The few people who elect to journey far enough north to experience Norway's dramatic Lofoten archipelago comment on the incredible tranquility of the place. They shout these comments over the roar of a 500-horsepower outboard motor.
The best way to see Lofoten's fjords is by climbing aboard a high-speed RIB boat (rigid-inflatable boat), and blasting up the waters around Svolvær at velocity. You may feel like a dog with his head out the car window, but the beauty of this group of islands off the northern coast of Norway, all rocky peaks sloping down toward rough seas that are fed by waterfalls, leaves a more lasting impression than the adrenaline.
The boat cuts past the site of the 1890 Battle of Trollfjord, a bizarre conflict that saw steam-powered fishing boats fighting open-boat fishermen over access to teeming waters. Near the spot where steam won the day, you will peer up at staggering peaks and pass remote fishing huts. You might even catch a glimpse of a massive white-tailed sea eagle soaring between the cliffs. There is even a waterfall reportedly guarded by trolls.
Boaters would do well to land and go for a quick hike. There is no better way to appreciate how vertiginous these mountains are, and the reward for those willing to sweat out the climb is impressive. The view from the top of Keiservarden peak, a 1,260 summit on the water, is profoundly panoramic.
The views from on high inspire both tremendous awe and a healthy respect for the field of geology. The landscape seems improbable verging on impossible, but there it is. The boat looks tiny.
More information: The two-hour boat ride with RIB Lofoten costs about 700 NOK per person – a little shy of $120.