Manshausen Island, Norway Where Sea and Mountains Meet
May 1, 2019
Coming to Norway is unlike anywhere else you can find in Europe. For British citizens reading this, and thanks to Brexit, it’s likely we are jokes to the rest of the earth’s population, so that’s fun. As many of our new Norwegian friends modestly suggested – Theresa massive problem with our government, it May never get its act together now. I tried my hardest to blend in. Could this short trip to Manshausen empower me to leave more a Viking than I arrive? It didn’t take long for my girlfriend and I to learn, Norwegians live by the rules and have very organized lives. With this, we got to know what ticks them off. So, if you’re thinking about travelling to Norway, here are three ways you can definitely irritate a Norwegian:
Talk about Brexit
Be late (especially for dinner)
Take their seat
Like many of the quirky destinations trapped beneath the thumbs of an Instagram buff, most of these places seem un-tangible, unaffordable, too far or even photoshopped to death to believe they are real. But Manshausen’s beauty is no secret to any traveler who is willing to embrace the small effort it takes to get there in the first place. Pack lightly! For anyone seeking inspiration, isolation or killer iPhone panoramas, Manshausen is the place for you to reach your #TravelGoals.
Similarly, to the grand-schemed helicopter adventure in Ben Stiller’s movie ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’, it was indisputable that we indulged ourselves on this trip to create some retrospectively ‘extreme’ memories. For example, as two London city goers, we were overly fascinated by Manshausen’s pack of rustic sheep (much to the bemusement of our wonderful hosts). From the instant you arrive in Norway’s plant-decorated airports selling £40 bagels, you feel all of a sudden ‘greener’, if not slightly tempted to become vegan for the sake of your inner environmentalist taking over your entire ‘carbon-free’ body. It takes two plane transfers to get to the tiny coastal town, Bodø and from there you catch a very suave boat service to Nordskot in sheer Norwegian style.
Whilst I cover the boat topic – if anyone has been lucky enough to experience the hell catching a ferry from Dover to Calais, you will definitely notice the difference between a Nordic vessel and a British one because, the only difference between a Ferry from Dover to Calais and bucket of sick – is the bucket!
You come to Norway in spring season expecting it to be fairly chilly however, wearing our huge thick fur coats (failing miserably with our transition to become Nordic vegans), we survived the cold. Our real-life adventure began on this vessel to Manshausen through the frosted mountain scape and the deserted, arctic utopia. Whilst the everyday commuting Norwegians (only out to get a bag of moose mince from the corner shop) peacefully sat in the warmth of the passenger cabin, we climbed to to the open-air deck like two overly enthusiastic interns on a blustery Jessica Watson expedition. The clear water in this region of Norway has a different look and level of clarity to anywhere else I have experienced in the world.
Being a filmmaker and founder of my production company Wonderfilm Pictures here , the vast purity of this place exceeds my ability to stay on track with one topic, but I really want to.
Let’s get into details – Manshausen Island
From their Instagram page here there will be organic food, kayaking adventures, relaxation, wood fires, views, crisp mornings and an opportunity to Instagram the bright green northern lights from your cabin – apparently. Finally, you can add hashtags like #AsGreenAsMyHeart or #VeganFromWithin. With just 5 cabins, Manshausen can retain its peacefulness and exclusivity – smart move. Manshausen’s owner, Børge Ousland is the leading polar explorer of our time and has crossed both the Arctic and the Antarctic, from coast to coast. Whilst Ousland is off making deeds with the polar bears, the island is run independently by the power couple that live there, Jesper Hansen and Astrid Regine. The couple have shown the island a lot of love since 2016 when they first took it on, living in a battery powered caravan at the time. Manshausen is welcoming and personable than you would expect, you can’t help but form a friendship with the owners and your neighbors staying in the nearby cabins.
The sturdy wooden cabins are held amongst the backdrop of white coated mountains and calm sea that surround them. Every cabin has a great view and position to experience the sun rise and fall. With the cabins metal exterior, the whole island has a scenically reflective and monochromatic feel to it with its skylines, grey stone, wooden walk ways and surrounding mountain landscape. The cabins have a minimalist design inside and out.
I want to talk about the cabins from back to front as many of the pictures online only seem to show the most aesthetic glass section. There is a huge sliding door that once closed, seems to block the rest of humanity out. As soon as you enter your cabin, you feel the immediate warmth inside and notice how functional the space is. The interior designer found a perfect balance between usability and beauty. On the worktop, there’s a sink, an induction stove and on the other side, a long dining chair with table that folds out of way. You will notice as you walk towards the window, the cabins slightly hang over the edge of the rock face giving you a feeling that you are standing above the water.
