Existing Member?

Finnish Lapland and Norway - Natural Perspectives

Finnish Lapland to Norway - Natural Perspectives

FINLAND | Friday, 5 July 2013 | Views [179]

Its uncanny how when you stand at the bottom of the well, and look up at the sky, during the day time,...and the stars are visible. Its a scientific fact that the tunnel effect of the walls of the well act as a natural telescope and light diffuser. This is the same feeling I experienced when I first set my eyes on the Norwegian mountain ranges. That effect was doubled and tripled over when the ocean came to view.

It is one thing to be a Simple soul traversing through the landscapes of our planet. It is however a absolutely different thing when you realize that you are journeying to the farthest tip of the earth, let alone entering the arctic circle. This journey unfolded into many self realizations, many of which I am sure all you readers will experience when you undertake it.

On Thursday night, after a whole day of planning, while my girlfriend worked at her firm, we were ready to leave. Our car was loaded with a "Trangia" - a Swedish stove that works on alcohol isotopes and hence is easy to carry around. Suvi (My girlfriend) and I had been discussing cooking by bonfire, but the risk of dry forests and more made us decide against it. We also packed a mattress, a blanket and pillows and of course a styrofoam container with nitrogen ice packs to keep our meat, milk and other products cool. We drove to Suvi's mothers house, which is about 6 Km's away from us. Now heres a little tidbit about her mother. She is a die hard fan of Lapland and visits Lapland almost whenever she can. She knows the landscape inside out, integrates well with the sami people (the "red indians" of Lapland) and seems to undergo a spiritual transformation every time she goes there.

 

We left about 10pm, and drove to Sodankylä where she rents a cottage every time she visits Lapland

Our journey took us past Nurmes, Sotkamo, Paltamo and Pudasjärvi. Throughout this journey, the girls slept on and off. They had trouble sleeping due to the distractions along the way, ranging from scenic hills, to wildlife and nature. Most of the roads I drove were small country roads, with the risk of moose or bear very eminent. However, as the rule goes, when you drive fast, keep your fog lights on, and watch for movement atleast 400 metres ahead. I usually drive very close to the centre lane to be able to adjust my defensive measures in case of any object that runs onto the road. I am a trained security convoy driver, and have been taught how to handle the cars body with the use of 360 degree skids, and drop gear braking.

 

The action started once when passed a sign saying "Welcome to the arctic circle". For any human being who has lived most of his life around the equator, the prospect of stepping across global boundaries that define the size of our earth, is a monumental thing. I felt a huge rush of adrenaline, and a passion for life. As we entered this area, we saw signs that warned us of reindeer. We were in reindeer territory.

 I thanked nature silently, for giving me this opportunity to be alive, and to see her beauty. As we drove on, passing Ranua and then Rovaniemi, we first passed by a dead cat lying on the road. The body had not been run over by any cars yet, so I decided to stop, and pick up the cat and lay it by the side of the road, so that the owners who might be looking for it would be able to give it a proper burial. I could see my girlfriends heart went out to the cat, because she herself has two cats, had lost another when it was hit by a car, and being a animal lover, her instincts for protecting those who are mute is threefold.

 

 

As we drove on, we contemplated people who had no consideration for animals and did not stop to check if the animal they had hit was okay or not. However, as we drove on, the mood changed and nature overtook us again.

Once we passed Ranua, we experienced herds of reindeer converging on the side of the road. As I drop shifted my car from 120 kms to 30 kms/hr, the herds looked at us, and then started trotting on the road itself. We got a wonderful opportunity to film that moment. However, realizing that they might be at risk of other cars, we stopped our car and waited for them to move off the road before continuing.

 

We passed by many more herds all along the roadside. They blended well with nature and its foliage, and provided a beautiful aspect of wildlife in the artic circle. The landscape now had slowly started rising, with little hills doting the landscape. The trees had slowly become shorter and shorter, until you realized that the landscape was flat. Dotted with little lakes, Finland now looked like Cherokee country.

We drove on, with the sun shining in our eyes, and a cool fresh breeze that smelt of pine and fresh water.

 

Finally, after 9 hours on the road, we reached Sodankylä. However, it was only 7 Am. The cottage was supposed to be available to us after 12pm. So we decided to find a place to eat a hot breakfast, and then drove to the top of these twin hills, which provided us a vibrant view of Finnish Lappi. There were reindeer herds everywhere, and the majestic beauty of the sun combing the entire landscape was sensational.

Finally, exhausted and mentally drained, we drove back to the office from where we could pick up the cottage keys. it was only 10:30 am, so we burned out our enthusiasm and fell asleep in the car. I can guarantee you, there was a lot of snoring going on, not just from me. But I was dead tired and never heard a thing!

At 12pm, I was woken up with a jolt mainly because the girls were celebrating that they had the cottage keys. Through sleepy eyes, I started the car, and drove to the cottage, which was on top of a little hill not far away. We all crashed as soon as our heads touched the beds. I woke up about 4 hours later, to a warm breakfast made by Suvi and her mom. Eating, showering, sauna and a lot of long drinks later, we made our way to two bars, and enjoyed the local music, and cuisine, and came home later filled to the brim with wonderment.

Knowing that Norway was waiting for me the next day, sleep was shy that night. She just wouldn't come to me! However, the midnight sun has a way of recharging your batteries, and night led to day. Breakfast and shower and sauna again, and Suvi and I were ready to leave for Norway.

We had no definite route planned, and decided to wing it. So on we went. Suvi decided to take over driving till the Norway border so I could take pictures, and off we went.

