Actually, the full title should be: “Bike trip from my home in Luxembourg, across Germany, across Denmark, across south Sweden, Across the whole of Norway from south to north, crossing the arctic circle, to the North Cape (Europe’s northernmost point), across the whole of Finland from north to south, across Estonia, and across Latvia until Riga. About 6000km, in about 33 cycling days, average distance per day: 175km/day”
This was an awesome trip for me, a sort of personal and fun journey which became the normality of a nutjob crazy adventure. In order to be fully mental and gore, I decided to travel without tent, and ended up routinely sleeping in bus stops, under bridges, in airports, in concrete cylinders by the road, in a boat in a kid’s playground, in luxurious crystal igloos in the forest for free, in people’s garages, under a church’s roof, in other cyclist’s tents, inside clean plastic bin bags, in an old WWII 4×4, under a few wooden huts with and without walls and tables, in waiting rooms, in refuges, at friend’s places, on the beach, on left open rooms in hotels for free, on some benches, and of course, 100% wild on some slope leading to the sea in a fjord in the middle of nowhere. Okay okay, once in a while I’d go to the occasional Hostel, to make the most out of a big city and to have a nice warm shower and bed to forget the fucked up weather for a while. And to keep friends and family updated on which country I was in!
The idea came once I was at the beach in Spain. I’d been surfing that day, and I randomly zoomed in somewhere in the Google Maps Street view. Everything looked amazing with completely different vegetation and landscapes. It was up in the north or Finland. I had been thinking of doing a trip around there later on in the summer, but then an awesome idea came to my mind. I started laughing my ass off alone in the terrace, and then jumped around. I just knew. My sister and mum popped by the terrace, and I casually told them with a big smile on my face, that I’d cycle to the northernmost point of Europe from Luxembourg. I showed them the route on the map, and they too had a smile on their faces. My mum told me something like you are crazy, but she didn’t seem very surprised. I think that my family are already used to it.
A few days later I was in Luxembourg, having fun with my friends and realizing how big was the task in hand. To be honest, I didn’t really think of the whole thing: I just thought of cycling a bit around Germany, and southern Sweden. I went to the train station to ask how much the ticket would be to Copenhagen, and it was 100€ if you book with 3+ days in advance or 200€ with less notice. As I went out of the train station, I knew what would happen. A friend of mine, Alex, told me he’d definitely join me. I wrote some stuff in French for him so that he got some military entry exams postponed so that he could join me. But then just suddenly, the day before we were supposed to leave, he disappeared. Up to date, I still don’t know what happened to him!
I still didn’t have a rack for my bike, and there was no way I’d do another trip without it like in the past! I’d gone to several bike shops, and they all told me that I could not put a rack on that model of bicycle. The only thing that was available was a shitty thing that you connect to the seat post that can only carry a few kg. I said fuck that, and went back home, and dismounted the rack from my dad’s city bike. Then, using a few nuts, bolts, rope, and an attachment that I found lying around in the garage, I fixed it to my bike. Job Done, for free. And it did hold 6000km. Sometimes you just gotta do it yourself. And believe me, I don’t have a clue of bikes or mechanic stuff.
That night, I went for a barbecue at Thomas’ place, where there also were many of my good friends. There was a girl that I didn’t really know, and when I asked her what her name and surnames were (everyone has heard about everyone in Luxembourg), she said she was Alexandra from Luxembourg. I answered that I was Jesus from Europe, and smiled. I didn’t understand until someone else told me that she was the Princess of Luxembourg. We talked some more in Spanish, she was cool. I loved that evening with my friends, it was the chance to say goodbye to them for a long time, since I would depart on the following day. I left and went to a bar to meet Charly and her friend, since I wanted to pick back the teddy bear I’d lent her some days ago. They were already tipsy, which lead to us crossing a river walking on a thin slippery line of elevated stones just under the surface. Anna and I had a few minor slips until she completely fell into the water and got soaked. We rearranged the clothes between ourselves, and then Anna got driven home by a friend while Charly and I took the bus to my home.
In the morning, after her usual coffee, she wished me good luck before taking the bus, and left soon after, packing my bags, writing down the route I’d take and closing the house. My Spanish friends and neighbours were having Paella. I usually go past their place before or after my trips, and that time wasn’t going to be different. The Paella was delicious, and it was really nice catching up with all of the people there. I thanked them for their pleasant company and ñamiñami food, and started pedalling on-board the “PinkyBike I”. While passing by Niederanven, a nearby Village, I saw my friend’s father walking on the pavement. He asked me where I was going. Without stopping, I turned around and shouted: “To Norwayyyyyy!!”.
I’d packed a few kilos of fruit, but they didn’t last very long. Once I ran out of them, I started stopping by petrol stations for some local candy bars (E.g. caramel and peanuts) as it was Sunday.
I’d calculated that I’d need to do a pretty good daily average, but I felt like a zombie after only 100 km. If it wasn’t for the castles around and the beautiful rivers I was following, I’d have fallen asleep on the bike. Also, I realized that fruits are not a very good idea since you need too many kilograms to get enough energy, and despite stopping each half an hour to eat apples from trees, I kept on getting hungry. That was the start of the long cake and snicker’s series.
I wasn’t carrying any tent or mat for that extra challenge and lightness, but I’d been suggested to use bin bags over my sleeping bag as a waterproof layer. At dusk, I stopped by the side of the Moselle River, climbed a stones bump, and settled for the night, surrounded by a vertical wall, and a few bushes. If I stood up I could see the road behind the hill, and after that was the river. I decided to give the bin bags idea a go, and wrapped myself in them. Only I had to leave a part of my head uncovered. I woke up a few hours later, with water falling on my face, and wind temporarily blowing away my bin bags. It was raining quite a bit, and water managed to go through. I was caught in the eternal dilemma (as Mark referred to) of: “Will I be better somewhere else or should I stay here?” When I started getting more wet, it was clear that staying there would not result in a happy ending, so I packed my stuff, put on my waterproof trousers (which I found out were completely tore apart in the inside leg) and cycled as fast as I could under the rain.
I found the perfect shelter after 2km. It was a hut like structure that was used as a bar or social reunion events, that had everything I needed to. It was my first adventure night in some time, and I was too excited to sleep, watching all that rain fall in the darkness of the night, while I was sewing back the broken trousers. On the floor there were a few polystyrene sheets which I used as mats. They were perfect for the task in hand, isolating from the floor and providing a padded surface. I wish I’d come here before. I woke up in the morning with some German locals asking me how my night had been. Really pleasant actually once I found the shelter! But no more bin bags for me. After that experience, I realized that it would be perfectly fine to travel without tent or mat, and that it only required a little extra effort of spotting a good shelter. Soon enough, I started seeing good shelters everywhere along the road. It’s funny how some very obvious things only appear clear to us once we get the right mind-set.
In the “normal” life, people always seem to ask me how I manage to do my bike trips. But on the “road”, you meet so many other likeminded cyclists that the “normality” becomes that of an adventure setting. The first day is the big transition from one way of life to another, and depending of your mind-set, will determine your success or failure in your quest. And again, with the right mind-set you can turn that temporal “failure” into a success.
I took a detour to get to Koblenz, cycling along the river and valleys with wines and castles at either side. It’s not only about the end destination, but also about the journey there. If I’d instantly arrived to the North Cape, I would have learned 0 on the way. But getting physically lost, having only a few cities written down as check points, made me find myself psychologically. Arriving to Koblenz, 180km after starting, felt awesome. There was some kind of celebration going on, so the streets were almost empty everywhere else. The view over the city from the top of the hill was really nice and typical of the Mosel. As I followed the road, I was absorbed in my own thoughts, and didn’t notice the road becoming a double carriage way forbidden to cyclists. A police car stopped me to let me know, and gave me some general directions until Montabaur, the next checkpoint. Of course, I didn’t take them as I felt like getting lost in the forest. I crossed the river nearby, and started cycling on a really bad track, which resulted in my first flat tyre! Awesome, I was finally able to test my repairman activities! I passed the test and moved on this weird very wide albeit deserved undulating road throughout the forest.
I had no clue of where I’d sleep that night. Having left the river, there were no more huts around. As I approached a bridge, the light bulb shined. I managed to fit myself and the bike in one of the holes and slept under the bridge next to the road, and an almost not used railway track. It provided an amazing rain and wind shelter, without losing contact with society. The occasional lights from cars provided a relaxing reassurance that the zombies hadn’t taken over the world ☺
There were just a few undulating hills, just like on the border from Belgium to Holland, and they all had an amazing view. At some point, there was this road that was blocked, sending cars on a big detour. But not me. I zigzagged between the Bulldozers and workers doing something by the road, and later arrived to Korbach, a really beautiful city full of traditional houses on the main road (Google it!). Then it was Warburg’s turn, a city that I told myself I’d go back to, as it conserves loads of older buildings and features which give it its charm. It was a bit confusing as to which cycle paths to take. There was a large fortress by the river, and later on I took a picture of a rainbow above Holzminden’s church and village.
I ended up sleeping under a roof by a magical place, the “Amelungsborn cluster/abbey” which dated back to 1135. I went for an undercover terrain exploration, on which I found old remains of some walls and buildings. I bet that there was something interesting under some rocks! There was such a strong sense of peace and withdrawal in that garden, by the fountain, and it seemed completely uninhabited.
With the first daylight beams, I felt someone nearby, opened by eyes, and saw a monk walking across the garden without noticing me sleeping on the wooden plank under the roof by the gap in the wall. I woke up and left, seeing the sunrise over the light field’s fog. There were some bonsais shaped trees by the side of the road that would have made an amazing photo if only the Autofocus would have worked!
