At the end of the road on Tjeldoya Island (and that is saying something) we parked, got out to fish and amid the ruined bunkers of the WWII Fort Tjeldodden we found Georg’s Plass, a picnic spot complete with tables, benches, fire pit, tripod and cooking vessel, dishes, cups and other supplies in a setting with a view over the water. You could have a barbecue for a big crowd here. All the supplies were in order and other than a few plastic cups in the fire pit and a stray coke bottle, it was orderly and without graffiti. One sign asks that users clean up after themselves.
We were amazed. (See pictures in previous post.)
A few days later we visited an archaeological site from the Viking period and Middle Ages. Beyond the site along the shore was another attractive and well-furnished picnic area, again in perfect condition. Parking along the road and signs directed us.
Another day, we drove to the other end of the road on Tjeldoya (the road doesn’t complete a circle around the island, it’s too steep). We found a beach and rocks and two men camping and fishing from a canoe who had gotten cod and trout (“no salmon,” they said regretfully). We stopped at an area marked for “Parkering” with a sign, and found an article that we couldn’t translate, but we also found a path. We hiked up on the rocks for about 10 minutes and about when we were ready to turn back we found a small structure with big windows facing the ocean. Like fairy tale characters, we went inside.
A bench and shelf lines the window, art supplies are provided (paper, colored pencils, watercolors) and the resulting works are pinned to the side walls. Periodically, the works are gathered up, placed in a binder, dated and filed on the back wall. It’s an ongoing art project. We saw artworks from just a day or two before our visit, going back to the opening of the place in 2006. Again, the door was unlocked, the place was in order–it was a respite from the cold and wind and encouraged you to draw and look out the window. In the picture below, you can tell which is by the art student (Jim).
Back on our own side of the island, we went to investigate a hut at the Tjeldodden fort, (or possibly Fort Tjeldoya). Construction of this German fort began late in 1940 after the takeover of Narvik and all of Norway. It held up to 300 men and was occupied until at least 1944. (See Iron and War post coming up.) We thought the hut would be a view point over the remains of the fort. This is what we found:
We have now visited four of these sites. Three are historic sites set up for cooking/heating and numbers of visitors. The fourth is an art site. All are left unlocked and are unharmed and ungraffitied, their supplies intact. Some even have bathrooms. This island is the most remote in the Lofoten chain (often not included in the “Lofoten”, though it is an island), yet all these sites are equipped to make visits interesting and fun. Each site has information posted or in laminated pages available inside the structure.
How do these places happen? They are great. There should be places like this in the US. If you know of one in the US, please let me know.