Norwegian series LAST part 5: ‘Final destination Lofoten’

Hitchhiking in cold and rain, about some drivers and the turn of luck.

Before arriving to Lofoten I didn’t know anything about it. I tend not to ruin my expectations by checking online for pictures or read loads of recommendations… well Tom does that for me. When we arrived I could barely see anything as it was quite a rainy evening. I saw just couple of mountains peaking through the fog.

Already before going on the ferry I noticed that suddenly we were surrounded by several other backpackers. Right after arriving I was a little scared of the competition in hitchhiking but it came out that noone besides us really used that option. Therefore, we got the lift pretty fast. We put the tent up on a wonderful foot of a hill, enjoying a perfect view from each side of the tent. Mountains in one way, waves the other. A-mazing (the name of the place is A). You see what I did there? Yeah…

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Next day after breakfast hitting the road again and hoping to see as much as possible in as little time as possible. Yeah… mission impossible. The lifts did not want to come…. at all!!! We waited quite for a while just to get 7km ride to the next village and to a viewpoint. Why? Everyone said it’s going to be so easy up there and it…. just wasn’t. I have no idea what was the exact reason behind it, though. Even when it was pouring rain we were standing by the road over half an h, cars just passing by. I enjoyed every view we had but I must be honest, it was damn cold to stand on the road with the rain. I reckon it was 10 degrees or so, windy, rainy…. ahh. But I guess that’s what Lofoten looks like most of the year anyways. So, if you are planning to go there, pack some warm and waterproof clothes and lots of patience.

I took couple of pictures in the first view point. The bright colours of the boathouses flattered the wild nature behind it in such an amazing way.  As I said it was damn cold so I don’t have tons of pictures. But enough, I guess. After the first viewpoint we stood on the road again… for a while this time. It just kept pouring rain, cars passing and nothing. We were wearing bright yellow and green to be visible and still nothing. Big backpacks and still nothing. A wide smile and nothing. Until finally a car stopped and gave us a lift  fo 5-10km but those were sooooooo helpful. At this moment I just wanted to get in a car to get warm. As long as possible.

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The next ride was a German-Korean couple on a holiday. We spent good couple of hours with them as they seemed to not mind spending time with us. And who am I kidding, we needed lifts. They were so nice and I really did enjoy the conversations. As it was their last day on the islands, they had already plans and couldn’t drive us too far. But far enough to get us finally going. For some reason this muggy, wet weather suited with the landscape so well. It just didn’t suit my clothes and body temperature.

So with a speed of light we were driving through most of the islands, trying to see as much as one possibly can. One last stop before finding a camping place was Unstad. A lovely beach in a valley. we got a lift from a Finnish physiotherapist working in a town nearby. Of course I used the chance to ask EVERYTHING about studying and working in Norway. Unfortunately, Finland is part of the Northern countries so all the rules that apply to them might not apply to me, Estonian. However, working as a physiotherapist in Norway seemed still like a one damn good plan.

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As always we were looking for a nice quite private place for the tent. What we didn’t know is that during the season it is a mission impossible. There are simply too many tourists and other campers. So yes, we had to share a spot with 3 other tents. Not as romantic as one could prefer but it was still a lovely place. You just need to be aware of where everyone goes to toilet so you do not put your tent anywhere near there. Disgusting people have managed to even ruin Norway. Sad!

