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Published: July 25th 2010
Summer in Norway...Simply Majestic!
7 days and 7 days of Norway were ahead of us. Don’t read it again....you have read correctly. If half of a day is “day” and the other half is “night” then yes, we had 7 days and 7 days ahead of us. Put simply it just doesn’t get dark where we were headed and night time as we know it was not going to be with us for at least a week. Having no darkness is pretty much the premier attraction to Norway and indeed all Scandinavian countries at this time of year. Our quest was to reach Nordkapp, the most northerly point on mainland Europe. I kind of make it sound like we were explorers trying to be the first to do it however it was as easy as hiring a car and just driving there.
We flew into Tromsø “lufthavn” to be greeted by our Danish friends Nille and Kasper. To be honest I had done little study for this trip and was surprised to see that Tromsø describes itself as “The Arctic Gateway”. Sounds cold - especially when I worn only shorts, T-Shirt, thongs and a smile on my arrival. Fortunately it was
Our First View of Summer in Tromsø.
a balmy summer evening in Tromsø and I managed to get away with it. Balmy I hear you ask?.....yep it was all of about 7°C, maybe a tad warmer but it was a relatively clear “night”. Our arrival time was around 10:30pm and due to our late start we decided to hire a cabin for the “night” rather than having to set up our tents as would be the plan going forward.
Now let me tell all you wannabe Norway travellers......camping is the way to go! Not only does Norway have an abundance of natural beauty, in fact it oozes stunning scenery at every turn, but unless you are a cashed up rich retiree and a staunch member of the blue hair brigade you just can’t afford alternative accommodation. Fortunately it is legal to camp in the wild in Norway so if a shower is not that important to you, then accommodation can be free. We ended up camping for only 3 of our “nights” (mainly due to schitzehausen weather) and the others in seriously small and basic wooden cabins (see Photo 14). A real estate agent would call them cosy, quaint or cute.
With reference to the
I Didn't Know we were Heading into the Arctic Circle!
word “expensive” the country of Norway should be represented in all definitions of all dictionaries and encyclopaedia. When searching the word “expensive” on Google, the first answer should just be a map of Norway. A 500mL can of bottom shelf beer, purchased in a supermarket no less, costs the equivalent of $4.00, a packet of 500g spaghetti - $2.00, a 1L carton of milk - $2.25 and the list goes on. A 400mL beer in a restaurant about $13.00 with most main dishes around $20.00 - and that’s not even eating anywhere flash. It was outrageous. Luckily all four of us were rowing the same boat when we opted to go for muesli everyday for breakfast, sandwiches with mystery meat everyday for lunch and canned “camp food” each “night” for dinner. Even trying to skimp cost us plenty. Anyway, I think you get the gist so I digress (but will likely harp on about it a little later).
So, it’s now later. We opted to cut our journey short on day one and took two car ferries to get us up the coast that little bit quicker. Pretty scenery. Tick. Fun to be on a boat. Tick. Expensive. Tick,
Our First Photo with Nille and Kasper....11pm Tromsø Airport.
tick, tick, tick, tick. Our budget was blown and we had barely enough time to collect our baggage off the carousel! For those playing at home the combined cost of the two ferries was around $80.00 and we wouldn’t have been on them for more than 45 minutes total.
With our pants around our ankles we pushed on and found ourselves an amazing natural campsite overlooking at huge fjord entirely skirted by mountains. We were about 100kms from the town of Alta. Fire built, tents erected and air mattresses inflated it was time some beers, bush tucker and to settle in and not watch the sun set. If you haven’t already watched the video I have attached, you will see when you do, what I mean by this. We were still some 400-500kms south of Nordkapp but nights as we have known them for 30+ years now, were a thing of the past. The sun snuck towards the horizon but simply refused to go down. It is a spectacle like no other and extremely hard to comprehend. The “sunset” and “sunrise” were only likely 30 minutes apart but with no obvious interlude. It was kind of like watching a
8 Minutes Past Midnight in Tromsø.
game of football with no half time break.
With beers under the belt, sleeping in a tent in “nightlight” is achievable. Packing up your tent and campsite in pouring rain though is much more difficult. Unfortunately that is what greeted us in the morning. With wet clothing but spirits far from dampened we drove through mist and rain for most of the day and settled into a cosy, quaint and cute 2 bunk bed cabin in Skarsvåg just 13kms from Nordkapp. Skarsvåg is in fact the most northerly fishing village in Europe and our campsite was the most northerly campsite in Europe. That probably made us the most northerly group of 4 tourists with German, Danish and Australian passports in Europe. We utilised the most northerly campsite showers in Europe and even had some slow (but most northerly in Europe) campsite internet access at our dispense.