Whilst the cabins are incredibly compact and small, your comfort is maintained because the beds are super cozy. You are encouraged to be outside more, using the cabins for sleep and relaxation. If you’re someone who unpacks everything like my girlfriend, you will find a space for everything. The cabins have one double bed and technically a bunk bed in the back which sleeps two. Although I urge you to eat food at Manshausen’s restaurant every single day because it’s so flipping delicious, there are enough facilities in the cabins to cook for yourself if you want to. Every night we had a clean, soft and comfortable sleep, one awakened by the natural light which spills in through large windows. How radiant! In our short five day stay, we managed to feed the islands pack of adorable rustic sheep, kayak around the island, hike up a local mountain, row a boat together (ooo – how romantic!), cook smores on the fire, and take a deadly cold plunge in the sea, using the sauna afterwards to prevent us from hyperventilating. Nasty!
Summoning my inner Viking, our host Jesper Hansen awaited us at the Nordskot dock – standing 6ft 9! Every morning at breakfast, we were briefed by Jesper, we felt as if he was hyping us up for the day, it always felt nice. Thanks to him, not only did we become entwined in the Nordic culture, but he educated us and made sure we got the most out of our time. Jesper was quite literally our very own BFG and being an ex-mountaineer, he showed us the ropes for everything Manshausen has to offer from its kayaking, to its Michelin-worthy food.
Our big foodie and master chef, Astrid Regine packages the food experience up so distinctly. Astrid was recognized in the press for being nominated and winning the Kokkeprisen (chefs prize) for creating both tasteful and sustainable food in combination with growing one’s own crops on the island. Her food is mostly island-grown, locally sourced and/or organic fresh ingredients.
‘My goal is to create meals that are tasty and sustainable whilst being mostly organic, locally-sourced and low waste. I think I have succeeded maintaining these food standards over the past three years at Manshausen. I like to keep our atmosphere casual and I like to take the time to have meaningful conversations about food, the seasons’ ingredients, and take time to care about what goes in the food, how we source it and what we do with it afterwards. I believe in the importance of all the things that happen before and after the meals are served.’
There are no compromises made when it comes to Astrid’s food on Manshausen. Remember, any ingredient that makes it on to this remote island is a logistical challenge. When you come to an off-radar location like this, you expect the food to be, well, basic, but not here. For example, every morning you will enjoy Astrid’s fresh, warm and traditional sourdough bread. It takes her days to make! Each day you stay at Manshausen includes a fresh breakfast every morning for its guests. If you fancy going on a hike up the local mountain, not only does Astrid prepare packed lunches into cute paper bags but as for her spectacular meals… my Lord, I’m weak. Here’s a taster of our trip to food heaven and back…
Starting with the salted and smoked local whale with capers, goats cheese cream and rhubarb ketchup on potato waffle with a variant of cured moose/elk with red currants and a Norwegian fatty creme fraiche called rømme. Concerned at first, then surprised, then fell in love with it. For main, skrei, the only cod that migrates, it swims a long way therefore the meat is amazingly firm and flaky in texture, on roasted carrots with mizen, ginger pickled kohlrabi, local bacon with reduced rømme and white wine sauce. Lord, what else is there to life? One lunch we had moose/elk Bolognese with local hard cheese called rød kjerringøy. Nailed it! Our favorite – breaded cod tongue with Astrid’s homemade sourdough bread, served with rye flatbread, radish sprouts and tarragon mayo – I died. Not to mention, a great selection of wines and beers – beer so local that you can see the brewery behind a distant mountain from the restaurant. If you are a sweet tooth like me, we had warm chocolate brownie with rhubarb sorbet and dried coneflower petals from the garden… ok now I’m just purring like a cat.
In other words, Astrid’s food was so out of this world, I had to cook for them one night.
When you leave a place feeling completely rejuvenated, nutritiously balanced, happy and healthy, you got it just right. I’ll be honest, when I arrived in Norway my face had a pimple here and there, but thanks to the cleanliness of Norway’s HD air (and maybe our cold, salty plunge in the sea) they were totally gone by the time I got back… Manshausen left us more inspired to do more outdoor trips. We left Manshausen with more than we came for and it brought us closer together as a couple. Adventure, romance, moments, this place is just a breath of fresh air.
Jessica and I would like to wish Astrid and Jesper all the best of luck for their future with the child they are expecting!
W: Manshausen Island
T: 00-47-233 82 200
Written by Lewis Andrews for Luxuria Lifestyle International