First things first: I have a brand new rear tire and I am legally in Norway! Also, I drove around 650km by car today. But one thing after another.
Despite my luxurious cabin I slept badly. It was noisy, the air was stuffy … I missed my tent.
Around 7am I started driving the 250km east to Luleå and arrived at the bike shop at 10am sharp.
They still remembered me from yesterday and were extremely friendly and helpful.
I was prepared for multiple days of waiting, missing parts, improvising and negotiating etc. but Roger the mechanic just said “yes, we have all we need, shall we call you in around 45min when it is ready?” I was simply out of words and full of joy. I hung around in the shop and chatted with the other chap who had lived in multiple places in Sweden and Norway before. I asked him a ton of questions. Did you know that there is a Swedish unit “mile” which is exactly 10km? I heard Swedish folks talking miles before and never understood why.
So, if you ever happen to be at the Arctic Circle with a bike problem you want to go to Cykelstället in Luleå
Once the bike was read, I did some sightseeing in Luleå which is located directly by the Baltic Sea. It is a beautiful former harbor town. Not spectacular but pretty and relaxed.
After that I contemplated what to do. All the rumors amongst the cyclists I had met said that Norway would open up on Monday. I read the official website again and it actually said there that the border was already open for Germans who are fully vaccinated and have a digital vaccination certificate. All of this applies to me. So I said to me “ok, if one great thing can happen today maybe also two are possible!”
So I drove from Luleå on the east coast 400km to Narvik at the west coast, hoping they would let me in. Of course I could have done that by bike but I wanted to have the car in the same country as me in case anything happens while I am cycling to the North Cape.
On my way I came through the mine town Kiruna, the most northern town of Sweden. They are mining iron ore there and currently the entire city is being moved 5km east so that they can exploit all the ore in the ground. The air smells like hot metal. Not a very pretty place.
The further I came west the less confident I became. I saw a lot of German VW busses and BMW enduros coming my way and they all looked somehow frustrated I figured. Probably, they were all not vaccinated since Sweden with its liberal policy attracts a lot of COVID neglectors.
The trees in the forests became smaller the more north I got. Eventually they were only bushes, the so-called Fjäll. The nature here was so breathtakingly beautiful that I almost drove in the curb once. I regret that I could not cycle this piece of about 150km – it is not half as intense in a car. However, there is one good thing about that: my car is covered with dead bugs now and I think this is a fair revenge for the last two weeks.
The route from Luleå to Narvik is so flat that there is even a railway line operating, the most northern one in Europe. The altitude of the road is between 370m and 520m with very gentle slopes. No comparison to the Alps which have crossed numerous times by bike.
Finally, I came to the border which was unmanned. 20km into Norwegian territory there was a control post. I showed my COVID vaccination app and mumbled my story and the officer just said “nice story, enjoy you trip”. I nodded and drove off. After the next curve I was jelling and screaming to release the pressure. How cool – I was in Norway!
The landscape here is even more wild and full of contrast as in Sweden. The mountains reach 2,000 meters and are covered with snow. The air smells of salt and there are NO mosquitoes.
Since it had gotten late, I had a quick dinner at a gas station and a found a picturesque camping space directly by the sea.
Tomorrow, I will leave my car here and start cycling north again. From the North Cape I will jump onto the post boat to bring me back to Tromsø. And from there I will then cycle back south to the car and drive to Malmö. If everything goes as planned that is.
Learning of the day: miracles can only happen when you dare to try things out!