I love going on holidays to Norway. It's difficult to describe but I feel like we Poles have something in common with Norwegians - not only the Baltic sea but also some mentality. Values and love for our respective countries, families and nature (not forgetting fish and pickles). Or perhaps I'm just biased because my best friend is Norwegian and I share a lot with her therefore I generalise that Poland and Norway have a lot of similarities. Either way it felt good to visit Norway again.
This was our last stop on a crazy journey through London, Stokholm and Tallinn, where we attended our friends' wedding in the end of June. We usually fly to Oslo Torp (a small airport that is really 200km from Oslo, but luckily for us it's closer to our destination in the Southern coast of Norway.), but this time we flew to the main Oslo Gardermoen airport. We had time for a quick (but delicious) dinner with my friend's family and we were off on our way to Oslo Torp to pick up the rest of our party.
We arrived in Lillesand (in the Sørlander region, about 295km south of Oslo) at about 2AM. It wasn't completely dark and it would never be until the end of August, as we found out later. K took us on a boat to her summerhouse and we couldn't wait to go to bed and get some rest (we spent the previous night dancing away at our other friends' wedding in Estonia).
Åkerøya is a small island in one of many archipelagos on the southern Norwegian coast. There is a group of summer houses scattered around a bay and on small islands which can be accessed either by sea or from a small private harbour. It's a small community where people have had summer houses for a long long time but K says that everyone respects their privacy and social gatherings between holiday makers are rather uncommon.
On the first day we slept in and took a boat to the car to drive to Lillesand to go grocery shopping and have ice cream. Lillesand is an 19th century town with a charming harbour and beautiful traditional houses. There's not much sights to see there but the atmosphere is very pleasant. We stocked up on some local produce (shrimps!), Jarlsberg of course, and lots of spreads in tubes (Norwegians love their crisp bread spreads in tubes, you can get pretty much everything as a spread in a tube, even bacon).
The following days would flow slowly: we would have breakfast, then go for a walk around the island, cook dinner, read books, have some wine or gin and tonics and talk until late at night. The water was pretty cold (about 12 C) but we had wetsuits and a couple of times we went snorkelling (navigating between jellyfish) and boys went on a kayaking trip around the island. On rainy days we made waffles and baked some crisp bread using K mum's recipe - it was surprisingly easy and they lasted us until the end of our trip.
Once we went fishing. I have to be honest it wasn't my favourite activity. We took a small motor boat, some shrimp heads and drove a couple of kilometres from the shore. I'm not used to being at sea so I panicked a little bit and frankly I couldn't wait to set foot on solid ground. Everyone assured me it was perfectly safe and I focused on watching the horizon. We didn't have much luck initially but then we suddenly caught 4 cods within about 10 mins. K brought one of her beautiful cooking books just dedicated to seafood and we chose to make fish cakes and fish soup (both rather delicious, although I would probably have chosen to just bake the fish on some sea salt).
After our dinners sea gulls had a feast of fish heads and shrimp shells.
On our last night we had a bonfire with roasted marshmallows and an early night as the next day we were off to the North to hike the Trolltunga. But more about it later. It was a very relaxing 5 days spent in a very good company in a beautiful location. I can definitely say that Åkerøya is one of my favourite places on Earth. I count myself very lucky to be able to go back there ever so often.