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Nordkapp 2007

Well, yes, it was a while that it was buzzing in my head and in the end I did it. After some planning, on Sunday I packed up my bags. I decided to keep the equipment to a minimum, in fact one of the saddle bags was basically empty (it contained only the lining for the jacket and pants). The tank bag doubled as a backpack for fotocamera, drinking water and other necessaire. The rest in the top case.

I've even ride-tested the bike with the full package to see if it gave any trouble, but it was ok. So on Monday morning wake up early, jump on and go. The weather didn't looked too good and in fact I got rain in Germany, but it got better in Denmark and in the end I got to the hotel with the sun.

At the hotel I was joined by a Brits couple that were traveling on two humongous Goldwing, one of them was even attached to a small trailer... it begs the question "why the motorbike" at that point...

Next day I reach the bridge between the danish islands, last time I was here the weather was horrible, this time it ain't and I got some picture too. In a blink of an eye I'm in Sweden, and in search of the BB.

I found it, eventually, and then a tour of the town that is clean and has some interesting site.

The next day I'm in Oslo, that has one problem: Norwegians and the way they drive cars...

From Oslo to Bergen, this is going to be the worse possible trip of the entire vacation, it rains, badly and the road goes up to the mountain pass, and it's cold. Really cold. There is snow at the side of the road. And I can't stop to take pictures because of the rain! I get to Bergen at about 5 pm, half-frozen and dog-tired. Locate the hotel, that is in an area under heavy remodeling, so I can't get to the parking space, ok, park the bike on the sidewalk (hey! if you block all the parking space!) go get something to eat. I decide for an Italian spaghetteria where I feast on penne all'arrabbiata (actually, they were rigatoni, but what the hell...).

I get up and it's not raining, and later the sky clears and the sun is shining! The scenery is fantastic and the road even better. I get to Alesund (pronounced 'olsund') with a smile that looks like Jaws.

In Alesund there is some kind of boat show, the docks are full and tourists are arriving by the truckload. So I go for a quick tour of the town that looks pretty and clean.

Another day, another leg, this time to Trondheim, good weather and I get to my destination, and start looking for the BB. This is going to be tough, since the instructions says "road from A to B, after 6 Km there is the village C, a blue sign on the right, the place is 600 mt from C".

Now, I get to the road (easy part), but there is no trace of the village C. There are some houses along the road, but nothing that make me think of a village. And no blue sign either (I'll found the blue sign partially hidden by the vegetation, not that would have helped either: it wasn't reporting the name of the village or anything). After a lot of going back and forth I finally find somebody to ask for information, and finally locate the place that appear deserted.

After a while a guy shows up, he introduce himself as the brother of the owner and promptly provide me the key of the house and then leave. Leaving me with the key of the whole house....

After a shower to get back into human shape, I go the the nearby town for food.

Next day it rains (grunt), so I pack my bags and head for Mosjonen that turn out to be a really small village, but not deprived of his own angle.

After a night rest the next leg of the journey brings me to Narvik, that is absolutely colorless. Beside the railroad, there is nothing in the town worth reporting.

On the road to Narvik I reach the Polar Arctic Circle.

The scenery, from almost "lunar", changes in a few kilometers

And here is Narvik.

The next day, I leave heading for Karasjok, a Sapmi (Lapp) village in the interior. After half an hour of trip I decide to stop to take some picture and to put on an heavier sweater, got off the bike, put the key in the topcase's lock, turn and... nothing. Doesn't open. What the...? Am I using the wrong key? Take it out and the whole lock came off. Fuck! And the case is still closed! So I got the bike's tool kit out and used a screwdriver to force my way into the case. It toke me about 3 seconds to open it (and this make me think how much I trust this thing...), and I wasn't trying to break the case, just open it. So I guess a real thieve would have toke about 1 second to open the stupid thing. At that point I decided to completely disable the lock (un-hooked the spring that move the lock) and use a bungee cord to keep it closed during the ride. Considering the time it took me to open the case, the bungee was an improvement in security.

After a while I met the mosquitoes, bloodsucker monsters that force the poor reindeer to take the 400 km trip to the coast during the summer. I was a little suspicious of all the car stations that were selling DDT and repellent by the truckload but... it got so bad that whenever I was stopping I had to keep my helmet closed and my gloves on!

On the road I saw also a moose, at least, I think it was a moose... and a white reindeer.

I get to Karasjok and immediately find the BB, the place is composed by a bunch of small wooden cabins, each one 'personalized' by the owner of the place.

The problem is that the cabins are not equipped with toilets, to get to the toilet/shower the procedure is: you dress up, then run on the place or do something to warm up and prepare, then get out of the lodge as fast as you can and close the door as fast as you can (to keep the mosquitoes out of the cabin) run down the hill to the 'service' cabin as fast as you can dodging the mosquitoes, get in, start slapping yourself to kill all the bastards before they drain your blood. When they are all dead you can do your stuff. To get back, the same but in reverse.

Serious: I slept better in that un-heated cabin in the middle of the forest than in a 5-star hotel in Stockholm, for 2 reasons: there was no heating but the heavy cover was doing his job and the bed was a plank of wood (very good for my back).

In the evening I go to Karasjok to get something to eat and I get to assist to the following scene: the place was a bar/restaurant handled by a guy that wasn't very good at English, so I look at the menu, pick something that smelled like reindeer steak and go with it. After a while 3 bikers arrived, the license plates were from Switzerland. They get in, I point them to the menu, they look (it's in Norwegian), so they ask the guy behind the counter "what is this?" pointing to a voice in the menu, the guy look back, point to another voice and answer "is the same as this".

The next day, NORDKAPP!

Along the road I look at the scenery, rough and bare, no tree or anything but grass, some moss and lichens. The wind is brutal but doesn't rain.

In the evening I go visit the Sapmi village nearby, and eat at the Sapmi restaurant, that is built in the same shape as the original Sapmi structures, but with modern materials and techniques of course. The place is interesting and the food is good.

It's time to head back. This is when I discover a terrific bug in my planning: I decided to go back along the coastal route of Sweden, that is flat and straight. So flat and straight that looks like I'm already back in Netherlands. The only difference is that there is a speed camera every 2 km.

One word: booooooooooriiiiiiiing!

I get to Rovaniemi (Finland) and take some picture of the place.

The next day I get to Skelleftea, that seems a little more interesting.

Then is Sundsvall turn, the town's symbol is the dragon, and apparently the city council commissioned a number of 'statues' of dragons to be exposed around, I'm not sure if this is what they wanted but...

A couple of pictures taken during the way.

And finally I'm in Stockholm! Unfortunately, is way too damn big for one single day, and I didn't even had one day, just half of it. So I wander around in the old side of the town.

With this, the trip is basically over, the next 3 days are spent riding on the motorway (even less interesting) and under the rain, so no chances of much fun. It will stop raining only when I park the bike in front of my house. The clock says 8238 km.

Final considerations: the trip is worth it. For sure. But forget Sweden and stick to Norway. The story I heard about cops ready to jail the unsuspecting tourists for a little speeding turned out to be bogus: I haven't saw one single patrol! The only cop I saw were two female cops in Oslo, watering their horses.

One thing that I noticed is the relation of those peoples with sugar: they apparently hate it. If you ask for a coffee, they don't bring you sugar unless you specifically ask for it, and always those crappy sugar lumps packaged in such way that to open them you have to smash them to bits... so if you like sugar in your coffee, bring your own.

Another thing is their relation with heating, I can't believe that they have heating full on in July! Ok, sometimes it was not so hot outside, but you can't have 35 degrees in the house, c'mon!.