I’d arranged to meet Mark at Hannover. He’d been travelling around as well, and had finished a mini-bike trip around Denmark. I left my phone and camera charging hidden by a corner at the tourist office and went to the train station to meet him. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while, and it was brilliant to catch up. He mounted his bike, and left the rest of his stuff in a locker. I collected my charged items, and we started pedalling northwards towards my next checkpoint. But as we saw a supermarket we had no choice but to enter it and get loads of food. After what seemed like hours of eating, we swapped seats as my sport one was fucking me up literally. Ironically, Mark’s worn out old seat was much more comfortable. After 2 minutes of starting to pedal again, we joked about how long time we’d spent wasting cycling time eating and sitting around, and we imagined how stupidly hilarious it would be if we got a flat tire and had to stop even longer. Just as if the wheels had heard us, Mark got a flat tyre, and we fixed it with the glue-less patch my dad had given me. The coincidence was huge. Then after cycling a bit more, we heard a huge BOOOM and my water bottle had blown off because of the soda I’d poured in. We had no clue where to go to exit the city and ended up using the best and most simple approach: The “Follow the Compass” approach.
It was so much fun cycling with one of my best friends. After countless trees and Kinders, we jumped a field’s fence to (unsuccessfully) try to ride some horses hanging around, and just after having jumped back the fence, the owned came (didn’t see us). We asked if the horses were part of a horse school around, and she said no. Too bad, it would have been fun.
We saw a brothel at the side of the road. I’d never been to one, and we thought it would be fun to go into it. We went in, and ordered 2 beers. And then some girl sat down next to me, and asked me if I wanted to go to the room. (In my head I was like FUCK NO!, but I couldn’t say that). I answered: “Vielleicht spätter”(maybe later in German), which was more polite than: “Never!” We met Luna, a girl from the Dominican Republic that had nurse studies and had come to Germany looking for work. As she didn’t find anything, she started working there. The bill came around, and it was only about 5€, which Mark invited me to ☺ Oh, and on the terrace there was a pool, but you could only go in it after either going to the room, or buying a champagne bottle. Fuck the pool, we were off.
It was so funny because just after going out of the club, we saw the first pretty girls we’d seen in a long time, and as they saw us exiting the brother, they cycled faster, leaving us laughing our ass off on the road. We soon after that stopped for some food on some grass between a few roads, in a sort of turnabout.
After a good ride, Mark needed to take the train back (with his InterRail ticket) to Hannover to take the last train to Luxembourg (his ticket expired that day). We went to the station, where we read and got told that the next train would go past in an hour. So we went around the village (which had a massive ditch all along the main road of which we made many jokes), had a lot of tasty food, said goodbye and split up. He went to the train station, and I followed my path, feeling really sad about having to part away from Mark. And then my phone rang: It was Mark, there’d been some change in the train timetable, and he’d missed the last train. I was happy again 😀 It was getting cold, and we were going around on an exploration to see where we could spend the night, and we found the best place ever: An abandoned hut with barbecue grill next to a little orchard. Neither of us had mats, so we covered the floor with many layers of grass, and covered it with a waterproof tarpaulin that was laying about. Of course, I picked up shed loads of cranberries from the bush, and a zucchini or two. And then we did a fire to warm up and cook the zucchini. The bikes stayed locked just outside the hut, under a roof aswell. The night was really cold and we had to share sleeping bag.
In the morning, he finally took the train. And I was off through forests that had already started looking slightly different than at home. At some point I found some old Austrian Shillings on the floor from the road as well as a couple of euros which paid my next candy and ice-cream stop under the sun. I arrived to Lübeck, through which I’d hitchhiked, but never visited. This was the seized opportunity to discover a relaxed cosy maritime city. As I kept going North, I knew I didn’t have long at all left to the ferry to Denmark. At Neustadt, I went to the beach to chill out, enjoy the sun, wash my clothes and myself in the sea, and socialize. Oh, and to pose upside down for a picture! Then I also took a nice shot of a helicopter frying past near the sun before setting. I met a few girls on the beach, and had a good time with plenty of laughs.
After the sun left, I followed some path for a while. There was a panel and a binocular type image of a ship that had sank there some years ago. It was forbidden to camp on the beach, so I went further away where there was no one, and settled down in the high grass just above the beach. I saw a deer running away doing some crazy jumps. But because of the mosquitos, I had to go down to sleep on the beach, between 2 layers of rocks and bricks that protected me and my bike from the wind, and lying on my own bags before tightly closing my sleeping bag and saying good night to a guy that went past jogging.
I woke up with amazing scenery of birds flying in front of the sun and the deserted beach. I was still half asleep when I took the picture. I cycled through a camping, and later on through fields, trying to cut my way through until the right road. By a petrol station nearby the ferry, I saw 2 hitchhikers, and waved at them with energy. They were cool and waved back. There were also some tyre tracks of some accident that there’d been some time before, and I also found a ripped tyre by the side of the road. By the look of the tracks, I wouldn’t have liked to be there.
Waiting for the ferry I met John, an older cyclist that seemed to have travelled all around the world on his bike. This time, he was on a little tour around Germany and Denmark. We watched the train going into the ferry. It was surreal.
On-board the ferry, I already knew where everything was since I’d been on it a few times before to go to Sweden. I sat with Jon, charged my phone, hanged a few things on the wind to dry, too a photo of his map, and enjoyed the view while eating. On the way out I met again the hitchhikers, and we talked for a few minutes. They were really cool and we got on well.
Cycling out of the ferry I had a flat tyre, and I had to fix it despite the father and mother seagull attacking me because their son was hanging out close to me. Going past the petrol station I said goodbye to the Russian hitchhikers, and kept advancing on my quest, guided by the photo I took from John’s map. It was very cloudy, and it soon after started raining. I met John on the way, he’d changed his mind and decided to take another easier and shorter router because of the against winds and the shit weather. I realized that my jacket was in fact water resistant, not waterproof! It made sense since I was soaked. There was no way I could camp wild that night without getting sick and hating life, so I went to a nearby campsite for a warm bed and shelter. The weather forecast for the next days wasn’t any better, and I verified this fact. Crossing some of the bridges that joined the islands was as much of a joke as fucked up, with crazy transverse and front winds. In one of the nearby towns I reached the lowest mood point of the whole bike trip. I was shivering, wet, cold, hungry, and I had a series of flat tires. I started hating it, and something had to change. I changed the tyres and ate tons of chocolate, fried fish, and some local supermarket dish. It helped for a while, but I still had to stop again to find refuge because it was raining too much, and I was freezing again. It’s there that I met a crazy guy who built a Tesla transformer in his basement, you know, that thing that shoots up sparks everywhere, like thunder threads.
I could not continue like this, and I bought some good cycling gear. This was one of the best buys I’ve made, and well worth the 200€! I never thought I’d say that! I also got some big discount and loads of free other stuff like oil and energy gels from the owner. He was himself a passionate cyclist, and he told me about the bike route from the northernmost point in Europe at the North Cape (where I was heading to) towards the southernmost point of Europe. This route was actually shorter than what I cycled!
Warm, and dry again, it was time to start loving life, and what better than stopping by the Danish beach? I arrived to Copenhagen almost at dawn, and I felt like socializing, so I went to Europe’s biggest city hostel (Danhostel), a really tall square building next to the river. I met loads of people, visited around and washed my clothes in the shower. I got free drying machine and internet credits, and a free Hostelling International card, as I was nice with the receptionist 😉 Note that boys!
In the morning I visited some more, having breakfast in the central square of Christiania, a Freetown like part of the city where there is no law, and plenty of dealers sell their stuff. It’s really something weird, with big graffiti images forbidding to take pictures. On one of the fountains in the centre, there was a group of lads armed with water guns and loud music making such a funny mess of the square.
I then set off happily cycling by the coast until Helsingår, where I took the 20 minutes ferry to Helsingborg (in Sweden), joyfully eating my sugary snacks, and looking at Mölle and Kullaberg in the background.
Upon arrival, I noticed that the some parts of the streets were filled with policemen on foot, horses, motorbikes, in cars and vans, while other parts were filled with people in red. There was the legendary local football derby going on: Helsingborg VS Malmö. I thought about Axel, a fervent Helsingborg supporter, and how happy or pissed he’d get depending on the outcome!
It felt funny being back in Skåne for the first time without Ebba (as we had broken up some months before that) and we didn’t even talk despite being 20km apart, but I still loved all those fields with their traditional mills. I saw Kullaberg on my way from Angelholm to Båstad, cycling along places I’d already been before when we used to go to Mölle on holidays. From Båstad to Halmstad there was a beach with quite hard sand on which you could cycle!! Imagine the feeling cycling full speed next to the water! And further ahead there was a USA car meeting, with hundreds of cool American cars parked on the beach with cool music. Awesome sights here!
Once at Halmstad I socialized for a while with a group of girls that were going out, but I felt like doing something less fancy. Out of town, I found the perfect bridge over a river, with a good spot to sleep in. I didn’t have a tent or mat, so I pulled out some spongy material out of the floor, and formed a comfy mat with it. It was nice talking again with my dad on the phone.
The day after I cycled to Gothenburg, and had a banana party snack on a bus stop waiting for the big rain to calm down. I think I ate 11 bananas and a pack of cereals in one go. When you cycle like that, you get hungry! I finally got to understand how some parts of Gothenburg connected to one another. Walking and cycling in a city is just so different! Leaving the town I met Dustin, a world cyclist who is always on the road somewhere who was going towards where I’d come from. He travelled for a few months at a time, and had shit loads of heavy bags. He asked me how the hell I managed to carry so little, and I explained. It made sense. When you do these kind of trips you really get to appreciate when you meet like-minded people that fully understand you, and Dustin was one of them since we shared the same adventure mode in different routes. He gave me a map that he didn’t need any longer, and I gave him some advices about his route ahead.
I got another flat tire by a fighter jet further north in the countryside, and decided to fix it and sleep there. Some local told me that I could go past his place nearby to have a wash and get some water. Upon telling my travelling stories, I think everyone in the family was a bit surprised. It was funny finding the right position in the bus stop, but I wanted to sleep in one ever since Mark told me about his bus stop experience on his Denmark bike trip a few weeks before then. Actually before starting the trip I had no clue how I’d manage to sleep wild without tent and mat, but I soon realized that it was easy peasy! You just gotta get rid of rigid preconceived ideas and go for it.
