Visiting Northern most point in Europe, July 7,8 and 9 - Andrew Fernando
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Rovaniemi. The rain prevented us from doing more things, but we managed to visit Santa and see the main city attractions. Looking at some of the pictures taken in Winter, we could imagine what the city and Santa’s Village would look like in Winter. When we were in Rovaniemi, there was no snow anywhere to be seen. The temperature was around 20 C, quite pleasant. We did not need our warm clothes. The rain was a nuisance and we ended up buying an umbrella to deal with it, while in Santa’s village.
We left Rovaniemi on July 7th morning, after breakfast in our hotel. Our next major destination was North Cape, the Northern most point in Europe. We were planning to have one night stop over in Kiruna and then two nights in Alta. While in Alta, we would do a day trip to North Cape.
Kiruna is the Northern most town in Sweden. It is a fairly big town with a population of about 18000 people. There were other smaller towns on our way, but we could not find good hotels to stay. While driving to Kiruna, we had to travel more towards West from Rovaniemi.
We were expecting to see some wild animals. There are brown bears in Sweden, mainly in Northern Sweden. But not common like in Canada or Alaska. They are rarely seen by human beings even in areas they are supposed to be living in. The road signs showed us that in some areas there were mousse and deer. We drove for a long time without seeing any animal. Then suddenly we saw a Reindeer on the road, and later another group of three. I managed to stop the car and take a picture, but they are not friendly and do not wait in one place while you are taking pictures.
We crossed Finland and entered Sweden in one place. The old border crossing offices are still there, but they are closed. You simply drive past them.
We stopped in a small town and had a hot dog and coffee in a small restaurant. These small towns have only one or two eating places which are open only in Summer. We stopped at another restaurant, but it was still not open for Summer.
We came to Kiruna around 2:00 PM and went to check into our hotel Vinter Paletset. Checking in time was supposed to be and our room was still not available. We left our baggage in the hotel and went to the town centre and had lunch in a small restaurant. Our hotel was a popular small hotel, but more like a Bed and Breakfast place. We were given a key to our room and also a key to the front door. The reception is available only till 11:00 PM. If you decide to go out, you use the key to the front door to come inside the hotel.
Kiruna is situated above the Arctic circle or north of the arctic circle. In Summer, the day time temperature can exceed 20 C, but when we came to Kiruna, it was only 11 C due to rain and windy weather. In this part of the world, the hotels do not have air conditioners. They only have heaters.
We left Kiruna in the morning and started driving further north to our next destination Alta. We were planning to spend two nights in Alta. On the second day, we would do a day trip to North Cape and come back to our hotel in Alta. The drive from Kiruna to Alta was more interesting. Kiruna is in Sweden. We crossed the border to Finland for a short while and then crossed the border again to enter Norway. The old border crossing offices were closed. The land scape changed when we entered Norway. Norway is greener and prettier. On the way, we stopped at a few places. We saw a herd of reindeer, but could not stop to take a picture. In one place, we saw a decorated vehicle and three people, a man and two ladies wearing some kind of costumes. We stopped the car and talked to them. They are originally from Germany and selling fur materials to people who are passing by. They spoke good English. We took a few photos with them, though we did not want to buy any animal products knowing our custom restrictions.
On our way to Alta, the sky was overcast, but there was no rain. We enjoyed the good weather, but not for long. We were able to check into our hotel Scandic Alta, but could not walk around the city. It started raining again. The Scandic hotels are fairly modern hotels. They are used by most of the tour groups. When we were in the hotel, we saw many tour buses coming and unloading groups of tourists. The hotel restaurant arranges buffet dinner on the days they get tour groups. We decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant on the first night.
On our second day, July 9th, we drove to North Cape. North Cape locally known as Nordcap, is the Northern most point in Europe. The drive itself was very nice part of the journey driving in a mountainous terrain and part of it along the coast. We passed many scenic areas along the road. We saw some houses with green roofs. Later we realised that it was green moss that makes the roof green. We were not sure whether the owners purposely allowed this to happen. My guess was that these houses are occupied only in Summer and in Winter they are not maintained causing the roofs to get covered with moss. We passed several long tunnels the longest one being closer to five kilometres.
We also saw some fast running water streams and small water falls. We saw many cars stopping and doing fishing in these streams.
When we were getting closer, the area got enveloped in a thick fog. It gradually got thicker making driving very slow. At one point, we could see only a few metres ahead. We arrived at a small town called Honningswag. Cruise ships come come to this town and the town is popular among tourists. We then drove further and stopped at Nordcap tourist hotel. We had a snack and a coffee in this hotel. When we drove further to the North Cape the famous North Cape rock and the surrounding area was totally covered in Fog. The fog was so thick that we could have cut pieces out of it. It was disappointing because we could not see anything clearly and we were not able to take any pictures of the rock.
We talked to the owners of Nordcap Hotel and asked them whether the fog would clear off. A few days ago, the area was bathed in sun and they could see the rock and the surrounding area. The fog or the thick mist can last several days or clear up overnight. No one can predict the behavior of nature. The owners a woman and her brother open the hotel in Summer, but closes it and go away after September.
We waited for a while and then drove back slowly, behind a string of caravans. The road was narrow with just enough room to pass two big vehicles. Overtaking slow vehicles had to be done very carefully, only when the road was straight and clear of vehicles.
When we came back to the hotel it was already time for dinner. The rain has started again. We had our umbrella and we decided to walk in the rain and go to a close by restaurant. One restaurant was fully booked and smaller cafes already closed. There was a bar and a Pizza restaurant, but we wanted something different. The only other restaurant that was open was a Chinese restaurant which was run by a family. We had dinner there. We found the food tasty.