06 Sep Cycling along Porsangerfjord: reindeer games, weird tourist attractions, and new riding buddies
We are slowly snaking our way along the Porsangerfjord toward Nordkapp. Navigating around this area is pretty relaxing and easy, since there really is only one road leading up to Nordkapp. However, the road is following the coast along every curve of every small, little bay, which sometimes means we can see the road across the water for many miles ahead; however, it will take us quite a while to reach that piece of road that we can see only half a mile ahead of us, because we have to follow it around another large inlet first.
That does not bother us much though, because the views are wonderful. There are colorful, wooden, fishing houses and huts artfully placed along the bays. Cute little fishing boats float on the calm water. Occasionally, we ride by a couple of reindeer, that are grazing at the side of the road. Most of them are not bothered at all by our presence; they just give us a quick glance and much rather ignore us to continue their grassy meal. Some wear bells around their neck which causes a nice little jingle when they move about.
Actually, reindeer are quite entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, they are not the brightest creatures on earth. For some reason, they like to believe most roads have been built just for them and therefore like to cause quite the ruckus. From far away, we can sometimes hear brakes squealing, followed by horns blowing. When we finally make it around the turn, we can see several reindeer clumsily trotting down the road, like they want to lead the cars behind them to better feeding grounds. Often times they show absolutely no intention to leave the road, no matter how much the drivers honk their horns. When the cute animals finally get the hint, they start running with the most peculiar gait down the pavement to find a way into the woods….which most of the time comes after they have already past up about 100 different opportunities to step off the road. While they look for their escape route, they trot with their lackadaisical, clumsy trot, swinging their over-sized hooves out to the side in Charley Chaplin fashion, while hardly moving their hips at all. Of course, they do not forget to glance back at their followers every other step to see what the weird boxed-in creatures behind them might be up to.
Surprisingly enough, while reindeer are not fazed at all by cars and honks, they seem to be quite scared and often confused by bicycles and bells.
As we encounter 3 more reindeer trotting down the road ahead of us, one of them stops, obviously plagued by deer-flies or mosquitoes. Suddenly, it jumps up in the air, performs not the most graceful pirouette and tries to swipe another deer-fly from its face with its hind hoof. As we slowly approach the deer, which by the way wears one of the biggest set of antlers we have seen so far, Ron rings his bell. Sometimes, he likes to ring the bell to get animal’s or people’s attention, sometimes to annoy the heck out of fenced in dogs or me, and sometimes just for the heck of it. We are not so sure whether the bell really irked the deer, scared it, or whether it was just bit by another horse-fly… anyway, it suddenly decides to charge right at us. Not having an escape route off the narrow road due to a banister and a cliff down to the water on our left and steep, huge rocks to our right, we just remain standing there while holding on to our bikes, bracing ourselves for some sort of impact of an running animal which is the size of a cow. After a few seconds of holding my breath, the reindeer decides to run past us as fast as possible, down the road where it just came from a few minutes ago…phew, maybe we have to review the proper use of bike-bells again!
Since we entered Finland, and even more so since cycling in Norway, we have given up pretty much any kind of luxury food, beer, or wine, because it is simply too expensive up here. By luxury food by the way, we mean any other lunch-meat besides salami, the occasional chips, or any other sweet treat. We pretty much live on salami and cheese sandwiches, pasta, tuna, the occasional yoghurt, banana, and apple up here to stay on budget. Beer for sure is out of the question and Ron has vowed not to have another beer or coke until we get back to Germany, because according to him: “The prices up here are more than stupid, they are crazy stupid!!”
So, as we are stopped at the tourist office in Oldefjord to check internet and to eat another salami and cheese sandwich on a bench outside the office, we do what we like best while taking a break–we people watch.
Since Oldefjord is at the cross roads on the only route up to Nordkapp and the only road leading inland toward Alta and western Norway we watch several touring buses pulling into the parking lot. There are 3 German buses and at least one bus full of Japanese tourists… all taking a break in this teeny-tiny town before flocking up to Nordkapp to see the midnight sun.
Several people storm out of the buses and into the tourist office to get brochures, souvenirs, and to hit the potty. It seems just as many tourists point at our bikes, stop to look at them, take pictures of our bikes and us, and ask us where we come from and whether we are really planning on riding all the way up to the Nordkapp. At this point we pretty much feel like we have become the most visited tourist attraction in town.
After talking to several German tourists, I go to fill up our water-bottles, while Ron still chats with a German man. They discuss the high prices in Norway, and Ron tells him about his abstinence of beer due to the budget killers. Shortly, after saying goodbye, because the tour is about to leave, the man comes back…armed with a bottle of beer in each hand. He gives us the biggest smile and says: “Well, they are not German beers, they are Swiss, that’s all I have. But they are tasty and cold!”
