Norway – Russian border -Finland : Part 2, Week 4 11th September 2017 – 17th September 2017

11th September 2017
After rain all night and morning, we eventually left our little spot early afternoon after a laze around and some porridge to warm us up! We visited Kirkenes where we found a service stop along with many industrial buildings before making our way to the Russian border where we could go no further due to no insurance or visa to cover us… However at least we can say we (basically) drove to Russia!

Made our way on the 886 towards Grense Jakobselv before parking up in a cool little spot early evening as the weather wasn’t improving anytime soon! Decided to visit the town the following day…

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12th September 2017
Woke up fairly early and got back on the 886 taking a pretty rough road which followed the border! Watchtowers lined the river and signs to remind passers by were dotted along the whole road.

Was a quiet place however we did get talking to two Austrian lads (Stefan and Lucas) who were travelling Europe with their motorbikes and tents… We didn’t envy them having to deal with the cold!

Sun started to make an appearance as we followed the 886 back past the onlooking watchtowers and got back on the E6. To avoid driving the same route back towards the west coast of Norway we agreed to take a diversion through Finland! The 971 road across the border took us through woodland and past some beautiful lakes- barely any civilisation!

Found a great parking spot on a pull off amongst the trees (with an additional fire pit a previous camper had left!) Before dinner we took a walk down to the lake and explored the wood…

13th September 2017
We’d seen on both the map and http://www.atlasobscura.com (great website to discover cool and out-of-the-ordinary places to visit all over the world) Sami church on the outskirts of Inari which was a 5km walk into the wilderness!
After driving the rest of the 971 and going south on the E75 we arrived in a grey and wet Inari.

So instead of braving the weather (we didn’t need to rush so decided to wait for a brighter day!) we took a visit to a souvenir store to add Finland to the sticker collection! Also took a visit to the supermarket where we treated ourselves to some sausages, bread and eggs for a fry up in addition to coming across Cloudberry Koppaberg cider! (Cloudberries are a speciality in Scandinavia and are found in swampy, mountain areas- unfortunately really expensive to buy in the shop – in one shop we witnessed them being sold at about £30 a kilo !!!! and we as yet haven’t been anywhere to find them in the wild! So cider would have to do… ;)! ) Spent the eve with our goodies in a layby just outside the town and hoped for better weather in the morning…

14th September 2017
Woke up to the lovely sound of rain on the tin roof… After a fried egg sandwich we decided to make the most of the day and visit the SIIDA museum situated in the centre of Inari (see the museum here) . It focuses on the Finnish Sami people, their traditions and way of life with the addition of facts about the nature and history of Finland. There’s even an exhibition outside which features many wooden structures which would’ve been found within a Sami civilisation! We spent all day learning – Tris said he’d never read so much in his life!

We were the last to leave at 6pm before we made our way south of the town this time to find somewhere to stay for the evening. Bit of a random dinner but tasted so good… Tris made peach crumble consisting of canned peaches, golden syrup and crushed oat biscuits. Even had it with custard…perfect ;)!

15th September 2017
Another miserable grey and wet day. Seeing as we were in no rush and the forecast looked promising for the next day, we decided to wait it out again and amused ourselves taking a drive to the neighbouring town Ivaro and had a wander round the supermarket to find a new charger lead for our phone and whether we could find some of the local reindeer to try out! Turns out that even though they’re probably more common than cows here, reindeer meat isn’t that cheap! Instead of steak (prices at £20+!) we settled for some reindeer sausages…!

16th September 2017

Woke up early to find the forecast was right- no rain! Fuelled up on a bowl of porridge and drove to the small car park at the start of the trail. Adorned with waterproofs and a pair of walking boots each we left just after 12…

Was well worth the wait! A great walk through a beautiful unspoilt woodland dodging bogs and rocks whilst taking in all the Autumn colours!

 

A few boardwalks had been put in place to cross streams and before we knew it the church was in sight…

Was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside (all made of wood!) -as if it had been frozen in time (it’s only used once a year now for a midsummer ceremony!). To protect the church visitors are asked to close the doors to protect it from the wilderness!

Another 5km later we arrived back at the van and made ourselves a cuppa before getting a few postcards to send home and finally left Inari making our way east on the 92…

As dusk came we were still struggling with finding somewhere to pull off and instead we were met with a moose! Our first encounter and a pretty close one at that, luckily we were able to brake in time! (An onlooked caught it on camera and shared it on their Instagram! See this link -> moose! )

Finally found a little spot for the eve and made a “smore” like creation for dinner…

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17th September 2017

Whilst making breakfast a man knocked on our window with a fairly suspicious looking parcel wrapped in some paper … Turned out after a chat it was his leftover Norwegian kroner that he no longer needed and kindly gave it to us – big thank you!! – what a good start to the day!

Crossed back into Norway and got deja vu as we followed our own footsteps going  back up the 93 past Pikefossen! Even in the past week the Autumn colours had become more prominent!

This time at Alta we took the E6 towards Narvik and followed the beautiful coastline before giving the van (and Tris) a break from all the driving we’d done today! Another cracking week – though a lot of it revolved around food and rain!

 

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