The next and also the last day in Lofoten was spent mostly in cars again. Well, in cars or waiting for one. Couple of times we got stuck again, thinking that’s it. We need to walk home. We got lifts from locals, Norwegians on a holiday and even refugees. Now I need to tell you that every single person you meet is not going to be ‘your kind of people’. You do meet occasionally people that you feel like you have known for half of your life already but you also meet people that you do not connect with. And that is okay. We saw a lot of different people with different backgrounds, heritage, culture. Now, one of them…. made me feel so uncomfortable. Well imagine this: You finally get a ride after waiting for couple of hours but the person just gives you a bit weird vibes. I don’t usually take it personally or anything as people are different and we just ‘klick’ with some of them and not with others. So, he was one of those I just couldn’t really understand or ‘klick’ with. Tom was sitting in the front, me on the back seat. Every hitchhiker knows that the one in the front seat usually takes the lead in the conversation and on the backseat you simply answer the questions when asked. This guy, however, kept asking me questions all the time. Even after hearing that we were a couple, he asked me if I wanted to go to the front seat instead to ‘see the better view’. Why? I have no idea. You can see why someone would be a bit confused. Then we made a stop at a viewpoint and again he kept asking me questions like ‘what’s your name?’, ‘what does it mean?’, ‘do you like life?’…. yeah the last one creeped me out. I was like… what? Doesn’t everyone… like… life? And praying he’s not going to kidnap me. Obviously he didn’t. He didn’t make a move either but the questions where so uncomfortable considering we were complete strangers that I just kept wishing to get out of the car. Now, when thinking back to it, I am not sure if it was simply because of his cultural differences or he really was a sleek. The question ‘do you like life’ I cannot defend anyhow, though. Can anyone?

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After terribly short rides in Lofoten we finally got one long one- straight to Narvik. Well, near Narvik. We spent the night 20km from Narvik and decided to check the town next day. Town as any other, to be honest. Would not be a final destination or a reason to go to Norway, for sure. We wanted to have a proper meal in a restaurant for the first time but when seeing the prices and hearing they have no local fish in, we decided not to. Instead, we started hitchhiking towards Lapland.

It was freezing cold and again we just couldn’t catch any rides. We decided to spend the night behind the national park in the woods. For some reason I had an idea stuck to my head and I was too scared to fall asleep. I kept thinking there are bears and as we had fresh fish opened in the tent i was sure they are going to come for us. After looking the seiling of the tent for an hour I decided to google if my fear was reasonable. Well, not sure how evidence based the site was but it said there is no reason to be scared of brown bears in Europe as they are simply more scared of you. Usually, they can smell you way before and simply change their way before you can even see them. Great! Good night!

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One of the main goals for me was to see reindeers. I have always been fascinated by them! Here they are wondering around, doing their own business, occasionally giving you looks. Not sure why this one is white, though. But just look at them! So cute!

The next night we wanted to spend in a warm bed and we managed to find a couchsurfing in Äkäslompolo. Unfortunately, it was a loooooooong way up there and we weren’t sure if we can make it. We made a fast stop in Kiruna. Again nothing special. I think maybe during wintertime the towns would have completely different feeling. It was far in the North and hitchhiking was supposed to be so easy, but it just wasn’t. Again waiting for rides for hours and getting one for maybe 30-40km. It was 11pm, we were standing by the road in the dark, smiling and hoping someone will give us the final 40km lift. And there was noone. NOONE. WHY? So close yet so far. We were wearing yellow?! How dangerous can a person be who wears a yellow raincoat? We were that desperate that we asked the host to come and pick us up for some gas money. And fortunately, she was sooooo kind to really come in the middle of the night and pick up 2 strangers in yellow raincoats. We had lovely time in Äkäslompolo and I for sure would like to go back in winter. I can already see me falling in love with the nature.

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The bad luck, unfortunately, followed us all the way to Rovaniemi. Lifts were short and we had to wait for a long time for one. Of course, I appreciate every single driver that did stop and took us. However, the faith in humanity was restored when we got 900km lift from Rovaniemi to almost Helsinki. That is a long time to spend with someone so I am super thankful for that guy who tolerated us the whole freaking day. With that one lucky ride we made it to Helsinki almost 1 day sooner than expected or planned. Probably if not catching the long ride we would have been in a rush! Oh, and by the way. They tell you on the website and over the phone that in order to change your ferry tickets you need to do it 24h in advance. Yeah, you don’t. Just go to the port and hope for the best. It worked for us.

That’s briefly about everything from our Norwegian trip. As you can see, there is s much going on in every trip that is nearly impossible to write it all down. I might try to find a way to get the stories out without all the unnecessary boring text in between. I just don’t know yet how to do it in order the stories to still make sense. I wish I had wifi and time during the trip already so I could do it in a dairy format. Would that be better? HELP!

All things considered, I sincerely recommend visiting Norway. It’s such an incredible and unique country with a spectacular nature. If you haven’t been there yet, GO! NOW!