During the night some people arrived to the camping, their caravan was already parked there but for some reason they had to park their 2 ton SUV next to the caravan. So instead of walking 15 meters they had to wake the whole camping up by driving their SUV between the caravans.
Now I am back on Norwegian time, body is confused, wake up early and pack my stuff up. Jürgen shows up and we say goodbye, perhaps we meet in Vestre Jakobselv or Vadsö.
I dart over the mountain to Varangerbotn, big uphill followed by long downhill, There is a shop and tourist info that opens at 10. While I wait I ask some taxi drivers and sanitation workers – nope, no camping in Vadso or Vardo. In the municipal office they confirm that there are no campings in Vardo or Vadso, all the maps (including their own) that lists campings there are old.
So I decide to camp in Vestre Jakobselv, I just have to do some shopping first, what a trauma, the prices in Norway are completely outrageous. Since it’s midsummer today I wanted to buy one or two beers to bring to the camping, a 0.5 L can of beer is close to 30 NOK (almost 4 Euro), I decide I am not that thirsty. I ride east towards Vadso, it’s really, really beautiful. To my left is more or less steep cliffs and to my right is the Bering sea. There is really nowhere to wild camp.
Small nasty flies start to appear after a while, I have to use my mosquito net to keep them out of ears and nose. It’s normal summer temperature 18-20 degrees, it feels like there is thunderstorm coming, it’s humid and pressing air.
The camping is also some kind of christian youth center, the dining room also serves as some kind of church. They have 3 buffets every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffets are so massive I can get by just eating 2 per day.
I have a late lunch after I have set my tent up, really strange mix at the buffet, they have soup, waffles, sandwiches, muffins, cinnamon bread etc. I eat a mix of all their foods. There is a fridge with beverages that you can buy separately, there are something that looks like beer, it’s alcohol free beer.
As I put it back one member of the staff offers me one for free to try, he’s probably trying to save my soul or something. I try it and it sucks, but it was for free so I finish it. I spend the rest of the evening in their TV room, it’s massive and probably sits 20 people. I use their super fast Internet and get all updated. When I go back to my tent the camping is full of camping cars that arrived during the evening.
When I wake up there is some muppet mowing the lawn or something, I look at my phone and it’s 5 in the morning. I get out of the tent and go to the service building, then I see that the noise is coming from a caravan that has connected a petrol operated generator to get electricity.
My neighbors at the camping are here to fish salmon, they come and go all hours of they day and night. I go back to sleep again, the breakfast buffet isn’t until 8. I go for breakfast around 9 and eat enough to last me until dinner. Then I use their washer and dryer.
It’s too hot to be in the tent, 30-35C inside and an army of horse flies outside trying to get in. I end up spending the afternoon in their TV-room, I found a camping guide for campings all over Europe.
I read the sections about France and Spain, its seems 90 % of all campings will be closed mid September. The rest will close before the end of October.
This is indeed bad news for the rest of my planned trip, no campings means much higher costs. Also it seems campings aren’t opening until April/may so that will be a long winter without any camping.
After dinner I sit in the TV room and play with Internet. A Dutch salesman shows up with the boss of the camping. He is selling her some advertisement on a Dutch website with more than 100 000 registered campers, by the sounds of it she’s going for a 500 Euro deal, imagine that there is a profit in going around Scandinavia with a camping car and selling adverts.
I think I am still on Finnish time as I wake up very early. I pack all my stuff on the bike and head for breakfast buffet just after 8. Nice day, warm winds and generally pleasant biking along the coast. Close to Varangerbotn I meet a Finnish man that has biked from Ruka, he is racing to Vadsö as his wife is coming to pick him up.
He has been doing some long days, up to 240 km, and gives me some hints on the roads as I am going past Ruka. He describes their car, and later when I see his wife driving their car I wave to her. She looks worried.
I arrive in Varangerbotn and find that the bar/nightclub/pizza/kebab/ catering/take away/restaurant etc is open. I get a pizza and a coke, 120 + 49 NOK, it’s the same price as in old town in Stockholm.
There is head wind all the way to Skiippagurra, when I turn 90 degrees left and go south in Skiippagurra I get an even stronger wind to fight.
When I finally reach Nourgam it’s closed as I expected and I have to call them on the phone. I wanted to be indoors as I need to repack for the bus tomorrow. The cabin is very expensive and the Wifi is useless, Nourgam is not the place to be.
Later in the evening I bump in to Stephan from Germany, he’s biking north of Norway for the fourth year. He flew in to Kirkenes and then went by Hurtigrutten (ferry) to Mehamn. He’s riding all the way to Riga.
