Nights here in the north are quite chilly even if there is no actual night. So it’s good to put some warm clothes on before going in the sleeping bag. Well, waking up in a tent under the sun is a sort of sauna, and you might like to take clothes off before going there.
So, again another day of almost (see below) superb weather. Today the temperature reached 27 degrees. And I felt them all as the road started to be steeper while approaching Kirkenes. The rule in Norway is this: as long as the road goes along the coast, you go mildly uphill and downhill. When the road, from some strange reasons, needs to cut short towards the next fjord and goes inland, it climbs up. And the higher the outdoor temperature, the steeper the road (this is a rule I just invented).
Furthermore, there is an 8 km patch where you are not allowed to take photographs, camp, nor even to stop, as the sign says:
I must say I was smiling while pedalling there: that military zone was actually the steepest climb of the day, and going up at 5-6 km/h (almost walking, I mean), I started thinking what would happen if I had stopped. Didn’t have to worry too much: after a few minutes a black car came in the opposite direction, stopped about a hundred meter in front of me and made a U-turn. Big brother was watching me? Who knows, at least I was smiling, hopefully they took a nice picture.
Anyway, no big deal today, I had planned a half-day cycling, so it took less than two hours to reach Kirkenes, on the very top of Europe, have a look at the distances:
Getting to Helsinki from here is less than half way to Oslo, that tells something.
In the town I got to know some interesting facts about Kirkenes: the town was completely destroyed during the World War II, totalling an amount of 1000 bomb alarms during the war. It used to be (and still is) an industrial town, built not more than a hundred years ago. So, not too many ancient buildings, here an example of a completely renewed factory, nowadays an office building:
Kirkenes is also famous (at least to me), to be the last stop of the Hurtigruten, the ship that sails all along Norway. I managed to reach the harbour, but the ship had already left, damn.
One important lesson I learnt (somehow I suspected it from my previous trips) is the following: never visit any place in Norway on a Sunday. While getting today to Kirkenes I smiled thinking of what the lady at the Skolt museum in Sevettijärvi told me: “Norwegians still consider holidays as ‘holy’ days” (straight translation from Finnish). She was right. Everything here is closed on Sundays. I mean, everything.
At the harbour I asked the officer who was just closing the gate at 12 (the ship is gone, we close) where I could buy some food, as all the supermarkets are closed on Sundays (I mean, all of them, even the small ones), he answered: “You might like to have a hamburger at one (of the two) gas station. Everything’s closed today. We are a lazy country”. Well, I had heard the term “lazy” associated with another country, but good to know anyway.
So, let be hamburger for today. And no Murmansk, although the sign was inviting:
Just 14 km to the border. But it’ll be another time, one border crossing is more than enough for this time. And furthermore, I don’t have a visa for Russia, and, well, I didn’t even take my passport with me. And, no, I’m not looking for excitement going, say, through the forest.
Before getting here, I always thought that the northernmost European railway is the one the goes to Narvik. I was mistaken, here is a train:
Maybe they don’t have passengers’ trains here, but it could be a good idea.
Finally, Kirkenes has a camping facility, so I managed to have half a day of relax, and a proper shower (and WiFi!). This break turned out to be a very good idea: with the experience of the last night, I spent some time making calculations about where to put my tent. Needless to say, as soon as I put it up it started raining (all of a sudden, you know, mountains). But you never know tomorrow morning, weather might be still warm…
Day 4 – Tour de Laponie 2013: Neidenfjorden – Kirkenes
Trip distance: 41.5 km
Actual trip time: 3 h