The following day I still had some more flat tires, and ended up in this old Swedish guy’s garage with whom I struggled to communicate. He’d repeatedly say something like “I-ha”. There was some mist, and some parts of the road by the sea and forests felt again like I was in a movie, not in the real life. After getting lost in a forest, I picked up some free maps in the tourist office, and crossed the border into Norway by a natural reserve filled with forests.
It was my first time in the country, and I know that it won’t be the last one. The first impression was an amazing one. There was actually a big change between Norway and Sweden. Norway had many more forests, was far more rugged and filled with hills and mountains (whereas south Sweden was mostly flat), and I saw the first of an infinite series of natural waterfalls in Norway. The traditional countryside houses were similar to the Swedish ones, brick red and while, with wood and this special roof made of thin canes. In one of the forests, I went for a walk pushing my bike and found some similar pointy stones arranged in a sort of triangular layout. I’m sure it wasn’t a coincidence and that someone put them there for a reason but that all I know. Soon after the border I heard a loud sound, and after getting closer to it, there was a massive waterfall in the forest.
For the first time ever, I saw a sign that said precaution with reindeers. And in those pine forests I was starting to have impression that I was already in the north! But I had a long way left.
The weather was quite shit, and by the point when I reached Halden, I was soaked. Instead of risking getting sick, or suffering for no reason, I went to a youth hostel on top of the hill. Sometimes in life, you just have to swallow your ego, and do what it’s appropriate. The hostels in Norway were much more expensive than in the rest of Europe, costing about 30 €/night. But I had the whole dorm to myself, with an amazing view over the fortress and the city. Actually the hostel was a huge Casern renovated into a hostel, and as such, had plenty of cool spots. It even had sauna! And the showers were communal, not individual. The whole hostel was half empty, and it was such an amazing feeling having all for me! I went for a ride around the city, also to get some food, and I got a really good impression about Norwegian cities… clean, well structured, and in contact with its cultural heritage. The only thing that was a shame, were the many flowers and candles on the statues, due to Oslo’s terrorist attacks.
Back in my room, someone knocked on the door. It was Sara, the girl at the reception, who’d come to wish me a good trip and to say that it was nice meeting me.
In the night, the heater started leaking, and in the morning, the entire floor was inundated with water. LOL.
On my way to Oslo, the clouds finally cleared for a while and I could see the natural beauty of the Norwegian lakes, the silence of the nature, and smell the fresh air. Cycling along the ups and downs of a cycle path parallel to the road, and after getting lost a few times, I was on track. Going into Oslo, the view all over the city from the top of the hill was magnificent. Sometimes you are glad that not everything is flat. Just sometimes. I was following a road that went into a tunnel, and suddenly it got transformed into a highway. I cycled across the highway tunnel as fast as I could but halfway through the tunnel I got another flat tyre, and had to walk through the insane noise. A police van went past, and put me in the trunk. They dropped me off shortly after the tunnel, and I explained them the situation. The policewoman was so hot. Welcome to Norway I thought in my head. They let me go without problem after me telling them that I’d stay in a hostel. It was time to change the air chamber, which I should have done many kilometres beforehand. That was my last flat tyre in the next 2000km. I cycled downhill in a slalom motion until the centre.
Oslo was sad, and silent. You could really feel that the city felt down. Reason being was that the Oslo terrorist attack (the bomb and shooting) had taken place about a week before then. There were flowers everywhere, next to statues, and on walls. There was this place in front of a church where thousands of flowers, photos and candles laid. I went around the city with a Belgian guy that I’d met by the hostel. He used to work in the security business, but after getting caught driving under the influence of alcohol (“drunk”), he lost his job. He was on a trip to clear his mind out, take some time off, and move on. We went around where the bomb explosion had taken place, and the amount of damage was insane. I very rarely feel that something is extreme or insane, so when I say it is, it’s definitely for a reason. There were debris and glass scattered all over the floor, from so fucking many buildings around the area, even up to 300m away! There was a blockage area around the bombing, and it looked as if taken from a horror movie. Really, really fucked up.
At the hostel, I had an insane dinner, eating loads of potatoes, 2 full frying pans, a can of something typical, and something more I forgot. I encouraged everyone to sit down at the table and start talking. 2 of the guys on the table had been nearby the bombing when it happened, and told how all the windows exploded and the glass cut and got into everyone’s skin. They were lucky enough to have a pullover on, but saw people that had t-shirts bleeding all over. Let’s end there.
There was a Swedish 19yo guy that was also into cycling, who was working in Oslo at the time as a salesman, earning some good money. He was soo funny. I also met another guy who had been cycling in many places around the world. He too was going to where I came from and vice versa, and we exchanged some tips and suggestions. He told me for the first time about the most dreaded and feared by cyclists’ tunnel in Norway, 2150km before I came across it. As I got closer to it, people kept mentioning more and more often.
I took the road no 4 as suggested by him, on a 4 carriage way that luckily had a parallel cycling track along most of the way. I was finally between mountains and valleys, where I’d dreamed I’d go to a few weeks before. And I couldn’t wait to see the fjords neither! There were much flatter and shorter routes to go to the North Cape, but we’re looking for fun, adventure and landscapes here at jesusfunlife.com, not for easiness.
Maybe we’re also looking for taste, as on my next stop I bought a huge cake, some donuts, a big chocolate bar and plenty of biscuits. It’s so cool how the energy of something tasty gets transformed into seeing amazing and beautiful landscapes and living a dream.
I met a cyclist with pink shorts (the same colour as my bike for visibility), and we cycled around for many kilometres, straying away from the main road and going around a lake. Arriving to Gjovik, I finally met the E6, a road that I’d follow for over 2000km, and we followed another lake up to Lillehammer, where we had to cross over it on the bridge. There seemed to be another funky car meeting, as there were some awesome funny looking ones, wetting people with their water guns.
The road I wanted to take was forbidden to cyclists, and I went on another one that seemed to go the same direction. It was nice going through smaller villages in the middle of mountains, with fairs going on. The sunset over the lake was spectacular, and to top it off with something funny and the experience, I decided to sleep somewhere very uncommon: Inside a cement tube nearby the road that was in a site by a pile of rocks. There were doing some works on the road, and that tube was going to be part of it. But not that night. (Check the picture at the bottom of the page!). It was actually almost the perfect place to sleep in: waterproof, windproof, mosquito proof, sound proof, light proof. The only thing is that it wasn’t idiot/random proof since I was in it.
I left early despite being tempted to stay and wait to see the look on the workers’ faces. That day I was to experience some of the best sights I’ve seen in my life. It was so beautiful having all those waterfalls everywhere, as if they were hanging from the landscape walls. Some were small, some were huge. The trees were of such a green pretty colour, and there were people fly fishing in the fresh bubbly shiny rivers. No wonder it was a pilgrim route, and there was a traditional church on the way surrounded by war graves. The road became a steep uphill for quite a while as we elevated above the river into the mountain plateau. And there it was, a huge double rainbow above the road. I called that road Rainbow Road. When the trees ended at the top of the slope, I lost my breath. It was the first time I’d been like this in the middle of the Tundra vegetation, with only small bushes and no trees, near the mountain tops, looking at all the other mountain peaks raising high in the horizon. All what I’d been through was well worth it just for that moment. I did a stupid video then and there 😛
I think that it was part of some national park or something like that, as you really felt that you were in the middle of nowhere, with one or two odd old stone houses by the road. Actually, I just checked on the map and it WAS in the middle of NOWHERE. Far away, I could see that I was above the clouds. And when you looked into the horizon, you could just see a train track, and pure emptiness.
Later on, after one of my top places of the trip, the road went downhill into the valley. Even though it was downhill, I still had to pedal quite hard as the winds from ahead were quite strong. As the altitude dropped, the road became submerged inside the fog and clouds, and it started drizzling. This plus the water that splashed from the countless waterfalls all around made everything very wet. The sun was starting to go away, and it is in my policy to stop when light disappears. It’s just not enjoyable any more, plus you miss anything beautiful on the way. For me, that’s just cycling for cycling, and it’s not my thing. Oh yeah, and I should probably also give you the speech about security on the road but fuck that, I didn’t even have a helmet.
But there wasn’t any good dry warm cover around. As I went past the only home around, I thought of Mark, and wandered if I’d have enough courage to knock on the door and ask to sleep in the garage. There was only one way to find out, so I knocked at the door, told the guy about my trip, and asked him if I could sleep in the garage. I did it without expecting anything from it, just to prove myself that I WOULD dare to, so when he said, yeah no problem, I was a bit baffled. He showed be to the large, dry garage, and brought me a mat. Then a table. Then a chair. Then some warm traditional dinner he’d cook with meatballs and bamboo. And when I thought it could not get any better, he brought me a pillow and a non-alcoholic beer. And there was even an electricity plug on the wall. The toilets were by another building (The place was a sort of farm), and they were like in the old times: a hole in the ground under a seat.
The guy was a lawyer from Lillehammer, and he was there on holiday. I was so proud of the world for having such a kind and great open person. I had a really good dry warm night, occasionally getting woken up by sheep or some other animal roaming past the garage and leaving a dump. When I left in the morning the guy stood at the front door waving at me until I disappeared. Such a good person.
It’s a pity that the weather was so cloudy, but that just made me appreciate it more when the Sun visited by. The route through Oppdal up to Trondheim followed the river and valley and although really beautiful, every place looked the same! ☺ Or maybe I was just looking at the bike the whole time. I don’t know, I forgot, it was long ago. I got to and visited Trondheim. It was a seaside town with squared looking traditional houses (with a triangular roofs) arranged in a square fashion. It sometimes reminded me of a USA town. When I was hungry it was time for 2 burgers at Burger King, and kept on.
Congruently with previous personal experience, the way out of this town was as entangled and confusing as always. Which is great to further going around discovering the city. There was an accident by the road, and looked and saw a car turned around by the side of the road. The guys had gone out and everyone was fine. I stayed for a while, and watched the fireman arrive and destroy a door to get into the car. That was the end of it.
