Here we go again, back on tour and it started well. Ellie drove me to the airport bus in Ballarat and after a while driving, I realised I had no shoes on (And just a pair of flip flops as spare). To amuse Ellie even more, I fully ripped my pants in the crotch, when entering the bus. It truly made Ellie’s day and I finally understood, why there is a Kathmandu store at the Airport.
Once the plane spits you out at the tiny airport of Alta and you start riding, it is, as if you are part of a postcard. Just outstanding landscape, like Switzerland, just without people and heaps of water. The 24 hours of daylight is just so cool and so confusing. I start riding very early, between 2am and 4am and have the roads completely by myself. If is funny there are quite a few campervans around, but they all do it the opposite way, stay up late and start late.
Because I start so early, I hardly meet people, but this stupid young German bike tourer, that told me “I think it is so great that you still bike tour at your age”. Is he kidding me? I overtook him! But beside this, as far I can see, this is not the country of small-talkers. That does not stop me to yell here and there a hearty “G’day mate” to some random person that is just gardening or so on the side of the road. The reactions have been a bit perplex, but very friendly. I understand the irony, as a German to shout Australian slang in Norway, but after living 19.5 years in ‘Stralia, I have bloody deserved it.
Weather has been a mixed bag, from beautiful sunny tailwind to horizontal rain with a gale straight into your face and a thunderstorm to demoralise. I confess, I am a lightning wimp. Riding my bicycle through electric storms just does not appeal to me. It happened just when I was peddling up some treeless pass and I was scared out of my mind, had a minor crash on some asshole gravel patch but made it alive into the valley. I could not find any decent camp spot, but google map told me that there is an un-norwegian priced hotel nearby, a hotel even I could effort. I rang the owner and he said, there is no staff, but I could stay the night and he will meet me at 4pm, because he is not living there. So, I rode along the shore in pouring rain, until I reached this crazy building (See photo, for dramaturgical reasons in sepia), more a palace, all doors locked and with no sign of any live. When I finally saw this man walking up the drive way, I was absolutely sure I got myself into some kind of “The Shining” or “Locke and Key” situation, but I survived this lightning storm and I was invincible (Though, I still considered sleeping with a knife under the pillow). It turned out to be a complete winner, the man was super nice and this place is a 150-year-old boarding school he is slowly renovating. He gave me the whole tour around the beautiful building that has real history. It was used by members of the resistance in the second world war and the movie “the 12th man” is based on the true story of a man that got hidden there. He also explained the great woodwork and showed me some of the electrical wires, that had been salvaged from the sunken German warship Tirpitz. My room was bright and with wonderful view over the lake. It was only so cheap, because the bathroom was in the hallway… Jeez…. I couldn’t care less; I had thought I must fend of mass murderers in the night.
I continued down south, beautiful roads, all so green, much water and wildflowers galore. Not much traffic, but the Norwegians are anyhow the most bike-friendly drivers. Just a dream to ride your bike. Although it takes some effort, as it hardly flat and we all know how exhausting hills are with a fully loaden touring bike.
Now I am in Tromsø for a rest day, because you need to look after your bum, before you get saddle sore, or you won’t ride for a week. I always wanted to see that place, since I read “The Drifters” by James Michener. Britta was from Tromsø. It was kind of a cult book for me when I was 16. It is basically about a bunch of young people travelling on the Hippie-trail of the 60th and taking heaps of drugs. I read it again a few years ago and thought the whole book is just sexist, stereotypical garbage. Really not worth the read. But Tromsø is still beautiful. The famous cathedral looks, by the way, a bit like the Sydney Opera house and is even more Australian, as it is cladded with corrugated iron.