Norway Part 3, The Far North

I am leaving Tromso on June 23rd.  The tent is soaking wet in my panniers, but I didn’t want to have another sleepless night at the campground.

Riding further north from Tromso, sometimes there will be no alternative then to ride highways E8 & E6.  Luckily you can leave the city via minor roads for the first 20 km or so, following ‘national bicycle route 1’.  Then there’s no alternative for the E8.  Keeping an eye on the gps, I find a small road between the E8 and the fjord, where the bicycle route continues over the horrible busy road.

At Fagernes I take a left onto the quieter road nbr 91 and pitch my tent a few km before the ferry landing on a high ridge overlooking a forested valley.  Typically for Norway, you see electrical power lines going everywhere.  3 lines going through this valley.

Next day I take the ferry from Breivikeidet to Svensby, crossing the Ullsfjorden.  The ride from Svensby to the next ferry at Lyngseidet is a beautiful one, but under an overcasted sky and the rain is chasing me.  I lose the fight against the rain at Olderdalen, where I  rejoin the E6.  Traffic, rain and quiet a few short climbs are not a recipe for a good cycling day.

The weather is improving the next day though.  At the top of the hill between Sandukt and Gildetun, I meet the Belgian girl again, who was also at the campground in Tromso.  We cycle the rest of the day together, entering Finnmark, Norway’s northernost province and pitch the tent at the tip of the Langfjord.  The mosquitos are horrible.  They are since Tromso.

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The famous ‘Ice Sea Cathedral’ in Tromso

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One of the many Norwegian ferry’s.

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On June 26th, I ride my longest cycling day ever.   The ride is beautiful along the Langfjord and the Altafjord.  The traffic is bothering me.

I enter Alta, one of the bigger towns here in the north and 400 km north of the polar circle in t-shirt and shorts.  The center is just a collection of supermarkets around a square.  I have about 80 km’s behind me today.  I’m in doubt to go to the campground but decide just to push on a bit.  The weather is so great and I hope traffic will get less during the evening.

It will turn into a terrific night !

At a spot, I see 4 eagles circling around in the sky.  When I stop to make pictures, two of them keeping flying over me quiet low.  I can see them from so close by, it is unbelievable.  The shape of their wings against the blue sky.  It’s hard to make pictures, because they are quick, and the mosquito’s are eating you whenever you stop moving, but I gave it a try.

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Angry mom leaving here nest.

North of Alta, the E6 is going inland over some kind of plateau which looks like what I think Mongolia must be looking like in some parts.  I cycle deep into the night and enjoy myself immensely on the now deserted E6.  At 3 am, I crawl in my tent on the hill top, 12 km before Olderfjord.  182 km after leaving last night’s camping spot.  What a day !

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Cycling through the night. 1:30 am
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2:30 am
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And 03:00 am, time to take a rest.At 05:00 am it became too hot in the tent.

Instead of continuing on the E6 (which in fact becomes E69 here) towards the North Cape along the eastern shore of the Porsanger peninsula, I decide to take road nbr 889 along the western side of the same peninsula.  A very quiet road with a very spectacular coastline near Lilefjord, where I pitch the tent for the night.  In the evening I hike into the hills for a while.  It was 31°C today.

The weather is glorious again. I even washed myself in the river today.

My second day along Porsanger peninsula, it’s a bit cloudy, but still good fun.  I see a lot of reindeer along the way.  In Havoysund at the tip of the peninsula, I pitch the tent just beyond the village.  (You can take a shower in the little wooden house at the marina).

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Porsangerfjord, the 4th longuest fjord in Norway.
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The small road along the western side of Porsanger peninsula.

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I arrived in Havoysund at 20:06. The supermarket closed at 20:00. Very basic meal, whch tasted wonderful after a day in the saddle.

The Hurtigruten coastal service will sail me towards the North Cape with their m/s Nordkapp (oh coincidence).  We arrive in Honningsvag, the ‘gate’ to the North Cape late morning.  Cyclists who follow the busy E69 and risked their live in the tunnels arrive here in a different shape as me.

I went into the jaccuzzi on board the ship this morning.

For a moment I think about going to the little Thai restaurant in town, but decide to do that tomorrow, ‘celebrating’ to have reached the North Cape.  This was never a goal in itself.  It is anyway just a tourist trap.  It is not the northern most point of the European mainland.  “No,”  many people say. “You have to hike a little further up”.

Wrong of course.  You’ll have to be on another peninsula, east from here, named ‘Nordkinn’.

It is also not the ‘Northern most point of Europe’.  It’s on an island (Mageroya).  If you’ll include islands in search of the northern most point, Svalbard is much, much farther to the north.

