Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 33-35

My trip was far from over when I wrote the last entry in my diary, but I didn't feel like writing anymore (I guess the holiday changed from real adventure to a more traditional-style trip as I approached the more populated South). This entry is therefore a brief retrospective look at that last bit of my Scandinavian Expedition.

Last time I wrote about Kuopio and how much I liked it. I wanted to stay longer, but being alone, there wasn't much else to do (that's the drawback of travelling alone - it's harder to enjoy social life and cities aren't as much fun). I therefore left the beautiful town and headed to the next one - Mikkeli. I got a ride from a Russian woman who was going to Poorvo (near Helsinki) with her daughter. It was funny how they couldn't grasp the concept of me being alone, in the middle of Finland, travelling from place to place, sleeping under the sky and enjoying it. Turning down their offer to come to Poorvo with them was a bit of a mental struggle: the prospect of the daughter's company was quite appealing (her intellect's company was much less appealing, but sometimes that just isn't relevant), however, I just couldn't skip half the country ahead of schedule, so I stuck with getting off at Mikkeli and pitching my tent under a breathtaking sunset.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 32

August 1st, half of my holiday is over. So far I've had a marvellous time and despite some difficulties every now and then, it's been a hell of a trip! Now the beautiful town of Kuopio.

Eventful holiday and longest July ever
One thing is worth mentioning - this was by far the longest July of my life. Of course, it had 31 days as always, but for me it was so eventful, I've done so many different things, visited so many different places and met so many different people that under normal circumstances it would take me a year to do the same. In one month I visited three countries, travelled a bazillion kilometres in each one of them, and although I moved at my own pace, without rushing or feeling under pressure in any way, I have never stayed in one place for more than two days. As a result of so much travel squeezed in such a short time, it really feels so long.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 31

The only picture I've taken in Kuhmo.
I've just read the last sentence of my previous post, about Kuhmo: "I hope I'll enjoy the actual place as much as I enjoyed getting here". What a laugh. The "actual place" is more like an Armpit of the Butthole in the Middle of Nowhere. Kuhmo showed me what the term "sleepy hollow" really means. It's the dullest place I came across in the last month and it wouldn't be exaggerated to say I ran away from there.

I didn't actually stay in Kuhmo, but in Kalevala, a nearby Karelian-like tourist resort. It made little difference, though. The morning after my arrival I felt so tired, slow and useless as if I had a cloth replacing the brain and my muscles were made of old, dry and stiff leather. I couldn't do anything, except for zombifyingly wandering around.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 29

I'll remember the 29th July 2010 as my Great Hitch-hiking Day. With no expectations and low morale in the morning, through 650 km of zigzagging across Northern Finland, to finally reaching my destination at night. It was a looong day.

Leaving Rovaniemi, happy and unsuspecting
With my belly nicely filled up by Lordi's burger and two pints of a decent Finnish brew named Karhu, I left Rovaniemi yesterday afternoon and was heading East to the 190km distant city of Kuusamo. Getting a ride at the busy crossroads was a matter of minutes and for the first time, at last, it was a trucker to stop. Unfortunately, he was not going all the way and dropped me off in Posio, 120km from Rovaniemi. That's where it all started. The trucker left me at the crossroads near a petrol station, a good thumbing spot with a good chance to reach my destination quickly. Indeed, the very first car stopped, but I'd rather it hadn't...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 27

Lordi's Rocktaurant - Rovaniemi
Today I reached the end of my hike in Pyhatunturi national park and in quite a spectacular way, too. No, I didn't run into town screaming hysterically and waving my hands in the air with a wild bear on my toes, nor did I carry a lady in distress (snoring or otherwise) out of a burning forest with my bare arms. I walked to the road in quite an ordinary fashion and got a bus.
Rovaniemi photoalbum.

However, what's to mention is that thunders were roaring in the East and a heavy downpour broke at the very moment I stepped inside the bus. For once, the weather didn't fuck me (although I had to pay 21€ for the ride instead of hitchhiking).

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 26

Fjords, check. Swedish coast, check. Midnight Sun, check. North Cape, check. Three Borders, check. Second visit to Finland, in progress...
All photos from Treriksroset, Nordkapp and Pyhatunturi.

Three Borders and no stamps in the passport
I can't believe I haven't written anything for a whole week... again. I'm in Finland now, for the second time. With the spin this trip has taken, I can easily say I've visited Norway three times and Finland twice, haha. My trip started in Norway, then I crossed into Sweden for a week, Norway again, two days in Finland, back to Norway and then Finland one more time. If I added the merry-go-round at the Treriksroset border marker, I wouldn't actually know how many times I entered and left each country. Perhaps it could be a new Guinness record - how many times can you cross three national borders in one minute?

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 19c

Actic Cathedral, Tromso. Click for more pics.
Previously on GameStorm... Storm crossed the Arctic Circle in Sweden, went 1km underground in the biggest European iron-ore mine, stared into a huge pit where giant machinery looks like ants, hitch-hiked to Abisko, saw the Midnight Sun, made a new friend, took amazing photos... and now the conclusion of the "laundry room tale".

