How many cherries fit on a cake?
After having arrived in Kirkenes and having cycled towards Vardø, I was ready to put a couple of cherries on mine.
The first cherry is me taking a boat of the Hurtigruten which is a Norwegian public coastal route. Boats run either south, from Kirkenes to Bergen or the other way round. In total, it takes a little over a week to cover the whole distance. This route is legendary and a lot of people book the whole package including a cabin and pretty fancy meals. But you can also book harbor-to-harbor tickets without any frills that only cost a fraction of the package price. I boarded the vessel in Vardø, southbound to Honningsvåg. This takes roughly 13 hours and you cruise with a steady pace of 30 km/h along the northern shore of northern Norway, always in close sight of the cliffs and mountains. I was incredibly lucky: the sea was calm, the sky blue and the sun was shining 24 hours. It was wonderful to glare over the Barent Sea, to experience the midnight sun once again and slowly approaching my destination.
Arriving Honningsvåg at 6 in the morning the following day, it was time to put cherry #2 on the cake: I drank a quick coffee, had a snack and started immediately towards the Nordkapp. 35 kms to go from the harbour. These 2.5 hours were to most hilly, most exhausting and overall hottest on my whole trip. The northern tip of Europe rarely sees any sun and warm temperatures, and today the sun was burning down relentlessly and the thermometer showed 30 degrees. I brought a down jacket, wollen merino pants, warm gloves and a hat for this part of the trip. Instead, I cycled in shorts, sweat running down my face and knees, and with a thick layer of sun block on.
However, the landscape was fascinating: no trees, windswept lands, reindeer that tried to cool down on the very few snowfields that still remained from the harsh winter. I was climbing up on a plateau, views over the sea towards the north and northwest. Many motorbikes passed me, motorhomes coming towards me showed me their thumbs up. Eventually, a huge parking lot with a lot of cars and motorcycles came into sight. I barely noticed it. I was headed towards the monument that is a stylized globe. It marks the Nordkapp. It was nice to get there, but I didn’t feel any connection. Most cyclists heading north aim for the Nordkapp . But not me – this was a nice dead rock at the northern end of Europe, that I’m ticking off of my list. My magic happened back in Kirkenes and Vardø.
Pictures taken, a coffee and some snacks later I cycled back towards a campground with a lake where I cooled off dipping into it a few times.
Alright, as three does the trick … one more cherry to come!