On the way to Nordkapp (North Cape), the northern most tip of Europe, there is a little fishing village called Gjesvær (yesvar). It is the only village in Finnmark that is known from the Viking age (spoken of in Viking literature). My brother-in-law took us to see the only tourist attraction there – a group of islands called Stappan which has Norway’s largest sea bird colony. This is where you can see the famous Norwegian Lunde bird, called ‘Puffins’ in English.
Even though it was the middle of summer you can see how cold it was. We went on an old boat out to the islands. My brother-in-law pointed to a long stretch of land in the middle of the sea. ‘Look, there’s you,’ he said, ‘the locals call those two islands The Pregnant Lady. (I was six months pregnant at the time – and doing quite well not getting sea sick, I must add).
We spent 40 minutes looking at the wildlife as the wildlife were looking at us. Puffins are really funny creatures. As soon at they see you they all duck under water. When they realise you are not going to leave they batter their wings against the water and run away on the waves. It was frustrating trying to take pictures of them – but the scientist up in the rocks had the better idea. (Can you see the tent?)
Socialising on the cliffs were other sea birds – Great Cormorants, Razorbills, Guillemots and Northern Gannets. We spotted some white tailed eagles flying above too. I was excited to see seals playing in the surf by the rocks.
On the way back I realised I was looking at a bald village, (and I’m not talking about the men) – when you look at the land there was not a tree in sight! The green on the mountains was just moss and shaggy bits of grass but there was nothing taller than a foot. I found out that the further up you go in Norway the smaller the trees get until there are no trees at all. But I do exaggerate – there was one tree in Gjesvær. At the end of town by the water stands a dead twisted white tree. It was brought to the village by a film crew and was left as an eery memento. Even though it reminds me of the White Tree of Gondor (LOTR), it certainly makes no valid comment on Gjestvær – the place may be a tree-less island but it is surrounded by living waters.