We awoke this morning docked in the town of Reine in the Lofoten Islands of Norway. We are continuing south down the coast of Norway, but I believe we are still above the Arctic Circle (I need to check on that). It was drizzling and cool as we headed out for a walk around part of the town.
Cod fish hang out most of the year north of this area, but they come down here at the end of the winter. The fishing season only lasts a couple of months. The catch is gutted and deheaded and hung over outside racks to dry. After a month or more of drying, the resulting “Stockfish” is shipped to markets around the world, much of it going to the Mediterranean countries (Spain and Italy are big consumers). No salt is used in this drying process. Cod has almost no oil or fat, so it does not spoil as easily as Salmon or most other fish.
Traditionally, the fishermen used homemade boats that closely follow the Viking ship design, and these can still be seen under sheds or beneath the houses in the town.
There are also a few whaling ships that sail from Reine.
Our second stop was the island of Vaeroya. For centuries, the small fishing community of Mastad thrived with a population upwards of 150, but it was abandoned years ago. Today a few of the remaining houses have been remodeled and are used as summer homes. The high cliffs surrounding the town house numerous sea birds, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, and several species of gulls.
We walked around the old houses and were lucky to encounter some hikers with their rare Lundehund dogs. There are only a few hundred of these dogs left in Norway. They were bred to hunt puffins centuries ago. Puffins nest in burrows, and these small dogs are designed to be able to stick their heads in the burrows and pull out the puffins. For some reason the dogs have 6 toes and they can spread their front legs apart to make it easier to get close to the ground when going after puffins. Puffins apparently are pretty tasty and are still eaten in these northern lands.