The big push north: Olden - Roros - Anaset - Nordkapp - Romanievi
We had a great time at the midsummer's eve bonfire on our last night in Olden. We splashed out and got the last pork chop off the grill, potato salad and a beer each and sat lakeside to devour our tasty spread. After 2 weeks of sandwiches it was nice to have a hot meaty meal!!
The following morning we took a relaxed approach at getting on the road, we wanted to spend as much time at our site as possible!! We eventually packed up and before setting off to Roros took a little side step to the small town at the end of the valley, from which there was another entry point to the glacier. A dozen or so photo's and we were off.
The journey from Olden to Roros was again a beautiful one. We have come to expect high standards from Norway, and again we were not disappointed - vast mountain ranges, spectacular waterfalls, and plenty of twists and turns in the road to keep the mini happy. As we headed inland towards Sweden, we climbed through a snow covered mountain range and down through lush green valleys. Happy days.
We arrived in Roros reasonably late in the evening and decided it would be best to set up camp before heading in to check out the UNESCO listed mining town. At the heart of the town was a copper smelter that after 333 years of operation went bankrupt in 1997 and closed its doors for good. The village was really interesting, there were even some houses built in the slag piles for labourers back in the day. Unfortunately for our cultural experience, we were both pretty tired after a day in the car and probably didn't give Roros the full attention it deserved. Instead, we headed back to the campsite and enjoyed a coffee and some good old American TV before bed. Its amazing what s*** you will watch when you haven't seen anything for ages!!
After Roros, we continued east into Sweden to avoid toll roads and check out the Swedish coastline. The further inland we travelled, the more the scenery changed. The stark mountain ranges turned into rolling green hills and plenty of pine forests dotted with lakeside houses. Still pretty, but Norway was proving a hard act to follow. The further east we went, the better the weather! By mid afternoon we had covered the breadth of Sweden and stopped at a tourist information centre just outside Harnosand by an impressive suspension bridge. Here we picked up a map of the tourist 'scenic' route of the coast and jumped back in the car. After an hour on the road it seemed evident that this scenic drive was better viewed from outside the car, calling for you to get out and check out the quaint fishing villages along the way. Unfortunately we didn't really have the time or inclination to stop and start and therefore continued driving.
Several more hours in the car passed as we made good distance up the coast, but by 10:30pm we were ready to call it a day. We found a campsite in a place called Anaset but missed reception by about 30 min, so we found somewhere to pitch the tent and decided to pay in the morning. Lucky us found out after we had set up that the bathrooms were locked and required a key given to you at check in! This made things a little difficult and quite uncomfortable (well for Liz anyway). The real kick in the face after that was the massive amount of mosquitoes.Gross.Talk about diving into a tent as fast as possible.And the poor mini! It's a bug holocaust on wheels.
In the morning we were up well before reception was open. We had to set up a stakeout operation to watch for other campers using the facilities so we could sneak in behind them and use the showers! Talk about your awkward conversation starter!! Eventually however we were both clean and ready for another day in the car. As we left, reception opened and we were able to pay for the few hours we spent there.
Now begins the tale of our 16 hour drive pretty much directly north. Unfortunately there isn't really much to say about the drive itself. The further north we pushed the more the scenery changed. In Sweden, we were surrounded by rolling hills and pine forests, but as we pushed on the trees got shorter and shorter, eventually changing to scrub to rocks. As we approached the coast, we got the feeling that we were back in Norway as the mountains again appeared in front of us. The odd thing as we drove was that as the hours passed, the day didn't really seem to change that much, it felt like a constant mid afternoon with the sun shining. I didn't take my sunglasses off until about 11pm! It was really handy for taking photos along the way though!!
By this time we were both getting pretty tired, but made the executive decision to push on all the way to the Nordkapp to see the midnight sun. Midnight ended up passing us by as we were still driving, and cloud cover meant we couldn't actually see the sun. Bummer. We drove on through a series of massively long tunnels and arrived at the Nordkapp at 1:27am. I thought that getting there so late would work in our favour and we would be able to sneak into the car park undetected. Apparently midnight is the busiest time of day, the visitors centre is open until 1am and the gate is manned through the night!
We parked and headed out for a quick look at the globe monument at the top of the Nordkapp. Luckily for us the hoards of tour groups had just left on their buses and we were left in peace to take in the edge of the earth with only two other people. It seemed they had the same idea as us, to wait until everyone else was gone to enjoy the solitude. They also seemed to have their own travel gimmick - they were flying fancy stunt kites and taking photos. Pretty cool to watch. From a distance Liz thought they were doing judo. Also original but not as impressive.
We went back to the car to turn in for the night. That's right; we slept in the front seats of the mini! We had already paid a ridiculous amount to park in the car park (around about 30 pounds), it was way too late to check in at a campsite, and it was too cold and windy to set up the tent. It seemed like a smart thing to do. Now, I'm not sure if it was because I was beat after a 16 hour stretch behind the wheel, but it was comfortable and I slept well. So well we did the same the next night after catching a glimpse of the midnight sun.
The next morning we were up late (man that car is comfortable) and, after checking out the facilities at the tourist complex, headed to the Knivskjellodden (the real northern most point of the continent) car park. From there we started the 19km return hike in misty rainy weather. After a few hours the clouds lifted and we arrived at the point. At the point there is a box that has a log book in which you can write your name and a little message ('from one end of the world to the other' - that's us) and get a number. You can quote this number at the tourist office to get a certificate of completion. Unfortunately for us the log book that was there had no numbers. The tourist office wasn't open when we left yesterday anyways, so in the end it didn't really matter.
That night we were hoping to see the midnight sun, although the clouds were not looking promising. The clouds stayed strong and covered up everything until about 1.30am when there was a big break in the clouds and everything started to clear up.It was beautiful, the amount of pictures we took can probably attest to that!
Yesterday we made a cruisy 10 hour journey to Rovaniemi, Finland where we are now.Today we are going to Santa's village (Madsen, we will pass on your regards…and name drop if we have to). Afterwards we are going to head to Tornio, which is about a 3 hour drive away, to play some golf and go on a brewery tour.The golf course is a cross border course with Sweden, so we'll be playing in two countries! Onwards from here we are heading south to Kuopio for a smoke sauna and for the 4th we will be at the Wife Carrying World Championships.Should be good fun.More details to follow…