I suppose you can say that there really isn’t that much to do in the most northerly part of Europe but the following day although still a little overcast and damn cold (4°C in summer!) we chose to take a hike to a place called Knivskjelodden...try saying that one 3 times fast!
Ferry Ride from Breidvikeidet to Svensby.
I will assume you have never heard of this place so I will tell you that it is actually the most northern point on mainland Europe. Yep...further north than Nordkapp! It is inaccessible by road and has no fan fair whatsoever at the actual end of the promontory. What it does have though are spectacular views of Nordcapp and it provides people like us bragging rights over those lazy sods that only go to Nordcapp. The hike was an 18km round trip but fairly tame to be honest. The legs were a little tight the next day but nothing to complain about.
The hike offered up an amazing little story. At the start of the trail, for want of a better word as the trail was really non-existent, just rocks, puddles and in many parts many 10’s of metres wide, we noticed a handwritten note stating that earlier hikers (a couple) had lost a BMW car key (on an “Ireland” key ring) somewhere along the trail. Their story was easily ratified as there was an parked BMW next to our car. Thinking nothing of it and thanking God that it wasn’t us that lost the car keys (could you
Summer Landscape View from Ferry to Svensby.
imagine the fight those two would have had? Oh, it would have been colossal! You would have been able to sell tickets I reckon!) we commenced the most northerly trek in Europe. We had made it to the end and had turned back when about 300m onwards I stumbled across a key and yep you can probably guess what was written on the key ring! On our entire return trip we riddled about how to blackmail the Beemer owner. With beer so expensive we though a six-pack or maybe even a case would be a worthy reward. We thought maybe a bottle of wine or a small monetary offering. We even joked about stealing the car! When we made it back to the car park the BMW was gone. We did contact them though and they said that they had ordered and received a replacement key but for some reason still wanted to collect the key I had found. They drove a staggering 5 hours to return to collect the key arriving sometime in the middle of the “night” and we never even met them. We had left the key outside our cabin with a nice little note, like a
This is Summer Right?
child leaving a note for Santa Claus with milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. The different though was this “Santa” didn’t leave anything after reading his note and drinking his milk and eating his cookies! Oh the hide! I couldn’t believe it. All of our dreams of free beer were dashed! Our good deed had gone unrewarded. I should send him a bill for the damn phone call!
We did actually visit Nordkapp, spending a preposterous entry fee of around $40.00 each just to walk along to most northerly cliff in Europe at midnight and take a few happy snaps. The museum was less than exciting, the film they show ceased before we got there and the gift shop abnormally large. I suppose you have to do it if you travel so far but really, our free hike to Knivskjelodden was far more rewarding (notwithstanding we didn’t get rewarded to finding the key!!) and more poignant.
Our return to Tromsø took us through Honnigsvåg, the most northerly shipping port in Europe hosting the most northerly airport in Europe, Hammerfest, the most northerly town in Europe (and probably the most boring too) and many other astonishingly cute little fishing
Our First Campsite on our Way to Alta.
towns comprising many little painted wooden waterside houses with little jetties and little boats. We encountered several reindeer along the way whereby on many occasions we had to stop and wait for them to walk over or off the road (they have right of way throughout Norway). It was a great road trip. We drank “Arctic” beer (because we could) and we even had one day with perfect “Simpsons-like” sky.
Our last “night” camping presented us with the ideal fjord-side natural campsite overlooking snow capped mountains and a sky blanketed with deep orange hues. You will no doubt marvel at Photos 41 & 42 when I tell you that they were snapped at around 11:30pm at “night”. Kasper played air guitar with fire wood, Nille danced and sang to music by some old crooner called Louis something, Chris went snappy happy and I just drank and like everyone else, helped keep the “bush TV” burning.
All in all a wonderful experience was had. The Norwegian people in most every way were very friendly and welcoming. With the cost of groceries in Norway I can only assume that the Norwegians earn a good crust...maybe that’s why they are sooooo
Just Doin' What you do When you go Campin'...
Ha det bra!
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