I have set the alarm so that I can enjoy the breakfast buffet, I go to the building where it’s served. The breakfast is really massive, it even has waffles.
I use the laundry room and enjoy the super fast new equipment, washing and drying in less than 90 minutes, almost like home.
I try to find information on what’s between Pajala and Sodankylä, it’s really hard to find anything. I wonder why. I walk down to central Pajala, find a pizzeria for lunch and a supermarket for some shopping. I spend the afternoon on the Internet, borrow some books for my e-reader, generally wasting time.
Then I book the Sauna and enjoy a steamy and hot sauna, afterward I am the cleanest I have been for weeks. I go to bed early and watch some TV on the big flat TV in my room, TV sucks.
I wake up long before the alarm goes off, I feel rested. Shower and pack all my stuff up, watch some more TV before breakfast opens. Just as I have loaded all the stuff on the bike it starts to rain, so I find my rain gear and suit up. I go to the local tourist information, guess what ! They have basically no info, no maps, it’s not summer yet, we don’t know anything in Finland, my god its more than 20 km away.
I decide to go in to coma and just pedal through the rain, I just look at the road 5 meters ahead and think happy thoughts about tourist information in Lappland. All of a sudden there is a turn and a bridge, followed by a sign declaring me to be in Finland. Nice.
When I stop at a service station in Kolari for lunch I think to myself that Finland is so similar to Sweden but distinctly different. Roads and signs are different. Service stations seems to be the social hub for the locals, all very clean and sterile. There is absolutely no Swedish spoken here.
I manage to get a cheese burger menu for 12.50 Euro, I hope that Finland will be cheaper than this. There is some kind of sausage soup with mashed potatoes for 11 Euros, doesn’t look very nice at all.
It’s raining and raining and raining, and also some head wind. I just keep going, getting slightly concerned about that there isn’t really anything along the road. No cover for the wind and rain, nowhere to sit, it’s really nothing there.
I get to a village called Ylläsjärvi, there is a hotel with people in it, I decide to stop and ask if they have a room free. I still have about 35 km to go and it’s cold and wet, I am prepared to pay some good money to be indoors now. The hotel also has signs saying “Tourist Information”. I go inside and start to ask away, their English isn’t really fantastic but I understand that this is a ski resort and it’s closed.
The hotel is only a cafe at the moment. None of the other thousands of beds are open either. I start to wonder how I could have missed this place when I researched the route the day before, not that it matters since the shit is closed until August.
So only 35 km to go, I start to pedal and pedal. It’s cloudy and dark, head wind and rain. Well, at least it didn’t snow. I aim for Kittilä, I have found a camping, guest house and hotel. The hotel is to expensive but the other two are options. I decide to go for indoors sleeping tonight, feeling wasted. I arrive in Kittilä, the tourist information is a map for the town in scale 1:50 telling me where the service station, church and hotel is. Since they are all on the same street and within 400 meters I really feel blessed to get this info.
When I roll down the street (yes, THE street) I see a cyclist with bags and stuff, I ride over to him. It’s Andreas from Dortmund. He’s cycling Helsinki to Alta, from there he will catch a flight back home. He’s going to the supermarket intent on camping, I tell him about the guesthouse Golden Goose and then I go there to find out what is going on. The door is closed and there is a phone number to be called, before I have a chance to call, the owner comes walking from the supermarket.
I talk to her and yes there are rooms, I get one ASAP and move in. While I am doing that, Andreas arrives and also gets a room. We decide to have a chat and beer later in the evening.
I talk to the owner, Henna, she is running the guesthouse since 5 years back. She’s the fourth generation in her family that runs the guesthouse. It was built in early 1900 and then rebuilt after the war.
Andreas shows up after his sauna and we drink some 3.5% supermarket beer and talk about biking. He has done many tours in different places around the world, he tells me that Lufthansa and Norwegian don’t require bikes to be boxed anymore.
I find out that there might be frost the two coming nights and that there is a film festival and miners in Sodankylä. Before I fall asleep I decide to stay another day, I need to research more thoroughly, trying to avoid food/lodging hick-ups.
