When I started my trip back home in Germany, I didn’t have an idea of how things would turn out. “I go north!” I said whenever people asked me about my cycling plans for the summer. Maybe I had the Nordkapp in mind, but never had I even heard of Vardø, and Kirkenes was only a place that appealed to me since my fingers touched that place on an atlas map when I was a kid.
Taking a boat of the classic Hurtigruten also was way out of reach because I always thought it is a posh and therefore expensive way of traveling cruise-ship-style along the Norwegian coast. It is, multi-day packages are expensive, yes, you’d get served reindeer and even whale beef if you want. But somehow I got to learn about port-to-port trips on those ships. And yes! As long as you don’t spend more than 24 hours at once on the boat, you don’t have to pay for an expensive cabin; instead, you’d just buy a ticket for a section of the route and hang out on board in one of the many comfortable seating areas. As I already loved taking the boat from Vardø to Honningsvåg, I decided I’d take a boat from Honningsvåg to Tromsø from where I’d eventually fly out and back to Germany.
Together with a Dane and a lovely couple from South Africa I met on the campground, we made our way to the port in Honningsvåg very early morning. It didn’t take long until the boat arrived with its typical sound. Having been only three cyclist on the boat trip prior, now, there are about 30-35 cyclist waiting to board the boat.
The next 18 hours on the boat where filled with laughter, cycling stories, and marveling at the beauty of the shoreline together in silence with fellow cyclists.
When the boat docked in Hammerfest, together with Linda and Paul from South Africa, we took the chance to explore Norways northern most city for a bit. We visited the meridian monument “Struve Geodetic Arc” that commemorates the first and most northern point of a triangulation project to measure the world in the 19th century. Also, in the not-so-far distance the flame of a natural gas site was visible. This processing site resulted in an economic boom in most recent years. However, problems with smoke and pollution arose in the initial production phases.
After we left Hammerfest again, I couldn’t stop marveling at the wonderful northern scenery with rugged cliffs, mountains with snowfields even in summer and the overall peaceful atmosphere while cruising through the waters of the Barent Sea. One exciting event while being on board is whenever our boat meets a sister boat that comes towards us. Then, both boats sound their horn that is echoed by the rocks of the coastline.
But all good things need to come to an end eventually. So, with the trip on the Hurtigruten boat I put the third and last cherry on my cycling trip. It was much more than just a trip, it was another journey that came at the right time in my life, brought in the right people and many aspects on-path and off-path poked just one sore point or the other. For many reasons it was enlightening, insightful and inspiring. But also overall healing and another chance for personal growth. I’m beyond grateful, happy and glad, that I set out to a “trip north” about 6 weeks ago. Things are what you’d make them be.
Now, let’s get some sleep, find a cardboard box and prepare the bike for the flight back home.