It seems he met Marika from Latvia yesterday, funny how small the world of bicycling northern Norway is. When I go outside my cabin there is a crazy amount of mosquitoes, happy to be indoors tonight.
I sleep late and wake up very rested, the cabin is cool and mosquito free. I bump in to Stephan again, he is having breakfast and he’s not thrilled about the wind. The sun is strong and it’s getting warmer, I repack a bit before the bus trip. Check out from the cottage and roll my bike across the street from the camping.
It’s where the gold line bus is parked over night, just as I expected the driver is tinkering with the bus. I tell him I want to go to Sodankylä and he wants to pack my bike immediately. The bike goes in the back and the bags go in the general cargo hold.
He has some other cargo to load before the trip starts and also he has to go out to the Norwegian border where the first stop is. He tells me to wait 30 minutes at the camping and he will be back. I have some breakfast at the camping and then get on the bus, the first 45 km to Utsjoki just flies past.
It’s amazing how fast a bus can go. Just as we arrive at Utsjoki we pass Stephan, when the bus has stopped for a 5 min break in Utsjoki he arrives and we say hello and good bye again. I see lots of cyclists along the road, most going north.
I wonder if I were a few weeks to early or if I never see any cyclist going my direction because we travel almost at the same speed. Just south of Inari I see Jürgen and his wife heading south, so I guess they made it to the Hurtigrutten and then their bus.
In Ivalo there is a change of bus but not driver, the reason for this is unclear. The driver drops me at a parking and then he drives off with the old bus and returns with the new one 1 hour later. He has moved my bike and bags.
There are much more Russian cars and Finnish border guards here, I guess this is the transit road to Murmansk. A very long and warm day in the bus, but it was so worth the pain and 62.60 Euro to wipe out those 371 km of deserted roads. Had a burger for dinner at Neste and then went to the camping and just fell a sleep.
This time it was quiet and nice at the camping and I wake up feeling rested. I pack all my stuff and go to the supermarket for breakfast. It’s hot and cloudy, sticky air. Again I decide to visit the tourist information in Sodankylä, this time to see what information they have on the road to Kemijärvi.
They didn’t even have the information I had, so a waste of time.
While I am there a very stressed German cyclist arrive and starts to speak German to me. I answer in English, but it doesn’t appear to sink in that even foreigners can buy Ortlieb bags for their bikes. He talks to the staff about what campings and such are available going north. I offer to show him my map and tell him exactly all he needs to know. But he is too stressed to find out and tells his wife that the next place is not enough kilometers, then they rush out and I see them bike away at moped speed.
Sad for them that they were so stressed, perhaps they should go on a holiday instead. I ask the girl in the tourist information about if the road is going up or down or lots of up and down. She tells me that it’s just one hill.
I get going, the first 35 km is up and down but mostly up, the next 30 km is mostly up, I start to think that there must be a summit soon and then a big huge downhill. It’s well above 30C and if I stop for 20 seconds there are swarm of flies, mosquitoes and horse flies. So there is nothing to do except pedal on and on and up and up and up. Eventually I find out that it was 111 km uphill.
I stop in a place which is just a small, small dot on the map. There is a service station and a supermarket. The heath is tropical and there are dark clouds in the sky. When I ride up to and park at the service station there are some locals there that watch me without saying a word or moving a muscle in their faces.
I go inside and find that they have lihapullat ja muusi so that is what I am having for lunch. There are some colorful locals that feed the slot machines and talk to themselves. When I take my bike and start to pedal away a big camping car arrives to fill up diesel at the service station. I can swear that I heard some faint banjo music just as I left. I hope everything worked out fine for them.
A while later I stop at the camping that is between Sodankylä and Kemijärvi, it looks well dodgy so I decide to just stop for a short break and then go on. When I enter I meet smiling people that tells me that they just started making pancakes and ask me if I want some, amazing I think, they smile and are service minded. Perhaps I have crossed some strange line on the map and arrived in the sunshine & smiles Finland. Later I find out that they are Latvians just working there for the summer.
When I arrive in Kemijärvi I am just in front of the camping and to my right there is a big sign saying “Bed & Breakfast”, that’s just what I need ! I go there but it turns out that they only have bed and no breakfast. It starts to rain. I end up in an expensive cottage without Internet. Such is life. So after being back in Finland I think about how easy it was to be a tourist in Norway, very expensive, but easy and very beautiful.
Also I noticed that the tastes of food are almost the same as in Sweden, in Finland there is less flavor to the food and everything is more watery.