A new website

I’m so pleased to announce that I’ve migrated (ish) this blog over to a new home called Cranky Barbarian.

I’m still in the midst of adding (older) photos and refashioning them into a semblance of order, but it has gotten me pretty excited about travel blogging in general.

Come visit me there!

Hosting and a new personal website

I finally did it.

I took that step, paid for hosting, bought a domain name and will soon try to set up a site all on my own. Thanks to TC’s cajoling, threats, paranoid rants and help.

The daunting task ahead will obviously involve migrating all the posts of this blog over and while I’m sort of sad to see my free-ridership with WordPress.com end, I’m excited to see where having my own travel blog will lead me. And the site will be all mine.


But first, time to dive into setting everything up. *cringe* For someone whose brain turns off the moment someone mentions html, css and php and all the other alien terms in between, this is a bloody big step.

Keep your eyes peeled. The big reveal will hopefully come soon.

The comfort zone

Copenhagen’s sheen has stayed fresh for a few years now and really shows no quick sign of abating, which is primarily the reason TC and I chose to end our 2-week jaunt there…once again. To visit our favourite haunts, walk our favourite streets and simply take in the stylish and sophisticated Danish interior and furniture design that continues keep my mouth dropping open.

We finally went back to Hösttried out The Olive Bar & Kitchen and then walked straight back into Cafe Alma in Islands Brygge like bosses of the place. We ate, drank and essentially, stayed merry. And drunk, in TC’s case.

I don’t have much else to say, except for how 3 days (or 2.5 days really) would never quite be enough here.

Psst. A secret? New Norm actually sells the kitchenware that Höst uses and even shares some of their recipes – which I obviously can’t even begin to recreate.

Ear Barotrauma

I never thought it’d happen again, but it did.

The weather forecast on the day we left Leknes was godawful. Gale winds in the night before, scheduled to continue during the very period we were supposed to take off. I made harried phone calls to Wideroe as well as Leknes airport, only to be met by blasé confidence that their planes run in spite of wind.

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So we went by faith. And strangely enough, there was a moderate breeze when we drove ourselves to Leknes airport for the final (3) legs to Copenhagen. Relief about the weather however, soon turned to excruciating pain when the pressure in my inner left ear refused to equalise and the horror of it dawned on me that I had to sit through it to 3 hour-long connections from the remote north of Norway to the bustling city of Copenhagen.

By the time we had dinner, the pain was reduced to temporary deafness with an alarming bubbling sound in the ear, which made me briefly wonder if my eardrum was ruptured – which also led to a short burst of panic about being able to dive in the near future.

2 decongestant-pills later, the clogged nose and ear did feel better.

Thank God.

The social network in a BnB

Being in a Bed and Breakfast includes a (not so) hidden social element that tends to make me rather alarmed and way out of my element, considering I’m someone who just isn’t comfortable in social groups for an extended period of time. Strangely, it feels akin to someone trying to reintegrate into society after long periods of isolation (or imprisonment), just less drastically so.

Anna Gerd Lind’s guesthouse a few kilometres off the small town of Leknes is such a place, where guests (or strangers, depending on how you see it) interact and sit in living spaces freely shared by her family. It is strange to live in someone’s home like you’re an invited guests – until you realise you’re in fact, a paying one.

The day we arrived was dreary and rainy (with a fierce storm at night), cooping all of us in, including 2 toddlers who ran amok. I was beginning to have visions of a small town murder mystery by then, but thankfully the skies cleared for a short while, which allowed us to drive to Offersøy to climb a ridged hill and recharge in the peace and quiet.


There are moments where I inevitably tire of (forced?) conversation yet find it difficult to extricate myself from one. But I always learn a lot about people whose lifestyles differ so drastically from mine, inevitably trying to see myself in their shoes – and failing miserably at it. AG’s daughter is a licensed reindeer slaughterer whose partner is half-Sami. Having been a heavy vehicle driver for a while, making Sami knives has since become her calling. There are three other guests who are staying the same time we are: a thin, tall Belgian who craves the outdoors like a drug and an elderly American couple who have hit it off fabulously.

