To Northern Norway – August 2017

Friday, August 4th, 2017 – Ballangen to Camp Alta River, Alta

Distance travelled 561 km

With the glorious 20/20 vision of hindsight, it WAS a pretty crazy idea that, on the first day, we would travel the longest distance of any.

However, if we wanted to get to the Nordkapp on Day 3, we had no choice but to travel what turned out to be 561 km (damn you, Google maps) to Alta, because there was nowhere else to sleep.

Plus, of course, even with the efficiency of the bus and ferry, the good Samaritan who gave us a lift and the speed within the dealership, everything ALWAYS takes longer than you plan in your head. You would think we would know that by now.

Anyway, at just after one in the afternoon, we headed out north.

We have a much loved, but ageing FatBoy at home in Prague. The Heritage Softail, whilst fundamentally similar, had a bigger motor and was nonetheless quite different on the road. So, for the first 150 kilometres, we took it steady while I “learned“ the bike and we both admired the beauty of the landscape.

It was quite warm and I even rode the first stretch or two in my short sleeved HOG vest. As we proceeded, we gradually added layers as it began to cool. Snow appeared around the road and the sun crawled into places beyond the tops of the hills. It was warm in the sun, but increasingly cool in the shade.

At the second stop we bought buns, cheese and water and simply admired our majestic surroundings.

At the third stop, in a reversal of the “norm”, a rainbow appeared, quickly followed by a shower of rain. It was nothing big, just a short downpour and easily deflected by the Harley’s windscreen.

When the rainbow appeared for the fifth time, followed by a shower, we began to understand the Norwegian “rainbow-shower rule“. We agreed that our relationship with the rainbow would never again be the same again as it had been before the trip.

As was to persist throughout our trip, the road was great. It was smooth and well maintained and the views in every were stunningly beautiful. The landscape between Bellangen, Narvik and Alta had a very special grandeur indeed. There were sea views below us and , above us, mountains and hills with snow still visible here and there. There were waterfalls to look at and lakes, rivers and lagoons at every turn. Some of the combinations of mountains, sparkling water, green pastures and neat houses looked like stylised paintings. We did not know it at the time, but this view below was taken at Gildetun. We stayed in the house above me (which we had a real difficulty finding when we wanted to !) on our way back south.

The roads, too, are beautiful. I had visited the same area 30 years before and it had changed beyond comparison. There are a few suspension bridges under construction, but also numerous new tunnels to take you under, as opposed to over or around, the fjords.

As I intimated above, we overcooked it a bit !  So, unfortunately, by the end, the road had lost a lot of its charm. For the final 100 km, we were driven only by willpower, aided and abetted by Lion and Bounty bars.

At around this point, we met the first reindeer on the road. Just as the Looney had said, they are a little foolish and it just stood there, in the centre of the road. It appeared disinclined to move, but we had to be careful in case it did decide to move at the same second we did ! In the end, it ambled slowly off the road and disappeared into the trees.

We arrived in Alta around eleven at night, but still in the light. It was a tiny bit dark, but you could still easily see. At the Nordkapp, the sun we had been told, never sets at this time of year. For fun, it became our practice to take a photograph at midnight.

Dark or not, needless to say the restaurant on the Alta River site was closed when we arrived.

Our accommodation was pretty basic, a small cottage with two bunk beds.

It was next to a common shower block which, I confess, we did not use, but we did clean our teeth !

The toilets were clean and heated, the cottages was clean and not heated. Not that we noticed, after such a long and exhausting day

We had bought some frozen buns for our breakfast in the reception. We had a dinner of biscuits. We did not really care because all we wanted to do was sleep – and we both did, in a matter of seconds !.