Saturday, June 26, 2010
About Our Rorbu
Originally, the rorbu was a bunkhouse for fishermen, and more than just a couple. Although some of the rorbuer here are of new construction ours (pictured above) is one of the originals, but extensively modernied for visitors like us who want to be comfortable. In the 19th century a rorbu this size would have slept up to two dozen of the fishermen who came here from all parts of Norway to partake in the winter cod season. Today our cabin is outfitted for six, though it would be very intimate in the two bedrooms and single bath with a full house.
Why winter? Because that's when the cod appeared in the relatively warm waters between the Lofoten Islands and the mainland and the surrounding seas. Sure as heck beat hanging around all winter in the Barents sea north of Norway and Russia. Just like snowbirds heading south from Minneapolis to Sarasota, the cod appreciate the temperature tempering effects of the Gulf Stream.
Svinøye Rorbuer (the plural of rorbu) on an island that served as the original community of Svolvaer. In fact, Svolvaer's first store is occupied by the reception area, with shelves filled with goods from the early 20th century when the fish enterprises around here really took off.
Even today, bacalao from the Lofotens is admired, and eaten, around the world. Today, the only activities in the building are the rorbuer offices, its restaurant (which we will try tonight and is reputed to be the best around these parts), and bicycle rental. Oh, there's also a small laundry room where I washed a week's worth of clothing yesterday.
The kitchen/eating and living room are separate but flow together, as you can see in the photo showing Jean Sue enjoying a Varg Veum private eye novel (a series about a fictional former child welfare worker turned private eye in Bergen) while I stand in the corner of the kitchen taking the photo. Most of the windows in the rorbu open to the sea and mountains.
The bedrooms (we have two) aren't as spacious, but they work. This rorbu can sleep six. Each bedroom has a single bed and upper and lower bunks. Closet space, however, is nil, though there are some shelves, plenty of coat hooks along the bedroom and vestibule walls, and maybe eight or nine clothes hangers. We took advantage of the space offered by the unoccupied beds. The only other downside to the bedrooms are the beds: while we mostly slept just fine, despite the 24-hour light, the beds are not much more than a thin, efficient mattress on a platform. You better like hard beds, though Jean Sue found that putting one of the extra duvets between her and the mattress offered significant relief.
The entire cabin is well-heated, with controllable electric units in each room. Plus, the bathroom floor is heated -- that's quite common in Norway, for good reason. The other bathroom facilities, including stall shower, worked fine.
The kitchen is satisfactorily equipped, as you could gather from reading my Catching Dinner post. Given that eating out in Norway is twice as expensive as back home (I think I mentioned earlier that pizza and beer for two will set you back about $70) we took advantage of the kitchen. I sautéed chicken one night, made pasta with sufficient sauce for two more meals, reheated leftover pizza from last Sunday and, of course, made that fish. Thanks to the refrigerator we could buy soda, milk and beer at the supermarket rather than relying on 7-11 and Narvesen, the two major convenience store chains in Norway. Breakfast was a buffet in the Svinøya Rorbuer's restaurant: smoked salmon or gravlax, meatballs, sausages (more like little hot dogs), breads and rolls, ham, salami, cheeses, yogurts, fruits, cereals, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice and milk.
Overall, should you wish to visit the Lofoten Islands (and you should, you should) we wouldn't hesitate recommending Svinøya Rorbuer.