Norway - Reaching Nordkapp
What a busy few days!! We’re now in Inari, Finland. Lapland, land of the rarely seen funny man in baggy red clothes (no, not Jimmy Saville, the other one!) The land of lakes, Christmas trees, grumpy campsite owners with hygiene issues and dodgy haircuts...more on that later.
We left Hammerfest proudly displaying our ‘I’ve been to Hammerfest, the most northerly town in the World’ sticker, displayed like some type of medal of achievement to be marveled at by others – OK, in fairness it’s a bit dodgy looking and not quite as impressive as the cubs 25m breast stroke badge – but we had to have them all the same. We left Hammerfest late at 11:00 am and we packed up in the rain, weary from the previous nights marathon journal frenzy! Back on the bikes, heading down the same main road we had arrived on a day earlier, we were aiming for ‘Nordkapp’ – for some reason ‘Nordkapp’ sounds so much more impressive than North Cape. Dodging reindeer as we went, the road to Nordkapp became more barren and truly more awesome as we progressed northwards.
As we rode on, the snow on either side of us became bluer and harder as the temperature dropped and Lisa and I became more and more excited, “bloody hell we’re almost there“. The last 5 miles to Nordkapp saw the road narrow to 1½ cars width with no barriers left and right between us and the sheer drop into the ice-filled lakes below.
A couple of noteworthy points abut Nordkapp: there is a tunnel you must use which will set you back £7 if you’re on a bike and much more for cars, caravans etc – this is payable ‘both ways’; entry to Nordkapp is (at the moment June 2003) £19 per person – this fee is currently a hot topic of conversation within Norway.
We rode the last few 100 yards after paying and parked up next to the only two other bikes there – a Triumph Tiger and R850GS – and headed into centre in search of warmth. Anything would do, a radiator, a coffee, a nubile young blonde with an open mind and open..sorry, sorry! I got carried away...it’s the cold!
Two coffees and two doughnuts will set you back £8.50. We ate them very, very sloooowly! With our hands once again at operating temperature it was picture time.
Past the visitors centre no vehicles of any kind are permitted, which is a shame as I wanted pictures of us and the bikes at the Nordkapp monument which sits on the true “71° 10° 21 point”. Not deterred I asked at the information desk for a meeting with the site manager. After a few questions to determine I wasn’t just another grumbling German complaining that I couldn’t see the midnight sun for clouds and demanding a full refund (apparently this has happened!), my request was granted! I also think our charity badges and stickers helped to substantiate my request. 5 mins later we were explaining our trip and its aim to Katrina, who explained that normally it is strictly forbidden and if she allowed us, she would have to let others and she didn’t think it was possible. 5 more mins on and with a rye smile, she said “OK! But you have to be quick and I will have to make some arrangements”. The arrangements were to restrict public access and to find a member of staff to take the photos. We enthusiastically thanked her and ran to the bikes, both of us a little surprised we’d pulled this off.
Riding on the pegs over loose shale and rocks normally only negotiated by foot, we quickly parked up next to the monument, mindful of the bottleneck we were creating as people waited to get to the Cape. The member of staff took our camera and snapped away as we directed her as to the kind of photo we wanted. We thanked her profusely trying to make up for the cold she was having to bear. All done, we rode back to the parking area and then back inside for a few more thank-you’s!
Whilst waiting for 12pm and the midnight sun, we met Andreus, a local silversmith and Kawasaki rider. He mentioned that he’d “lived here always” and had never heard of any vehicle being allowed out to the point. We were chuffed or what!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you Katrina!!
We waited for midnight with our new friend Uwe (pronounced Ouve) who turned out to be the owner of the R850GS. Uwe was German and was heading home down the same route we had just used to come up from Bergen.
At 12:30 am none of us were tired, the sun had made its appearance on cue and it was time to make a move. We opted to ride through the night (or day) to north Finland as our budget had been hammered following Nordkapp and we thought we’d save the campsite money.
We said goodbye to Nordkapp, the Baring sea, The Artic Ocean and the 7K tunnel and 15 mins after saying goodbye Lisa made a new friend – flying no more than 10 feet overhead and with a wing span like Concorde, she was being closely inspected by a huge bird of prey which turned out later to be a white tailed eagle...this trip keep getting better and better!
We rode until we reached the small town of Inari close to the Inarijarvi lake and at 6:30 am we staggered into the small souvenir shop/cafe and downed some coffee – we had once again become very cold. 3Km down the road we set up camp and slept until 3pm. We were tired and cold but what a great couple of days. Brilliant!!