I wake up in my overpriced cottage, the sun is shining and it’s really hot.
Nothing to do but pack up and get going, I decide to stop at the tourist information to see if they have any useful information. I should know better by now, but what the heck. It turns out that the tourist information is in another street and opens one hour later than printed on the map I got from the cottage man.
Once they open they state the obvious, the distances are very long and there are no services. They also had plastic salmons on sale.
I start pedaling south, it’s already above 30C and 155 km to Kuusamo. There better be something along the road, I have found something with cottages on Google maps, but it’s very unsure if this exists in reality.
The day is very, very hot but as soon as I slow down when going uphill or stop there is a swarm of insects. So just keep going and keep going.
After 45 km I arrive at a ski resort, one of their hotels is open, I walk inside and it’s empty. I walk around a bit and find a man reading the newspaper, I ask him if it’s open – yes it is. He is the person on duty. I can have a room for only 75 Euro excluding breakfast since it’s summer. I decide to pass on this fantastic offer.
After 5 or so kilometers I arrive at a small restaurant of sorts. They still have lunch buffet so I get a big meal. When I get closer to the cottage thing I also see that Garmin knows about it, maybe it actually exists ? Or maybe existed. I see the sign on the road, I take the small gravel road and it feels like I am riding across someones backyard, but there is a sign directing me to the red house where the reception is.
I am greeted by all the dogs in the neighborhood, when I ring the door bell an old lady opens. She doesn’t speak any language I do but she calls someone and in a few minutes a man arrives. I can camp there, all it takes is registering on a form and hand over 20 Euro cash.
I find a spot for the tent, have a shower, great place, very quiet and nice. I sit in the kitchen playing with the computer (no Internet).
Then the silence and tranquility is broken by two vintage motorcycles, soon I hear screaming and shouting. Oh no, it’s the Russians again, they use the Russian walkie talkie, it works without batteries. Just place one Russian at one end of a camping and place the other one at least 50 meters away, then just shout as much as possible.
I don’t know what they were shouting about but even when seated next to each other they shouted. Perhaps their hearing aid has run out of batteries. After one or two hours a third Russian arrives, they keep on making noises late in the evening. I am so tired that I just fall asleep anyway.
The wind is flapping in my tent, looks like a strong headwind today. I still have 90 km to Kuusamo so I get going. The sky in the south is black. The 3 Russians seems to have just passed out, their camp looks like a pigs den. They haven’t even anchored their tents, its just their weight that keeps the tent to the ground.
It starts to rain and it keeps raining for the next 40 km. It’s really cold and wet. It’s funny this that there are no in between days, it’s either above 30C or wet and cold with 10-12C. The wind was slowing me down, I hate when I have to pedal downhill, then there is absolutely nothing for free, every meter costs energy.
I hear a plooiiink sound, it’s another spoke that broke. I pull over and seek shelter behind a pile of logs, I start to fix the spoke and there are some reindeer that watch me. I will not make it to Kuusamo this day, I find Ruka which also is a ski resort.
I have the lunch buffet and look through their information material. There is a list with accommodation SUMMER 2013. I call the only place that seem affordable and in the valley. They are closed for the summer, I ask them why they are in the list of SUMMER 2013 accommodation, they didn’t know.
I see an advert for Motelli Roskapiste Ruka Tupa, I give them a call. The motel is closed for the summer, but not very surprising they have cabins to rent.
Again I go for a cabin, I bike over there and wait for the person that is going to give me the key and collect the money. It seems all cabins are uncleaned and I have to wait again while the man “cleans” the cabin I wanted (the one with best Wifi coverage). He brings the credit card machine and then we say bye bye.
I use the Internet and try to find something along the road, there is a cheap hotel in Kuusamo. I call them, they ask 65 Euro including breakfast. I get a bad wibe and ask if they have Internet/Wifi in their hotel. No, no Internet. I decide that I will go to Kuusamo Tourist information tomorrow and ask them for cheap accommodation, it’s only 26 km there so I might have time to sort something out.
Traveling in this part of Finland is not easy, I decide that if there isn’t some kind of improvement soon I will take a bus or train further south and fast forward past this obnoxious part of the world.
There is thunder and rain during the night, I watch sky news on my 17” flat screen TV while having breakfast. The shower has hot water for about 3-4 minutes. I ride to Kuusamo and start to look around, I go to the tourist information and they have a list of accommodation.
