Sitting in our campervan in row number one waiting for the Gryllefjord ferry afforded plenty of time for contemplation about time and place. We were taking the last outbound ferry of the season, according to the owner of the local supermarket.
The town seemed to be resting. Gone were the hordes of the summer season (30,000 strong, we heard). The clouds were close and the mountains closer. We were the only people in line for the ferry. We were the only people in the small restaurant where we had dinner.
What do people do here? I wondered. There was a store, and two restaurants, the ferry and the turistinformasjon office during the summer, but I could see at least twenty houses in Gryllefjord – what did everyone else do? Fish? A few local kids skidded around the empty streets on their bikes. Was there a school nearby?
“In December, fishing season starts,” said the store owner. Until then, Gryllefjord is on a bit of a hiatus. They get the fjord to themselves. Maybe they go on their own holidays, take the opportunity to be tourists in someone else’s town. Maybe they have a family farm they stay at, or they go to Oslo for some city life.
Maybe they stay home and catch up on their reading, or walk up into the hills behind their homes to listen to the sheep bells and seagulls and watch the autumn fog roll in.
I felt like we were intruding – the last stragglers of the summer, caught between the seasonal ferry ride and the chilly fall air, rousting everyone for an unexpected last chat in English.
We left on the ferry, bellies full of local coalfish and cream sauce. Now the town was wholly empty: the supermarket and restaurant closed, the ferry loaded up with all the people there could possibly be around here. Gryllefjord was still and grey as a gravestone.
The Norwegian flag at the back of the ferry was caught on a lamp post, and as we slowly made our way through the fjord it flopped around like a fish on deck. Once we lost sight of the town and cleared the fjord, the ocean winds ripped the cloth free.
We are off to Lofoten!