I sleep well in the guesthouse, they cooperate with the hotel so I can get breakfast buffet in the hotel. Andreas is leaving today as he needs to catch his flight in Alta. We meet up to go and have breakfast at the hotel.
Before he arrives I call the owner and ask if I can stay another day, I can. I though all Finns woke up at 5 and went for a Sauna but it seems I woke the owner up, sorry about that.
I spend some more hours to try to find all restaurants and lodging available between Kittilä and Sodankylä and then onwards to Norway. After 2-3 hours I have a very short list, like 1⁄2 A4. It seems that there isn’t much on the route and also there almost nothing on the Internet. This sort of sucks. I decide to go on, but if it’s turning out to be to hard and cold I will skip Norway and turn south instead. After all I am doing this to enjoy myself.
I haven’t really gotten used to the 1 hour time difference between Finland and Sweden, so again I am woken up by the alarm. I go and get some breakfast at the hotel, I get all my stuff out of the guesthouse, hopefully without waking the owner up again. The breakfast buffet is good but not great, I have noticed that everything is less sweet here than in Sweden. Even the bananas and oranges, maybe Finns don’t like sweet stuff so much.
It’s cloudy and cold, only 3 C, this will be a long and cold day. I get going but after 300 meters I arrive at the Neste service station and decide that I need some more food and clothes. When I ride out of Kittilä I see the camping and there are 3 bikes and 2 tents, aaahh so it’s at the camping all the cool kids hang out. No one is up yet so I decide to bike on to Sodankylä.
So after +6 hours of nothing, nothing, rain, hail, snow, wind, I arrive in Sodankylä. First order of business is to get food, I stop at the first service station I see. After some pulle and kinkii-salami panini I feel life returning. I am completely soaked from sweat and rain, when it’s this cold there are two options, either freeze like a pig or sweat like a pig.
If it was just a short ride of 1-2 hours I would suffer the cold, but since the ride is +6 hours I keep warm and sweat. The ride was fast, approx 15 km/h in average.
So now I have to fix these problems, 1. Get warm 2. Get dry 3. Dry clothes 4. Take a shower
I go to the tourist information, it’s actually indoors and there is a person there, great stuff. No maps outside Sodankylä, they don’t know how much lodging cost, they don’t know if its full, they can’t call and ask. Great service, I will make sure to tell all the people I know to go to Sodankylä and buy souvenirs.
I go to the guesthouse, it’s full, it’s a film festival, OK, I head for the camping looking forward to a long wet, cold and smelly night.
When I arrive the camping I ask them for a cabin, just for the hell of it, but to my surprise they have a cabin. And since they are gold diggers and it’s a film festival it’s only 54 Euro. Well, WTF, I book it, at least I will be warm and dry tomorrow.
I get inside and turn the heath on to +30C, get out of and hang all my wet clothes. There is a fridge, micro and hot plates. Will do some cooking later when I am warmer after a shower. After a while the cabin is like a sauna and it smells like warm wood, I crank the heater up a bit more.
I take a walk around the camping, it’s my first in Finland. The service building is smaller, more basic and dirtier than a normal Swedish camping would be. I watch the festival people arrive and pitch tents, it looks like a scene from a north Korean propaganda film, lots of them seem to believe that they are Che Guevara. I suspect that there is a big stash of psychedelic drugs hidden somewhere. I just hope they get started soon and fall a sleep early.
I hope it’s just the festival people, but the Finnish camping isn’t working like the Swedish. People arrive by car and just drive on the lawn. They park the car like 1-2 meters from the next tent and pitch their own. Smoking and drinking. Standing around their cars.
Some Germans arrive in style, 3 huge BMW bikes with extra everything on them, followed by a big motor home. They set camp with a huge tent and chairs and table, occupying 100-150 m2 or so.
The sky is clearing up, tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and with a southern wind. I will aim for a “gold village” and see if their camping is open or not. Perhaps its just the cafe and souvenir shop that is open. I have decided to keep going north for some more days, there is real shit weather coming up, but it seems to be warmer up north.
Perhaps I will just go to Utsjoki or Tana bru and turn there. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to head south.