Beginning at the Barents

8/6/17. Kirkenes is located on a fjord that leads to the Barents Sea and we have just realised that the next sea which we see (all being well) will be the Baltic, somewhere around Helsinki. Between here and there we will see a lot of trees, lakes and mosquitos!

Yesterday was a long day of travelling, setting off from Didcot at 5.30 am (unnecessarily early as it transpired because we were checked in and through security by 7 o’clock for a 10.20 flight – the roads and the airport were amazingly quiet). We then had a 4 hour layover in Oslo followed by a 2 hour flight to Kirkenes. When we arrived the bikes swiftly appeared as did one of our IKEA bags (which we use to hold the 4 panniers to avoid paying extra for numerous small bags). The other one was nowhere to be seen.

The lady dealing with lost luggage was very matter of fact suggesting this was a regular occurrence (and a Russian man was also reporting a missing suitcase). “It will probably turn up on a flight tomorrow” (there are 2 each day from Oslo plus one from Tromsø and a daily coastal ferry – not bad for a town of 3,500 souls).

Thankfully it arrived this morning on the 11 o’clock flight and was brought to our hotel. Stephen held off reconstructing the bikes until news came through just in it didn’t turn up in which case we would probably have had to return to Blighty because the bag had all Christine’s sleeping gear (sleeping bag, mattress, etc) and all the cooking stuff as well as her panniers and lots of other bits and pieces.

However, we’re all ready to go now!

There were a couple of other mad British cyclists on the plane (John and Sean/Shaun) who are going the same way as us on the Iron Curtain Trail but they only have a week, which should see them half way down Finland as they are planning longer days than us – up to 170 km, before they go to Stockholm to meet their wives for a short city break.

And what of Kirkenes?

Well, after all Christine’s fears about the weather, it is absolutely glorious!!! The temperature is in the high teens and it is wall to wall sunshine – just like on Christine’s previous trip to the north of Norway.

Although it must be said that when you are in the shade there is a bit of a nip in the air.  And there is still a lot of snow around on the hills and even a few piles around the town. A lady sat next to Christine on the plane said that yesterday was the first decent day of the year (somebody looking after us?) and everything is at least a month behind last year. A few trees are starting to show a few leaves bit most are still bare.

This is a view of the fjord at 10.45 yesterday evening.

And a few factoids! (Some of them come from Wikipedia so no guarantees that they are completely accurate.)

  • It is further east than Istanbul at 30°E.
  • It is east of Finland, so we will initially travel west  – and have to put our clocks FORWARD because Finland is +2 hours compared to BST whereas Norway is +1.
  • The Sun rises on 17 May and next sets 26 July – 10 weeks later! (Presumably in the winter there is also a 10 week ”night”.)
  • In WW2 it was second on the list of European towns and cities for number of air raids and alarms (after Malta).
  • It was occupied by the Red Army in 1944 after the Germans left.
  • Murmansk is about 150km away.