It was Pentecost and Norwegian Constitution Day which gave us a long weekend to leave the city and explore the Northern end of this country. We flew to Tromsø where a rented T4 awaited us. Our plan was to drive down to Lofoten, right to its eastern tip at the village of Å before heading back to check out the world's northermost larger city.
On our way we crossed countless islands, islets, bridges, sounds, fjords, tunnels and passes, traveled the Vesterålen archipelago, drove along two of Norway's esteemed tourist routes, were greeted by lots of reindeer, watched an otter being chased off by seagulls teaming up with a magpie, spotted two elks, a seal and an eagle. And of course endless amounts of cod hung out to dry - that smell, though :O All the islands display incredible landscapes changing from each angle. It's like passing through different micro climates with every corner taken. Think sandy crescent-shaped beaches with azure, crystal clear waters in front of rugged, sharp-toothed mountain cliffs and stormy rain pouring over the harsh Atlantic ocean in the background - all in one view. Of course that's also what makes the region a tourist favourite, but we didn't feel there were too many people underway and always could find a sweet spot to spend the night by ourselves. We were in luck with the weather and enjoyed totally fantastic weather mixed up with the odd short shower every twenty minutes. Only one day was completely grey but that gave us some time to drive some more and even make a quick detour up into the highlands of nearby Finland, totally worth it.
Tromsø then was not that spectacular in itself. The city is distributed over several shores and features a underground road system to help people cope. We arrived in midst the celebrations for Norway's 202nd year of independence from Denmark with folks roaming the streets in the traditional clothes called bunad and an endless train of students of all ages progressing through the inner city. That was interesting and also funny to see so many Norwegians at the same time :D
These are now my new favourite parts of Norway.
Spent virtually the whole day on the road. Left Umeå early on and went further north. The weather was awesome, clear blue sky specked with fluffy clouds, but the scenery became a bit dull. I basically spent four hours passing conifers and birches on hill-less plains - let's call it taiga. It wasn't quite possible to just hop out and go for a walk or take a break on some resting place because sadly there are no such amenities in the provinces of Västerbotten and Norrbotten. There's some towns that but don't spark much of interest to me and the rivers are getting a lot wider. So wide in fact that the citizen of Kalix organized some kind of race on a large course on the ice.
After I passed that the Matrix seemed low on RAM and I hit the white wall of fog again. Even thicker than yesterday, blocking out the sun completely. I arrived at the border town of Haparanda just at the northernmost tip of the Baltic Sea. Let me tell you, that place is a fucking crackhole! It totally felt like Silent Hill or some the-end-is-nigh scenario. I asked myself this oftentimes, but here it really, really applied: Why would anybody want to live here? Everything there seemed so desolate and sad. Maybe people can't leave this place so I made sure that I could still nope out and went right over the border to its twin city Torneå/Tornio. The atmosphere wasn't much better, but it was interesting to see how much it's like a bastard child of Sweden and Russia. I get why people resort to get shitfaced drunk all the time around these parts ...
So initially my plan was to go further around the Gulf of Bothnia to the city of Oulu but as I continued my journey the weather went really bad. That wasn't any fun anymore and since I found that the Lapland region didn't have that much to offer (at least at this time of year) and I only had to track back every kilometer I drove further on the way back tomorrow with nothing gained I decided to just ditch that, head back to Västerbotten and cut the way back home a bit short. Starting from Oulu would also have meant driving ten hours for the next two days - and that's in good weather. So eventually I drew back to Storuman in Västerbotten, checked into a hotel (first time for me myself) and saved myself a good couple of hours. Quite nice being flexible like this. A huuumongous shout out to my trusty companion Monti at this point! He's still in shape albeit dirtier than Redman and X-Tina now.
Saw some reindeer mom with its calf chilling on the road to the hotel, by the way. But that's the only sign of non-airborne wild life I came across so far. And not a single photo today. Tomorrow will deliver, I promise.