It is Saturday. A special Saturday. We wake up sheltered by a Supermarket roof next to a loading ramp. A camping spot, the supermarket’s owner offered us the night before. A camping spot, whose roof allowed us to spend a decent night despite the stormy weather. The day starts off with a unique breakfast. Pancakes with nut spread and avocados. Food that we found on our first dumpster dive. A dumpster, that represented a treasure chest on that night. A treasure that made me happy and sad simultaneously. The amount of food supermarkets throw away, the amount of food they waste..
A common situation follows on an uncommon breakfast. We are standing on the road. Sudden snowfall makes us freezing, but it seems fitting at the same time. There is only 30 kilometers between us and the North Cape, today is the day. Today is the day on which we will accomplish our goal. The day we’ve been working forward to for 5 weeks.
3 days earlier we started our final stage in Narvik, only an 11 our car ride away from the Cape. 2 lifts bring us 4 hours closer but it will be our third lift who saves our day. Duffy drops us off near a bus station at 4 PM and offers us a place to sleep. We keep on trying for another hour and decide to accept Duffy’s offer, but there is one problem. We don’t have his exact address. Just a nickname and the color of his car. It is a barely populated rural road that leads along the foot of a mountain. A 90 minutes walk later we must admit, this is not working out. We start ringing doorbells. 2 sketchy looking backpackers straying around, protected by the darkness and scooping out different cars. It must appear suspicious. Most doors stay locked. Fortunately not all of them will.
“Hey there!, this might sound weird but we are searching for someone who must live in this area. His nickname is Duffy, he is approximately 45 years old, drives an old, green car and he is a big Liverpool fan”. Baffled faces and good laughter. It takes us 3 houses to hit pay dirt. “Duffy, yeah I know him! He’s an amazing guy – get in my car, I will bring you to his house”. Duffy welcomes us with dinner and leaves us alone a few minutes later because he is up for some sports. Blind faith that lets me dream of a world without fear and suspicion. Duffy saves us from spending a night outside at -6 degrees, he is our first lifesaver on this final stage.
Fortune, I’ll search for in vain on the day after. Me and Dan split up at a petrol station, because a lorry driver offers him a 2 hour lift to Alta. I have another 5 hours until the petrol station closes. Another 5 hours for asking everyone “Excuse me, are you going towards Alta by any chance?“. 5 hours that won’t be enough in the end. On some days, there is just that little bit of luck missing. As soon as I set up my tent near the patrol station I cast my eyes to the night sky and witness the Northern lights one last time. Retrospectively I am thankful that I ended up spending this night in the nature.
The day after me and Dan meet up in Alta. A long lift by a Liverpool fan and Julian, a German guy who grew up in Norway. The young German with an Emo haircut and an Iron Maiden shirt brings us to Honningsvag, the last city on our way to the North Cape. He drops us at the supermarket, near which we are gonna set up our tents at. He says good bye by handing over two cans of beer. “Drink these at the North Cape “, he said.
It is Saturday. We end up standing on the road for 3 hours, facing snow and rain. Our soaked clothes and strong wind are challenging us. Our finale challenge. The lack of tourists and the fact that locals usually never head towards the North Cape makes hitch hiking almost impossible. A hunter helps out and brings us a little bit closer. He drops us off in the middle of nowhere. He drops us in front of a street sign. It’s only 13 kilometers to the North Cape. Desperately we decide to walk and defy the snow storm. I mean, we did not have a choice anyway. Then, all of a sudden, we spot a car driving in our direction. Hope.
Another lifesaver. A German family that lets us squeeze into their car even though it was already overloaded. Our last lift going North. We reach a gate and stop the car. A gate that separates us from the North Cape Globe Statue. They charge 25 Euros entrance fee. We laugh. Within the last 5 weeks me and Dan hitch hiked over 3000 kilometers, always heading for the North Cape, aiming for a selfie with this Statue. We hug each other proudly and laugh about the ridiculous entrance fee. We realize that it was not about that bloody Statue. It was about achieving something, it was all about the challenge of getting this far north. We end up taking a picture in front of this beautiful North Cape entrance booth instead.
The German family also refuses to pay this entrance fee and gives us another lift back to Honningsvag. Back to the supermarket we started at this morning. We celebrate by drinking Julian’s beer, buying sweets and heating up inside the supermarket. We decide to spend another night over here. A short rest we needed. A rest we deserved. We both agree. Let’s get out of Scandinavia as fast as possible, let’s get out of this cold!
