Road Trip: Day 21 & 22
Thursday morning, we set course for Nordkapp, the North Cape, the northernmost point in Europe reachable by car.
I mean, the place is a tourist trap where you have to pay money to get in and stand at that point, but it’s kind of worth it. We did the mandatory photo ops.
And I found Norway’s northernmost flowers (well, maybe; there’s a place further north that you can get to on foot, but we didn’t have time for that).
Inside there were some exhibitions, a shop, and a post office with special stamps, as well as Norway’s northernmost chapel, a lovely meditative room with music composed especially for the place by Jan Garbarek.
It felt so strange to be there, right at the top of Norway, knowing that three weeks ago we were standing at its southernmost tip looking out at the North Sea. We travelled so far to get there. That alone feels like an achievement.
When we’d had our fill we turned back and headed south, towards Karasjok and Sápmi Park.
Sápmi Park is sort of a small theme park where you can go and learn about Sami culture and history, buy handmade artefacts, and take part in activities like reindeer lassoing and feeding. We arrived too late for the activities, but we did get to see a video presentation about the old Sami religion, which I enjoyed a lot. It told the story of how the world was created according to their legends, and how the souls of the dead are lifted up into the Northern Lights to watch over us. It was very nice and inspirational.
And we met some reindeer.
Then we had dinner at a Sami themed restaurant. It was a bit expensive, but as it would be our last dinner in Norway before we get home, we decided to splurge, so we all had reindeer filet with gravy and mashed potatoes with truffles and lingonberries and it was just wonderful.
After dinner, we travelled all the way up to Varangerbotn, to Vestre Jakobselv where we stayed at a hostel for the night. It was a long drive, but a lot of it was quite scenic.
The next morning we continued up the Varanger tourist route, to Hamningberg. There’s not really much to see out there, mostly just rocks as the treeline out there is basically below sealevel (though we spotted a few eagles, which was cool), but it is the literal end of the road. You’re at the north-eastern tip of a peninsula, there is no land border in sight and the road just stops. We decided that this should mark the end of our journey.
So, of course, we brought beer from the world’s northernmost brewery, Mack (alcohol free for the driver), to celebrate.
I built a little cairn that I baptised with the dregs of my lager.
When we had all finished our drinks we got back in the car, turned it around and began the journey home.
I slept a lot of the way. Not sure why I was so tired today, but a lot of the time I couldn’t keep my eyes open. We crossed the border into Finland, and the scenery changed from rocky, mountainous terrain to Lapland’s forests, leafy and full of windswept birch to begin with, before the evergreens took over.
Tonight we are staying at a hostel in the woods, by a lake, about an hour north of Rovaniemi. Tomorrow we continue to Sweden. Now, I sleep. See you tomorrow, Internutters! Tweeting will be sparser now, due to international mobile data rates, but I’ll check in once in a while.