Nordkapp is the farthest north we can go. Beyond lies only arctic ocean, ice and the North Pole. We enjoy the scenery for a while and can’t believe how lucky we are with the weather.
In the parking lot we have a quick chat with a couple of Italian guys who came 2 up on a new Africa Twin. They camped out in the parking lot last night and had the place all to themselves yesterday evening. Damn! That must have been nice!
Reaching the northern most tip of continental Europe does make up partly for not reaching our original goal. It certainly does fill us with a sense of satisfaction. It also marks a rather significant change in our experience of the trip. It has started feeling less like an adventure and more like an extended holiday. The environment and the people are all much more familiar. After our previous experiences, the locals here are much more reserved and we are surrounded by other tourists everywhere. We have lost that exhilarating sense of uniqueness. No longer does everyone we meet make us feel like we are special. It is, admittedly, a bit of a dent to our egos. We also do miss the spontaneous meetings with strangers a bit.
Nevertheless, the landscape is awe inspiring and a treat in its own right. From here, our plan is to make our way south sticking to the coast as much as possible.
We aren’t traveling alone anymore, we’ll be taking 2 new mascot friends with us from Nordkapp: Donner and Blitzen!
Whenever possible, I try to look for some interesting things to see along the way. Since Scandinavia was never in the original plan, we didn’t do any research and we’re mostly going on what other people recommend, like visiting Santa Claus. But I did come across an interesting architectural curiosity: the Nordlys Cathedral in Alta. The building is inspired by the famous northern lights and since Alta is on our route, we take a small detour to go and have a look.
We find a nice campsite just outside Alta and make good use of the heated kitchen. By late afternoon the weather had turned and the temperatures have dropped steeply again. It looks like it might rain as well. Although the lady at the reception offers us a cabin, we persevere and stick to our tent (and budget).
The landscape changes quickly as soon as we travel further south. Once we leave the northernmost part behind through a set of very very cold tunnels, shrubs and trees start to emerge again. The far north is crowded with reindeer, but to the south, they are joined by moose. To be honest, I did not even know there was a difference really, until we started to notice the different signs for them. Educational road signs, You gotta love ‘m!
Our motorbikes haven’t had a maintenance since we left Bulgaria, almost 2 months and more than 10.000km ago, so we have been looking for a place where we can change the oil and brakepads and clean the air filters. Through our friend Sunny, we get in touch with the motorcycle club in Harstad on Facebook and they immediately invite us over. Harstad is only a short ride, so we arrive just after lunchtime. Plenty of time to give the bikes a wash and have some early dinner. First time dining out since we’ve entered Norway. Not that we have missed it. It seems that people here mainly eat fast food. And they do have a very large variety of it: kebab, KFC, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, more kebab… Literally every fuel station serves burger with fries. That would also explain the large amount of overweight people we have seen so far. Not really what you would expect when you think of Scandinavia.
Around 6PM we arrive at the Harstad Motorcycle Club house. It’s more of a mansion than a house. It’s just HUGE! We’re immediately taken in and given the grand tour. The club house is an enormous, 3 storey building. The ground floor is workshop and winter garage for the club members. In the workshop you can easily work on 4 motorbikes simultaneously and it has all the equipment a hobby mechanic could ever dream of. The garage is immense and can store about a hundred bikes. The first floor consists of a big party room, including a kitchen and bar and it also has some guest bedrooms on the far end, which we are invited to use for free! Cool bananas!
It really is our lucky day. Since it’s cake night tonight, a lot of the members show up to have coffee and cake and we spend an evening in the club’s meeting room on the top floor talking and sharing experiences. Turns out the president of the club has been at a motorcycle ralley just outside the town where I grew up! Small world!
The next day, we have the place all to ourselves and Jo starts working on the bikes while I try to catch up on the blog. Since we’ve left the unlimited and fast mobile network of Russia behind, we lost momentum in our blog posts as well. We might have entered Western Europe and all its luxury again, but as far as mobile network and wifi are concerned, we feel like we’ve returned to the stone age.
The workshop is incredibly well equipped and Jo makes good progress on the bikes, so by late afternoon, both bikes have had an oil change, the brake pads have been replaced and the chains have been tensioned. I go and help with cleaning out the air filters and oiling them again and then our babies are ready for the home straight! We have some dinner in the now empty club meeting room and then make it an early night.
While talking to the club members, we learned that the Lofoten archipelago is literally around the corner. Really? I always thought it was somewhere far out into the sea because I had always heard people talking about taking ferries to get there. But it turns out, we’re pretty much on them in Harstad. This is an opportunity we cannot miss, so another change of plan is made and off we go the next morning. After 2 days of cold, grey and windy weather, the sun is out again. How lucky are we!
Lofoten really is as magical as they say. It’s not that big and our friends at the motorcycle club have given us some pointers as to where the nicest spots are. Our aim today is Haukeland beach, but first we want to visit Henningsvaer and of course Å! On the way back, we plan to stop at the Viking museum in Borg.
The roads and views are simply spectacular and it’s impossible to catch any of it on a decent picture. We go “Å” around every corner.
We reach the real Å late afternoon. There is a walk going to the far end of the island but it’s quite a hike and we don’t really feel like leaving the bikes behind on the parking lot.
We turn around and start looking for Haukeland beach. It’s easy enough to find and it’s just as impressive as we were told. The beach is set in a small bay and we’re not the only ones with plans to camp there.
We pick a spot on the beach front and enjoy our dinner while gazing at the most spectacular sunset. The light is just amazing, changing every second and drowning the views in colours like I’ve never seen before.