Nord Norge 2016

North Norway (Troms and Finnmark Counties)
A bit of Finnish Lapland (Kilpisjärvi)
Parts of Northwestern Russia (Russian Karelia and Murmansk Oblast)

Year 2016 has finally been the year I had both the time and the means to make a kind of journey I really always dreamed about. Sure, Sweden and especially Lapland last year were quite nice, but Sweden felt too rushed overall, and Lapland trip, while a completely surreal experience for me, still had a rather limited scope. So I allocated a pretty huge sum of money for the summer of 2016, and booked three vacations in a row at work. And the first one, in July, was going to be the longest. Two weeks, or 16 days, including the preceding weekend.

This time my only companion was my friend Olga. We originally wanted to do a trip to Iceland. We drew up an itinerary and all, but ultimately, decided to go with something else. While in theory we could afford Iceland, the margin for error was going to be rather thin. Plane tickets to Iceland cost a lot, and then of course you have to rent a car there, or you’re not going to see much of Iceland*.

* Actually, there is a way to visit Iceland while driving your own car. There is a ferry line connecting Iceland with Denmark, via Faeroe Islands. The ferry trip is long and costs a fortune too, though, and just driving to Denmark isn’t a very small undertaking in itself. Of course I still want to do this someday too!

Well, our next choice was Northern Norway. We had had only a fleeting experience with Norway before, just enough to know it is utterly amazing and really the most beautiful place on earth. On my Lapland journey I actually drove a bit around a small bit of Northern Norway, but didn’t have the time even for a small bit of hiking. Thus we intended this time to be quite different!

Well, our plan worked out splendidly! It turned out the pace we chose was exactly right, and we drove over 5700 km across Russia, Norway, and Finland without any incident, and we visited nearly all the locations we wanted, with just some two or three exceptions. Even our journey budget ended up being fairly precise!

Our sole means of transportation was the same as in previous year, my ’15 Renault Sandero. I love that car. Well, not literally; I make a point of never becoming attached to any possessions; but it suits me so well. Simple and trusty and reliable, never a single problem in 50,000 km apart from burned-out lightbulbs, and it allowed me to visit so many places — and even the northermost part of Europe now. I really think Renault should pay me something for the marketing!

I ended up taking many thousands of pictures, of course. I’m not even sure how many. The lack of space on my MacBook Pro (well it’s corporate but I can take it anywhere I want) with its 256 GB SSD drive was a very severe concern, and I had to remove duplicates and bad pictures, and process RAW files right on the road. And soon after I got back, my other two vacations followed, so that explains why I began to write things down only four months later.

There are going to be a lot of posts, and I plan to start with a few introductory ones, just telling about the land I saw. Because it’s really an amazing land and the most wonderful place on earth. The rest of the posts will be more chronological.