Aug 12, 2010

Food, glorious food!

Six weeks have passed since we saw the orange moon rising over the seas as we advanced towards the land of the fairy tales... rising, dark blue, from the horizon. Six weeks it took us to cross the Arctic Circle twice, shake hands with Santa Claus and see our first dark night and our first star again! This, this is true magic.

... in the meantime, we continued cycling from unbelievably far North to even more unbelievably far North, passing by more and more stunning natural sights. There were low glaciers, crawling down the sharp black cliffs into the fjord, feeding our hungry eyes while the sun was warming our cheeks. The greenery softened the impression of the overall scenery down to majestic friendliness and I wrote in my notebook: I'm here and nothing else matters.

The contrasts never cease to surprise us. It is amazing how fast conditions can go from freezing cold to burning hot; from desperate to ecstatic; from soaking wet to sunny and dry; from stunning views to hours in zero visibility; from completely drained to bursting with energy; from sheep on the road to reindeer everywhere; from scooping peanut butter out of a jar with a spork to eating salmon with silver forks in a lace-clad dining room.

All of a sudden, after having climbed up the last two hills after Alta, we were on flatlands. For the first time in weeks we couldn't see any high peaks. It was Finnmark, the poorest area of Norway - where the Samis herd reindeer. We crossed the roughly 300m high barren swampy plateau and reached Olderfjord before night fell. Somehow, a lucky succession of coincidences managed to change our plans from throwing our bikes into a bush for a day to leaving them with a random farmer to being accommodated and fed for two nights and a day in between.

When planning the road in the first place, we never wanted to visit Nordkapp, having only heard about the pointlessness (other than "having been there") of the place. Once on the road, it seemed strange to go so close and leave the last bit undone. Therefore, our aim was to leave the bikes and do a quick hitchhiking day trip. As it rained heavily the day we meant to hitch, we decided to live in tempo with nature once again and warmed our tired bottoms on the couch in the nice dry indoors instead. We paid the visit to mainland Europe's most northerly point the next day in perfect sunlight.

It was very pretty.

Every day is an adventure as we can never be absolutely sure whether we are able to meet the day's goal or not. There are too many variables: the length and gradient of the climbs ahead; the strength and the direction of the wind; something going wrong with the bikes; something going wrong with ourselves; or factor x decides to intervene.

From Alice's diary: Norway blessed our last morning with glorious sunshine. Leisurely breakfast under warming rays - but something was wrong: Triini wasn't hungry!

The first day in Finland welcomed us with hot sunny weather and a bit hillier terrain than we had expected. It wouldn't have been hard if it weren't for the fact that I had a started the day feeling a tiny bit puke-ish, unable to eat any of that food, glorious food of Finland I had been dreaming about. With the hills rolling more sharply up and down than I liked, I went more and more feverish until we had to stop in the first civilization we saw - Kaamanen - where I curled up in my sleeping bag on the blueberry-laden shrubbery of the forest and slept for an hour. Good sleep works miracles and we were able to cycle another 5km on the flat until a petrol station where we camped in the neighbouring forest. This is a good example of a day cut short by unexpected circumstances. Oh, and I had a flat tyre the moment we arrived to this petrol station. And it started raining.

I was cured only two more nights of sleeping and two more days of easy pedalling later. Alice was cheering with delight when hearing the words "But I'm still hungrrrrrrrry!" coming from me after dinner. She would never have believed that she'd be so glad to hear them.

Yesterday was the day of breaking some more personal records. In addition to chatting to Santa and peeking into Lordi's restaurant we spent a mighty 8 hours in the saddle. A more usual cycling day consists of about 6 to 7 hours of pedalling and a lot of slacking off. Sometimes, we call it our training camp, especially when our days turn out to be well structured: we wake up at 8 and start cycling between 9 and 10 o'clock. We stop, eat and rest when we need to. Yesterday, for example, had three "training sessions": 80km before lunch, 35km before dinner and 46km before going to bed. The sauna and bed felt very well deserved.


Day 32: 93.53km; ferries: Breivikerdet - Svensby and Lyngen - Olderdalen; joined the E6 again;

Day 33: 105.01km on the E6;

Day 34: 102.73km to Alta;

Day 35: 112.3km to Olderfjord; couchsurfing;

Day 36: day off

Day 37: hitching to Nordkapp and back; cycling 29.78km towards the South;

Day 38: 114.27km to Karasjok;

Day 39: Finland! 90.39km to Kaamanen;

Day 40: 100.31km on the one and only road ("Santa's Rd") towards the South, through Ivalo;

Day 41: 147.78km to Sodankylä and beyond;

Day 42: 161km through Rovaniemi and then on the road 78; couchsurfing;

Day 43: day off.

Distance cycled since Tromsø (9.5 days of cycling and 1.5 days off in between): 1057.1km
Total distance cycled in 43 days: 3551.74km


Our favorite song, the one that we sing the most often:

Food, Glorious Food

Is it worth the waiting for?
If we live 'til eighty four
All we ever get is gru...el!
Ev'ry day we say our prayer --
Will they change the bill of fare?
Still we get the same old gru...el!
There's not a crust, not a crumb can we find,
Can we beg, can we borrow, or cadge,
But there's nothing to stop us from getting a thrill
When we all close our eyes and imag...ine

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we're in the mood --
Cold jelly and custard!
Peas, pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys --

Food, glorious food!
We're anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day --
Our favourite diet!

Just picture a great big steak --
Fried, roasted or stewed.
Oh, food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Glorious food.

Food, glorious food!
What is there more handsome?
Gulped, swallowed or chewed --
Still worth a king's ransom!
What is it we dream about?
What brings on a sigh?
Piled peaches and cream, about
Six feet high!

Food, glorious food!
Eat right through the menu.
Just loosen your belt
Two inches and then you
Work up a new appetite.
In this interlude --
The food,
Once again, food
Fabulous food,
Glorious food.

Food, glorious food!
Don't care what it looks like --
Don't care what the cook's like.
Just thinking of growing fat --
Our senses go reeling
One moment of knowing that
Full-up feeling!

Food, glorious food!
What wouldn't we give for
That extra bit more --
That's all that we live for
Why should we be fated to
Do nothing but brood
On food,
Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Fabulous food,

Beautiful food,

Glorious food
Marvellous food,
Glorious food


beth said...

i probably don't have to tell you for you to know quite how much i appreciate this post :)
SO much love xx

jojonouvo said...

J'ai voyagé en vous lisant, merci!