From Tallinn we enter Finland by ferry. In Helsinki we are overwhelmed by good vibes. Everyone is outside and having fun. Walking, cycling, skating, practicing yoga and playing football. People are very friendly and helpful. This is only the beginning of our journey cycling through super hospitable Finland.
Knocking on people's doors again
Finland is very expensive in terms of living. When we do our groceries for the first time, we are shocked when we see the bill. Beer and wine prices are sky high. Not to mention having one in a bar. We reduce our costs by knocking on people's doors to ask for a place for the night, like we used to do.
In the beginning it’s a bit awkward again, but most Finns are open to receive us. We can pitch our tent in the garden and one of the thousands of lakes are within reach to have a private bath with nice lukewarm water. Within no time we are often asked whether we like sauna.
In remote areas where there is no electricity, the sauna is used as a bathroom. There are bowls and buckets with warm, lukewarm and cold water. There’s soap and shampoo. Many Finns don’t have one, but several saunas. It is said they build the sauna first and then the house.
Camping in the rain
In Finland we meet very nice people. What's worse than cycling in bad weather? Camping in the rain. On a few rainy days we are very lucky. At a farm we are offered to sleep one night in a chalet. On a next wet day we can spend the night in a summer house.
Peeing in the wild with many mosquitoes
Finland is a big country with relatively few inhabitants. You cycle along thousands of lakes and millions of trees. The blue lakes and all that greenery are beautiful. But all those mosquitoes are terrible. Some days we aren’t that lucky to have an outdoor toilet. Peeing and pooping in the wild is a no go. Your buttocks and private parts are directly attacked by hundreds of mosquitoes. Deet helps a little, but going to the toilet in peace is different.
Not only we, but also the reindeer and moose don’t like all these mosquitoes. They flee out of the woods, where most of the mosquitoes are, and head for the road. Especially in the remote areas in Lapland we get to see a lot of reindeer.
They are like cows, kept inside in winter and playing outside in summer. But they have a much larger “meadow". The Finns drive carefully. They know the deer and moose can cross the road. You don't want to hit such a big animal.
1 year on the road
In Viitasaari we celebrate the 1st year of our world bicycle tour.
We are having an interview with L1.
179 cycling days 110 invitations
12,785 km 51 camping spots
104,434 altimeters 205 other accommodations
21 countries 314 showers
186 rest days
6 flat tires, 5 brake pads and 9 repairs.
On June 15 we meet Anne-Maria and her mother. We have a nice chat and they offer us to stay in Rovaniemi for a few nights. Coincidentally, we arrive in Rovaniemi a few days before Midsummer Night. Traditionally, the summer solstice is celebrated on this day. Nowadays, friends and family go to a summer cottage, away from the city, to party or relax. So do Anne-Maria and her mother. The apartment is free for us to use.
We enjoy this nice apartment with sauna to the fullest. A few days of rest and celebrating our wedding anniversary on June 24. We have been married for 3 years. A special day in a special place. Rovaniemi is located exactly on the Arctic Circle. The term arctic comes from the Greek word “Arktikos” = land of the great bear. This refers to the Great Bear constellation, which can be seen all year round in the north.
On June 24, the Pleiades are also visible again. In Inca mythology, these symbolize the place where we come from and return to.
Sámi in Suomi
Before continuing towards the North Cape, we visit the Arktikum, a science center and museum. There is a lot of information about the Sámi. The originally nomads living in Lapland. The indigenous people regard man as part of nature. All elements, such as vegetation, minerals and animals, are perceived in the same way. It is defined as animistic: every element of nature has a soul.
Never sleep no more
We had a good rest in Rovaniemi to continue our journey. We got used to the 24/7 daylight. We sleep through it. The dark months aren't that bad either, according to the Finns we met. There are 4 hours of daylight in winter and the snow in October to May makes the other hours less dark.
Above the Arctic Circle to the border of Norway
But first we have to cross the border. We meet many cyclists going the other way. Two friends and 1 couple had to go back because they are not allowed to cross the border. They live in Helsinki, which is a red Covid zone and they are not yet fully vaccinated. The border is closed to tourists.
When we arrive at the border, the officers immediately ask if we are fully vaccinated. As we aren’t, we need to register ourselves online. We declare working voluntarily for Foundation XPLORid which has a societal function in nature and environment. We can cross!!
North Cape, here we come!
We are curious about what awaits us. A completely different world with an average temperature that does not exceed 10 degrees. The trees are a lot smaller here. The further north we go, the smaller the vegetation. Soon there will be no more trees at all.