The Midnight Sun and Other Norwegian Wonders

I can't believe it's only been 4 days since my last blog! So much has happened and my head is in a happy spin. Today is another driving day, so I'll try to catch you up a bit... If cell reception plays nicely.

 There has been a solid amount of driving as we have meandered our way up north through Norway.

The tour leader has added in a solid number of stops for interesting little sights, great photos, and funny names.

Like Hell, where I found my first geocache!

Norway has some incredibly old stone carvings. We stopped at one that was on our way, it was over 6000 years old!

One of our big day stops was the svartisen glacier, which was a decent hike through some pretty rambling and stunning scenery. It was absolutely worth the hike.

We spent a lot of time staring at the scenery, and that was before we even got to the glacier itself. When we did it stopped us in our tracks.

I have never seen a blue that haunting, and the sounds the glacier occasionally made sounded like something from another dimension. Looking through underneath the ice felt like looking at magic standing still. The ice caves were glitter and shine, I could have stayed there for hours taking in the details.

Of course, I had my zero waste snacks with me for the walk!

Unfortunately, on the way back one of our party took a tumble on the rain drenched rocks. Tom and I hung back and helped her out and the whole 2.5km back I was so grateful for my scouting background, because gosh did we use some of the things we had learned. Being comfortable with the outdoors is such a wonderful feeling, and knowing that regardless of what happens we would be ok made it so much easier to help our new friend.

The next day we were a bit sore and tired from the exertion, but still excited for what was ahead.

One of the days attractions was the 'polar park', which we were told was a wild life park with big natural enclosures and the animals were treated well. Now, on the whole, I hate zoos and animal parks. I hate seeing animals restricted and I hate that without fail they will have walked patches of the enclosures bare, regardless of how big they are. Animals don't like not being free.

I did go in, in the end, after being assured that this was one of the good ones that does lots to further research and conservation efforts for the few animals they have. The animals were gorgeous, but I still felt uncomfortable about it.

As I mentioned earlier, the weather hasn't consistently played nice, and a couple of our viewpoints were decidedly unviewey.

What the view should look like...

There is a gorgeous valley behind those clouds, apparently

One of the more hilarious parts of the Topdeck itinerary was the "polar plunge", where we all dived into a frigid glacier melt river next to our campsite and then sprinted back to the sauna to defrost.

It was so cold it hurt.

I did it three times.

Caitlin seen here in the blue spotty bikini, mid-dive

We carried on North a wee town where we based ourselves for the trip up to Nordkapp (the north cape) and then jumped on one of the tour busses at about 8pm. The excursion cost a princely 800NOK, and we were decidedly concerned that the clouds would stay with us and make the trip up rather less worthwhile. The chief purpose of going this far North you see, aside from being able to say I've been to the northernmost point of Europe, is to get an uninterrupted view of the sun trying it's best to set and then changing its mind a couple of finger breadths from the ocean and starting to rise again.

Luckily the chaos of the universe smiled in our favour and the weather cleared at just the right time to make the trip one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

You wouldn't believe that we had been driving through pouring rain and shocking visibility for the last week, the sky was blue and the clouds were perfect to add that sparkle of drama to the sunset.

Nordkapp itself was a delight. There are no words to describe the feeling of knowing where you are and what is happening in front of you so far north. 

The sun goes a gorgeous shade of orangey red as it approaches the horizon.

After a pretty late night seeing the midnight sun we had a delightful sleep in, and a chill day to relax, get laundry done, and get ourselves ready for the next phase of the adventure. It's so important to make sure you have these days every now and then, especially if you are traveling for a while (3 months, for example...) because inevitably you will get sick, or hungover, or stay up too late, or maybe you just thought you had more underwear than you actually did and desperately need to be somewhere long enough to air dry things if the third drier in a row is broken.

It's tempting to try and fit in more awesome stuff, but really the break adds much more value.

And that is where I'll "Finnish" because today we head over the boarder to Finland!
First stop after lunch is Santa's village so that could be interesting for my minimalist tendancies... I'll let you know how it goes!

See you somewhere! Finland - let's do this!

xo Cait

One more photo of that midnight sun...

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