Along the way, we passed by little brooks, rivers, waterfalls, reindeer, rabbits, lakes and this beauty was endless. We stopped by a lake, where I cooked my soulmate a wonderful meal over fire. Made her coffee, cooked her some steaks, and fed her potatoes fried in oil. I guarantee you, the Trangia is a wonderful camping tool! Look it up!

We washed up by the blue waters of the lake, packed up, and headed on. 2 Hours later, we stopped again and made some coffee over fire. Thats when the rain started. It rained so hard that it washed away all the dead bugs from our windshield...something the windshield wipers could not do.

 

We drove by Ivalo and then Inari, where we refilled gas, and brought some little things for my parents in Canada. Our last finnish city was Utsjoki, which is a border town next to Norway. Here we switched seats, and I got behind the wheel once again. We drove straight through the border crossing, and suddenly, just like that, the landscape changed.

We were now bordered by mountains on the horizon, on our left and right, huge canyons, and a massive river (The Tana river), which followed us throughout our journey until we reached the ocean.

The trip into Norway was windy, rainy with slipper roads that hugged the mountains and sometimes had no barriers to protect us from simply drifting off the road and falling hundreds of feet below.

We saw mountain peaks with slabs of snow, still melting, yet transcendent in beauty. As we drove higher, at one point we were more than 2400 meters above sea level. You can imagine just how beautiful the view turned out to be. We were driving the 98 road, and decided that we would stop by a water body sheltered form the ocean winds, and found a little cove, with a massive lake, a running stream and mountains sheltering us.

 

As we unpacked, I started cooking and I can promise you that food always tastes better with a good view. Our sleep was inhibited by the midnight sun. The day shone bright, and we had to make a makeshift face cover, to stimulate some darkness to get some sleep. It was a comfortable, beautiful sleep.

The next morning, I woke up and made breakfast before waking up Suvi. She was greeted with hot coffee, eggs, and sausages with bread. We washed ourselves in the stream, and packed up with a resolve to finally see the ocean.

As we drove on, the landscape slowly changed, once again, into a totally unnatural scene. The horizon was clear blue. We could see the bottoms of the lakes we passed by. And suddenly the mountains we drove through were higher than I have ever driven before. Everywhere we looked, we so beauty, and not one image has been forgotten even now.

Finally, after taking in the ocean, and everything surrounding it, we decided to stop by a beach, and actually touch the Barents sea.

Now this is where I made my first vacation road trip mistake! I misjudged the gravel, and figured, "Okay! I can drive the Audi (It is a A6 with a diesel engine, so 2000 pounds heavy!) close to the shore because I am on rocks, not sand." Wrong move! As Suvi and I collected rocks and shells, and enjoyed a smoke by the water, and I took pictures and more, the Car was slowly sinking because the rocks were not firm ground, mainly because there was a little river running under us, that we didn't know about.

You can guess what happened next. When we decided to leave, the Car wheels just spun, kicking pebbles and rocks all over, but not budging an inch. It was raining cats and dogs, and I was soaking wet trying everything from digging with my hands to pushing the car with all my strength, but the car wouldn't budge. The car kept sinking until the right front tyre had no more ground under it, as the car was being kept straight by the ground underneath the chassis.

 

After an hour of trying we got a Norwegian couple to call a tow truck for us. In between the wait, an drunk old man who had been observing us through binoculars from his house on the mountain drove in with this tiny 4x4, which barely did anything. He tried to pull our car out, but had his handbrake on most of the time. After painful minutes of trying and struggling to comprehend how to explain to him that he was drunk and should just go home, he gave up and left. As we waited for the tow truck to come, another man drove in with a bigger 4 wheel drive. Now this guy knew what he was doing. We hooked up both cars and within minutes our car was out of gravel onto firm ground.

Weirdly, our tow truck arrived just a few minutes later. I paid him for his journey, and Suvi and I changed into dry clothes and moved on. 3 hours had passed since we got stuck.

As we drove on, we were exhausted yet full of glee at experiencing so much. We stopped by Lakselv and had a nice hot pizza, continued driving, and finally pulled over about 20 kms from Karasjok, where we decided to sleep for a few hours.

When we woke up, I realized we had parked our car near an animal feeding ground, as there was reindeer, or moose bones everywhere. I wanted to pick them up and take them home, to shape them into artifacts, but decided that I was just hoarding if I did that.

 

We drove on, and the landscape once again became flat. As we slowly made our way back to the Finnish border, through Karasjok, we realized we had just driven a full circle through Norway's coast, and were actually going to cover pretty much a straight road through Finland in the process.

We stopped by Rovaniemi, ate something, and drove on to Ranua where we visited a Zoo nearby, enjoyed a 2.5 km walk through various animal enclosures, witnessed the biggest polar bear I have ever seen (more than 18 ft tall), took photos, and decided to call it a night, and drove back to Juuka. All in all, we were on the road for 20 hours straight, with over 2000 kms under our belt. You could say, it was a "long" drive:)

Once we got home, we decided to sleep the night at Suvi's Mums place, and wonders of wonders woke up and decided to go to Suvi's dads cottage, sauna, grill and swim in his lake. So..thursday to tuesday. Fun:)

I am out of words. This experience has brought out the best and worst in me, but has taught me that we humans, are just simply tiny specks in the wonderment of nature. Our ego's make us feel that the world revolves around us. However, our humble world actually continues existing, and will continue to do so with or without us. We are NOT the top of the food chain, as we so firmly believe. In fact, we are mere spectators in this journey of life.

 It should be our destiny to protect, preserve and respect the world around us.

 

Cheers!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.173631636143425.1073741845.100004897693296&type=1&l=73da173e63

 

Tags: finland, finnish, lapland, norway, roadtrips

 

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.


About mrniles


Follow Me

Where I've been

My trip journals


See all my tags 


 

 

Travel Answers about Finland

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.