Greece to North Cape

Greece to North Cape

For some riders, a road trip to North Cape or also Nordkapp is a must-do. Not just for the fact that it is the northern extremity of the European continent (and extremities often appeal to riders as challenges that have to be taken) but also because Norway holds beautiful and impressive landscapes. For those who start from the southern parts of Europe, and in our case from Greece, the tour can be a long one that has to fit in the allowed time off work. We had exactly 23 days in our disposal and we had to cover 10,000 kilometers and 2 ferry crossings to/from Italy that each last 22 hours. It was a tight schedule.

So after some careful planning we set off in July 23rd from Athens. We disembarked in Ancona in July 24th and we started riding north without much stops or breaks. In 3 days we covered 2,050 kilometers straight to the port of Hirtshalls in Denmark. The ferry took us to Kristiansand and it was the point where we called it as the start of our Scandinavian adventure.

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We were immediately impressed by the lush landscapes and the numerous rivers and waterfalls that are everywhere you look. Following only secondary roads we headed to Preikestolen. En route we soon realized a couple of things that had escaped out thoughts during the planning of the trip. The duration of the day is longer, much longer and that caused us often to ride without realizing that time had passed and that it was late. And the weather. In Norway it rains a lot ! We kept our rainproof layers on, for most of the time.

In Preikestolen the following day we walked up to site of the Pulpit Rock and we were in awe of the sheer vertical cliff and of the fascinating view to the Lysefjord. What a place! Despite the 3 hours hike, we were not feeling tired so we hopped on our motorcycles and continued our course north. Cold and rainy it was all the way to Roldal . Next stop, the waterfall of Voringsfossen. Another amazing creation of mother nature. Norway is full of such sights and it never stops to impress.

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We spent the night at Flam, and the next morning we strolled at the docks gazing the cruise ships. We rode following the road Aurlandvegen, skipping the famous Laerdal tunnel, because we wanted to see the views to the Aurlandfjord from higher grounds. From an ideally chosen spot, over a huge platform, one can admire the vistas down to Aurlandfjord. One more breathtaking place. As our route continues, the Aurlandvegen brings us to a landscape cold, barren, with a sense of a “no man’s land”. The altitude was just above 500 meters, yet it seemed like we were over a high alpine pass above 2,000.

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We descended and turned towards road 55 and rode along the Sognefjord. It was then, when the sky turned black and all the rain of the world came down on us! We arrived at Byrkjelo completely soaked. My rainproof layers had failed me and I was in misery. Next morning, the weather gave us a break. It was still cold, at 12-13 degrees celsius, but at least it was not pouring, it was just drizzling. We followed roads 60 then 15 and then 63 to reach one more majestic fjord, the Geirangerfjord. Our next point of interest was the winding road of Trollstigen, a windy road with hairpins and views, so good that it ranks up as one of the best biking roads for us.

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We thought about taking a break from the mountainous regions and headed our way towards the sea. The “atlantic ocean road” is a sequence of bridges curved over islets of land that had caught our attention over some pictures we had seen. We ended up in Trondheim that day, where we spent a couple of nights to rest. Lovely city. Even though we didn’t have the luxury of that free time, we needed it. So once we left, to make for a lost day we just followed the main road to Bodo covering more than 700 kilometers. From there, we would board a ferry to the beautiful Lofoten islands.

Before that, before reaching Bodo, we crossed the Arctic Circle and that alone brings strange feelings. As we approached the 66th parallel the landscape transformed dramatically. From a region between slopes rich in conifers, suddenly you get into an area where trees are all gone, a flat tundra appears and even the earth gave off a different smell. The change was astonishingly sharp and just for a moment I had an image of a post apocalyptic place.

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We passed Narvik, a place known for the battles during the WW II, and we called the day off at Laphaugen. At that point, we could really feel the cold. Besides, we were past the Arctic Circle, what would we expect. We never anticipated that we would ride all the remaining distance of 650 kilometers to the North Cape in one day. But while we had a road side break, sipping some hot coffee and having a snack, it suddenly occurred to us. The weather was almost perfect. Sunny with no signs of clouds. We said that we might not be given another opportunity to see the edge of the Europe under such clear conditions, so without any more hesitation we cracked the gas and rode on and on.

Passed the serene Altafjord, and finally entered the “Nordkap Kommune”. It was late, past 21:00. We found a camping spot 13 kilometers before the end, set up our tents and then filled with joy reached the northernmost continental point (that is reachable by road) or Europe. We even got to see the midnight sun (well, almost), leveling off the horizon in clear skies. What a feeling! We marked the date in our diaries. It was August 4th.

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It was time to start our return to the south. We left the next morning and the weather turned once again to hell ! We thought about what a good decision it had been to reach Nordkapp the day before! Hard rain and freezing temperatures kept us company throughout the whole ride out of the Nordkap community and all the way until we exited Norway and entered Finland. We chose to set course south through Sweden instead of Finland because it would be faster, it is a more direct route. Our days were running out.  We crossed a couple of very long stretches of smooth dirt roads that spanned dozens of kilometers, cutting through lush forests. In 4 days we had reached Stockholm and stayed there for 2 days, walking and seeing the sights of this beautiful capital of the north.

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Our fun was practically over, though. We had 3 days left to reach the port of Ancona in Italy. We just “processed” the distance, without any deviations or sightseeing along the remaining of the route. The Nordkapp experience was an unforgettable trip, a bit of hard because we were unlucky with too much rain most of the days, but nevertheless the Scandinavian land enchanted us.