I’m not entirely certain if I’m supposed to learn anything from all the interactions I have on holiday, as interesting as they can get. Because I find myself looking forward to the small, cramped space of a hotel room where the space is mine again.

Longer and more winding roads

What I’ve learned from this very short time in Lofoten is that the weather is extremely unpredictable, even for March and apparently, the Norwegian weather service. We’ve had good weather, followed by bleak, miserable snow.

Rinse and repeat.

There were only small, short walks that we did because of it and with our pseudo hiking poles, looked as though we knew what we were doing. A short hike up Tjeldbergtinden – thanks to a lovely employee at the Avis/Budget car rental – yielded precious views of Svolvaer and clearing skies worked wonders for photography.

I was grateful, nonetheless, more so when the road to Reine cleared for a gorgeous drive down southwest. Yet what was supposed to be a mere 2-hour-ish journey took up nearly the whole day because we stopped multiple times off the national tourist road (also known as the E10) to gawk at the landscape, even walking up a bridge which I’m not sure we were supposed to. A random turn off led to Haukland, a gentle walk around a mountain filled with Norwegian families enjoying their holiday by the beach and its crystal-clear waters.

We reached Reine finally after a series of twisty roads, checked in quickly and got going again, hoping to catch the rest of the sunny day up until the end of the road. The coastline is dotted with Rorbuer, or rather, cabins painted in red fish-oil paint built on long poles that go straight into the water, originally used to house fishermen and their fish storage.

The Easter break meant we were on our own and that was when a series of things started to go wrong at Eliassen Rorbuer. The hot water ran out quickly despite my army-style shower and the rest of the night was spent boiling water by the pots and kettle to refill a pail of lukewarm water so that TC could take a proper shower. The fuses blew in the morning before breakfast, killing the heating along with the cooker hood. Several switches were still working however, which meant some matter of improvisation that ended up with moving the oven to the floor near the shoes and cooking bacon, eggs and our bread there.

Which set off the shrill smoke alarm that we disabled after donning ear plugs by yanking out the damn battery.

My irate (early) phone call to the reception was met with an apologetic response that nothing would be fixed until she gets in at 9 am, and hopefully with an electrician in tow.

What was there to do but wait, on a dreary Good Friday?

There but for the grace of cod

The last 3 days in Oslo were uneventful, filled with walks down the same trails I’d already made on my own the last few times I’d come, but with a travelling companion (TC), things were slightly different. More cheerful, certainly, considering the number of chocolate biscuits we bought.

But the real thing – if that doesn’t sound terribly arrogant – began the moment we left for Bodø and onwards to Svolvaer. The small plane dipped right and I got my first glimpse of the small chain of islands that’s a jaw-dropping sight even from the air. Mountains plunge straight into the sea and on this rare, sunny winter’s day, it’s difficult to imagine the harsh conditions of the hardy fishermen who have lived their lives on the edge for centuries 68 degrees north of the Arctic Circle.


It’s cod season now and boats go out by the hundreds – sailing past my hotel window – before the arse crack of dawn. The rorbuer (small fishing huts housing fishermen in the winter, some of which are refurbished to house tourists these days) and the hanging rows of dried cod on enormous triangular stands are testament to a fishing industry  hat hasn’t changed in decades – centuries even.


A hurried check in at Hotel Vestfjord was followed by a hurried drive to Henningsvær, a town just about a half-hour from Svolvaer. It was an attempt to capture the last sunlight of the day, a wise choice in retrospect, seeing as we woke to snowy conditions that got progressively bleaker as the day wore on. It’s Easter week too and Norway is going on the snooze button for a few days; that knowledge is agonising enough to drive us to the supermarket and stock up for the meals we’d be preparing ourselves in the coming days.

The rest of Svolvaer apparently had the same idea.

The weather’s dreary yet the warmth of the people – both tourists and local – continue to surprise me, because years of travel still haven’t quite worn down the edge of cynicism and wary guardedness I have. We drove into snow deep enough that the car needed a boost from several hands. All of a sudden, several car loads of Italian skiers got out to volunteer for that job. It was over even before I’d time to process the panic I should have been feeling or the nightmarish situations in which we could have found ourselves.

There but for the grace…