2013 Route Completed

The trip in 2013 was constrained by a need to limit travel to only about a month and the need to return the bike home.  So where to go?  Hey, I've never been to Finland and the Scandinavia countries.  So it was a perfect fit.  I flew to Tallinn, Estonia in early June being met there by Tiiu and Bill, and after a day or two, we headed to Turi to see Ants and Mari.  I got the bike running again and we had another great meal over at Ants's.  Anyway, after heading back to Tallinn and doing the final packing, I took the bike on the fast two hour ferry to Helsinki.  I had done a day trip to Helsinki last year as a walk-on passenger and did all the touristy things, and so didn't feel the need to hang out there again.  So I headed northwest towards Tampere.  This trip was to be a dominantly camping trip.  One reason was that I knew I was heading into country of spectacular natural beauty and the other reason was to just try to control costs.  The Nordic countries are notoriously expensive and camping seemed like the way to go.  And as it turned out, there is an affordable way to find lodging... even if it rains.  Most campgrounds offer gardenshed-sized cabins with one or two beds, a hot plate and a refrigerator.  Luxury.  And as the weather was not always the best, I used them frequently on this trip.  While they did cost almost as much as a two-star hotel anywhere else in Europe, the did offer an alternative to a tent when it was pissing rain.

So after camping in Tampere, I headed into the interior of Finland and wandered up across the Arctic Circle, stopping at Santa's real village on the way.  I had always thought that it was at the North Pole but the lies your parent's tell you!  No, it's in Finland, at the Arctic Circle.  And it only made sense as there were plenty of reindeer there... all over the roads and yet all alive!  Continuing north, I only got caught daydreaming once and missed my turn towards Norway, but realized my error before going too far.  Once in Norway, I proceeded north to Nordkaap, farther north (by a degree) than my previous most northerly point in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Norway was certainly not disappointing, except for the $10.00 beer.  The scenery is stunning and reminded me of the Canadian Rockies but with valleys all filled with water.  Riding from island to island, linked by a soaring bridge, a tunnel or a ferry was just terrific fun.   The weather was not always the greatest, but understandable given the northern latitudes.  The Lofoten Islands are not to be missed and that whole coast needs a revisit.  Being pressed for time, I had to bypass the better-known fjord country of southwest Norway, and instead headed to Goteborg, Sweden for a ferry to Denmark.  The ride back to London was way too fast, but once in Dunkerque, I was able to do a day trip by train to Amiens and a visit to the largest of the medieval cathedrals.   Then a final ferry ride past the white cliffs of Dover and an afternoon ride back to London for the flight home.

Like all the other maps here, the map above, it is fully zoomable and moveable.  The layers pulldown in the upper right allows you to display several versions of the base map and toggles on the nightly stops as well.   Nightly stops are marked with green tents for camps and with beds for hotels or other non-cabin roofs over my head.  Lots of camping on this trip despite the yucky weather at times. Clicking on an icon gives the location and day.  The track file can be downloaded and viewed in GoogleEarth.  Be sure to toggle it on (in the left-hand "Places" column of GoogleEarth) if it doesn't display right away.

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Samuel Longiaru
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