The road that I was supposed to take… Actually, I’ll change it round and say that the road that was supposed to take me was forbidden to cyclists (because it was a highway). I had no detailed maps as always and got lost, making a few unnecessary but fun sprints uphill. At some point I tried to follow a path which ended in the forest, the tried walking through, but as the sun was about to fall and I seemed to be getting nowhere, I went back on my steps all the way to the bottom of the hill, about 3km back, 200m lower. At least I got to see many mushrooms. Once on the right track, I was pumped: I was officially cycling on the coast of Trondheim’s fjord. This was cool, but nothing as spectacular as the ones I saw later on. My dad called, and we had a pleasant chat. It’s always nice knowing that your loved ones are there for you. I don’t know why, I remember finding an insulin injection tube on the floor. And I don’t know why I mention it neither but it’s kinda my policy to mention everything I think here at jesusfunlife.com!
It was getting darkish, and after a freaky scary uphill on which I felt really uncomfortable as if something was wrong, there was a full speed downhill. I saw a few nice bus stops on which I could sleep, but then saw a sign to the airport. I ended up sleeping on the top floor of Trondheim’s airport, on some benches. It was so nice and warm, and there was a plane hanging off the ceiling. All in all, I’d recommend to anyone to sleep in Trondheim’s airport if they don’t mind having to wake up a little earlier because of annoying people travelling early ☺
There was a panel that indicated: Narvik 880km. I laughed and decided to turn those 880km into 879km and so on. It actually doesn’t seem that far at all! Later on in the day the sun came back and all the landscapes looked again as great as ever. I was starting to understand what people meant when they referred to the Norwegian Wilderness, and to this date I believe that the northern part of Scandinavia hosts the only unspoilt/untouched natural places in Europe. I spent the night at Grong, in a very cheap rented room where I cooked all what my body craved. I also went on a big walk around the many rivers around Grong, famous for its Wild Salmon fishing, and beautiful fishing spots.
My mum and sister had just arrived to the south of Norway, on a tourist visit, but we wouldn’t be able to meet since I was in adventure mode.
On my pink bike (that matched some flowers’ colour, I wondered if I was really attached to a chair with a movie of the World’s Most Beautiful Landscapes playing in front of me. When I felt like stopping for a break (Notice how I say when I say: “when I felt like” as opposed to: “when I got tired”… reason being that I’m a machine and never get tired ☺ ), I would just stop by some river, lake, or waterfall and have a swim and a few bananas or chocolate. Life was at its peak. I took a few really good pictures that day, mainly of rivers and lakes, some of them with plants hiding boats within. It started raining and getting late, when a quite good but not perfect bus stop appeared ahead on the left. It was of the typical maroon Norwegian colour, and sheltered enough to make it comfy. Well, it would have been perfect if the seat would have been along the length and not the width of the bus stop, but it was a great flexibility exercise! And free. At 2 am I looked at my watch wondering why there was still plenty of light. It was because I was getting quite high up on the map.
On that road there was maybe a village each 50km. In Mosjoen there was this old road that had been preserved, showing how the houses looked like long ago. There’s a photo in the gallery ☺ And then came of my favourite moments of the day: The donut moment, just where the river got to the sea by some fjord. Nice food in a nice landscape. There was a really fluo like intense green from a musk like plant on the floor. And I can’t remember if it was around here but there was an 8km tunnel. Yep, 8km is long, very long.
Near Mo I Rana, it was the time for the start of an intense few hour’s rain. I thought to myself: Well, if there’s light anytime, I’ll just cycle when the rain stops, and then did just like Mark had done in Denmark for a day: Found a big comfy bus stop, and slept and relaxed just lying there in my sleeping bag for quite a few hours, until it stopped raining at about 7pm, and I told myself I’d cycle until the Arctic Circle that PM. (Which I of course did :P)
As experienced the night before, there was light non-stop. A few times I heard a few squeaky noises from hamsters by the side of the road. There were more and more, and it was the start of a massacre. All along the road there were dead hamsters stuck to the floor. Some parts really stank. I would say there was about a dead hamster each 10 meters or so. It quickly adds up when you do quite a few kilometres. There were again some waterfalls going out of the mountain, and I stayed there for a while sitting contemplating them, but it was quite cold so I had to keep moving. I went past the foggy part of the valley, and it looked as there had been a big storm recently judging by all the water, some mud, branches, humidity, and finally because some people told me so 😛 I went past a place with a funny name, Crocstrand, which sounded like crocodile beach (Strand = Beach in German). I thought of having a crocodile soup, but it was highly unlikely that I’d find, kill and cook one without any tools or ingredients. The uphill bit started, and kept going until really high up. Once again, the vegetation had changed, and I was now surrounded again by Tundra type vegetation. No more trees, only rocks, little vegetation and a big river. Oh and a sunset over the road.
It was frankly quite cold, and I wasn’t sure if I’d find a place to sleep. There was also a chilling breeze, so I needed a wind shelter. And nothing around seemed good enough. Until the amazing hut/house/waiting room appeared, just before the Arctic Circle. At first I thought it was someone’s house but as I started talking to some uncommon biker on a chopper motorbike that liked to ride through the night (just like me!), he told me that it was a waiting room for when the weather would get really bad in winter, all the people would wait there until a snowplough would go in front of the line of cars getting rid of the snow in front. Apparently, it gets so bad that moments after the last car goes past, the road refills itself with a thick layer of snow. That must also be why they have poles along each side of the road, to see where the road goes when the snow is hiding it. The hut was heated, had electricity, toilets, water, and plenty of sofas. I could not have asked for anything more! It was about 1am, and but the sunset looked so beautiful that I could not resist going on a bike ride without luggage for a bit. But I wasn’t alone, there were plenty of hamsters around that got scared when you got close to them. I played with one 😛
In the morning, I slept in a little bit longer, and cycled to the Arctic Circle (where there is more than 1 continuous day of sunlight or darkness). It felt surreal having cycled from my home in Luxembourg until here. Actually, maybe I’m just dreaming and nothing ever took place. Funnily enough, I had that thought a few times during the trip! There were plenty of stacks of rocks that people had piled, and the final effect was really cool. Now that you are starting to know me you should have guessed that I put a stone on top of the highest stack ☺
It was there that I met Walter, a truly awesome guy with whom I had so much fun who was doing his 3rd and last bike trip to the North Cape. He’d slept in a camping by Crocstrand. We took some nice pictures by the “Polarsirkeln” monument with 2 Spanish motor bikers, and with a mountain in the background. It’s hard to explain how “empty” the landscape looked. It’s as if we were lost in the middle of nowhere, which we were. It was the start of a cycling friendship, cycling together for about a week in a sporadic manner. It was really cool cycling, talking and joking with someone! And Walter was a really cool interesting fun guy to talk to.
The road went downhill through something like I’d never seen before, and the vegetation and landscapes were completely new to me. We stopped by for breakfast. For me that was a hot dog with loads of ketchup and cheese, followed by 2 soft ice-creams (the machine broke down just before the 1st one was finished so I got 2 for 1 😉 Later on, when we got hungry again, I bought 3 cakes (=1.2kg cake about 3800kcal) and ate them all at once.
We went past some amazing fjords, and incredible sights. I cannot stress this enough… Check out the pictures! There were also several tunnels, some of them being an utter nightmare and some of them quite refreshing. We met a slightly fucked up guy, that had ran out of money and was collecting plastic bottles to get recycling money from it. That’s not why he was fucked up btw, it was because of how he acted and some weird stories he told me. Freaked out, I left briefly after Walter left. Walter went looking for a camping but ended up staying in a hotel as the owner lied to him and told him there wouldn’t be any for really long (when it was about 3km). As for me, I kept cycling. There were 2 tunnels along the E6 that were forbidden to cyclists, and I had to take a detour that went up a fucking steep hill (had to walk) and then on the way down I had the closest near crash of the whole trip: I was going down at full speed taking corners risking a bit too much, and there was this 170 degree turn with some sand and cracks on the adverse camber edges, and you could only see what was next after going into it, and I’m a nutjob. Fuck that was close. My heartbeat stayed high for quite a while. Luckily the amazing fjords completely surrounding me were there to calm me down. I thought of sleeping under an upside down boat, but there were too many mosquitos. I ended up sleeping at a bus stop by a camping, and I jumped the fence to use the camping’s facilities.
It was a really nice night, and in the morning I was fresh to pedal through. I stopped by a camping to buy some biscuits and stayed talking to the owner for a while. He showed me some posters and told me that I should go past the Stetind, Norway’s voted national mountain, instead of going by the main road. At the next supermarket, I met another cyclist, a German high school teacher, who was going to cycle that same way.
I had another cake waiting for the boat. The roads ended there and it was necessary to take the ferry to continue. The view on-board was amazing, going through fjords. And the typical Norwegian pancakes too! And I got the ride for free as no one asked me to pay. On the other side, I said goodbye to him, and sprinted, not being able to wait to see the Stetind. And when I got there, it was an epic fail. There were clouds covering it. I challenged the nature for a wait, saying that I’d stay there until the clouds go away and I could see it. I found a fishing rope with bait that seemed to be abandoned. Well, it found a new owner! I decided to give the fishing a go. Or 2. On the second throw, I had a minute “fight” against a fish, pulling almost as hard as I could, and the thread broke. Moments after, I saw a massive 80cm fish rising to the surface before disappearing forever. I thought I was dreaming, and there wasn’t anyone around to prove me wrong. So I filmed a video to remind me that “what just happened was actually real, and that the fish that I saw was real too”. The German teacher cyclist arrived, and I told him about my nature challenge. He wasn’t up for it and kept going. After about an hour, the clouds disappeared for some minutes, long enough to take a good look and picture at it, before continuing along those paradise like landscapes, fjords, amazing landscapes and beaches. Man I wished heaven will look that good, because I’m planning on visiting one day!
