Uriya Shai & Arik Kehat, bike travel to the “North Cape” – Scandinavia
Coordinates 71° 10′ 21″ N
The hot August days are at its best, and the “Ants are under my skin” again. It’s been like 4 month since our last tour to Greece and Turkey. I feel like I am sitting on fire. The “Wandering Mosquito” stung me again, so I called Arik, my sometimes partner to my tours. “Arik, do you want to join a tour that we will tell about it to our grandchildren? (When we will them, so help us God).
We had a clear division of roles, according to our last tour to Greece and Turkey. He is on the food issues, and we eat whatever he cooks. I am on the maps, and he is following me where ever I go to. Good arrangement creates no arguments what so ever. We could not start before Sep.20, due to his vacation from work. Pretty late for this kind of a plan. We have decided to drive north as far as the snow will not hit us.
I lllooovvveee this excitement of preparing the bike for a tour. The main problem now, is how to divide 30 KG of equipment on the bike, so it will not affect the handling of the bike. I look at my 4 bikes:
The VMAX has no room for luggage.
The XT 600 is not for long distance ride.
The Ducati 750 SS is too sportive.
So I chose the Yamaha XJ900 for this tour. A simple and reliable sport Turing bike, with 3 rear boxes. This one will fit to the mission. Arik drives a Yamaha GTS 1000, another wonderful Sport Touring bike.
There are like 11,000 KM (7,000 miles) of excellent roads ahead of us. The destination for this tour is the “North Cape”, the most northern point of Europe. This is the point, where hundreds of bikers are arriving on June 21 (The longest day of the year), to see the sun goes down to the sea at midnight, touches it and rise again. There is no “Sunset” on this day there. I really wanted to do that but it’s too late for this year now.
Photograph by “Visit Norway”, www.ynet.co.il
“We will drive directly up north, in order to get as close as possible to the cape, until the snowfalls will stop us” I say to Arik. It was like a race against the clock, because the “Snow time” is coming soon. However, “A thousand miles journey begins with a single step”.
We are on the ferry to Piraeus, Greece. 3 days at the “Mediterranean sea”, and I cried “Land” when I see it, Just like Amerigo Vespucci did when he first saw the “Land” of America, and for his honor. Greece Salad, Sirtaki dancing and we are heading to Patras, Greece, to take the ferry to Venice. We are against time. On the ferry, it takes 1.5 days, while driving is 4 days from Patras to Venice.
On the ferry, we meet a nice bikers couple, that are all-over tattoos, who drive 2 Yamaha XS 650, handmade Chopper style. They had another friend on R 100 GS from Hamburg with them. The couple belong to the “Bikers Brotherhood” of Munich. We have decide to ride together until Munich through the Dolomites Alps.
The riding together is a wonderful way to know each other. How much I can tell about a person’s character and way of life, just from looking at his driving in the front of me or on my mirrors. I would not recommend taking your eyes off the road, even not for a second. We are crossing the passes and serpentines of the Dolomites. On one side of the road, there is always an abyss. We stop for an Italian coffee in one of the villages on the way, a small “Chitchat” and they are asking about the Destination of our tour.
“The “North Cape in Norway,” we answer.
“At this time of the year”? They are surprised. “You must be kidding us”.
“No, we are not”. We smile.
“Tnx”. The Journey is everything for us.
Munich. Time is 22.00. “Come to sleep in our home” they are offering us.
“Why not”? We answer.
Small apartment with a big heart. “Bikers brotherhood” I think to myself. They are justifying the name. Those connections that are created between bikes travelers, are the sweet cadies of the bikers’ world.
Back home, ever since I was 16 years old with Honda 50, I always invited bike travelers to my home as guests. “What goes around comes around”.
There is a clever sentence claims: “Send your bread upon the water, because one day you will find it”.
