I wake up feeling rested, the wind is strong so I am happy that I put my tent as far as possible from the water. I have heard other tents flap in the wind, but I am behind them and a tree so I am good.
Since I am only going to travel a short distance today, I am in no hurry. The camping (25-30 cottages, 30-40 caravan places) only have 2 toilets for men. Not really top-notch. It’s nasty cold and gray skies today.
It’s supposed to clear up later. I leave very late, going for the camping in Kaamanen, it’s only 25-30 km or so, the weather is gray, cold and head wind. After an uneventful trip I see the camping, I decide to go on for a bit, there is supposed to be a shop and more importantly, a bus stop.
I plan to use the day to try and intercept some buses and present the bike to the driver and ask if it can join the joyride. I find this place next to the shop, they have accommodation, a small cabin for only 19:50 euro. So I am indoors again.
There are 4 buses during the day, the most promising are Gold Line that has a real cargo bay at the back of the bus. It’s approx 10 m2 with proper places to secure the bike. Driver speaks good English, all their buses have this cargo bay and its usually empty going south, so no reservations needed. They go as far north as Nourgam, so that or Utsjoki will be the place to join the joyride.
I plan to venture in to Norway, maybe Tana Bru or somewhere. Vardö seem like a dead end since the only accommodation that seems to be available is roughly 140 Euro/night. I spend the afternoon in my 19:50 euro cabin, reading and planning. When there is a bus stopping I go out and have a look.
It looks like the Lapin Linjat buses doesn’t have the extra cargo space but maybe they can store the bike lying down or something. Later I have dinner and enjoy Internet, will be a long and cold day tomorrow.
I will have the breakfast buffet at 9, I hope to get at least 4000 kCal down the hatch. This cold weather requires much more energy.
Breakfast buffet isn’t until 9, so slow start. Everything is ready at 8:40 so I go over to the restaurant to use Internet. The buffet is open, by 9 when the other guests arrive I have eaten half of the buffet by myself.
I eat some more just for the sake of it. I checkout and leave at 9:30. I only ride 1-2 km before my first Sami cafe/plastic reindeer opportunity. I know that there will be nothing for the next 95 km so I stop to get my daily fix of Sami culture made in china.
Nothing much to say about the rest of the day except EPIC ! First 40 km was a slight uphill and then I start seeing snow capped mountains far away. The rest is mainly up and down or downhill.
The sky is huge and blue. Its pretty cold 10-12 C, but the biking is really fantastic. The last 8-10 km is hard work, the road follows the river down from the mountains, but the wind is so strong I have to pedal downhill.
Finally I arrive in Utsjoki, it’s a small village, if you are not careful you end up in Norway which is on the other side of the bridge.
I passed the camping on my way to downtown Utsjoki, I’m hungry, starving, I see a grill, looks god. When I wait to order I see it, the MEGABURGER, 2x 200 gram cheeseburger with mayo.
I must have died and gone to cyclist heaven, someone needs to get a medal. I order it and wait, finally I get my burger. I am having trouble eating it, it’s so MEGA MEGA. I need 18 minutes to finish it, then I am full and happy again.
Thinking tomorrow will be an Al Bundy day, reading the newspaper all day. I bike back to the camping, a cabin is 55 euros so I use the tent. I pitch the tent and shower. There is free wifi and tomorrow there is a washer/dryer possibility. I start to look at maps and plan around midsummer weekend. It seems most things will be closed and most people drunk.
I decide to stay one more day and rest and do laundry. I finish my book “aldrig fucka upp” and fall asleep. It’s a very, very quiet camping, later at night I wake up because its cold. Only 4C in the tent, I crawl inside the sleeping bag and go back to sleep.
Birds are singing and it’s a bit cloudy. It seems that they have a gate at the road that they close at night when the staff leaves. Great idea ! Arrive late and you sleep in the forest, maddafakka !
I wake up at 7, it’s all quiet and nice, go back to sleep and wake up at 10 again, now its 27C in the tent. Get out of bed and start to prepare for laundry and lunch. I’m still full from the burger yesterday, well spent 12 Euros.
I saw that there was a place that serve lunch between 11-15. I walk 300 m to down town, there is a nice lunch buffet, a bargain at 12 euros. After lunch I run in to a gold line bus, I ask the same set of questions, get the same answers. So it actually seems like I will be able to take the bus from Nourgam to Sodankylä with a change of bus in Ivalo.
