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 massive bridge. So we didn’t walk the whole way to the central 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 buses 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 only 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 told us 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 staff 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 costly but how often do you go to Norway and having the opportunity to do a whale safari?
The tour immediately started when we boarded the boat. You could comfortably sit inside when the ship ventured out to the sea. The boat trip alone was an experience, as it wavered in the sea and you 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 needed. Thankfully 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 platform 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 fascinating Whale Centre, which is included in the tour. They have skeletons and also a lot of information. You could see there in the illustration that the ocean went down sharply and deep at Andenes and tied with the many nutrients flowing there that attract the whales in this specific area.
After we left the Whale Centre, we took a look at Andenes, which has some 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 vast 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 seem to be “blue”.