Morning. We are on the “Auto-Ban” (The German name for Highway). There is no speed limit here, but your courage and the skills of your bike. Since we are driving against the clock, we finish 3 gas tanks with like 800-900 Km per a day. At the gas stations we meet bikers that are asking “Where to”? “North Cape in Norway” we answer.
“At this time of the year”? They are surprised. “You must be kidding us”.
“No, we are not”. We smile.
We are at the north of Denmark, Taking the ferry to Kristiansand, Norway. The tour actually starts now. We are taking the western road along the Shores line – E39 to Bergen. The small anglers’ villages, the lagoons and the fjords are so quit and amazing due to the feeling you get, when you just sit, look and give yourself to the atmosphere.
It’s the beginning of October now. “The General Winter” here is in a higher rank than in anywhere else. People we meet on the way are telling us, that it’s a big miracle, that at this time of the year it is not snowing already. I try to explain them that “The God of the bikers” is guarding us.
A few of them were smiling. “Faith brothers”. We still sleep in our tents and get showers in rented cabins of gas stations, for 2 Euros. We buy food in supermarkets, and Arik is cooking. The beautiful life called “Freedom”.
We are in Bergen. A beautiful and amazingly clean city. We climb to the “Panorama View” to see the beauty. This view reminds me of the Haifa’s Panorama.
We are heading north on E6, the only road that leads all the way to the North Cape. From time to time, the road ends and we need to cross the water on a ferry to the other side, and then road again. This road goes through “Geiringer Fjord” (Considers as the deepest and the most beautiful Fjord in the world), and many others. The huge ship down there look like a small car, from the 1 KM height cliff, where we are standing on. The water are “colored” with black due to the reflection of the black granite mountain around. Sorry for my excitement, but it is simply beautiful.
From that point of Bergen and up north, Thigs are not that simple any more. 4c are like Zero degrees while driving, fog and snow are all over, and we still have 1.500 KM in front of us to the Cape. The cold is drilling our cloth, skin and bones although we are well dressed. Even peeing became to be complicated. I have 3 layers of trousers to go through with gloves.
I urgently need to pee but I can’t find him. “Good God, where are you”? Who wants to go out in this cold? A warm drop that got away marked his right coordinate. “There you are”, I scream. It was the same feeling of happiness like winning the lottery.
We continue heading north to the edge of the European continent. Next ferry will take us to the island of “North cape”. The Island is 35 Km long on 20 Km width.
We are in “North Cape”, Oct.3, 6 PM and we are looking for a place to sleep. All of the Guest-houses, the motels and the Hotels are close, since it is already a month after the “Season”.
I tell Arik that we should climb up north in the island as possible, since tomorrow it will be snowing as they told us on the ferry, and we need to drive closer to the edge. We drive 20 Km north from the port and find a small village. It’s dark already, and I am looking for a sigh of a place to sleep. I knock on every door but they all answered that: “The season is over”.
“So what”? I think to myself.
Finally, I have arrived to a small wooden house with 4 separated rooms on the wharf, while all the 4 doors were open. I step in, a very nice & clean room with 2 beds.
It’s 8 Pm. We are sitting and waiting for someone to come for the payment. Nothing. At 10 Pm I said: “Let’s sleep, If someone comes, we will pay him for the room,”
“We’ll explain him that no one was here to collect money”, said Arik.
“This might be a tourist’s trap,” I said. “When someone will come, we will have to pay any price he will ask for, since we are already in”.
Arik: “Or probably it belongs to the fishermen, that will come back from the sea at 5 PM or so, and need the rooms to sleep”.
Good night “North Cape”.
Morning. 7 AM, The bikes are covered with snow and we are sitting and waiting for someone to come and collect money for the night.
8 AM, a young nice woman is coming with a surprised face on. “First of all let me apologize for using the room, No one was here to pay him”. I explained her with all due respect.
“Sure, the season is over”, She answered.
“Can we pay now”? I offered her.
“No problem” she said and marked a fair price. We paid.
“How come the door was open?” I asked.