I felt like I belonged there, and found all the fisherman culture and houses really appealing. Everything looked clean and tidy, like it belonged there. After countless fjords I was getting closer to Narvik, as there was a monument of the Battle of Narvik (there were several other battle monuments later on). Once in Narvik, I felt like sleeping in a real bed in a room and having a nice shower. The problem was that I didn’t feel like paying for it so I had to be clever here! I walked into a hotel (hotel Victoria if I remember, it used to be a youth hostel), and the reception was closed. So I went to the first floor to try to find an empty room. All of them were taken or locked, and when I opened a door and there was someone in, I’d just say ahh sorry I’m looking for a friend. I repeated the process for the second, third, and fourth floor. The fifth floor was the last one, and there was no one in. But there was unlocked room, with a balcony over the lake and mountains. So I ended up having a room with amazing views where I washed and dried my clothes, a kitchen, toilet and shower, all for me. For free. I cooked some nice dinner and ate it on the balcony, wondering how on earth I could be so fucking lucky.
On the next morning, I went to a shop to buy a new pedal since the one on my bike had broken (the metal started bending!), and to buy a new hook/bait, since the fish had stolen the other one. When I came out of the shop, there was another familiar bicycle parked next to mine, and Walter stood there smiling at me. It was so good to see him again. We updated each other on everything that had happened. He hadn’t cared about the tunnels in the E6, and had gone through them. The previous night he’d slept at a cheap but luxurious camping I’d gone past earlier on. I’d stopped on a petrol station to get some stuff for my bike as he’d suggested that the petrol stations acted like the local shop that sold everything in those remote places.
We said goodbye to Narvik’s fjord (Ofotfjord) after a photo and started the seeming like never ending uphill. I laughed so much racing Walter uphill, especially at some point that he passed me by at full speed as if it was his normal casual speed. For the record, that was about 20 seconds before I passed him back again 😛 We had a Facebook discussion about it. On the top, we met a cyclist from Kiruna that spent more time eating, cooking and packing stuff on his huge bicycle than cycling. Hence he ended up only cycling 70km/day. But who cares as long as he enjoys his trip! It was cool meeting him, and having some snacks by the lake before moving on. I was going to write: At dusk, but the sunset lasts the whole night. I’ll just say, approaching dusk, Walter went on to find a nice cabin by a camping to spend the night, and I went on my usual late PM cycle.
The notion of always having light was a new and appealing concept to me, and I was loving the experience and wanted to exploit it. There was just something so cool about cycling full speed downhill with a background of lakes and mountains, and no one on the road but a couple of reindeers, wandering what a guy on a pink bike happily singing was doing there.
There were these red mountains on the background, and I would have stayed looking at them all night, but it was so fucking cold that I couldn’t stop for long. I had on all the clothes that I’d brought with me, but it still wasn’t warm enough. I thought of doing 2 holes for the legs and putting on my sleeping bag, but I didn’t feel like becoming a cycling sausage. Talking about meat, there was a Sami camp with a shop in a kind of Indian Tent. But it was closed. That was too bad because I really wanted to try reindeer meat. There was no one around, and I couldn’t help it but to go around the back, unzip a small opening in the tent. I was inside it, surrounded by so many meat and local dishes. I had a really good look, and some of the stuff looked really appetizing. It would have been a very unsociable act to just steal everything from a small company, so I just took a small piece of reindeer meat and left some money on the counter, exited the tent, and zipped it again. I sat down on top of a wood log pile to eat. Reindeer meat was definitely tasty! As predicted, the sunset was still there a few hours later. There were some mini fog clouds over a lake, that would have made a wonderful picture, but I had no battery left in my camera. I was also really thirsty, and found no nearby rivers from which to drink. And my fingers where getting frozen. So when the downhill started, ending up at a much lower altitude (hence being warmer), I was much happier.
There was an Esso petrol station there, and it would open in a few hours, at 6am. I was quite thirsty after the salty reindeer meat and tired, and there was this perfect bus stop on the petrol station’s parking. Actually, I even found a plug to charge my camera, so it couldn’t have been much better. I said See you Later to the sunset and fell asleep, waking up from hour to hour to look at my watch because I was really thirsty. I finally woke up at 6.03am, with the sun already higher (I remember the first rays were at 4am), and I drank a lot of water, maybe 1.5 litres in a go.
I was cycling with the sea on my left, with fjords, and if someone would have told me that I was in Jurassic Park I would have believed him. But this time, it was me who was a dinosaur, and a hungry one. After eating a chocolate muffin and some other cream cake thing, I had to go get a blueberry muffin, a “crème chocolat” ice-cream, and a chocolate fall with coconut flakes. I felt like eating further, but I also felt like discovering the next beautiful landscape. Option 2 it was. There were a few abandoned scrap cars by a little parking space by the side of the road, and I wished I would find others to sleep in another night, for the fun of it. I entered another fjord, and saw a car and 2 guys parked ha-ha just where I wanted to take the picture from. They were Dutch, and one of them had just finished his psychology PHD. They invited me for a coffee which I did not refuse. It was so funny talking to them, and we laughed our ass off talking about all the funny things of life and past experiences. He said that when he told people about him having a PHD in psychology, they looked at him with a strange face as if they thought that he was reading their minds, and from then onwards acted different. He also told a funny story about the only bike trip he’d ever done. They knocked on a farm to ask the guy if they could camp on the field, and he said yes. Later on, they saw him go past and back, and then again and again. At some point, they looked to see where he was going, and found that he just went to a corner and talked to himself, rather nervously, and then jumped on the quad and did the usual round. After a while he came and said: “Hi”. Basically, he hadn’t had the courage to go and talk to them and was discussing with himself if he should. LOL. But I guess that it happens when you live too long on your own. Upon asking him if he liked living there, by the lake and waterfalls, in the middle of the beautiful nature and mountains, he replied that he fucking hated that place and wanted to leave to the city, but hadn’t found anyone to buy his farm. I guess it is human nature to always wanting something which we don’t have!
After many laughs, I said bye, and kept on admiring the beauty of what surrounded me, with all the different tones. I also stopped by for a few hours to do some sportive fishing in the fjord, and saw a sea star on a rock.
I’d taken a smaller road to avoid the E-6 for a while, and needed to take a ferry at the end of the road at Lyngseidet to cross the fjord. The ferry wasn’t very frequent, and wondered at what time it would go past while buying some chocolate chip cookies. I put a few on my pocket, and upon arriving to the city from the top of the hill, I saw the last car boarding the ferry a few hundred meters away. Man what a sprint! I’m not sure if Contador or Indurain would have been able to catch up with me 😛 Upon arriving to the harbour, the ferry had just started retracting the gate bridge, but opened it again for me. I went to the upper deck to get some sun, and to decide whether it was all real or whether I was dreaming. I didn’t arrive to a conclusion, and decided to make up my mind on the go, cycling across violet, pink and yellow flowers, the occasional wooden hut with the snowed mountains on the back with a few clouds that gave them a really peculiar look. I met the only other light travelling cyclist from the trip that was going the opposite direction, and we stopped for a talk and he gave me a few packs of raisins.
Further on there was a long line of cars waiting to get onto a boat. Apparently there was a well renowned 3 day fun festival called Havnes on a nearby island. But I felt too wild for it. Then there was a chunk of the road undergoing repairs, and they let me through without having to wait. On the next uphill, I fell asleep for a few hours on the grass under the sun. How much easier can life get? Not much if you ask me. Upon waking up, I was starving. The menu was the following: 5 ice creams, 2 packs (600g) of chocolate cookies, and a banana. I’ve got pictures to prove it! After finishing the snack, I found Walter at the next petrol station. It was as awesome as always to meet up with him. We always laughed and shared everything. I’m really happy I met him.
We cycled the rest of the day together through the shiny valleys and fjords. In the PM, we finally saw a camping, and he asked the guy running if they had internet. He said that they didn’t but the next camping, 3km away, did. Walter and I had a huge laugh about this because people up there seemed to have a distorted notion of distances, as the camping was barely 200m away. I used his laptop to check some internet stuff, and we met a couple that had come from the North Cape cycling. They were very surprised that we hadn’t seen any reindeers just yet. Later on I understood why. I wished Walter good night, and kept on cycling.
Starting at sea level, I went up 400m along a long road and down this really beautiful hill in the darkness of the night light, overviewing islands in the distance and the rest of the fjord, feeling like the King of the Road. No lights besides inside me. It was a clear night, and there was something magical about that landscape. A thought came to my mind and I answered: why not.
I woke up at midday, lying down by a rock that sheltered me from the wind, in the middle of a hill, quite close to the sea although elevated above it. I’d arrived there walking the night before thinking that it would be fun to just sleep there. And my bike was still there. Of course it was, I was in the middle of the nature, and unless a reindeer would have stolen it, there was no reason why it wouldn’t be there. I know I keep going on and on about amazing landscapes, but it is because they were indeed something spectacular.
And guess what, you guessed, my stomach was hungry for sugar. His wishes became answered at the next shop, where a tourist bus had arrived. I think I freaked them out with my pink bike, cycling stories, and eating a huge strawberry cake (400g) followed by a sugar cake (350g) and 750g of chocolate chip cookies. I haven’t done the maths, but I guess it’s about 5500 calories. LOL.
And moments later I saw the first reindeers from the trip, some of them white and some of them brown. They are really stupid and jump in front of cars or vans when they go past. That cycling day was quite short, but the landscapes were different. It’s hard to explain. Sort of more remote, but at the same time, there were more houses on the shore cliffs. The houses here had more colours, some of them yellow, and the many harbours gave it some extra charm. I had a race against a motor boat to get to one of the harbours, and won. Well, to be fair, I decided to have the race when I saw it aiming for it, so it wasn’t technically one… who cares I won ☺ As you can see, when you go on your own for a bit too long you start living a bit in your own world. Nothing wrong with that, it´s funny.
