The reward for enduring such a disconcerting rollercoaster ride was well worth it as we emerged at the jaw-droppingly beautiful fjord.
Round every corner in Norway is an even more astounding vista than the previous one, framed perfectly by the edges of our windscreen. Due to the commonplace nature of these views we soon became fairly blasé and the en-route in-car photographs mounted up. Occasionally some of the views warranted actually stopping the car and getting out, normally in conjunction with some kind of extreme hill climb that had pushed Bee Bee’s overloaded cooling system to the limit.
For some reason I can’t fathom, Norway has a huge amount of classic American cars. I saw 3 Mustangs, A Dodge Charger, Trans-Am’s, two Chevy Impala’s and countless 70’s Chevy Vans and Pick-Ups.
The American muscle made up for the lack of bear sightings; we did however see plenty of reindeer as we travelled through Scandinavia, we also ate some too. The elusive Elk also remained unspotted, apparently if you are driving the Elk is the last animal you’ll want to see. They stand at least 230 cm tall and when you hit them they spin over and their heavy feet smash through your windscreen. For countries so full of stunning scenery there was a serious lack of wildlife. Emma spotted a Pine-Martin (I know, I’d never heard of one too!) and that was about it!
The other observation that was made during this short period of time is that the Swedes love a spotlight, not surprising when you consider that it is dark here for about 70 days straight in winter. Every car has spotlights from the latest BMW’s to the oldest Volvo’s (of which there are thousands)…But the Swedes don’t just have one extra pair of spotlights or subtle little LED ones hidden away in the bumpers, the chosen amount is three massive individual lights placed in a row between the two main headlights. The larger the diameter the better, 8 inches is not unusual.
With the dark winters, forests and snowy conditions it’s easy to see how this ‘neck of the woods’ creates so many great rally drivers.
Sweden was a bit of a blur as we motored straight through towards Finland and Russia. Travelling east we noticed a distinct change in the people, the Fins are much more serious than the Norwegians and Swedes. In Finland we stopped at a city called Oulo to get a taste of Finnish living. The market there sold a delectable display of traditional Finnish foods including ‘Elk in a Can’ and every kind of Salmon you could imagine. The city also has an odd mocking statue of a rather portly policeman, I had the obligatory photograph stood next to the little fella.
We randomly came across a great campsite near the Russian border and decided one last shower would be needed before our crossing. The campsite was so great in fact that we decided to stay two nights so we could really kick back and relax. The hammock got an outing and as we were in Finland we decided to test out the campsites Sauna followed by jumping naked into the freezing lake.
It was at this campsite we met a lovely Finnish couple who gave us all the advice we needed on Russia. The advice didn’t actually make me feel anymore confident about our impending crossing. The area we were about to cross into was bear country, we’re likely to get robbed; possibly at gun point and no one is going to talk English. On the plus side though the area we choose to cross was a quiet border and so it would likely take just a few hours…