Fan talk
I've really written a lot in the laundry room described in Day 19a. Here's the third and last part of that text. It's about how the The Bad Weather Week, which caught me between Narvik and Nordkapp, begun. After day 17, the weather went downhill (more precisely downsky, if you get the meaning) and today (19th) the shit really hit the fan (if you get the meaning).

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 19b

Midnight Sun, Abisko, Sweden.
My original plan was to stay in Gallivare one more night, hike up the nearby mountain and watch the Midnight Sun. However, the sun had been hiding behind thick layers of clouds all day and there was no hope it would show up at midnight, so I decided to give it a miss and move on, to one of the most beautiful and memorable parts of my trip.

Just to clarify, as I write this, I'm still sitting in the laundry room of a campsite in the unpronounceable town of Nordsjkosbotn, where I wrote the previous post (Day 19a), and I'm putting past week's events on paper (hence the title 19b).

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 19a

Currently sitting in the laundry room of a campsite in a town whose name I can't pronounce (it's spelled Nordkjosbotn) somewhere out in Norway (yeah, after the short excursion to Sweden I'm back in the country with the most expensive beer in the world). I wrote a lot today and loads of things happened over the past five days, so I'll split it in three posts.
A laundry room isn't the best place for having dinner and giving way to my literary outbursts, but since the nice, warm and welcoming kitchen is closed for the night... Anyway, I'm better off here than in the dampness of my soaked tent (that's right, the weather hasn't been my best friend lately).

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 14

Does it show how utterly knackered I am?
Currently tucked up in my tent on a restoration area 60km from Storuman, refreshed after swimming naked in the nearby cold river. Very nice. Excited about tomorrow, when I'm finally going to cross the Arctic Circle and, if the weather permits, to see the Midnight Sun. But let's not jump too much ahead, I want to resume the last two days first. Though somewhat disappointing, they were also quite eventful. And knackerful.

The High Coast challenge
After saying goodbuy to Alice and leaving Ostersund, I went through a real ordeal to get to the Hoga Kusten (High Coast). When I scribbled the previous notes I was resting on the shore, in a hot afternoon sun, just before starting the actual High Coast trail. When I left that nice place, I hiked for about eight kilometres to the nearest settlement and slept in an open cabin. It took me 4 hours to do just 8 km. Quite worrying, considering that the original plan was to do the whole 130 km coast trail in a week. Obviously I'm still a long way from getting into proper shape after the comfy city life, but the the terrain is also fucking hard around here. Constant ups and downs, rocks, steep climbs, bogs, you name it.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 12

The very beginning of the High Coast track.
Back after a break (no internet access to transcribe and upload my thoughts). In Sweden now, finally on the Hoga Kusten, apparently the last piece of Swedish coastal wilderness (says the Rough Guide). Let me tell you, getting here was an ordeal!

Here are the links to the next two photo galleries: Trondheim and High Coast.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 8

Here I am, on day 8 of my 2-month Scandinavian adventure, under the Trollveggen, being eaten by mosquitoes and writing.

Today is the first day of my real holiday. Gabriel's excellent organisational skills were awesome in getting us smoothly from one place to another by combining all possible means of public transport. He read every possible leaflet and never left the tourist office until a satisfactory answer had been provided. But man, this is the shit – hitching a ride on top of the Trollstigen, walking an amazing hike down a supersteep trail, bathing in a crystal clear waterfall along the way (super-cold, but super-cool) and just enjoying the breathtaking view, without any rush to go anywhere. Today I felt extreme joy, almost euphoria. This is the kind of stuff I've been longing for for so long. This is the kind of stuff I didn't have a chance to do in Australia, let alone in London, and that I missed so much! This is what really makes me happy.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 2-7

Click for photos from Lofthus and around.
Firstly, sorry for skipping from day 1 straight to day 7. I did want to write something down more regularly, before my new impressions faded, but each time I got to put them on paper, I was either too tired or too lazy (usually both). Despite a lack of more regular reports, you surely won't be disappointed.

Day 8 is what I feel as a turning point; the real start of my holiday, at least the kind of holiday I longed for and dreamed about for so long. The first week was of course amazing and with Gabriel, a colleague from London who joined me for a week, we experienced a wonderful holiday, saw stunning landscapes and enjoyed a very nice time, being able to share our impressions, discuss the day's events, etc.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 1

Bergen the rainiest place in Europe?
Not on the 1st July 2010.
The diary from my great journey to Scandinavia starts with notes written at the Bergen hostel, on my first night in Norway, away from London. Not really exciting stuff, but I had to start somewhere.

Beginnings are never easy
The night before departure I didn't fall asleep till 1am and kept waking up. Off to the airport at 5.50am with twenty kilos of luggage on the back. Wtf, how the hell am I gonna be able to carry this much stuff around for two months if I can barely make it to the tube station?! It must be overweight, there's no other explanation. They're going to charge me at the airport, I need to get rid of something. Canned fish has to go, it's the only expendable and heavy thing. At the airport, I discovered a sad truth – the bag wasn't overweight at all, it's just my muscles that don't work so much anymore... Let's see if Scandinavia can get me back into shape.