I arrived to Alta, and saw a sign pointing to some UNESCO rock carvings or something like that, but it had already been closed. It was really cold, and had some food inside a supermarket while charging the batteries. A part of Alta was on a hill overlooking the Alta fiord, and another part lay where the river ended in the sea. I stopped at a bridge to do some fishing while eating another Schokolade Roulade (400g Chocolate Cake), and kept on cycling. It was night time, and I felt like cycling a while longer on my own in the night. But it started drizzling, and I saw that the weather was much worse further ahead. Walter had told me that after Alta there would be no shelter across the exposed elevated plain until it went down again, about 100 km after. I’m glad I listened to him, and stopped there, after a quite short cycling day. I set myself up by some wooden tables with seats that had a roof. There was no need for side walls as it was in between trees that stopped the wind. I did a fire with the wood and pines on the floor, and used it to cook dinner and warm up. I don’t know why, nights with a fire are always better.
In the morning I got woken up by Walter, who’d slept in a nearby campsite. He was surprised I hadn’t gone further, but the weather had been shit. It was still slightly drizzling, but it was better. I told him I’d get ready and would catch up with him along the way. I caught up with him on the plain, fighting against a rather strong wind, just cycling and cycling in what seemed like Mordor: a desolated empty space. On the uphill we’d gotten wet, not from the rain but from having a waterproof vest, and climbing 430m Oh that was one more thing, he looked like a pumped flag as he’d bought a waterproof jacket that was too big for him (they didn’t have a smaller size). Which was good for me as I could relax behind him to catch up my breath from the sprint. From now on I will write RD whenever we saw reindeers. RD.
After the toughest part in a while, we kept pushing through the bad weather and at a stop we met some guys that were doing a motorcycle trip with huge bikes. One of them had crashed into and killed a reindeer without even falling off the bike.
At Leaibevotna we finally said goodbye to the E-6, going through Porsangerfjorden on the road to Honningsvåg. The amazing scenery seemed now normal to me, and on a break we met a funny very honest cyclist, who upon asking him how his day had been answered: Shit, the fucking rain and the fucking wind, I couldn’t see shit at the damn North Cape, and it’s fucking cold. I started laughing so badly, and so did everyone. We understood each other on this epic journey. He gave me some tips for later when I’d cross Finland, and said that it was 30 degrees and a big sun when he was there. It became my motivation to keep going.
RD.RD again. The road went zigzagging along the coast line, and there were some really impressive sections on the walls that could be seen. You could see all the rock layers. I didn’t have any water left, and Walter gave me some of his. Later on I got some from a river. There were also a few tunnels, at the beginning of which you could pick up a reflective vest for free from a letterbox like drawer. RD. Fuck that, I’m done with the RD’s, there were too many!
Suddenly the floor had another colour, sort of greenish and yellowish, because of some plant. And there were some lakes around, and beautiful traditional houses. We met a Slovakian cyclist along the way, and kept together. A must ride for anyone! And then, there it was, the most dreaded tunnel. The 6.87km tunnel that went 212m under the sea in a 10% slope, the tunnel that I’d heard of over 2000km before. We stopped before it for some water, a rest, and I ate a few biscuits from Walter.
It just kept going down and down, forever. I was screaming whohoooo downhill. And the way up wasn’t that bad for me because I had very little luggage. It took me something 13 minutes if my memory is correct. My lowest gear was still quite high, so I was better of “driving through the motherfucker” as Greg Plitt, one of my inspirational characters would say. (www.gregplitt.com) But the other 2 guys were suffering the consequences of carrying their extra luggage. But after a short 15minutes wait, we were ready to move on, this time cycling along the Barents Sea. We were officially on an island, and after a 4km long tunnel we arrived to the world northernmost city: Honningsvåg. The funniest part is that in last kilometre between the tunnel and town we got more soaked than in the rest of the 205km we cycled that day.
I decided to have a rest from sleeping under bridges and bus stops and airports and huts and cement pipes and all the rest, and to reward myself with a Hostel for having come that far, over 4000km away from home, my starting place. Walter went on to a camping he’d been to before and liked, while I retired myself for a long warm sleep in a warm room that I’d gotten much cheaper that it should.
After 25 consecutive days on the road, for the first time, I felt like having a rest day. Sure as hell I took it, as the weather wasn’t great, and there’s no point in going to the North Cape to see nothing. I spent the day sleeping, cooking nice stuff, putting up the pictures, meeting people, exploring the town, fishing, washing my clothes, and meeting Walter. He’d gone for the 3rd time to the North Cape in the morning, and we sat down on a bench facing the sea, eating and talking about society and future plans, and laughing more. He was going to take the bus back to Alta, to take the plane back home and surprise his girlfriend. Actually, it was quite funny because his dad and brother almost did the same thing, and would have come to the north while Walter would go south. It was a bit sad saying goodbye, but we had shared so many amazing moments that will last me a lifetime.
But the day after, I was on fire. I left my bags at the hostel, and stormed through the road. Man I was a bullet after a rest day and taking away the bags. The weather was really good, almost no clouds. Apparently there aren’t many days a year like this. Even better. There is actually a point a bit further north from the North Cape which had become a tourist attraction, a few kilometres away. The entrance cost was 30 euros, 20 or so for cyclists, and there was no way I would pay that. On the last kilometre left to there, I met the Slovakian cyclist, who’d stayed there camping overnight. He said that the ticket was valid for 2 days, and gave me his as he wouldn’t need it any more.
And so, I got in for free that way. There weren’t many people at that time of the morning. And from the top of the cliff there was a beautiful view all around. There were some exhibitions and projections and stuff inside a cool looking circular like building, but it would open in an hour or so. I met plenty of nice people from all over Europe and then after seeing the “Do not climb” sign on the globe monument, I went for it and got a picture taken. After the blonde girl realized that the batteries were upside down 😛
An old couple started talking to me. They said they’d seen me sprint up the hill, we talked about our trips. I later met them 2 more times, about a thousand kilometres away. And then it shook me: If I could cycle all that distance I could do anything! I went back, enjoying the full speed downhill with some sunshine and lakes, stopping by some river to drink water. As on the way there, there wasn’t anything around for quite a long way. And then I saw it: A massive rain cloud along the road, which had such a dense rainfall that you could not see through. Fuck it I thought, time to get wet.
Back at the hostel, I picked up my bags, and just when I was ready to leave, a guy offered me a spare tyre. “I just finished my trip and will not need it any longer”. “Thanks buddy!”. That tyre later on saved me from being in deep deep shit.
I cycled back on my steps, through the same Porsangerfjorden, and re-joined the eternal and amazing E-6. I think Walter ended up writing a letter to some Mayor to ask him to send him an E-6 sign, as he’d previously done that to get a road name panel as a present to a girl.
There was a forest on the right that intrigued me. I parked and hid my bike and went to discover it. There was a shallow cave on which I could have perfectly slept, if it wasn’t for the WW2 barbed wire in it. I also found a wire coming out of the ground, and after much digging I found the stone it was wired around. I was a bit sad and disappointed as I thought I’d find some treasure or WW2 remaining’s. I got some more water from a river and kept migrating towards the heats of the finish summer south, surrounded by reindeers and forest to my right, and sea to my left.
When I got tired, I found an old WW2 4×4, and got ready to spend the night in it as the rear door was open. But later on the owner came around and told me that I could not sleep there. Too bad, but I knew I’d find something cool anyway.
I got to Pillavuono, this peculiar different village in which I saw quite a few new things I hadn’t seen before. At the entrance, there was a tent outside a house with a panel that said: “Free Coffee 24h”. I guess it belonged to some cool dudes liking to socialize with new people. A few hundred metres later there was a small Statoil petrol station that had been taken over by the sheep, using it to sleep. I myself ended up sleeping in a boat in that village. Well, it’s not really what you think. There was an empty during summer young children’s school, and I found a boat in the playground. It had been a real boat many years ago, but it was now on sand. It also had a compartment with door where I spent the night. Well, the a bit less bright part of the day. I talked with my dad on the phone and fell asleep, after cycling over 190km that day.
I wanted to reach Finland that day, so I left early going past an intriguing national park, going through deserted area. On the left , there were marshes, shallow water, with mountains on the far back. On the right, a mountain wall. I got to Lakselv and tried some local traditional food.
After that city, I got an overview of what Finland would look like. The hills and mountains were now much lower, the tops more rounded, and I cycled along a much flatter road, with some food old straight lines with the occasional bend.
At Karasjok I went around visiting the city (neighbourhood), which had quite a few tourists because there were so many Sami (the native population in Lapland) living there. I also went past the tourist office to exchange my Norwegian crowns into euros.
I entered Finland after crossing a small bridge. The police woman didn’t even seem to notice me driving through the steep 10% uphill. It was the beginning of something that other cyclists had told me about, something that you can only find up there in the north. I’d call it a mix of desolated calmness, infinite like straight lines with the occasional bend to break the monotony. Sometimes, you’d go for a many dozens of kilometres without finding a single house. Instead, there were trees all around, but there weren’t the type of tall ones that conglomerate into a dense mass. Instead they each took their space with their perennial leaves, covering that vast surface. The road I was on had been built by the Nazis, and you could find some of their remains scattered across some sites.
It had started to rain, and I was alone in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t seen any sign of civilisation for quite a while, when I saw a camping place with a bar by the side of the road! Now that’s not a common sight in the middle of nowhere, so I had to go in to have a hot tea to warm up. It was there that I met Karri (an aspiring movie director who was really into cinematic stuff and was very friendly and open), and his female friend. We started talking about loads of stuff, and they invited me over to their wooden cottage somewhere in the woods by a lake. We walked for a while into the forest, before arriving to that amazing place, and met 2 other guys from the group. We were on a hill so we could see far away. The cottage didn’t have electricity or water (they took it from a little spring 200m away). The toilet was a hole in the ground. After chilling for the rest of the afternoon, I was ready to leave when they told me that I could stay the night if so I wished. Game on! There were some extra spaces in the house because some of the guys were hiking around and sleeping wild.
We had a nice traditional finish dinner (with their traditional bread of course), and for deserts we had cloud berries, a sort of orange berry that grew in the swamps only in very special arctic or alpine conditions. Later on I recall having a sauna while drinking gin & cranberry juice, and finish beer, and jumping into the really cold lake in between sauna sessions at 2am.
