Every person should have goals. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to tick them off the list, so set yourself small ones so that you have more to tick off. I felt ecstatic, because after 54 days of cycling and 5,003 kilometres I reached my destination Helsinki on the 8th of June 2018.
My adventure began on the 4th of April: I cycled from Flensburg via Denmark, Sweden and Norway to the North Cape and then continued south. In my last article you could accompany my journey up until 500 kilometres away from the North Cape. I told you about different countries, people, animals and smaller adventures.
Continue joining me on my bike tour through Scandinavia!
The last 500 kilometres to the North Cape took me through Norway and partly Finland. At times, it was very difficult to distinguish which country I was in, as I l sometimes switched between Finland and Norway within a day.
The last days to the North Cape on my bike tour through Scandinavia were very exhausting. I cycled past Hammerfest, the northernmost city in the world, over rolling hills straight to the north. Just before Repvåg I was incredibly lucky and saw dolphins. What a wonderful feeling to catch a glimpse of these magical creatures in the wild. I had planned to cycle 84 kilometres on my last day to the North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe. All in all, I cycled through 12 kilometres of tunnels that day and, according to my sat nav, climbed over 2000 metres of pure ascent.
The 17th of May was the day on which I literally tormented myself to the North Cape. It was simply horrible: the North Cape Tunnel robbed me of all energy. It went steeply downhill for two kilometres and then up for five kilometres with a ten percent incline. I spent the last eight kilometres to the first big destination on my bike tour though Scandinavia mainly pushing my bike. The cold, the headwind and the extreme incline made driving hard and at times even impossible.
During the last few meters I imagined how I would greet the porter at the Cape. In addition, I was looking forward to a nice cup of coffee at the Centro at the North Cape. I was in for a disappointment! I reached the barriers, where tickets for the entrance to the highest vantage point and the Centro are normally sold. The counter was not occupied. So I couldn’t tell anyone that I was finally there after 3,270 kilometres. What a disappointment! After that, the coffee was my “last hope”, but unfortunately I also missed out on that. It was a bank holiday and the Centro was closed. I asked other tourists to take a photo of me in front of the globe.
Mentally I was already preparing to cook my own coffee with the gas cooker. I sat down on a bench and the icy wind whipped around my face. The day had been exhausting and I thought it could only get better … and it did. There was a campervan also travelling to the North Cape which had greeted me earlier that day. The only other company I had were reindeer and they didn’t turn out to be particularly good conversation partners.
As I sat daydreaming on the bench at the North Cape, I was invited for a cup of coffee by very lovely Austrians – the same ones who had greeted me from the camper. I told them about my tunnel experience and that, no matter what, I did not want to go through the tunnel again. Quickly we forged the plan that the two, Elke and Fritz, would take me in their battleship of a campervan to Trollholmsund the next day. The joy of meeting these lovely people made my bike ride to my accommodation in nearby Skarsvåg a lot easier. Elke and Fritz collected me there the next day and gave me a lift in their camper. But that was not all: they surprised me with a certificate from the North Cape, which they had purchased without my knowledge. I had not been able to buy it the day before, as the Centro was closed as mentioned earlier. Thus, all sadness was gone, as I now had proof in my hands that I really had been to the North Cape. That was one of those moments you cannot buy for any money in the world. I was so happy I did not know how I could possibly thank them.
Together we drove via Gjesvær to Honningsvåg, where we stayed the night before heading on to Trollholmsund the next day. According to legend petrified trolls stand on the shore of the Trollhomsund peninsula. The place invites you to lose yourself in a fantasy world.
On the 20th of May, I planned to continue my bike tour through Scandinavia. However, extreme headwinds, rain and knee pain made progress very slow. On this day I bumped into a German family again, who I had previously met together with Elke and Fritz. Without further ado they loaded me and my bike onto their truck called “Steini”. The truck is similarly equipped to a campervan. We drove together for two days towards Finland and arranged to meet again in Helsinki.
From Ivalo onwards I now continued my bike journey alone through Scandinavia. Among other things, I passed by Rovaniemi, the city of Santa Claus, and reached Oulu on the 27th of May. All snow had disappeared by then and only a cold wind accompanied me on my way to Helsinki. My bowden cable on my rear gear was torn and I was lucky enough to find a bike shop in Oulu that repaired it. From then on I was finally able to cycle more easily through Scandinavia. In retrospect, I was very lucky that I had had no major breakdowns before. Except for a broken chain guard and bike rack I was spared from further repairs.
Another stopover was Kuopio. The town has a cute marketplace, on which small market stalls were erected. On the way to my accommodation, I could end the day by cycling through the green countryside. Smaller housing estates surround the centre of Kuopio and reconcile peace and the hustle and bustle of town in a very pleasant way. After a small rest I cycled further south.
In Rautalampi I stayed in a small “Hotelli”, this is a mix of hostel and hotel. As soon as I arrived, I was attacked by mosquitoes. I still have no idea where they came from so suddenly, but I was already struggling with the insects while unloading my luggage. I hardly slept during the night. Umpteen mosquitoes were in my bedroom and it felt as though they were getting steadily more. The constant humming accompanied me until the early hours of the morning. What an awful night that was! Finally, I left my room with a long sweater and mosquito hat shortly after 5 o’clock and continued to cycle through Scandinavia.
The happier I was when I arrived in Jyväskylä. There I had a mosquito-free room. Due to my early start, I still had plenty of time to stroll through the streets in the afternoon and take a look at the town. It is a medium-sized town, which at the time of my visit, was not crowded and thus radiated a pleasant small town charm.
Finally, on the 8th of June, after 54 days of cycling through Scandinavia and 5,003 kilometres I reached my destination Helsinki.
Now the bike free time began and I was really looking forward to it. It’s quite insane, but during the last few days of cycling I just wanted it to end. The cycle path I took from Ivalo to Helsinki is referred to online as the “Beast of the East”. On the one hand, the path is quite long and on the other hand, I often had cold headwinds. But I found the bike and pedestrian system before and after every medium-sized town fantastic. Thanks to various cycling possibilities, the ride became safer, more relaxed and I was able to enjoy these areas a bit more.
My plan included visiting the cities of Helsinki, Tallinn in Estonia and St. Petersburg in Russia. I spent my first week in Helsinki mainly with repacking. I received a parcel with my hiking equipment, which was sent to my accommodation from home. I sent my bike home in a bicycle carton. I also sent my bike bags and the equipment that I no longer needed back to my hometown Ohrdruf. However, I paid twice the amount (50 euros) for posting a parcel of the same weight and size from Helsinki to Germany compared to what it cost to send one to Helsinki from Germany. In addition, not every Finnish postal station can actually send parcels to Germany.
From now on, I travelled with a backpack and no longer had to worry about where to stow my bike safely for the night. I could now start my sightseeing trip at ease.
You can follow my journey through the Baltic countries (Estonia and Latvia), St. Petersburg and Helsinki in my last article of the series. Get ready for my next adventures.