Over the arctic road along Barents Sea (Ishavsvejen) to Berlevåg
In the planning of our tour, we had the thought of whether the barren and rather flat, treeless and polar landscape would not be too boring. After all, we discover the entire coastline of the Barents Sea to the Russian border and are a few thousand kilometers in this sadness on the way. But now we have arrived in one of the northernmost places at the end of the Norwegian Arctic Road, in Berlevåg. And as before, we are deeply touched daily by the new impressions.
Berlevåg: It’s the way it is
If you are looking for romantic calendars and flower-filled front gardens, you are thrilled with beautiful wooden facades and noble boutiques and restaurants, this is wrong here in Berlevåg.
No, Berlevåg is not a fine tourist town, it has no trendy district and no parks. Berlevåg is characterized by the people who live here and who daily face their environment, especially the sea, and come to terms with their environment, here in the Subarctic.
This is not about who drives the thickest SUV and who wears the finest handbag, Berlevåg is about real life and sometimes survival. Anyone who lives here in one of the largest fishing villages of Finnmark, feels at home here because Berlevåg is just as original and rugged as it is.
Berlevåg comes to the cinema
It was precisely this honesty, this pure life, that made filmmakers bring a documentary to the cinemas in 2001 that shows a completely different side to this fishing village. The film “Heftig og begeistret” touched people in the world who saw the portrait of the men’s choir from Berlevåg. As a result, this men’s choir traveled around the world and transported a piece of vitality that they probably envy many people.
Berlevåg: Big on a small scale
Just 1000 people live in Berlevåg. Most of them earn their living either by fishing or by fish processing. For over 70 years, people built a safe haven in this winter stormy environment. Time and again, the construction phases were destroyed by storm surges. But the people did not give up. Only a safe modern port could ensure the survival of the fishing village with its enormous challenges. In 1975, about 1,000 tetrapods, each weighing 15 tonnes, were set, with their barrier withstanding even 10-meter-high waves. But even today, the port is not reachable in turbulent seas. Until 1959, outsiders could only reach Berlevåg by the postal route, the Hurtigruten, only then was the road connection completed.
Berlevåg and its museum
The fact that Belevåg once had a railroad is just one story that the Port Museum of Berlevåg has to tell. The locomotive, which pulled the construction material to the steam crane for the construction of the port, is standing there in its shed, and on special occasions is driven to the gate. Otherwise you will experience in this simple and informative museum the exciting and also tragic history of Berlevåg, also the sad occupation time and subsequent destruction by the German Wehrmacht. Of particular interest is the documentary film that can be seen upstairs, which shows the elaborate completion of the harbor in some languages and allows contemporary witnesses to speak.
Berlevåg and his immigrants
As a tourist, as a visitor to this quaint and unadorned harbor town, it is difficult to understand how the people here endure. Motorhomes we have occasionally seen here, but hardly people who have got out. Too windy, too cold, too gray – but you were there once. It is great to feel Berlevåg, to breathe, to experience. For example, the Swiss artist Daniela Salathé, a glass artist, found her new home in Berlevåg more than 20 years ago and opened a small studio here, the Arctic glass studio. Her art of clear and colored glass reflects the environment and its challenges in a striking and beautiful way.
Landing in Berlevåg
Until the completion of the outer port, cargo and passengers were reloaded to smaller boats in front of the harbor and landed in Berlevåg. But when the ship of the Hurtigrute was able to dock, the Berlevåg took part in his regular schedule and has since regularly been here.
Since 1970, there is also a small airfield about three kilometers outside of Berlevåg. From here there are direct connections to Hammerfest, Vadsø, Båtsfjord and Mehhamn.
If you arrive by car, it takes a long detour. About 135 kilometers Berlevåg is from the European route E6 to the crossing point Tanabru after Kirkenes away, you should plan in good weather about three hours. The route is partly narrow and winding. During the long winter months up to and including May, the Fv 890 road can be snowed and thus blown in a storm and iced from the sea.