In the morning, we had a filling breakfast by the fire. I thanked them for the experience of living the finish dream, and kept on advancing.
I met Magdalena, a Polish cyclist girl who was full of the only thing you need in these trips: positive energy. It was funny seeing her huge luggage attached to the bike, and we shared a few stories. She told me that a few times it had been a bit dodgy for her camping alone in the forest. Soon later I met another Polish guy doing the whole tour of Scandinavia on his bike. His average speed was 25km/h, and he was doing 200km/day. He seemed in a hurry, and left after about 1min37seconds.
Next on the road was the Inari Lake, Finland’s 3rd largest lake, with over 3000 islands. I climbed over this hill with a 28% slope (walking of course), to find myself at the top of a hill on which there was a museum and bar. It was closed, and there was no way that I’d miss the view, so I jumped the fence and admired the dormant landscape that extended in front of me forever. There were some panels pointing at Russia (30km away), the North Cape (420km away), and Helsinki 1131km close ☺ I’d be there in a few fun days. On the exit, there was a tank and an airplane dating from the 2nd world war, with a panel that said: NO TOUCHING. The temptation was too great and I jumped inside of them, looked under metal scrap pieces and found 2 bullets.
I was living my dream free as a soul. No obligations, no attachments. My life was mine, and I could do whatever I wanted with it. So I kept migrating south, looking for the promised paradise and warmth of the south. Finally, after an amazing sunset over the forests of the arctic climate, there was a bit more darkness during the night, just enough to see the moon rising over the trees. That night it was a bit colder than usual, and I wanted to find a cool place to sleep in. I saw some really cool glass pyramid structure, and got closer on foot to explore it. I found igloo like individual glass rooms/houses from the Kakslauttanen Hotel & Igloo Village. They all had see-through crystal vaults through which you could see the sky, and I guess the Polar Lights in winter. And they all seemed to be empty. It was part of luxurious hotel, starting at 300€ per night, and the beds had electric position settings and very fancy fur duvets. I had a big smile on my face, because I just knew that I’d end up sleeping in one of them. I tried opening the doors, and found an unlocked one. As I brushed my teeth in the sink in the toilet, I understood how fucking awesome that was. I fell asleep looking at the horizon over the trees.
It was nearby Sodankyla that I met Thomas who was himself cycling with a Russian family living in Germany, and I joined in. The dad was an aerospace engineer, very similar to my course. He told me that their kid had prepared dinner for them last night with some mushrooms he’d picked in the forest. I asked him to describe them to me, because I was determined to find some. We stopped for an originally short break, and I went into the forest with a big plastic bag in my pocket. I came back 5 minutes later with the bag full of some mushrooms that I’d found that looked like the ones the father had described to me. They were the right ones! We decided to prepare lunch there and then in a hole in the forest, and while they took their gas cookers, pans, plates, forks, knifes and spoons out, I collected some wood that hadn’t been wetted by the rain. It was really funny how different both cooking methods were. They were the hi-tech ones while I was just grilling mushrooms on sticks and on wood planks. We mixed them with some spaghettis, ate, cleaned the stuff in the river, and kept going. It was nice to cycle once more with some people.
By then, I had already lost count of how many cakes, chocolate, ice-creams, donuts and candy I’d eaten. I thought of measuring the advance, not in days or kilometres, but in cakes.
The family stopped in a city, but Thomas and I decided to continue for a few cakes longer, meeting this cyclist that either had tough luck or completely over-exaggerated some things (“I swear about this, there were thousands of mosquitos, a cloud above me that darkened the sky…not hundreds but thousands!”), until we got tired and camped in his tent in the forest. He was the tent master, and I was the fire master. He set up the amazing tent he’d recently bought while I set up a huge fire that we used to get warm again and dry our wet clothes. Oh and I also spent quite a while collecting and blueberries around. There were all around us, but very small. I think I would have been able to survive on blueberries only if I spent the whole day picking them up.
The day after we arrived to Santa’s home in the Christmas Village on the Arctic Circle line. There was Christmas music going on, and I felt again this magical feeling that you get at that time of year. Everyone was in a good mood. There were some panels indicating the distance to cities around the world. Beijing wasn’t actually that far! Maybe on the next trip…?
We went past Rovaniemi, a very average city with a cool bridge. Suddenly, as weird as it sounds, everything around changed. The Arctic Circle line clearly drew a line on the vegetation, and that had a direct impact on civilisation. There were no more huge desolated forests around us, and there were houses again at every side of the road, albeit hidden behind the green. For the first time in really long we saw grass again, and we just had to camp on it. I replaced the handlebar tape with one that Walter had given me as a present.
I wanted to cycle a longer distance than my friend. I had a faster bicycle and far less luggage. I also had a plane to catch in some days, and I wanted to make sure I’d take it. We said goodbye, and there I went, as fast as a bullet. Well, I guess I went exactly at the speed that the bullet in my bag travelled. I met some older cyclists on amazing bikes, and we cycled together for an hour, with me following them through small beautiful roads through the forest. My back wheel had been buckled since the start of my journey about 5000km and many cakes ago, and although I did notice a small bump with every wheel rotation, I just kept going. But suddenly, my luggage bag got trapped into the back wheel, which skid until reaching a halt. This exaggerated massively the buckle, to a point that I had to loosen completely the back brake in order for the wheel to be able to rotate. It really sucked, as I was still about 40km from the next big city (Kemi), and it was a Sunday. Hoping for the best, I kept cycling along the main road, in case I would need to take a bus or hitchhike if the wheel was to definitely break.
Once in Kemi, I went all around the city, but all the shops were closed, and there weren’t any wheels in the bike shop’s bins. I guessed I would just have to keep going then, and hope that the bike would hold until arriving the next day to Oulu. I had to bike slower, and as I didn’t have any maps, I just followed south. I drove into a sort of mini peninsula, and got lost, arriving at a dead end of the road on a cargo harbour. The detour added about 18 kilometres, and a few hours later, as I arrived to a petrol pump to get some food, I felt a familiar feeling. Thomas was there next to his bike smiling at me. HAhaha I hadn’t managed to take a lead after all those incidents and mistakes! As destiny decided, we kept cycling together a while longer. Leaving the pump we noticed a military truck loaded with young Finish recruits taking part in the compulsory military service.
He stopped to camp on a beach nearby, and invited me over. But I wanted to keep going about 30 kilometres further, and we said goodbye one more time. I found a medium square wooden hut with 3 walls, a roof, and a table with 2 benches at either side, next to the road. It felt comfortable, so I settled for the night. I went for a walk across the forest to the seaside, next to a camping’s sauna, and took an amazing sunset photo. I would have slept in the sauna, but I felt like being a bit wilder, so on my return to the hut I did a fire on a barbecue cooker. An older couple staying at the camping nearby approached me with food and tea, and we had a good time talking in sign language and drinking tea. The also gave me some sandwiches! They wished me goodnight, and I fell asleep in my sleeping bag by the table. When you are sleeping wild, one of the most important things to keep warm, is isolating yourself from the floor. The floor will steal all your heat, and you should put something in between you two. Either a mat, some leaves and bushes, branches, a table, your own bags or backpack, a hot girl… just anything! Well, anything above an 8,5.
I finally got to Oulu, the Finish city with the largest concentration of bicycle paths per capita, and left my bike getting fixed at a bike shop garage. The waiting queue was of a few days, but they did an exception. I went walking around the city, ending up fishing, swimming, and finally sleeping at a beach before going back to pick it up. They had straightened the wheel, replacing a few stokes. It was funny because the price for the stokes was something like 8*0.5=4€ while the man labour was about 15-20€, including a few other checks and adjustments.
That night, I saw many convenient places to sleep in alongside the road (huts, storage places, hangar like depots, but I slept opposite a farm, in a wooden hut that had previously been used for storage purposes, but had been unused for quite a while. It provided a great shelter, while still feeling comfortable, without the claustrophobic feeling closed up places may give. Everything was great except for the mosquitos. I had to completely close my sleeping bag, only leaving a tennis wall size hole to breathe, that I had to cover with a T-shirt. It’s that bad in the night, and unless you are ok with the background buzzing noise, there is no way you’d be able to sleep.
There were finally again some forests, and everywhere I’d go there’d be lakes. That morning I had an awesome time: It was my 1 month anniversary on the road, and Í decided to celebrate it by doing something random. So I went ahead into some local fast food place and ordered the biggest diet coke there was. I refilled it, and started buzzing. After 20 minutes, when the caffeine buzz had kicked it, I went into a café, and ordered the biggest coffee they had, then got a refill, and then another. I was high, and I cannot remember having pedalled that fast in my life. Despite the not warm weather, and having nothing but shorts and a tank top, I was sweating. I laughed at the idea of not passing a doping test because of all that caffeine. I stopped by Pihtipudas to buy some food at the supermarket, and to use the free internet at the local library. That day I thought of the Dalai Lama a few times, wondering how it would feel to be close to him, and if I’d feel his aura.
After a few days of much better lovely weather, things were about to change, on my departure anniversary! But that wasn’t a big problem since after cycling through plenty of more lakes, some fog, and forests, I found a small wooden hut/changing room by the beach on a lake. It was completely isolated from the continuous rain, and the door even had a lock! I left my phone and camera battery charging on the electricity plug from a nearby closed restaurant, into which I went the following morning for another coffee high. I needed it to cycle under the continuous waterfall. And when I was really hungry I stopped by an all you can eat buffet, mainly aimed at workers, but ideal for hungry cyclists! And I can remember that there were plenty of Finish traditional dishes. After warming up for a while, it was time to do water-ski on a bicycle. After an hour, in the middle of nowhere climbing a hill, I heard a big air leaking sudden noise. The back tyre was completely cracked along 10cm, and soapy bubbles were coming out of it. I guess that they were from some soap that had been used to put back the tyre when they fixed my rear wheel. I was quite a few kilometres from anything, and I was so lucky that I was carrying a replacement tyre in my bag that a cyclist had given me at Honningsvåg, as he’d just finished his bike trip and wouldn’t needed any more. Lucky times! Arriving to Jyväskylä, I got really lost as the main way was forbidden to cyclists. But it was fun exploring the city, and having a really good laugh with the people at the tourist office as they tried to hide the weather forecast from me (let’s just say that it wasn’t the best one).