“Well, the plumber had to come yesterday to empty the water pipes, so it will not crack during the winter due to the freezing water in it, but he didn’t show up to do his job and close the doors. This is why the doors were open”.
Wow, Isn’t it the “God of the biker’s finger”, that brought us here to the only sleeping option on this island?
“We need it for another night, Couse we intend to go to the edge of the island today” I asked her.
“Not possible, since the plumber has to come today, so you will have no water tonight. You can use my house there. We have a few rooms for the same price”.
“Wonderful”, I said. We followed her to the house, left the gear in the room and drove to the final destination of this tour. The edge of the “North Cape”, the northern point of Europe.
Since I couldn’t find our pictures near the Globus on the edge of the continent, I copied it from the internet with the appreciation to:
Eduardo Manchon – http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2628
By Eduardo Manchon – http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2628, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36197841
North Cape has a crazy whether. Within 1 hour, we experienced 3 times of black sky with snow, and blue sky with sun. The coordinates here are 71° 10′ 21″ N. Behind this cliff it’s the “North ocean”. We have achieved the goal of this tour.
We drive back to the guesthouse. She told us that it’s been snowing all night, and that the northern 400 KM of Norway are covered with snow. Wow, How can anyone drive on snow? It’s like oil, Not to talk about driving 400 KM. This is a problem.
“What are the options”? I asked her.
“There is a ferry boat tomorrow morning from the port, down to Bergen,” She said. “It leaves at 5.45 AM. You have to be at the port max at 5.30”. I look at Arik and say: “We need to take the bikes to the port now. It’s 20 KM away. We will tie them near the dock, get back here with a taxi, and take a taxi in the morning to the port”. Right.
The nice woman calls and books our tickets for tomorrow morning. It took us 2.5 hours to get there, as we drove like 10 KPH with sprayed open legs forward for caution. The Temperature in January here hits the -50c, with 3 month of darkness. No wonder they are holding the world record for suicides of like 26 people per a year, due to the depression.
5.00 AM and we are at the port, driving the bikes in to the belly of the ship. Ship? The huge “Coast Steamer” is a fancy & luxury city on the water.
After 2 days and 500 KM of sailing south, we are at the port of “Mo I Rana”. I have noticed that the snow is now at the top of the mountains, and not on the roads any more.
“Arik, we are bikers not sailors, let’s go”. We leave the “floated fancy city” and driving east, flying the avenues between the trees along the 2 sides of the road. Woodsheds of leafs in strong colors of yellow, orange and red. We cross to Sweden, and then turn south to Stockholm.
700 Hundred KM brought us to a nice camping cabin. We are no longer have what it takes now to drive to the city for food. What left was 1 egg and an old bread. Arik collected all the remaining food from the boxes, and arraigned a wonderful meal. A Magician. “Good night Stockholm”.
On the way back, time is on our side. No more rush. “Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris”? Why not? In Paris, we put the tent near the Eiffel Tower. At least we sleep with style, on the most expensive piece of land in France.
Just one thing on the way down south…. Monica is in Germany. We mate in Egypt, I promised to visit when I will next time be in Germany. 4 crazy days with her friends, the students and we are heading south to Venice. We both need to get back to work one day soon.
We choose the way back through the Dolomites Alps. Some of the passes are already closed. Never mind, “when there is a will, there is a way”. A nice couple of German BMW bikers are inviting us to spend a few days with them. He is crazy about weapons, and she is crazy because she is crazy. Good bikers on the middle of the way.
Here we are on the Ferry from Venice to Patras. On the deck, we meet Daniel from South Africa who speaks the language of the Maya from Central America, and he is fascinating us for 24 hours with his stories.
We are driving through the North of Greece attractions like “Meteora’s hanging monasteries”, “Ioannina lake”, the “Peloponnese Peninsula” in the south of Greece, and back on the ferry from Piraeus to Haifa.
Thanks to the “God of the bikers” that brought us back safe home.
Pls. remember. “When you are sitting at home, nothing happens”.