We spent the night at a nice camping site just next to the river in Rovaniemi.
First on the list for today was the Arktikum, where the Arctic Center and the Provincial Museum of Lapland are situated. Both examine culture, history and modern life in the artic. The temporary exhibition was all about the artic cuisine.
Our next stop was the Santa Village where you can also find the marker of the Arctic Circle. The whole complex is a huge touristic attraction with tons of souvenirs and stuff where you can spent your money on if you wish. You can also get Santa to write a letter that will be delivered at Christmas for only 7.90 €. We kept calm and got some postcards. Of cause we could not leave without a picture standing on the Arctic Circle. Disappointingly the mark was situated in a pedestrian zone. But we found an entrance big enough for the bikes with no prohibition sign 😉
We hit the road again and after a good and dry ride for 380 km we arrived in Giellajohka. Our camp site offered fishing licences for the adjacent river. So we tried our luck and after a couple of hours we had pasta for dinner, at least with tuna 😉
The next morning we already left Finland. We spend clearly not enough time in Finland to get a real impression of the country besides what you can see from the main roads. But when time is limited you need to cut edges and the focus for this trip is Norway. I liked it here and will visit Finland again for sure. Winter times with a finish sauna sounds like a perfect match!
We entered Norway at the border crossing next to Karasjok (NOR), it’s the capital of the Sámi people (also known as Lapps, but this name is not well-liked). The Sámi are the only indigenous people in Scandinavia. They are an ethnic minority with a population of 90.000 – 140.000. The region they inhabit is called Sápmi and it spans over Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. In Karasjok or Kárášjohka how it’s called in Sami we had a look the at the Sámi parliament (Sámediggi) and visited the Sápmi Park. It’s an open-air museum where you can experience some of their traditional way of life, whereas most of the Sámi have switched to a “modern life”. In the park you’ll find e.g. typical campsites for summer and winter. You can see different types of huts (even some movable on skids) and tents that each have a special purpose.
We went on north again without rain so far and even a bit of sunshine from time to time. The ride along the coastline was just beautiful, even if it got a bit cold and windy. Every now and then we had to stop to take a picture of the splendid view.
When we passed the 6.875 m long and up to 212 m below sea level reaching Nordkapptunelen we knew it’s not far anymore. We had some more tunnel crossings that were all freaking cold and not really well illuminated. Shortly after we drove past Honningsvåg we had to put the rain stopper on, because it got really foggy. With a vision of 10 – 30 m for the last 10 km we finally reached the North Cape. I don’t know if it would’ve been possible to go with the bikes around the touristic North Cape Center to park the bikes in front of the globe monument. But since we couldn’t see anything and the cliff leads 300 m down into the Sea of Ice we walked there like normal people 😉
From the North Cape it’s about 2.100 km to the North Pole, but it’s not the most northern point of Europe or the european mainland (the cape is on an island). That would be Knivskjellbodden and the Cape Nordkinn respectively. A lot of royalty has been to the North Cape e.g. from France, Sweden, Germany and even from Siam (King Chulalongkorn), so no wonder we needed to stop by :p
On the camp site we met a couple of guys who did a benefit run from the Timmendorfer Strand in Germany all the way to the cape (www.spendenlauf-nordkap.de). Well done guys!
Our destination for the next day was Alta. We took a detour from Skaidi to the so called most northern city of the world, Hammerfest (ja, that’s not true ;)). After crossing the impressive 740 m spanning Kvalsund Bridge we would’ve been able to see a sharp rock formation called Stallo, which was used as a pre-Christian sacrificial altar by the Sámi. Unfortunately we somehow missed it on the way in and back. Maybe it’s on the road around the tunnel, which we could not take. In Hammerfest we visited the Isbjørnklubben and became members of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. Yeah another one for the CV :p. It had started raining again when we reached the monument of the Struve Geodetic Arc. This arc is a chain of survey triangulations that spans from Hammerfest almost 3.000 km through ten countries to the Black Sea. It was used for the first accurate measurement of a meridian.
A couple of kilometers south from Alta you can find the Sautso Alta Canyon. With a length of 15 km and depth up to 500 m the largest canyon of Northern Europe (really). From a parking area it’s only reachable by foot as a 2 h hike. We wanted to put up the tents somewhere near the parking place and do the hike in the morning. The last kilometers were up the mountain on a not so good looking gravel road. I was a bit worried how Benny would handle it since it was his first not tarmac ride, but he did more than well. Not a problem at all! After a little try and error game we found a spot for the night with less than one quadrillion mosquitos per person. We had a soup for dinner and went to sleep as the first rain drops started to fall.
Of course it didn’t stop raining the whole night or the next day. No chance we could do the 4 hours hike without getting soaking wet… so we skipped the canyon, gathered our stuff and went back to Alta for breakfast. It was good and warm and dry. I bought a Statoil cup that gives you free coffee refills at every Statoil gas station. I need 15 coffees to make a benefit, 14 to go ;).
For the next days we wanted to go roughly in the direction of Tromso. There is a nice alternative to the main route, where you do two ferry crossings. But we didn’t get that far. On a photo stop Benny got on the grass edge and just after he stopped the bike slipped to the side. Well no big deal I thought. But some minutes after we had lifted the bike up again there was gasoline leaking out of the air filter… We opened it up, completely filled as well as the carburetors and there was also gasoline in the engine oil. So the complete system was filled with gasoline. Minimum we need to do is an oil change, get rid of the gasoline, have a look at the fuel tap and the float switch of the carburetor. Nothing you want to do on a side road in Norway, time to call the ADAC. The guy arrived quite quick and brought Benny and his bike back to Alta. Unfortunately were all garages already closed, it’s 13:30 on a Saturday, and won’t open before Monday. Where is your croatian 24/7 garage when you need it…
We will stay now in Alta till Monday and talk with the guys from the garage. Then we will see how things are working out, so keep your fingers crossed.