I find a really cheap place, Kuusamo Opisto, I ask if they have Internet and the woman says no. Also there is supposed to be a bike shop just 500 meters towards town, I go there to see if they have a CO2 cartridge for my pump. After a while I find the lawn mower/ATV shop that also has bike parts. Unfortunately they have less bike parts than I do.
I decide to go to this place anyway, there is some information on the paper I got about that keys needs to be picked up at somewhere before 15:30. I find the address but it’s a series of big buildings and I can’t find any information about a hostel.
I ask a man and he shows me where to find the keys. It seems this is a college that also lets outside people stay in their facilities when there are no students there. Sounds fantastic, I ask if they have Internet, and yes they have – no problem. I decide to stay two nights. I get the key and have a look around, it’s fantastic, So I will stay 3 nights and have a small holiday.
Next order of business is to change my Norwegian money for Euro and to get a haircut. I find the bank, they can exchange the money. It takes about 20 minutes to handle this complicated transaction.
Then I start to look around for a place to get a haircut, there are plenty of them but they all seem busy today. There must be something like 15-20 salons here. Then I find one that has drop-in service and sit and wait. The guy uses a normal comb for the trimmer instead of a comb that is attached to the trimmer. So a haircut takes 30 minutes instead of 3 minutes. The haircut costs 40 Euro.
The last time I had a professional haircut in 1995 it was 125 SEK as far as I can remember.
I sleep late and have a big breakfast in the kitchen. I get my bike and go shopping, they have both K-market and S-market and Dressman, it feels like a weekend shopping trip to NYC. Then I have fun with the washing machine, read some books and watch Swedish TV news. It seems nothing much has happened in the world since I last had good Internet. I go out for dinner.
Nothing much gets done this day, I wash the clothes I had on yesterday. Read some. Pack all my dry and clean clothes.
Monday morning and I wake up well rested, Have some breakfast and get going. It’s really hot and balmy. Feels like thunder is coming. According to the tourist information in Kuusamo there is nothing along the road, well I guess I will have to see what I can find.
There are hills and there is headwind. After 20 km or so I see a camping/hotel/restaurant, I stop for cold drinks. I have some words with the guy that runs the place, south of his camping there is nothing before Suomussalmi.
I go on for 30 km more and then I find another camping, it’s huge and they have a restaurant with lunch buffet. They say that now there is absolutely nothing before Suomussalmi.
I have my sights set for a camping that is on the map and on the web, it sounds great, they have cafeteria and 150 places for caravans and tents. I see the sign and its only 2 km to go.
To my left I have some very, very dark clouds and then the thunder starts. Since the sky is blue above me I try to make it to the camping, but the rain starts really fast and hard, it’s like standing in a shower. I get my jacket on, I bike some 100 meter or so where I find a sign to place the bike against. I get my rain pants on. But its to late, I am soaked, only 2 km from the camping.
When I arrive to the Piispansaunat camping they have rerouted traffic so that everyone has to drive near a cabin where the road is blocked. I go there and a man arrives, we have no language in common but he seems to understand what I say in Swedish. He wants 18 Euro cash, the same price as for a caravan. I pay him and ask where the more than 100 places are, he points in the direction of some cabins and waves like it’s behind there. I take my bike and go and have a look.
I cant find any tent places, I find a map of the camping and there it states tent area. There is absolutely no flat area at all where the map says it should be, I walk around with a tent peg and find that all the ground is packed with rocks, I try 20-30 different places but I can’t get the peg down more than 2-3 cm.
I go back to the “office”, now there is a women there as well, she seem to understand both English and Swedish. I ask them to come and show me where the tent spaces are, she is not happy to walk out in the rain with me. She shows me some of the spots I tried already, I show her that it’s impossible to get the pegs down. She just doesn’t care at all, they have a cabin that says “rooms”, I ask her how much a room is, it’s 45 Euro, I ask her how much a cottage is, it’s 45 Euro.
I am starting to be upset with these people now, I ask to see the price list, she gives my the Finnish price list. The rooms are 35 Euro. So I tell her that she will get 17 Euro more and I will get a room, it seems that she finally understands and gives me the room. I try to hang all my wet clothes and crank up the heat to the max, soon it’s warm and clothes are getting less wet. I start to read my book and just don’t bother with being upset.
Afterwards I looked up the camping on the Internet again, they don’t have their own website but on the camping guide they state that there are hundreds of places and a dedicated tent area. The camping site has been inspected as well. All of this is bullshit.
I think that this is the day when it officially stopped being fun to be in this part of Finland. I will work on an exit/fast forward plan, I need to try another part of Finland or the world.