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Monday, August 9, 2010

Norway: Whale Watching in Andenes

Day 7: Sortland - Andenes


We left in the morning with the bus to Andenes, which is a two-hour ride away from Sortland. As we knew a bit the direction, we assumed, the bus coming from the Sortland bus station would have to cross the huge bridge. So we didn´t walk the whole way to the main bus station, but waited at a little bus stop at the bridge. Fortunately that worked and the bus stopped for us - we had seen already that the busses stop nearly everywhere, where you ask them to stop, it doesn´t even have to be a bus stop. If you´re inside the bus you just have to talk to the bus driver and outside you just have to wave - very flexible and convenient.

In Andenes we arrived just in time to sign in for the "Whale Safari". Unfortunately when we wanted to buy the tickets (we didn´t reserve), they were sold out. I was really depressed since it's probably the only chance I would have (and my friend too) and probably would stay that way. Considering what to do instead, we went to sit at the corner, and then the employee from the ticket desk came to us and asked if we still wanted to go? Of course we wanted to go, since that the main reason for the trip to Andenes! Some people with reserved tickets didn't show up. It's really expensive but how often do you go to Norway and having the opportunity to do a whale safari?


The tour immediately started when we entered the boat. You could comfortably sit inside when the boat ventured out to the sea. The boat trip alone was an experience, as it wavered in the sea and you really needed to hold on to something when standing up. Luckily I didn't need the barf bag. Before the boat trip, we were given an anti-dizziness tablet, which we really needed. Luckily we didn't have to go far out in the open sea. Soon enough, we reached the "whale-zone" and they told everybody that the deck is open now. Up there they have some kind of stage where the people could stand in rows and hold on to a rail in each row - that was very appreciated, as the waves were crazily tossing the boat and would throw us overboard if we don't hold on tight to the railings. It didn't take long before the first whale appeared and some others followed - you can´t see too much of them but it was quite spectacular.


After a while we returned happily to Andenes and it was a huge relief to be on solid ground again after the bumpy boat ride. We continued to the interesting Whale Centre, which is included in the tour. They have skeletons and also a lot of information. You could see there on the illustration that the ocean goes down sharply and deep at Andenes and tied with the many nutrients flowing there that attract the whales in this specific area. 


After we're done at the Whale Centre we took a look at Andenes, which has some kind of raw charm - it feels isolated in the landscape, the wind blows and it has cliffs and the ocean. They also have a beautiful lighthouse and some museums, including a Polar Museum and a Northern Light Centre. We could have easily stayed there for a night or two, because not far away from there is the place called Bleik where it has a huge sandy beach. It's the jump-off point for puffin safaris and a ferry connection to Gryllefjord on the island Senja, which is supposed to be rewarding too.



Unfortunately we had to leave in the afternoon and take the bus back to Sortland. When we arrived at the main bus station back in Sortland, we took a look around there and it seemed a bit deserted, even if it's a relatively big city in the region and there wasn't much to see, so we went grocery shopping. It's said to be the "Blue Town" and some houses are painted blue, but the label was a bit exaggerated. "Blue Town" still matches though, because in the evening everything seemed to be blue - the water, the sky and the whole ambience seems to be "blue".


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