Ron is so excited, he just about bear hugs the guy, who turns out to be the bus driver of the German bus party. After many thanks, well wishes, and saying our good byes, Ron stows away the beer in the panniers, before leaving town.
Today’s weather is unusually warm again. It is unbelievable that some of the best weather we have had so far on our trip is right here in the arctic circle!
Usually, we try to drink as much water as possible when it is hot and sunny to stay hydrated. However, a cold, crisp coke sometimes gives us a great, refreshing energy boost when the sun beats up on us all day. Unfortunately, coke here is just about as ridiculously priced as beer, and we just do not see spending that kind of money out of principle for something we can get at home for less than 1$.
As we sweat all the way up the long hill, that is leading out of town, we talk about how good a coke would taste right about now. Unfortunately, it seems, the less likely we are going to have a certain kind of food or drink, the more we crave it!
Just as we hit a turn at the top of the hill, we ride past a coke bottle laying on the side of the road. All I think is: “What a waste! Who would buy that expensive treat, just to litter the side of the road with it!”
Ron on the other hand, hits his breaks, turns around, checks out the bottle and exclaims: “It’s still sealed! …and it feels cold!” He asks, whether I would drink it and I said without hesitating: “Heck yeah!” since it is still closed, of course I would!
With a big grin on his face and not believing our luck today, he quickly packs the coke into his pannier, near the cold beers!
Unbelievable, like a few times before on our trip…The universe provides!!
At our next break, we truly enjoy our new found treasure, with another Salami sandwich!
As we continue our way toward Nordkapp, the scenery and the weather is changing again. More and more clouds are forming on the horizon, the grey sky is turning the previously Titian blue water into a dreary, dark sea. Also, the overgrown hills and trees have been displaced by rugged, mostly rocky terrain, low growing shrubs, blueberry plants, heather and other low growing vegetation like lichen… it looks like we have officially entered the Tundra. There are going to be no more trees until we’ll leave Nordkapp again to head South.
Yet, the vast open spaces and the rugged coast are absolutely beautiful and we take several short breaks to admire the views and maybe to get lucky enough to spot a whale in the fjord.
We are trying to get as close to the underwater tunnel leading to Nordkapp as possible, which means we have another long day of riding to finish up.
Along our way, we meet, Alessandro, a cycle tourist from Italy, who previously rode his bike from Rome to Copenhagen, but then had to quit his tour. Now he is continuing his route from Copenhagen to Nordkapp.
We chat and ride together for several miles, while he tells us that he is still new to the idea of wild camping and that he also feels a little nervous about riding through the almost 7km long underwater tunnel to Nordkapp.
We try to ensure him, that wild camping is quite easy, legal, and safe in Norway. There are many RV and car/tent campers at pretty much all the beautiful spots along the water, where they find a parking place. We also tell him, if he feels a little uncomfortable tenting by himself, he could pitch a tent close by other campers, or if he still feels like riding some more miles today, he is welcome to camp out with us.
After a few more miles of cycling, we come by a spot with a couple of RV campers near a lake, where Alessandro decides to spend the night.
Pretty confident that we’ll meet again somewhere on our way up to Nordkapp, we say our goodbyes and keep going for about 10 more miles.
A few miles before reaching the dreaded tunnel, we turn off the road in search of a spot to spend the night. Although it is legal to camp pretty much anywhere in Norway, we still like to be in a somewhat secluded area. Finding a spot to stay out of sight of car drivers in a treeless environment though can be a little tricky, but not impossible.
Fortunately, the bumpy dirt road leads up and over a little hill toward a tiny peninsula that is facing Nordkapp.
As we hit the slope downwards on the other side, we find a level spot a little away from the dirt path and out of the view from car drivers on the road on the other side of the hill.
There is a little bit of sea fog, sweeping over the small peninsula, covering the whole area with a cape of mystical mist. As we set up our tent, we notice several reindeer grazing all around us. The low lying sun, the reindeer wandering through the sea fog, the rugged cliffs across the fjord…it all makes this moment seem so serene, like it is all part of a fairy tale.
We watch, the reindeer from the inside of our tent as the fog lifts and across the water we can see the island Nordkapp, with it’s rugged coastline and the midnight sun slowly making its way across the island.
We also spot an area of sea fog between two mountains on the island. The fog is so dense and looks so affluent, that it seems to pour over the edges of the island like a huge waterfall.
Who needs TV with a view like this! The nature around us is absolutely breathtaking.
All comments are welcomed here, so if you would like to leave us a comment that would be great! We appreciate all your kind words that are left over on Facebook, but when we return home, our Facebook page will most likely go away and sadly so will your wonderful comments. If you are having troubles with leaving a comment or if you are worried that we will sell your email address to the NSA, just make up an email.