Last week I introduced you to Fjaerland, telling you how I came to be standing in the middle of Norway, alone, and in my first Book Town. What is a book town? The first one was Hay on Wye in Wales which remains a pilgrimage destination to this day. A crazy idea that turned into a worldwide “thing”. A town of bookshops, glorious bookshops. I’d heard about Hay on Wye, of course, and had seen an old BBC documentary about it. The only other Book Town I knew about when I entered 2018 was Wigtown – the central town in The Diary of a Bookseller. That book got me interested in book shops and inspired my blog series, my bookshop challenge. Seven months later I found myself in Fjaerland, a remote Fjord town in the heart of Norway, Norway’s very own Book Town.
I made it!
When I stepped off of the boat onto the Fjaerland Quay I was excited. And a bit scared. I still wanted to make sure that I could get back on that boat, having travelled for six hours to get here, all by boat. Right in my eyeline was a shop, across the road, that declared itself a tourist information and so I walked past the bus I had paid to take me to a glacier museum and a glacier and went in. The lady in the shop was really helpful and explained that there were quite a few bookshops, some of them had English books but the main one with a big stock of English books was at the end of the road. She gave me a map and I bought some postcards.
Then I started wandering. Happily. The tourist information shop stretched off to one side into rooms and rooms of books and more books. And there were plenty of customers.
Over the course of the next hour I wended my way down the road that cut through the village. Other than bookshops there was a tea shop, a convenience store and a church, houses of course. But then bookshops. Maybe about 10? All set in old wooden buildings overlooking the Fjord.
I eventually made it down to the last bookshop, with all the English books, and found all the English books! There were English people in there too! Perhaps Fjaerland was far more accessible than I had painted in my head! My six hours boat trip still suggested otherwise though.
I had to buy books of course and I found a rather marvellous vintage copy of Tess of the D’urbervilles.
Ultimately though I just enjoyed being there and taking photographs. My husband particularly loves this one….
There’s a couple that show the beautiful location of this book town.
I wish I had longer there so that I hadn’t felt rushed or panicked at points. But ultimately I think a couple of hours is perfect. A highlight was having lunch in the cafe overlooking the quay reading Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10.
I took a boat from Bergen to Balestrand, this took about 5 hours. At Balestrand I got on another boat that took me to Fjaerland, this one took about an hour. Fjord Norway runs this trip to the glacier museum in Fjaerland, you just don’t get on the bus.