Saturday 28 June, midday: This is a hasty photograph of the main shopping street in Sortland, taken as my bike was starting to topple over, and a little bit too dark perhaps. The crowds were out, and I was racing to buy food for the exposed two or three day ride up to Andenes before the shops started to shut.
There really doesn't seem to much to the largest town in the islands besides this street and a preponderance of blue buildings (Sortland has been through something of a make-over in the last ten years to make it more attractive to visitors). But it certainly bustles on Saturday mornings, and made me think about how my perspectives on crowds have changed after just a short time in this landscape of wide open vistas and very small settlements.
Fortunately I found everything I needed, including a liter of Coleman fuel for the petrol stove, and two "turmat" dehydrated meals in foil sachets to be used as 'reserve proviant' in case I have to hole up somewhere to wait out bad weather (it's a fair way to Andenes). The two front panniers are bulging with food, and I'm looking forward to supper tonight already- grillpolse with pasta sauce, mash potato and courgettes.
The sun is out but it's cold - 12° with a fierce Northerly wind blowing in my face as I ride North along Andøya towards the Andøya Friluftsenter about 35 km away at Buknesfjorden. The wind is keeping my speed way down at about 9kph, and I am thinking seriously about whether I should catch the Hurtigrute from Risøyhamn to Tromsø to tackle the big island of Senja with the prevailing wind behind me for a change.