A proposition that gets complicated by the short days. Currently the sun goes down at 2 PM. On our way to a hitch hiking spot a rental car pulls over. “It is you indeed”, followed by a hug. Two German girls who are following my blog recognized me, walking along the road. Unfortunately they can’t give us a lift since they will stay in Honningsvag but still, it let me start my day with a bright smile. A smile that I’ll almost loose within the next 4 hours but Kay helps out and pulls over at the end of a tunnel. A tunnel, we found shelter in from of a suddenly emerging snow storm. The weather over here changes rapidly. There is also a French guy called Loick in Kay’s car. A Couchsurfer. We spend the night together in Kay’s holiday cabin and Loick, who is traveling around witch his own car, will bring us to North Sweden the morning after. Another 400 kilometers.
He drops us off in a 400 inhabitants village and the early nights stop us from hitch hiking any further. We head into a pizza place, the only public place that is able to give off some heat. Our naivety got us into a difficult situation. It’s gonna be warmer in the South. Wrong. Around the North Cape we had about -3 degrees. In North Sweden temperatures are supposed to drop down to -15 on this night. Hope for another lift keeps us alive, our camping gear would hardly do. A young worker from the mines enters the pizzeria, another Daniel, another lifesaver. He takes us 400 kilometers further South and can’t leave us outside with these temperatures. His car displays -17 degrees. Daniel calls his girlfriend and organizes us a place for the night. His girlfriend’s father owns a restaurant that is closed in winter. This will be our private house for one night. A restaurant straight on the Arctic Circle. A tourist attraction in summer, a ghost house in winter. But not tonight.
Loud Music blasting out of my speaker, hot coffee and 2 naked dudes, relaxing in the sauna. We can hardly believe our luck. The owner of the restaurant also presents us with a Arctic Circle certificate, which he usually sells to tourists. “Who the hell is supposed to believe these stories”, I do ask Daniel and he just bursts out laughing. As we leave the house the morning after we spot a Statue next to the restaurant. We missed the globe Statue at the North Cape, but we got to the one at the Arctic Circle. It almost feels like destiny.
A 65 years old stranger brings us to a tunnel system, that was used as a bomb shelter during the war. He locks the lattice gate while holing a shotgun in his hand. A nice horror scenario, isn’t it? A scenario that will become reality on this year’s Halloween.
Daniel number 3 drops us off 200 km South of the Arctic Circle on the 31st of October. An extremely bad spot. We try to wave down cars for 2 hours and decide to search for a petrol station. Within the next 5 hours we walk 20 kilometers until we find one. An extremely bad one. At 8 PM the staff offers us a lift into the city. A lift to a 24 hour petrol station. On our way there, his car breaks down and we have to walk once again. It’s one of these days. The worst Halloween ever. But the evening takes an unexpected turn. A man called Bengtake offers us to sleep in his office. An office that will turn out to be the most appropriate spot for Halloween I could think of, a story, that is simply unbelievable.
Bengtake opens a big lattice gate that reminds me of a prison. Me and Dan look at each other doubtfully and we enter the tunnel. Our hosts walks us to a wooden door, the door to his office. The office is full of architecture papers and hotel models. Bengtake wants to build a hotel on top of the hill, we are standing in right now. “Is it difficult to find an investor for such a project”, I ask and get an unexpected answer. “I had an investor, but he got killed”…brief moment of silence…what the hell...“The Americans killed my investor 6 years ago. I was a business partner of Gaddafi, and I visited him a few months before he died”. He wishes us a good night, takes the shotgun that was standing next to his office desk and leaves our room. We can hear the metal door snapping shut and we laugh. Again. An uncommon but true lifesaver. I could not have thought of any better one considering it’s Halloween.
“Who the hell is supposed to believe these stories?”
Honestly, we felt a slight relief when Bengtake actually showed up the morning after and gave us a lift to a petrol station. On this point me and Daniel split up again and both hitch hiked 1500 kilometers in the course of the next 2 days and met again near Malmö. Over there we found another lift, who agreed on bringing us to a ferry station in the South of Sweden. We took a ferry to Rostock. Martina picket me up at the harbor. A German lawyer, I met in Jordan a few months ago. She has been accommodating me for the last few days. A beautiful little break before I keep on hitching to Berlin tomorrow.
We made it. I am back in Germany. I hitch hiked to the North Cape wearing cord trousers and cowboy boots in late October. What a stupid and fun thing to do! I must admin, I underestimated the weather conditions but hell yeah, I’d do it again. Thinking of the last few weeks makes me happy and proud. It was a challenge, an achievement, a real adventure.
An adventure, I would have not survived without all these lifesavers on the Scandinavian roads.