It’s impossible to describe the feeling I had on my way to Kirkenes and Grense Jakobselv, but the day is here and I just have to be ready. The trip have already given me extreme challenges that I’ve had to use my imagination and quick thinking to manage.
Travelling to Kirkenes
Lillian was kind enough to drive me to Sola airport. I thought I was in good time for a domestic flight, but when I get inside and see a huge line at all of the check in counters…. I’m in trouble. I did not add enough time to deal with problems that the airport have.
I kindly ask some of the people in the line, if it’s possible to pass them. Most of them say yes, but then I get behind someone trying to catch the same flight as me. It’s only 7 minutes until the scheduled departure of my flight and I still hold the bag in my hand. The message the group of women in front of me gets, is that they need to get a ticket for the next flight.
Argh, is this really happening? Is this how it is supposed to be? Wasn’t I nervous enough?
I start running towards the security checkpoint and throws out the parfume from my toilet bag and sends everything through the xray machine. Everything gets through except the big bag. Shit, it’s only 3 minutes until departure time and the monitor on the wall says «Gate Closed»
My last bag gets through, and I start running. 1 hand on the big bag, 1 on the pants falling of while running…. «Gate closed», it would normally be to late, but I’ve been able to win over these kinds of problems before.
I kindly ask the two women at the gate, and they get a «good to go» from the captain, «YES, I MADE IT». People must have wondered what was happening, when I embark the aircraft with 2 full sized bags and a camera.
Arriving at Oslo and then further on to Kirkenes, my heart rate is probably still sky high, and my head and back is all wet, who cares? I made it and I’m not nervous anymore.
Picking up the bicycle and set the course towards Grense Jakobselv
As always, Hurtigruten delivers the equipment without any damages. Expensive, but then again, it’s worth it. I pack my bag and moves a lot of things over to the bag that I’m sending home.
After a quick lunch, I start my bicycle ride towards Grense Jakobselv. It’s amazing to finally be here. It doesn’t take long before I see the border crossing to Russia. All the signs around is informing people about military restrictions.
The road is getting worse and worse, but you just need to stay focused and make sure that you don’t hit the bumbs.
Flat tire, 20Km left to Grense Jakobselv
I can’t believe it, I have a flat tire on the first day. I take of the tire and checks it carefully for damages and find a sharp small stone going through. I find some tools to remove the stone, before I put the tube and tire on the wheel.
I suddenly starts regretting that I desided to buy a extra tire and 3 tubes on Saturday instead of today. Knowing that in about 10Km the paved road will stop and the last 10Km is gravel.
Arriving Grense Jakobselv
I’m fascinated over all the history, the signs, the watch towers and that Russia is 30 meters from me, just over the river. I’m allowed to be here, but not there!
You see the towers and the radar on the Russian side, same with the Norwegian side, I guess the guys in the towers have full control over you. They probably know who I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going and of course where my campsite is.
Some people asks me to come over, and then I can see that it’s the bus driver that drove me from the airport to Kirkenes. They invite me to camp with them.
Preparing the camp and spent the rest of the evening around the camp fire
I’m so happy that I’m not to shy, that would be a problem when you travel alone like this. My camp is built, and I go all the way to the end to take some pictures.
I meet a women that owns one of the houses, she tells me interesting stories about the history around this place, how it was to grow up here. How they bent the rules by swimming over to the Russian side, just for the excitement, and of course that it didn’t take many minutes before the Norwegian boarder guards approached them.
The rest of the evening is spent with 4 nice people around the camp fire. They provide me with bread and schrimp, red wine among other things.
WHAT A START! Coming from the airport problems, the flat tire to this!!! Enjoying the evening with nice people and midnight sun definately switches a bad day to a perfect day.
Ready for the official day 1 on the bike
I wake up around 9:30, eat some breakfast and start packing my bag and camp. My friends from yesterday is still sleeping, probably went to bed hours later than me.
Slowly climbing the hills that I passed yesterday. I must have given a lot of people a good laugh today, to say it in other words… If my singing voice isn’t better after all the practise it will get from this trip, then I don’t know what to do!
Just before Hesseng, I really need to refill my bottles of water, so I stop at a house and asks the women outside if they would provide me with some water. She gives me water and invite me in for a cup of coffee.
What can we learn from people living in the north?
After the nice gesture from Sigrid, I quickly continue to Kirkenes to buy a tire and some tubes. I already had an agreement with Theo, that runs Sportshjørnet in Kirkenes. I meet Theo and he surprises me by giving me the tire for free, and he also includes a homemade wooden cup, a box of sportsdrink powder and some Russian cash. I can’t describe how much I appreciate this.
These two days just confirmes what me and Morten noticed while cycling from Northcape to Lindesnes, there is something special (in an extremely good way) about the people living north of Trondheim. the cars are kindly smiling to you and gives you the thumbs up while passing. We need to learn from this!
Today’s destination: Neiden
I continue from Kirkenes with direction towards Neiden. There is quite a few hills and 40Km to Neiden. I’ve heard rumours that the salmon river is being opened for fishing today at midnight.
Stopping at the hotel i Neiden, asking the Swedish owner about the price. He gives me a room for 200,- as long as I sleep in my sleeping bag… Definately not something to think about. Then internet is available as well, so that I can update you guys!
Tomorrow’s destination is not decided, but it will be in Finland, wait and see!
GPS Data from Grense Jakobselv to Neiden: