Reporting from Jyväskylä
16.07.2015 - 16.07.2015 6 °C
We made it! We reached our destination. The goal for this driving holiday was to reach the most northern point of mainland Europe, and we did it.
Actually we reached the most northern point of Europe which is accessible by car, there is a point which is 1.2km further north, but to reach it you need to do a 7 hour hike - which didn't sound like too much fun when you consider the wind chill factor and our two short people. Nord Kapp was named North Cape by Steven Burrough, a British Explorer in 1553 who was looking for the North East Passage, and later translated into Norwegian. Explorers have been passing by North Cape since then and the Tourist Centre there shows a range of scenes from when people have visited North Cape over the centuries. Due to the harsh conditions, with wild seas, cold temperatures and often ice, it must have been quite a challenge to get there and home again safely. Nord Kapp is on the 71st line of latitude, and is still over 1000km to the North Pole, but there is no land at the north pole.
We saw a number of hikers and cyclists riding along the wind blown highway, struggling against the wind, and with nowhere to really get out of it. The landscape is quite desolate, and there are no trees, so shelter is limited. It was a 2 hour drive from where we were staying in Olderfjord, so still quite a long haul. We were pleased with ourselves for reaching this point, so I can only imagine the sense of achievement of doing it under your own steam. Hope they had somebody picking them up! We stopped by the side of the road for a bit, and here is a picture of the kids being held up by the wind!
We bought a ticket to go into Nord Kapp, and it was valid for 24 hours. There were many campervans parked there, and some facilities. What we didn't realise beforehand is that people will go to Nord Kapp (eg on a tour bus) to be there for the midnight sun, so as we were driving up at 930am we were passing numerous buses returning after taking their tourists up for the night visit. During summer, the whole facility is open 24 hours, restaurants, galleries, and in a way, it has the transient feel of an airport, operating all day, and people doing things at 'funny' times. To do justice to all there is to see and do there, you need 3-4 hours, but because of the midnight sun, you could arrive at 10pm...
There is a lot of information about how life goes on in the Arctic Circle throughout the year. I think I have imagined winter there to have the constant need for safety lines and tying yourself down somewhat like the descriptions of Mawson's exploration of Antarctica, but in reality life goes on, and people are not living in temporary dwellings. If the weather is extreme, precautions are taken, and if not, people still catch buses, drive cars, go to school or work, councils clear the roads and so on.
There was an amazing sculpture that looked like seven coins standing on their sides, and they were the result of seven children coming to Nord Kapp from various places around the world and thinking about peace, and then using clay, created a design on a disc, which were then enlarged and made uniform in bronze. They stand reasonably isolated, and are visible from quite a distance and make quite an impact.
After exploring Nord Kapp, we continued to explore the area, and were taken with Honningsvag, possibly the world's most northern fishing village, and bright and colourful in summer.