Tomorrow I will go to Norway, if the weather still looks nice I might go all the way to Vardö. I have decided to wash my fantastic GoreTex jacket, after a month on the road it’s dirty and smelly. I bought some waterproofing detergent for TEX clothes.
Hope it works, during the next rain I will know. When I sit in the reception/cafe a German couple on bikes arrive, it’s quite late and they set camp while I go to bed.
Beautiful morning, blue sky, really hot at 7. Going to skippagurra today. Pack all my stuff and get going to the supermarket which opens at 9, I get my breakfast there. Just as I am leaving the camping I see the Germans again, they ask me some questions and I tell them about the buses.
They wanted to know about the boat between Vadsö and Kirkenes, I tell them it’s the Hurtigrutten. They went by train to Kolari and have been biking the north loop to Utsjoki. They will soon turn south just like me. I tell them that I am going to Skiippagurra in Norway.
After some 10-11 km I meet another German, he started in France in April and has been riding all of Norway. He went the last bit to Vardö by Hurtigruten and is now going south since 2 days. He is very tired of the mosquitoes that just started to appear when he turned south. I tell him about the buses and tells him that there is a Gold Line bus to Rovaniemi leaving from Utsjoki at 12.
I also tell him about the other Germans that probably will be either in the camping or tourist info. He tells me that there are no real opportunities for wild camping between Vardö and Vadsö, it’s just the mountain, the road and the ocean.
I stop in/at Baratbokca and have a reindeer burger. Very expensive and very touristy, but the view is fantastic and I know Norway will be twice as expensive. The girl that runs the place is the third person I see that smile since I entered Finland 10 days ago.
The whole valley along the river is really beautiful, but if I stop for 10 seconds there are mosquitoes and worse. In Nourgam I find out that it’s the northernmost spot of EU, great stuff !!!
I cross the border, it’s just a small sign and a camera. Then, by magic, there are cows instead of reindeer and I can understand all the signs again. Imagine what a small line on a map can do. I arrive in Skiippagurra, it’s just a bunch of houses and two roads crossing. I see this big house with Dow’s restaurant “Clean food – Good taste”, this seems to be beyond fantastic.
I go inside, yes it’s Thai people, they have food, it’s open, but of course their credit card terminal doesn’t work with foreign cards. Its been like that all week they tell me, I almost tell them “SO WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU FIX IT”, but I have some Norwegian emergency cash somewhere.
But first I cross the street and check in at the camping, checking in is easy, money please – place tent anywhere – bye, bye.
The camping is just a patch of grass, I try to find a place where I am out of the wind but no luck. I anchor the tent with all the pegs and go for dinner at “Clean food – Good taste”. I go for the schnitzel instead of the low calories Thai food. I must say that the Thai – Norwegian Schnitzel crossover wasn’t very good, but at least it was very filling. 170 NOK for the schnitzel and 45 NOK for a coke, my wallet was cleaner than the food I guess.
When I come back the camping is in full chaos, there are caravans and camping cars parked just anywhere on my little patch of grass. The German with the 12 foot boat on top of his Mercedes wins the contest, biggest car, biggest caravan, biggest boat, biggest outboard engine, most annoying location (he arrives last of all). I talk to him and it seems he goes to the north of Scandinavia 2-3 months every year to fish and relax. Cool guy.
The German couple from the camping in Utsjoki arrives, they have met the German I met on the road and he safely made the bus by the sound of it. They set camp and after a while Jürgen comes in to the TV room where I am sitting and doing Internet stuff. We talk for a long while, they go for long cycling trips in Scandinavia every year, they go by train and ferry from Germany to Sweden or Finland. From there they bike around and enjoy themselves.
He tells me that he wants to do more wild camping but his wife wants to stay in campings, so from time to time they do long +100 km days between campings. They are going to Vadsø tomorrow to catch the ferry to Kirkenes, from there they will take the bus back to Inari. Then head in the general direction south. I am also going that way so maybe I will see them tomorrow as well.
When we sit and talk, Marika from Latvia joins, she’s on a short, fast and hard bike trip. Wanting to visit the northernmost point of mainland Europe (which is not Nordkapp) and then be back in Kolari for her train next Saturday. This will leave her with +140 km days, wild camping and a 50 km hike over the mountain. She is rethinking her options, I tell her a bit about the buses and she looks in the two time tables I have. We talk for a while, then it’s time for me to sleep.
I am confused over the time change again. So tomorrow is off to the east, at least to Vestre Jakobselv, maybe all the way to Vardø.