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(as for the blog, that's not been updated in a long time, we're too busy laying about in the sun and sipping cocktails and the like...)
Below you will find our blog, brimming with intercultural observations and witticisms we either thought were good enough to share or were all we could remember about said topic.
From the contents section you can see a our other favourite bits and pieces, info on our van
, and of course loads of photos from our trip.
There's also a section where you can recommend places
for us to go so please do.
Lee and Tara
Turku is Finland's ancient capital. Unfortunately, most of the original buildings were destroyed in a fire some centuries ago so little remains of the old town. It is, however, like Helsinki, very flat, which made for an excellent afternoon of cycling. All those calories burnt and I decided it was time for some ice cream. Pear flavour! Had to try it, was quite nice but didn't taste like pears.
We found an amazing marketplace though and stocked up on fresh fruit and vege. We ended up with a load of cherries, strawberries, grapes and nectarines for next to nothing. I am eating them presently!
From Turku, we boarded the Viking line ferry this morning bound for Stockholm. Only 11 hours but may be enough to get the website updated!
Most importantly, I managed to acquire some reindeer salami! I've not opened the pack yet but reports will follow.
We spent three days in Helsinki and we both really loved this city. There is an interesting mix of architecture due to influences from Sweden and Russia, as well as super modern stuff and the weather was really nice whilst we were there.
Everyone was friendly and spoked better English than we and we managed to find a free parking spot in town for the duration of our stay which is always a bonus.
We rode around the entire place, taking in all the sites and spend Sunday veging out on the grass at the World Village festival. I felt really out of place as my tie-die leather sandals were in the wash.
The journey south continued to Sovonlinna. We decided to stop here so we could see the town's medieval castle from 1475 which by all accounts is one of the most beautiful in Finland. Schmeh... It was ok but there wasn't much to do there (we completed the walking tour of the town in less than an hour) so we left later that day.
Oh the Euro, how we've missed you so!
We spent a day driving south east along the border with Sweden. This area of Finland is called Lapland and is inhabited by Reindeer, giant hares, and the local indigenous population, the Sami.
We didn't see any Sami however Hare and Reindeer where aplenty!
Along the way we ran out of tread on our front left tyre (it seems there is too much positive camber) so we stopped to get it changes. To prevent this happening again we're going to get a wheel alignment in Germany where it will be cheaper.
After a day's driving in a straight line we had made it to central Finland and we spent the night just outside Oulu, Finland's northern capital.
After a twelve hour drive we finally arrive in Tromso. Its a strange feeling as it's late at night and still as bright as an afternoon. Were so far North that in Summer it never gets dark, apparently the locals mow their lawns at 3am and save their sleep for the Winter,its definitely different I can't say I've ever seen people walking their dogs and jogging at 1am before.
To see the Midnight Sun we took the cable car to the top of one of the mountains that skirt the city.
The view from the top is amazing, its surreal to see a city/town surrounded on all side by snow capped mountains.
It was pretty spectacular and well worth braving the cold wind for. The weather here is cold but definitely not as cold as you would expect in the Arctic Circle.
We're told that because of the Gulf Stream they have pretty good summers here and sure enough on the day that we leave for the long drive to Finland the sun comes out and you can't even feel a breeze.....we've been sleeping in our thermals for the last two nights!!
The Lofoton islands are regarded as the most beautiful place in Norway and it is difficult to disagree. After crossing the Arctic Circle north of Molde, we decided to take the ferry there from Bodo.
The landscape is bleak and severe. Unfortunately it was overcast and cold the day we drove the length of the archipelago however I still thought the trip was worth it! Here are the pics - I'll admit I went a little panorama crazy!
As you continue North, the landscape continually changes. We followed the road from Molde to "the Great Atlantic Highway". It's a road out in the middle of the water that links all these islands together. It's supposed to be one of the engineering feats of the 21st century and spectacular etc.
I can confirm that it was spectacularly disappointing and a great waste if time. Talk about underwhelming!
Defiantly not worth the detour but onto Bodo we go!
Travel in Norway is slow at thhe best of times. There are no motorways to speak of, the terrain does not permit it. You can't even pull over most of the time as the road is blasted from the rock with nothing on either side but intractable land.
We took the windiest roads we could find, avoiding motorways and hugging the beautiful fjords the whole way North. The road is interrupted every few kilometres with a ferry across the fjord to the next segment of road. The photos below are of some of Norway's most spectacular fjords and some of England and Australia's prettiest people too!
Bergen one of the rainiest places in the world. Luckily, it only rained MOST of the time we were there!
The centre is by the sea and the burbs are built into the surrounding hills, lots of pretty wooden houses. When we arrived it was National Day and everyone (and I mean everyone, even otherwise rebellious teenagers and first generation Norwegians were decked out in national costume. The level of participation was crazy!
We decided to celebrate National Day with the Norwegians so we went to grab a beer on the board walk. One beer and one cider please. £13.70! I winced as I drew my rapidly lightening wallet. It was local beer too!
We spent three days making the journey across to Bergen. This is largely due to some unfortunate timing (like arriving to see the only ferry for the day pulling away and then the following day, not getting from said ferry to the motorway entrance before the road was closed for the day!)
The longest tunnel in the world runs from Laerdalsoyri to Gudvangan. We really wanted to avoid this tunnel, taking the ferry through the fjords, the old fasioned way, so we could take in the scenery. Unfortunately, as we were a little ahead of the tourist season, the only crossing was at 8:30am and we weren't going to hang about until the next morning. So we did end up driving through the 30+km tunnel, which was fairly unnerving. It was a baptism of fire; Norway has more tunnel than you can possibly imagine!