However, a bus service connects it to the rest of the Lofotens for those who want to adventure further.
Bodo is just north of the Artic circle on the Norwegian coast.
Details of the Hutigrute and timetable can be found on the web.
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