Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nordkapp

The Nordkapp is the most northern point you can ride to in the world, as far as I'm aware. Higher than Deadhorse and even close to 100km higher than Prudhoe Bay. We also camped at the most northerly campground in the world! When we arrived the lady at the Kirkeporten campground was somewhat surprised that we were going to camp… and in a tent! Truth be told ours were the only tents there, the rest had all fled into cabins. It's probably one of the first times that I actually would have preferred a cabin over the tent. After days of riding in wet miserable conditions I was 'in' for a little bit of warmth, the price for a small cabin froze my wallet though: a whopping $109,- a night… for a little garden shed with a bed in it!

In the end I'm actually glad we camped too. The weather was miserable but the campground had a great kitchen with tables, chairs and a heater :-) Mike cranked the heater up to 25°C and we were in business. Good wifi meant we could update the blog, Mike worked on the videos and I did the small print and photos.

The weather hadn't improved overnight but we were promised a small 'window' of probable sunshine for the day after. Rather than riding through thick fog and see nothing, we opted to stay put for the day. Mike and myself found the warm kitchen again and Jeanette went wandering over the moors in the rain… She's like that. Somehow she seems to feel happier when it's cold and miserable(?) All the photos on this page are thus from Jeanette and made in crappy weather.

Jeanette went to Skarsvåg, just down the road, looking for the Christmas shop. Must be the most northern one in the world. Skarsvåg claims to be the most northern fishing village in the world.It certainly looks like it. It's also the town where the road north stops, literally! The lady that runs the Christmas shop's husband is a fisherman too. Christmas is being celebrated a little different here. There aren't any trees this high, so the Christmas trees come from Finland and cost a cool $65,- each. After a week the branches start to sag already… The children put their stockings in on December 23rd and Christmas is celebrated on the 24th. 

As they already eat fish the whole year, Christmas is celebrated with dried lamb and pork. Skarsvåg has it's own fishery, supplied with fish by the small boats that are visible on the photo. Imagine going on the roughest sees in the world, under icy conditions in small dinky toy boats like that!

Reindeer came for a visit and wandered literally metres away from us. They look a bit like deer but walk very different. Much more surefooted, almost like Camels. It's getting the time of year when they sort out the pecking order and brawl a bit. Sometimes a bit of blood is spilled too. Be seriously careful when riding here at this time of year as they are everywhere now and seem to enjoy crossing the road just in front of you!

The next day the weather had cleared somewhat so we went to the Nordkapp for the 'photo'. I should explain that the island on which Nordkapp is situated is Sami land, it belongs to the Sami people. However, the Sami people have sold the land of the actual Nordkapp to the Rica Hotel chain… You can see where this is going? The Rica Hotel built a very expensive information centre at the location, which shows a video about the 4 seasons at the Nordkapp and started charging an entry fee. I have no problem with that as you have the choice to enter the building or not. However, Rica also charges an entry fee just to ride onto the parking lot… which works out at US$90,- for 3 persons! Have you ever heard of a parking fee of US$30,- a person? We arrived there 2 hours before they opened but still had to pay the fee… In the end Mike went in by himself, paid the fee, rode his bike to all the places he wanted (even though he wasn't allowed to ride his bike to the monuments and was chased by the security guards) took the photos he wanted and went out again.


Later we heard from the Norwegian Tourist info that there was an agreement between them and Rica that there would be no charge for people who arrived before opening time and just want to take a photo as 'proof' that they made it till the Nordkapp. An agreement clearly no longer upheld by Rica without informing the Norwegian Tourist info, who made it clear they are not happy with the situation. I won't be staying in any Rica Hotel, ever, that's for sure! 

Still the whole riding Nordkapp experience had been a really good one. Riding up to the most northern point you can ride to has been an amazing experience. The further north we went the more it became an expedition feeling, due to the weather, the cold, the rain and fog which made it really feel like riding to the end of the road (which we did!). The Nordkapp is impressive. There aren't any trees to be found, which somehow made it even more impressive. The Sami people live their traditional lives, supplemented with income from tourism. The rip-off practise by Rica Hotel did have a positive outcome too: it triggered an idea to make an alternative post to our 'People that matter' section. Something like 'The bastards that tried to rip us off...' Should be a good read :-)


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