Monday, 30 June 2008
Midnight sun in Andenes
Everything seemed to go really well today. I left Nigel and Ingvild Turrell's cabins at 9 o'clock, my earliest start of the month, with the weather overcast but www.yr.no promising improvement during the day - which indeed I soon felt because by 10.00 I was changing out of my woolen Icebreaker top for the first time in four or five days, and into a short sleeved shirt. I was curious - as were all the other tourists staying at Andøya Friluftlivsenter - as to what the function was of the tall wood-boarded funnel shaped buildings next door to the hut I was staying in. Initially I decided they might be huge composting bins (15 metres tall) but eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the near one to find out ... it turns out to be a wooden roundhouse for feasting inside, with a large open fireplace in the center and reindeer-fur rugs on wooden trestles all the way around the circumference. I'd almost decided before opening the door that, given the number of times it was being pulled open by inquisitive visitors, it could be attached to a dynamo to generate power for the center. Inside it was dark, smoke-black, and primeval ... large dried cod-heads swinging in the shaft of sunlight lighting up the fireplace.
The rest of the ride today was fine, gentle with few hills, but a little tough at times later as the breeze picked up. It's a very quiet road up the west side of Andøya with just the odd bobil and some lovely white beaches. I'll upload some pictures when I've gathered a few more.
In the end I covered 74 km today in just over 5 hours, which tells you something about the headwind - without it, I was contentedly cruising at 22 kph, but when I came around a bend into it my speed dropped to 9kph.
Andenes is famous for its rocket testing ground - I saw only one, mostly as a peculiar vertical contrail in the sky five kilometers away, with a "pop" at the end of the flight. This side of the island is also studded with radio listening posts and radar domes - so there's obviously sensitive military work going on here too.
I've met several other cycle-tourists today, including a tall but whippet-thin Norwegian from Bergen with a name like Åtler (? must check) who is riding a gorgeous Thorn Raven Tour (the later model of the bike I have) from the North Cape to Lindesnes, the furthest southern point of Norway, in five weeks. We exchanged details of good places to stay and took photographs of each other's bike for good measure. Sensibly, he is traveling with half the weight that I have.
Andenes camping (where I'm staying tonight) is fine - the tent is again at the top of a spectacular white beach, and this time the campsite has a shower block and toilets just a few minutes walk away. Other people are very friendly and those with dogs are keeping them a respectful distance away from my tent.
At the moment I'm planning to watch the midnight sun (perfect evening for it), and tomorrow I'll try to catch the 13:00 ferry to Senja after getting enough cash out to see me through a week of travel in areas with no cashpoint machines... or supermarkets.