Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Long way up: made it to Nordkapp!

Entered Poland via the distressing sites of Auschwitz-Birkenau arriving in the delightful town of Krakow full of amazing churches and synagogues in the old town. Stayed at historic Hotel Rubinstein in the Jewish Quarter. Rode through Eastern Poland via the medieval town of Sandomierz and Bialystok then on to Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. Lovely old baroque town with cathedral, Russian orthodox churches and National day celebrations in the centre with lots of local fare. Great student town with lots of little bars and restaurants. Weather cooling down now around 14 degrees. Rode along the Neuman River past green pastures and forest to Sakiai and Jurbarkas tracking Jude's family roots.

Johannes bike swap?

Danube Crossing in Lithuania
Picnic by the river
Continued on to Riga, Latvia another lovely old town with its Art Nouveau area and on to Estonia via Parnu beach to a surprisingly charming walled medieval capital, Tallinn.

Tallinn, Estonia


Religious lunch

Hill of crosses

A wonderful reunion with our fellow pannier packers Chris and Kim after 7 weeks separation of “doing our own thing” in Europe! So good to be travelling together again and so many stories to share!


Took ferry to Helsinki where bikes were serviced then headed north through Finland’s fir and birch tree forests with their dazzling golden yellow (ruska) autumn colours. Weather cloudy and cold and occasional rain. Rode north past numerous reindeer on the side of the road to Rovaniemi, capital of Lappland, and home of Santa Claus – had to visit the Santa Claus village and even stayed at the Santa Claus hotel! Fantastic food at the best Lapland restaurnat, Nili.

We then spent 2 days relaxing in a log cabin with private sauna in the forest of northern Lappland to re-energize for the final leg of our journey. Passed through the villages of Ivalo and Inari, home of the Sami indigenous people.

Continued north into very expensive Norway to the port of Honningsvag (the northern most city of the world!) where we all celebrated with French champagne and were lucky to see the northern lights!

Next morning full of excitement we reached Nordkapp- barren, windswept, wild with Arctic low grasslands and cliffs dropping down to rocky beaches and clear blue ocean. Emotional photo shoot and short walk to the bluff-so cold and windy but bleak and beautiful! After 25,000 kilometers, 27 countries and 139 days we reached the most northern point in Europe!

We then travelled 2000 km south through fjord lands, alps and stunning landscapes of Norway to trendy Oslo. So perfectly picturesque especially with the brilliant yellow and orange autumn hues. Lovely ferry ride to Kiel in northern Germany then 900 kilometers of wind and rain to our final destination, Munich. Cheers at Oktoberfest clocking in at 27,200kms!!

Arctic Circle at Santa Claus village

Ruska in Finland

Finally made it to Nordkapp!

King Crab legs for lunch?

Road block

Arctic landscape and rain


Valium for Namibia

Taking up flying for next trip!

Spot map