I guess the Norwegians just made it where it is, because Svalbard can’t be reached by cars or camper vans, and the real point on the Nordkinn peninsula is much easier reached through  Sweden as through  Norway.  And that means bye bye tourist money, which Norwegians won’t do.

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Anyway, from Honningsvag to the so called North-Cape, it’s a 35 km ride with 2 big hills.

Near the top of the first hill, I see a big group of reindeer.  I park my bike and go very slowly closer and closer.   Not moving to fast, not directly towards them.  They keep an eye on me, but don’t run.

It seems like they get used to me after a while and just keep doing their thing, grazing a bit and they come themselves closer and closer to me.  Fantastic !

Duty calls however, so after a while I go slowly back to my bike.

A car with 3 Italians, father, mother & son stops just when I mount the bike.

The son, a 20 or so year old moron gets out of the car and runs like a madman towards the reindeer shouting “BHAAAAAAAAA”.  The parents find it funny.

I hesitate a few moments. Shall I cycle away or kill them ?

I mount the bike and ride, thinking how, once again, I deserve the nobel price for self-control.

This is not the end of the ordeal.  Only a few kilometer further a car coming from the other side slows down as I approach, a camper van sitting at my rear wheel.  As the other car slows, the camper van accelerates, knocking me into the ditch.  I shout at him and he stops.

Italians…

And a dozen of his countrymen with a campervan behind him.

The driver and his passenger get out and I tell him in very clear language what I think of him.  I make the argument long enough to stop the whole bunch for at least 15 minutes.

Today, I hate Italians.

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Somebody lost something on the way up.  Can you imagine the communication going on inside the car seconds after this happened.

The North Cape was in mist.  You could see nothing.

That made me happy, because that would ruin the Italians pictures and it was probably the big goal of their long trip.

There is an entrance fee to the North Cape.  I heard 160 Kroners or so, but as a cyclist you are waved through for free.

In the basement of the big visitor centre, their’s a small ‘Thai Museum’ about the visit of Thailand’s greatest king, Chulalongkorn, Rama V.  He visited the North Cape on 12th July 1907.

I came 109 years after him.

No museum will be erected for me, I guess.

29th June, exactly 75 days after I left home and cycled 4843 km & 36882 altitude meters.

From this 4843 km, at least 3500 were against the wind.  Probably more.

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The North-Cape at the right.

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The last km’s before the North-Cape
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The statue for the tourist at not the North-Cape.  But it is the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Arctic Ocean.
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Inside the Thai Museum at the North Cape

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Same sign on the way back.

I never made it to that Thai restaurant anymore in Honningsvag as I woke up too late the next morning, it was raining, so I waited even longer to break the tent down, etc..

I arrived ‘in town’ around 13:30 hrs and went  straight on board the Hurtigruten (m/s Finnmark this time).  I was almost alone on board as most of the passengers use the 3,5 hour break the vessel makes here to go quickly up and down to the North Cape by bus.

That suited me fine as this meant I had the swimming pool and jacuzzi almost to myself.  The sun had come out by then, and it was 26°C.

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Around 17:00 hrs I got off the ship at the next port of call, Kjollefjord.  The passage going with the ship in the fjord is stunning.  And so was the head wind.

I met a Romanian cyclist along the way, going the opposite direction.  I found a nice camping spot below a remaining patch of snow.  The mosquitos are still making your life like hell as soon as you stop.  There are a lot of horseflies as well, biting whole chunks of meat out of your legs.  Try preparing your food, and eating it like that….

Preparing happens outside the tent, eating I do inside now.

My second day on the Nordkinn peninsula, I had again a terrible headwind which slowed me down enormously.  It just seems to want to blow me to the North pole.  But I also had a blue sky and 26°C.  While the northern side of this peninsula reminds me of what Mongolia must look like in my immagination, the southern side is a barren, rocky dry land.  No gras, no trees.  But very beautiful.

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First campsite on the Nordkinn Peninsula, after midnight.

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The barren northern part of the peninsula.

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Suddenly I saw this chap on the road.
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I waited a bit, we stared at each other until he decided to come and get a closer look. Always let them come to you. The other way around doesn’t work.
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Isn’t he great ?

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At Ifjord I join the bigger road 98 and turn east instead of south.  And would you believe it, so does the wind.  Or storm as I have to start calling it now.  It is so strong today that it literally blows you backwards when you stop, or it topples you over when you turn sideways.  I was blown into the ditch several times today.  People who saw the bicycle race Gent-Wevelgem of 2015 can have an idea what it’s like, but imagine having these condition on a fully loaded touring bike, for days in a row.

But the temperatures were good, 30°C today the landscape was impressive along the northern edge of our continent and the road wasn’t busy at all.