I hadn’t cycled in weather that harsh since Denmark, but here there were also the big trucks passing me 1m away, splashing a huge wave of water all over me. Some of the times it was actually quite amusing, and I would scream stuff like yiiiihaaaaa as some vehicles would go past. I was dreaming of a nice dry warm bed in a hostel in Helsinki. As the night fell, I saw a biggish hut in the middle of a field, a far enough from the road as to remaining disconnected from the real world. As I looked in by a window, it was completely dark, but I could barely see that the floor inside was slightly below the ground’s height. Suddenly, (oh man I’m shitting on my pants while writing this as it’s such a freaky memory) I felt something was terribly wrong, and felt something was inside there, at the other side of the window. I have no clue what it was, only that my instinct in this kind of situations is always right. I sprinted through the field, jumped on my bike, and cycled as fast as I could onto the main road again.
It was too much for me, and I didn’t feel like sleeping “alone” in a dark place that night, so when I saw signs to a “24h” bar/restaurant by a petrol station, I knew that would be it. I had some stuff to eat and drink, and started writing about a future business, next travel plans, the training I’d do when the bike trip would be over, philosophical stuff, and plenty of other random things. I was so inspired and motivated to think and write, that I stayed doing that until 3am. By then, I was really tired, and asked the waitress that I’d befriended if I could go upstairs by the now closed part of the restaurant to sleep. She said ok, so I lied down between the heater and a table, took off and hanged my wet stuff (shoes soaked), and fell asleep, setting my alarm at 6.30am.
It was still dark when I woke up. Finally, I was south enough to have a proper night. Not that I didn’t like the constant light, because I actually loved it that way since it gave you that extra freedom. I went through more forests and fields, small villages, saw the kids getting picked up to go to school (their school had already started), and when I was really really tired and had finally gone past the clouds, I fell asleep under 2 trees on some grass. I didn’t sleep for long, but it brought me back alive. Maybe it was the handmade blueberry cake + snickers bar + mars bar + other bar that brought me alive. Who knows. Arriving to Helsinki, no one had a clue of how I could get to the city centre without using the highway. After a bit or trial and error, and asking many people, I got to the cycle path that led into it. But I must admit that it is the toughest city to reach the city centre that I’ve been in. But as soon as I arrived to the interesting part, I loved it. It’s hard to describe why; I guess it was the mixture of sea, traditional houses, the soft yet totally matching colour combination between the sky tones and the houses and monuments.
All the main hostels were full, and while looking for one, I met a French guy on the road who told me about his trip, and recommended me a small hostel. Luckily for me, I got the last dorm bed. The hostels in Helsinki seemed to be quite more expensive than they should, and this was due to a lack of them in the city.
The day after was a completely chill out day, cycling around the city and discovering cool spots. I went to some flea market, and everywhere around the city. That day, something really special happened: I didn’t know where else to go, but felt like something pulling me in a particular direction. I followed it, arriving outside a building, with about 50 people standing outside it. Some television cameras were also there. I asked a woman what was going on, and she said that the Dalai Lama would be going out of the building any second. Funnily enough, I did feel him, just before he went out. He then walked past 2m away from me, into a Mercedes, and disappeared. It was then that I understood why I’d thought about him 2-3 days before. My camera partially broke, so that was the end of the pictures. I took the ferry to Tallinn that afternoon, after throwing away the now broken fishing rope, I met Maria and Helen, 2 really nice girls for whom I have a lot of respect for. Helen was Maria’s aunt, and took her on cool trips while taking good care of her. Maria was 15, and she looked 22. She was into photography, and had a very open outlook on the world. Leaving Helsinki on the boat with the sunset on the background would have been such an amazing picture, if only my camera worked.
We spent the ferry journey together, hanging around the deck and talking in the boat’s old fashioned bar. The music playlist probably hadn’t changed in 20 years time, and the decoration proved it, which is great! I went on to the information desk to pick up a map of Tallinn so that I could find Kristiina’s house.
Maria and Helen guided me towards town on their bikes, and gave me a quick tour around, telling me a few facts and names that I would later on use to show off.
I managed to find Kristiina’s house without much hassle thanks to Helen’s directions and the map. It was really cool to see her again, and she seemed so excited about it! One of her good friends, Merike, arrived soon after. Kristiina had sent her to pick me up to the wrong harbour! XD
We spent some really nice days doing loads of things around Tallinn. It was the capital of culture for 2011, and as such there were plenty of cool arty things going on all around. Too many to write cause my hands are getting tired!
My visit also coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Estonian Declaration of Independence. As such, there was a MASSIVE party to which most of Tallinn went to. As such, I was only a few metres away from the Estonian president. Then there was Hillary Clinton, giving a propaganda type talk on the main screen about how great it was that the people revelled against the evils of Communism and blablabla. And plenty of cool bands.
There was this museum in which you entered a dark room and went for a walk around a circuit with many elements, with the guide being blind. It was supposed to give you an insight into how blind people live. The walk concluded in a dark bar, having to walk to the bar to get a drink and then sitting down. And before that we’d been on something like a speedboat simulator in the dark too. It was fun. We also met up and showed around some friends from Luxembourg.
After a few days of eating all of the cakes in her grandparent’s house, I needed to keep going. And I cycled along the only road that would bring me in a more or less straight line towards Riga. It was nice being back on the road again. And it would have been even nicer if I wouldn’t have gotten soaked by the rain. But after what seemed a short time, it was sunny again. Or maybe it was just my imagination. I don’t remember. That is because I had a few beers on the way, starting with a big one that Kristiina had given me. And I almost never drink, so as soon as I have a tiny bit, I’m all over the place. At either sides of the road there were people picking up mushrooms, a still common practise in Estonia.
I got to Pärnu that night. I thought of to keep going, but I could not miss the chance to visit Pärnu, Estonia’s summer capital. Actually, the centre was quite small, and finding a hostel wasn’t much of a hassle. The hostel was really cheap! In cities, I stop fucking around and just get a hostel. Unless I’m with some crazy friends and then we sleep anywhere!
In the room, I started talking with this girl that was working in Luxembourg! How awesome is that? In the morning, after eating many apples around (people put apples from their garden on a bowl so that other people can eat them for free and make better use of them than just letting them rot away), I visited the beach for a short relaxing session. I knew I’d find plenty of other beaches on the way, and I was determined to make good use of them. I followed the main road for a while, until I took a smaller road on the right, with almost no traffic. It was the old Riga road, and it went past small cosy and delightful villages that felt really warm with a touch of nostalgia. There were plenty of beaches along the way, and there was this traditional bakery in which I bought an insane amount of pastries that I ate by the top of an elevated hut by the beach.
There was a HUGE noticeable difference at the border. The road suddenly was full of cracks and bumps, and the before colourful houses now looked dull. So much for a first impression! Luckily, things got much better after a while. It was a standard cycling day along forests, and there seemed to be quite a few people picking mushrooms here as well. It felt European. I went past some older cities but with supermarkets full of tasty cheap food (I got some roasted meat, donuts and candy).
The road was followed the coastline, quite close to the sea. Maybe that’s why I went to some sandy beaches and fell asleep! The trees were mostly pine trees, and reminded me of some parts of the beach by the southernmost point of Sweden.
The sunset caught me before Ādaži, and there was a slight fog over the fields, kind of like a cloud. It looked ghostly. Nearby Riga, it was already dark, and as I couldn’t see anything in the cycle path, I cycled on the main road instead. Something got stuck in my right eye, and it was a bit of a challenge cycling in the dark with no front lights with a closed eye. But everything went fine, and after what seemed an endless streak of traffic lights, tram railings, and bridges, I made it to the city centre.
Riga looked just like something I liked. Everything flew harmoniously, and the people were really friendly. The pavement in the old town was made of bits of stones, which is great so that renegades like me don’t storm through it with their bikes. I went around the old city a few times before I found my hostel: “Cinnamon Sally Backpackers Hostel”, which was definitely Top 3 in the list of hostels I’ve been to. The place is really clean, welcoming, warm and charming; the staff are really friendly and helpful, it has unlimited free calls to any place in the world, free internet, the living room is the perfect place to socialize with new friendly people, and there was also the perfect place to store my bike as well as washing machine (I used shower gel :P)!
I met some cool dudes, one of them being particularly a good lad, and the kind of person I really appreciate: positively minded & fun. He’d been a UN volunteer working in Armenia for a year, which was a big change from his homeland, USA. He told me it was perfectly cool to go around there (and a month later there I went).
I kinda forgot what I did in Riga. I vaguely remember buying a few kilos of berries and pomegranates in the local huge street market, going around the whole city on my bike (finally sprinting without luggage!), and finding a few events going on. Oh, I also went to a bike shop to ask for a cardboard box that I could put my bike into (Hint: They’ll always give them for free as they have plenty around the show that they need to throw away anyway, from bicycles they get delivered). I also decided to get back in shape, and found an outdoor ghetto style working out playground somewhere inside a ghetto like district. I was in really fucked up strength shape: I could only do 15pushups, and didn’t manage to do 7 chin-ups. That was a long way from the start of the bike trip, where I could dip 65kg for 6 good reps and do 7 chin-ups with 40kg.LOL.Nothing to worry about though, I surpassed myself on everything a few months later 😛
I took the plane back, travelling with these 2 Latvian girls all the way to Luxembourg. As my tradition requires, I ended up the trip by going past Interview, a bar in town that I love. There was only Sarah around, and when she saw me she was like… “Jesus, where were you this time? You are crazy!” Back to normality, I took the bus home with the bike still in the cardboard. As I parked my bike at home, in the same garage where I’d started from, thirty something days before hand, I smiled in silence.
A link to the route I followed: