to Norway and Finland
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Oh is as good to have water again! And whilst it looks
like it may rain so far it is fine.
It's also good not to have to be checking the e-mails
every day to see where we have to be to try to get the
motorhome fixed, the only deadline is being in Estonia
on the first of August.
So we packed up the motorhome, filled up with water, did
all the washing of the clothes, dumped the wash water
and the toilet and we were on our way. I'm not quite sure
on what system the German and Norwegian washing machines
work but the minimum cycle seems to be 90 minutes, something
to remember if you think you'll be doing better with a
continental washing machine.
We drove off into Tromso, parked up the motorhome, and
went on a sightseeing tour around the city with one of
those tractor pulled trains things! Not a very big city,
but that we knew, it is the largest city north of the
Arctic Circle in Norway and has a population of about
But in the sightseeing tour we did around the city we
saw three large portrait studios, on the ground floor,
with wonderful window display, when was of the Fame chain,
when was the Portrait Art, the other large colour lab
in Norway, and one was a local photographer, they were
all of about equal size, and all had good quality work
in their windows, they must be doing something right in
Norway to have such a viable photographic business, or
maybe they still have family values which could go along
with my thing about outboard motors on boats!
After spending some time looking at these three photographers
we set off to a shopping centre where Luda had an appointment
for a haircut, haircut only at the cost of NZ$104, to
me who spends $10-$15 a haircut that seemed expensive.
After that we set on our way back up Route 80 towards
E6 and before we got to E6 as it had started raining at
about 4 p.m. and it was almost torrential we pulled over
into a car park for the night. We are at 69.22°N
We set off towards Alta in light rain driving through
typical Norway scenery of fjord's, mountains, waterfalls,
tunnels, a beaut photograph around every corner, and all
of those other sort of boring things.
We started looking for a place to camp about 60 kilometres
out of Alta, and found a large layby area within 10 kilometres
placing us 50 kilometres out of Alta. By the time it should
have been dark there were about seven motorhomes extra
over the three that were there when we arrived. Sunset
today was behind a large mountain So we have no idea as
to whether the sun actually disappeared or not, it was
certainly quite light around midnight, unfortunate that
is no indication. It was also a nice almost clear night
so it was the type weather we wish for at the North Cape.
It is interesting to observe the other day a group of
Norwegians talking to each other and the amount of personal
space the left around each other so they were quite spread
out. It is often said where people have to be packed in
tight light for example Japan on the metro, when they
talk they stand in a tight group, where as people that
live in Norway, or other countries with a large amount
of space, they have a very loose group. So working on
this theory, people in New York would talk together in
a tight group where as people from Wyoming would stand
about 4 to 5 feet away from each other. Interesting thoughts!
We were camped at 70.08°N with fine weather all night
Monday, July 10, 2006
This morning was a good morning, fine, a few clouds, but
quite a lot of sunshine. Just the sort of day we ordered
for North Cape.
We drove towards Alta, saw the Tripitz Museum so we decided
to go in to see what they have there, watched a 20 minute
film on the sinking of the Tripitz, caught up on a little
bit of history, and then continued our way to Alta.
On arrival there we filled up with diesel, water, and
food and then headed off towards North Cape about 250
kilometres away. Our Microsoft Auto Route looked like
it had finished showing roads about 150 kilometres from
North Cape but I had not gone down to a large magnification
to see what they considered to be secondary roads to do
the planning. So we did the old-fashioned way by following
the road sign's.
They now have a tunnel seven kilometres long that runs
under the sea to get from the mainland to the island,
they treat the tunnel just like a ferry and so much as
they charge you a fee for driving both ways, and for how
many passengers you have in your vehicle. There was another
four kilometre tunnel after that and then the other tunnels
were not worth mentioning.
We drove straight to North Cape and put paid a fee of
195 kroner each to enter So we parked in a relatively
level area amongst lots of other motorhomes.
They quote North Cape as being 71°10'21" however
the area that we have parked in comes in at 71.16°N
which I suppose is almost close enough!
As we were walking over to the visitors centre we counted
all of the buses that we could see and we got up to 42
buses, the most distant ones we can identify were from
Spain and Geneva, I presumably these were on 14 or 21
day tours from their point of origin with North Cape being
on the itinerary. Doing a rough calculation we estimated
there were at least 2000 people there at midnight, most
nights, waiting to see the magical midnight sun.
Well it started raining, the clouds moved over the sky
and come midnight no sun to be seen, talking to a German
girl that had been working in the restaurant for 60 days
she said we were luck that we could see something, she
had seen the sky clear four times since she had been there,
4 times out of 60 that is 6.7% chance you have of seeing
the midnight sun or to put it a different way you have
a excess of 90% chance of seeing nothing.
We stayed the night in the car park with dozens of other
motorhomes, with the wind genteelly rocking us to sleep,
sometimes it was not too gentle……
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Now we know what the German girl meant when she said we
were luck to see something, this morning it was raining,
fog had come down and the wind was blowing with strong
gusts, you can see for about 20 meters…..
I realised just how strong that the fog was when I went
to leave the parking area and quite frankly I could not
find the entrance, nor can I find the large visitors centre,
I had barely the 20 metre visibility and it had not been
for the GPS I would not have found their way out for some
time (I could see where I had entered with the Blue line
that was recorded on the map). It was then just a matter
of driving slowly down the road until we lost a little
bit of altitude and the way became slightly clearer, we
pasted lot of vehicles heading towards the North Cape,
and I'm not quite sure what they would do once they got
there, you have no idea where you are parking, and once
parked you have no idea where the visitors centre was,
I guess you keep walking until you had found a fence and
then start following that in one direction, if that does
not work try going the other direction!
Well now on the downhill road towards Finland, I guess
it will be downhill because that is the way it looks on
We drove back towards the mainland through the tunnel
under the ocean, out of open land it was quite a job keeping
the motorhomes on the road with strong wind gusting, once
back on the mainland the wind slowly lost its velocity
and the further we drove the better the weather became.
At the last major town before the border we filled up
with diesel and used the last of our Norwegians money
on what you would call junk food.
It is interesting that there were three petrol stations
in this town, two have closed down, very recently as the
pumps are still there with the paper sign pasted over
the dial, this is what you really call rationalisation.
We spent the night in quiet layby about 40 kilometres
from the Finnish border 69.77°N, we parked there for
the night, and as the evening wore on the sky became bluer
and bluer over Finland which made us think were heading
in the right direction, the night might even be an ideal
evening to see the midnight sun if the mountains do not
get in the way, if the weather is like this at North Cape
2000 people will get a wonderful viewing.
The Microsoft Auto Route has no streets in the top two
thirds of Finland, and the Tom Tom navigator is not interested
in that area either, so it looks like we're back to the
good old paper maps, will be interesting using those again.
Midnight, with everything in daylight, we climbed a small
hill that was on the other side of the road from the motorhome,
and there was the sun well above the horizon, so we did
many exposures and then escaped back inside the motorhome
away from those dam mosquito's, and then we guessed it
was time for bed.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
This morning it was raining and carried on in that format
for the rest of the day. We drove the 60 K. to the Finnish
border, and then started driving down almost deserted
road towards the first area that people are gathered together
to form a town. I headed straight for an ATM machine,
and discovered that Finland was on the Euro, this was
interesting because the exchange calculator that I found
on the Internet was very happy quote in Finnish marks.
Euro is certainly makes it much simpler, then we headed
for the Sami museum, that was part of the northern Lapland
Of course the northern part of Finland is called Lapland
and these people that are related to the Eskimo, the American
Indian, and all the others in this large group of people.
We moved on South, stopping at a petrol station to buy
some water, 2 for a hundred litres, then we started
looking for a layby to spend the night in, we found one
at 68.51°N so we are camped in amongst some trees
and are just this moment getting some sunshine.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Another wet day, so we carried on driving south in varying
degrees of rain, down mainly straight roads, with on either
side, large forests, occasionally this would change in
a large lake would appear, although looking at the map
nothing like we will see in the South which has thousands
The traffic is very light with a mere fraction of the
motorhomes we pass travelling through Norway, I guess
with the flat land which is Finland and the large forests
that the fraction of what there is to see in Norway. We
are still North of the Arctic Circle and is quite common
to see reindeer grazing on the side of the road, after
that first 20 or 30 reindeer you just shrug your shoulders
and say it just another B.... Reindeer!
We are camped in another layby on the side of the road
near Vuojärvi 67.08°N yes we will cross the Arctic
Circle sometime tomorrow.
Our current position in Finland allows us to receive CNN
on the satellite, but almost no other stations in English.
Friday, July 14, 2006
A beautiful fine day-to-day with plenty of sunshine so
we carried on heading south through the never-ending forests
of Finland, with yet to reach the lakes district but we
are seeing a few lakes as we travel south.
We carried on South and reached the Artic Circle and the
large commercial enterprise centred on Father Christmas,
there were so many shops selling souvenirs I think the
old bearded man would have been able to fill his Christmas
sack to the top for all the children of the world.
Travelling on South we happened to see a sign pointing
to the right and it was the Finnish word for museum, which
fortunately looks almost the same in any language, so
we decided to do a quick trip down to see what was in
happened to be the "Pudasjärvi local history
and culture Museum" which was as official name and
what it actually was, was a collection of old houses re-erected
on the one site from all over the district and then they
were filled with objects that you see in the timeframes
of the houses, it was an extremely interesting collection,
irreplaceable at this point of time, and the writers mind
very susceptible to fire because of the old wooden houses,
which would make an irreplaceable loss.
On our way back to the main road we came across a delightful
setting in the trees with many roads running through them
on to the lake, so we camped in amongst the trees near
Lake near Pudasjärvi at 65.39°N.
Another beautiful fine day and we carried on down through
the forests travelling south, if anyone is allergic to
trees, they will need to leave Finland out of their intenery.
We're starting to see more evidence of civilisation than
we did two days ago but still there is not a large density
Finland is 1.27 times the area of New Zealand and has
one person per square kilometre more in population. However
if you compare Finland to Holland Finland has eight times
the land and Holland has 24 times the density of population.
We camped on a layby on the side of Highway 6 near Vihtasuo
Sunday, July 16, 2006
A beautiful fine hot day, with a clear blue sky, just
the day to sit in a nice location by lake watch the rest
of the world go by, but it was not to be as we could not
find such a location.
We did find our way, eventually, to a Russian Orthodox
monastery that was way back in the boonies, it was very
interesting to see all the other cars there from quite
a few different countries.
From there we again looked for the ideal location beside
a Lake, but gave up in the end and went to motor camp
and did our washing. It was beside a Lake but of course
there was no camping near the Lake. No they did not have
Internet, and they have not heard of having a wireless
This morning I asked if there was a Internet cafe in the
city, I was told to ask the information office, which
I did, no they did not know of an Internet cafe, and when
I asked if the Internet and reached Finland they said
Oh you may find something in the library! It's interesting
to note the various countries and their involvement in
the Internet, Finland is one of those that is not up with
So we filled up with diesel and were on our way towards
a Castle on a Lake but we found this interesting layby
beside a Lake, the sun was shining so we decided to spend
the rest of the day there.
Luda pulled out the fishing rod and proceeded to start
catching some small fish, she was storing them in a bucket
of water and after there were about five in the bucket
I noticed a seagull fly to the roof motorhome, sat on
my satellite dish, and a few moments later I heard a splash
in a lot of activity of the fish swimming about and I
looked out at the bucket and found there were only four
left swimming around, the seagull was a good fishermen.
Those four made a good evening meal for Luda.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
We headed out a wet morning onto one Finlands deserted
roads, a lot of the roads seem to have less traffic than
the South Island, but I guess that will change the closer
to Helsinki. The wet weather stayed with us all-day with
the rain disappearing about five o'clock.
A first port of call today was Savonlinna and the largest
castle in Scandinavia, they had tour guides and most of
the major languages, I was with a group of English speakers,
and was there about 12 in the group only four were from
an English-speaking country.
Being finally in a town that was large enough to have
bank, and being there during the week, I was able to try
to change my Finnish marks into euro's, no they were not
interested, they suggested a try again in Helsinki.
So was back on the road again to Kerimäki about 23
kilometres away, and the largest wooden church in the
world! It was quite impressive but did need some major
money being spent on the outside, the Finnish weather
is not kind to old buildings like this once the paint
is a little bit thin.
The camped again in a layby at 61.77°N near Punkaharju.
We carried on South without the Microsoft auto route working,
the GPS receiver was not recognised by the software.
So we carried on through some cities going in some circles
because we did not know where we were all where we were
going to me and we travelled on South to Kouvola and checked
into a campground, yes they had Internet, yes with the
plug our laptops into their server, Luda was good with
her e-mail from the Russian address, myself with the good
old New Zealand address with Xtra was not so fortunate.
I been holding onto my flash.photo address and putting
up with some years receiving telecom accounts for hundreds
of dollars for overseas connections, and not being able,
in other cases, to even log on to Xtra, and I feel after
October the Xtra has got to stop.
I can download all my spam mail from a Ukraine e-mail
address, but I can get nothing from my Xtra address so
when I get back to New Zealand will be time to find another
Finally I was able to get all my e-mail by going into
the Internet connection, forwarding all of my letters
to my Ukraine address, going into outlook express and
downloading my Ukrainian mail, why does it have to be
Thursday, July 20, 2006
We carried on South with another fine day driving South
to Kotka and after driving around in circles for about
an hour getting nowhere we carried on South to Porvoo
where we visited with a Finnish friend I first met in
'72 when he was part of a Rotary study group that came
to Pukekohe, we spent on enjoyable evening with them,
they are just arrived back from northern Finland visiting
friends, so we caught up on our lives since we last met.
We spent the night near a boat Marina a few yards from
their house. Hopefully tomorrow we may get a replacement
GPS receiver in Helsinki if my phone calls in the morning
Friday, July 21, 2006
We did not need an alarm clock this morning, a contractor
decided today was the day to cut a fence with a motordriven
chainsaw. Kari (who was also woken) told me that it was
against the bylaws, that the neighbours were on holiday
and ordered the wrok to be done whilst they were away.
Kari have some good news for me, he had found a GPS receiver
and gave me the address, also told me that I could get
my 340 Finnish marks converted into Euros at his bank.
We left Kari & Pirjo having breakfast and headed into
Porvoo and receive 57 for my efforts. We then headed
off for Helsinki and the address where we would get the
We arrived at the address, found its was the distributor,
with the office staff all on holiday, and of course the
door was locked, and on notice in Finnish on the door.
Just then a young guy came up the steps, yes he could
speak English, told me everything was closed, asked what
did I want, I told him, he has come in I will get it for
you, evidently he was the guy that Kari had been talking
to. That was all sorted out and about 30 minutes, the
80 was paid and again we are on our way.
It was good to have the Microsoft Auto Route working again,
with its you have much broader picture has to where you
were able to go and what landmarks etc were on the route.
We decided to drive to Turku (the old capital and a 13th
century old city) and did so on the motorway, in rain,
and arrived at Ruissalo motor camp very close to the city
on an island that you accessed by a bridge. The camp site
was large, unorganised in so much you could camp anywhere,
there was no electricity available and the toilets etc
were not up to normal standard.
With rain over night it turned out to be a fine morning
when we drove into Turku and parked our van in a two hour
parking area. We then went for a walk along the river
front the area that the old city spread out from. We did
not see the one house from the 13th century, but did have
a look at the very large building they called a castle!
Now, My castles have high walls, often on top of a hill
and a moat around them with areas at the top to tip boiling
water or pitch onto the invaders, and not just a very
large building on the flat beside the river.
So after this with the Auto Route we planned our return
to Helsinki via secondary roads to take us through a little
bit of countryside. We stopped the night and another layby
just passed the town of Perniö at 60.16°N.
We woke this morning to find we were out of gas in the
refillable LPG cylinder, so we switched over to the German
compressed gas cylinder and that I worked out that with
wild camping in the large refrigerator we have a 20L bottle
lasts 19 days, which is not very impressive at this point
It was another fine day as we set off for Hanko on the
most southerly tip of Finland, a lot of vehicles go from
this southerly city to the German port of Rostock, had
a beautiful beach on the Baltic Sea, a Sea that I am led
to believe is a very cold Sea, but looked good with a
golden sands and the people sunbathing today.
We then completed the journey on into Helsinki, went straight
to the Ferry office, yes they had my reservation, but
it was only for a small van, and I was on standby, I raised
eyebrows at this, and perhaps my voice, tried to get an
earlier sailing, but everything was full, so I was lucky
that I had made the booking instead of my normal fronting
up and hoping for the best. The fee for the motor home
and two passengers was a 103 so without being able
to go earlier we were not able to spend five days in Estonia,
so we decided to head back up into central Finland.
All this time Luna has been photographing the churches
of Finland so whenever we see a sign on the side of the
road signifying there is a church close by we turn the
corner and start looking for the next one for Luda to
photograph. Today was a record day with seven churches,
which is a sort of appropriate being a Sunday.
The first thing I want to do was fill up the empty gas
cylinder if I could, and started going round garages asking
about an LPG, this presented a problem has none of the
sweet young girls in the service station had a clue as
to what I was talking about. Finally I found one that
decided to get on to the telephone and I came up with
two addresses. We headed off to the most likely one and
looked like they might be a possibility of some action
there during normal business hours so we will try that
We then headed to another motor camp closer to the LPG
centre and at least this one has electric hookups!
Monday, July 24, 2006
We were at the LPG centre of good and early, however they
could not help us but sent us to a location 57 kilometres
away to a place called "Presto Centre" PL40,
Kuninkaantie 7, 08100 Lohja, Ph 358 (0)19 340 451. We
got there using Microsoft Auto Route, and yes, they could
fill my LPG tank, and started doing so, and they were
clouds of LPG gas spreading all around the gas Cabinet
and down onto the ground.
So I carefully opened the gas Cabinet and saw the LPG
gas pouring out of the hose that was between the bottle
and the charging valve.
Pekka said your hose is shot, the only thing that stops
the gas escaping from the cylinder is the charging valve,
This has a one-way valve and on the hose side of the valve
the tank is completely open. Therefore with the hose being
shot all of the gas that was in my bottle leaked out into
the atmosphere, and as the gas is heavier than air would
have collected underneath the Gas Cabinet and possibly
underneath the motor home.
As I discovered I had no gas Sunday morning I presumably
hose gave out when I closed the gas Cabinet after turning
the bottle on, on Saturday evening.
This Gaslow system was purchased in England at the PeterBorough
motorhome show, and the guy fitting it from a company
called C. M. R. Ltd. He told me every time I closed the
gas Cabinet make sure I tucked the hose up and did not
get kinked, which I have been doing faithfully for the
last three months.
The system of course with either badly designed or badly
installed as the hose was an accident waiting to happen
and I am just lucky that I was not on a Ferry or in a
crowded motor camp when the hose decided to let the 10
litres of gas escape.
What does it take to cause a explosion? A cigarette butt,
a match, starting the motorhome?
I hope the others who have had the same type of installation
done, are as lucky.
It's interesting to note that their advertising slogan
is "Be sure…… Be Safe ….. fit a Gaslow"
Then it was a matter of chasing around trying to get something
as an alternative to the hose, which I had no intention
of fitting again, so I went back towards Helsinki 15 kilometres
and spent 90 minutes with a company that specialised in
gas fittings and hydraulic fittings. They tried everything
in finally came up with three fittings to take the place
of the hose so the valve was " hardwired" to
Then it was back to the Presto Centre to get the tank
filled, and to tighten up the fittings so that there was
no gas leaks, I'm not sure I got the full 20 litres that
I paid for, because their filling gear was so old, I'm
just thankful that I got the thing fixed and some gas
in the tank in a system by which I can travel safely,
and have the tank filled safely.
Well after all that excitement was over, we headed up
the centre of Finland winding our way through back roads,
which without GPS we would have never seen. We stopped
for the night on a dead end road, that was in the middle
of a wheat field, which will eventually turned into, I
guess, a housing development. We are about 35 kilometres
from Tampere, were heard thunder for the last 30 minutes,
and now we are getting very large drops of rain so I hope
it gets tired of rain by the morning.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Has been a beautiful fine day all day-to-day as we drove
towards Kuopio, on the way we stopped off to photograph
a few churches, and in the first church that had a variety
of large wooden crosses placed at all different angles,
and about two metres off the ground there were about 30
photographs of faces from around the world, the purpose
of which we were unable to ascertain. We also found a
directory, that was available for visitors, that listed
every church of every denomination in Finland. In this
directory is about 1030 churches and Luda is disappointed
as she only has 120 photographs of churches, is rather
fortunate that we have to go to Estonia on the 30th otherwise
we would be wandering all over Finland to get the other
We arrived at Kuopio and as this is part of the Finnish
map that is not on the Auto Route we got promptly lost,
but managed to fudge our way to the wharf where we checked
up on the launch trips and found were on the wrong day
for most of them. So we went out for a one half hour cruise
round the Kallavesi Lake, I noticed Luda did not take
very many photographs and for me the boat trip was not
quite as exciting as a game of cricket.
With no other launch trips in the offering the decided
to head south to Mikkeli and tonight we have camped in
a layby that has a wrecked restaurant in a diesel truck
refilling station. We are at 62..49°N near Leppävirta
and we drove as far north as 62.91°N
Today was another beautiful by day, we found a delightful
road that wound its way through the lakes of Finland,
this part of the country has thousands of lakes, the only
unfortunate thing was that whilst the lakes looked like
they were right on the edge of the road, when you drove
the road because of the scale of the map often they were
50 or more metres from the road with heavy forestation
hiding the lakes, so what you ended up doing was driving
down a long corridor of trees occasionally seeing a Lake
when a bridge had been built over the centre of it. Nevertheless
it was a beautiful part of the country.
This lower part of Finland is very heavily populated,
(if that is the correct word) with speed cameras, every
three to 10 kilometres you have another speed camera,
every time you enter and 80 kilometre per hour speed zone
a hundred metres later you have speed camera. Just how
many of the speed cameras mountings actually have a camera
and behind them is another point that I was not prepared
to consciously find out which once were loaded.
We to drove through Varkaus and then on to Juva utilising
Ludas Church directory for her to update their collection
of churches. We eventually arrived at Mikkeli were visited
the Fiat agent to see if I could get a 20,000 kilometre
service but like ever Fiat garage I've called on they
need two weeks notice.
We spent the evening in a layby near Joutsa
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Our objective today was to reach Helsinki 286 K away with
the Route we had planned past seven churches. It was a
nice fine day for this drive and we reach Helsinki and
5 p.m. and the motor camp about 20 minutes later. This
camp was slightly closer to the city than the last one
we visited a few days ago, slightly better organised,
but quite surprising in so much as they don't have a public
telephone, they do have wireless Internet but only available
for an area about 20 metres around the registration area
and the maximum time you can buy is 30 minutes. It is
however close to the Metro station which takes you into
the centre of the city.
So we went on line to download our e-mails, and this is
another situation where you can download e-mails that
you, for some reason, cannot send them.
Luda received some distressing news in so much that one
of her twin daughters had been in intensive care for last
five days. Now with no telephones at the camp we had to
walk to the local shopping centre to use the one telephone
that was there and Luda rang Rostov and found out that
the doctors could not diagnose what Olga's problem was.
This, naturally, did not leave Luda very happy so we decided
that she would go home to Rostov tomorrow to watch over
Friday, July 28, 2006
We were up reasonably early and caught a taxi to the airport
and started checking up on the ways in which Luda could
get to Rostov today. Finally we found a SAS flight that
flew to Stockholm and then an hour later a flight to Moscow
and finally three hours later a Aeroflot flight to Rostov.
She left about 12 o'clock midday and arrives home 12 hours
I took a lonely the bus ride back into the city, visited
a bookstore and bought three computer books, and then
the Metro back to the camping ground.
A will catch up on some reading until Sunday morning when
I catch the Ferry to Estonia and meet up with the German
tour of Russia on the 1st August.
This ends the European -- Scandinavian part of this tour
in the next part will be the tour through Russia and the
Ukraine, unfortunately without my copilot and photographer
sitting beside me for most of the trip.
In the last 109 days we have travelled 18,300 kilometres
used 1841 litres of diesel costing NZ$4680. The most expensive
country for fuel was England NZ$2.99. per litre, and the
cheapest was Finland at NZ$2.11. per litre.