It was 1 km beyond Ifjord I completed the 5000th km of this trip.

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Heaving breakfast at km 4.999, in the wind, but still with a lot of mosquito’s.
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The spot where I hit my 5000th km.

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Who wouldn’t like to cycle here ?

At Tanabru I had no choice but to re-join the E6 further east.  The big constant being that wind, and the high temperatures.

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This must be a very old sign. CCCP.
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More or less sheltered from the winds.
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This picture could be taken in the Provence, but it is along the very northern edge of our continent.

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On Monday the 4th of July, America’s National Holiday, I completed the last stretch in Norway, the ride to Kirkenes and further on to the Russian border.  This is Russia’s northern most border post.  There’s nothing to see in Kirkenes.  The Norwegians expect a lot of traffic to and from Russia in the future I think, because the road is upgraded (even with a bicycle lane !) and (yet another) tunnel is blown into a little hill, where the current old road goes around/over it.  Many times, I have the impression the Norwegians are blowing tunnels through mountains just for the sake of making them.  Keep the economy going I suppose.  Many of these tunnels are completely useless with perfectly good roads around the hill which can carry the same amount of traffic.  And a new tunnel going into the mountain 200 meters from where the old road goes around it, also means a new bridge over the river or fjord of course….

I was a bit disappointed arriving at the Russian border.  Not in the border itself, but I ‘d expected some sort of welcome by Vladimir P. after all my efforts.  A cup of milk and a few cookies.  It might be my own fault as I’m a day later as expected because of all this head wind, so maybe he was waiting for me here yesterday.  I guess he must be at work Monday at 8:15 am.  Especially today, I suppose he needs to send an e-mail to his colleague Barrack for the holiday.

I expressed my disappointment to the Russian border guards and asked them whether Vladimir had to go back to his office in Moscow, but this information was classified.

So instead I sang some patriotic songs with the boarder guards like ‘Babooshka, Babooshka’ and ‘Ra-ra-Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen’ while dancing the one-legged tirritomba.

In the evening I cycled back to the village Neiden in the rain and pitched my tent at the same place where I broke it down in the morning.  A nice place very well sheltered from the wind.

I feel that apart from the wind, i have been extremely lucky with the weather in Norway.  Sure, I’ve head rain, sometimes lots of it, but I ‘ve got a lot of sun as well which meant I saw most of the northern part under glorious blue skies.

It  also appears the whole bicycle thing made a huge impression on Shakira when we met in Utakleiv, as she just launched this song  a few days ago 😉

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Bad weather coming from the east.
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Now isn’t this a spectacular rest area ?

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Just a little push further and I would be in Murmansk, but I didn’t have the Russian visa.

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Love the ‘conduct at the border’ section. Not sure whether singing songs with the Russians qualifies as ‘intentially making contact with persons on the other side of the border’ or ‘act in an insulting way’.

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Last breakfast in Norway, looking at Finland already.
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Camera’s…. :-/

Total kilometer Norway: 2.418 km
Average km per cycling day: follows later

Total kilometer so far: 5.328 km
Total altimeter so far: 42.205 meter
Total time on the bike: 356 hrs 44 min

Nights slept inside: 0
Nights slept outside: 36 (5 on campgrounds, 31 wild camping)
Average daily cost Norway:

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The Norwegian part of the trip.
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4 thoughts on “Norway Part 3, The Far North”

  1. Alweer een schitterend relaas met prachtige foto’s. Keep it on… nu terug naar het zuiden… voor de warmte moet je het niet doen hoor (hier is het nu 18 graden)

    groeten
    Charles

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hoi Koen,
    Het ziet er weer geweldig uit, wel jammer dat de Noordkaap weer eens in de mist zat.
    Zo ver fietsen om uiteindelijk naar laaghangende bewolking te kijken. Maar goed je hebt bij de wereldbol gestaan.
    Je verwondert jezelf over het goede weer! nou wij zijn al 30 keer in Noorwegen geweest en zelden slecht weer gehad het is vaak
    het vooroordeel dat het in het hoge noorden vaak slecht weer is, het tegendeel is waar.
    We wensen je nog vele veilige km toe in het bosrijke en water rijke Finland en we zien je volgend bericht tegemoed.
    Groetjes uit Nederland,
    Frans en Rinie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hoi Frans en Rinie,

      Ik had al regelmatig koud en nat weer gehad in zuid & midden Noorwegen en had de lat dus niet te hoog gelegd voor het noorden. Maar valt dus reuze mee. Gisteren ben ik opnieuw de poolcirkel overgestoken (dus terug ten zuiden ervan nu). Temperaturen hier in Finland steeds rond 25 graden. En rugwind ! 🙂

      Like

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