BODØ: A STRATEGIC CITY
Bodø (pronounced Bùda) is a small but strategical city.
It is in fact the first port north of the Arctic Circle, the starting point to reach the Lofoten Islands, the northern terminus of the Norwegian railway and gateway to the Arctic lands.
The current center is a mix of wooden houses, brick houses, blocks up to 10 floors high, quite luxurious hotels with large windows.
There are few attractions in Bodø but the surrounding landscape is certainly fascinating: the largest city in Nordland is surrounded by the rugged Børvasstindan mountains, Bodømarka forest and lots of small islands.
Just 75 minutes by plane from Oslo, you could see the Northern Lights from September to March and from 30 May to 12 July the midnight sun.
The city was founded in 1816 and around 1860 it became an important centre for herring fishing.
During the Second World War it was practically razed to the ground by bombing on 27 May 1940 and later rebuilt in a sober but functional architectural style, a classic post-war example.
During the Cold War, Bodø military airport was considered strategic by NATO because it was from there that attacks against the Soviet Union would start.
In May 1960, during a period of very high tension, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down on Soviet territory on its way from Pakistan to Bodø airport.
Norway didn’t officially allow foreign troops to park or use military installations on Norwegian territory, and this illegal behaviour, in violation of the agreements, led to a worsening of relations between Norway and the Soviet Union.
WHAT TO SEE
The peculiarity of this church, made almost entirely of wood, is certainly its shape of an upside down ship.
Inside there are interesting photos that tell its history, from its construction to the bombardments of the Second World War that practically razed the entire city to the ground.
Rebuilt in 1956, it is one of the few Norwegian churches where you could enter for free.
Not far from Domkirke, there is the Nordland Museum.
Bodø is a little city so is impossible not to come here and discover the history of this city, which went from the bombings of World War II to its strategic position in the Cold War.
There are also exhibitions about Sami and Viking cultures.
Bodo Tourist Information
Given the few things to do in Bodø, I looked for a few excursions to the Tourist Centre but unfortunately it was a bust, given its uselessness and the listlessness of the staff.
No useful information is given and therefore it could be a library where you browse maps and brochures.
The excursions on visitbodo.com are presented and also the eventual reservation must be made directly from this website, with payment in advance by credit or debit card.
400 million cubic meters of water flow in about 6 hours through a 3 kilometer long and 150 meter wide strait between the Salten Fjord and the Skjerstad Fjord, and the maelstrom can reach speeds uo 20 knots..
This phenomenon creates the worlds strongest tidal current and you see characteristic whirlpools up to 10 meters in diameter and 5 metres deep.
I booked the excursion on visitbodo.com but the NOK 495 (just over € 50.00) seemed too expensive.
The bus takes the independent travellers in front of the library and then heads to the port to pick up the passengers of the Hurtigruten ship (who have chosen to participate in the excursion, paying about double).
It do a quick tour of Bodø and then goes to Saltstraumen where arrives in about 45 minutes.
You have about 15 minutes to go down to the shore, take photos and see the current and the whirlpools that form.
Or you could choose another type of tour, challenging the current on board a zodiac.
The time is enough but still shamefully little in relation to the price of the excursion.
Arrival at the port of Bodø is scheduled for around 14.50, in time for the departure of the Hurtigruten ship to the Lofoten Islands.
HOW TO GET
Bodø Airport is located 1.5 kilometres south-west from the city centre.
Bodø Station is the terminus of the Nordlandsbanen and was opened by King Olav V on 7 June 1962.
From Bodø, a day and night train goes to Trondheim.
Hurtigruten docks here twice a day: at 01.30 when heading south and at 12.30 when heading north.
I chose to arrive here by plane from Trondheim and then continue the trip by ship to Honningsvag (the best port to reach Nordkapp – North Cape (and the real North Cape, Knivskjellodden) with stops at Lofoten Islands and Tromso.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Thon Hotel Nordlys
By booking well in advance, I found a great price for this hotel very closed to the port, 20 minutes from the Hurtigruten ship boarding and within walking distance from the airport.
The reception staff is kind and professional but I have to write a honorable comment deserves the extraordinary breakfast, wonderful and very rich thanks to the chefs who cook on sight and at least 4 waitresses always in the room to arrange everything and available to guests..
It was one of the best breakfasts ever, with a huge assortment of sweet, salty, salmon, drinks and fruit.
And a spectacular chocolate fountain that invites you to dive in.