70°10'21" Nordkapp! + videosJune 29, 2017 in Norway
Today we hugged the coastline, rounding bend after bend into the heart of beautiful bays and around headlands to reveal the next vista of coves and spits. The sun was stronger than it had been in ages and it made big difference. Highly saturated colours of painted houses popped against vibrant green grass and the rich blue of the sea. Vicky was even lucky enough to see a Harbour Porpoise's dorsal fin disappearing under the rippled glossy surface. To our left were stacks of smooth shale sheets forming high cliffs. Some had fallen and lay cracked in piles by the roadside. We later learned that areas of shale such as this were used as burial grounds of the indigenous Sami people.
Nordkapp, the most northerly point of the European continent you can drive to, is on the island of Magerøya and reached by a bridge and series of tunnels, the most impressive of which is the 6.875km long Nordkapp tunnel which reaches a depth of 212m below sea level!
The closer we came to Nordkapp (The North Cape) the more barren the landscape became, until nothing but the scrubbiest low lying hardy plants, many of which were lichens and mosses, could survive amongst the dirt and rocks. Only scraps of grass grew here and there. Nordkapp is a tourist mecca of Norway and motorhomes were the most frequent vehicles on the road (Will made sure his Maths degree didn't go to waste by taking a statistical survey!). Well wrapped up groups of bikers overtook us and we overtook some keen cyclists who were also making the pilgrimage.
The two of us were charged 540 NOK for entry and 100 NOK for an additional night's stay on site, bringing the total to an eye watering 58 quid. Will pounced on a free North facing parking spot and as it was raining, we went for a wander around the visitor centre. The food (including whale) in the cafe and drinks in the bar were a bit on the pricey side for us so we had a mooch around the extensive souvenir shop that sold a wide range of Nordkapp nicknacks, clothing lines and Sami crafts. The complex extended 3 storeys underground where there was a small cinema showing a 15 minute 120° film about life on the island through the seasons. This was a real hit with us, so much so that we returned the next day to watch it again!
The afternoon was spent in a state of 'will we won't we?' anticipation as the time to midnight ticked away and the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds. From 10pm coaches began to arrive and it looked as if the view of the midnight sun was going to be a good one. Despite the brightness of the day there was a real chill in the air and the wind blew bitterly cold, so as midnight approached we wrapped up warm and headed out with the hoards of other tourists on to the cliff top where the famous 'Globe' monument stood perched 307m above the wide expanse of the Barents Sea. We had a countdown and there it was, the midnight sun shining brightly over the sea at midnight! It was brighter and higher than we'd expected. Many of the photos and films are taken at a time of year further away from the solstice, when the sun dips lower and the light takes on that attractive amber glow. Two accordion players had set themselves up at the base of The Globe and a few couples danced a jig to the music. People were drinking champagne in the Aurora Borealis Bar, looking out on the monument, the midnight sun and those revelling under its rays. Will galantly offered to dance with Vicky on the ad hoc dance floor but she was too self conscious. He didn't however offer to buy her a glass of bubbly at the bar, even though this would also have received a refusal. Solar midnight came soon afterwards at 12:20am. It was very strange to think that this was the closest the sun would get to setting and that it was now rising on its course accross the sky once again! Returning to the van we had a cuppa and a few of Will's homemade muesli biscuits to wind down before raising the blackout blinds to try and get some shut eye.
The following day we each put on two coats to guard against the wind chill and went for a walk over the rough terrain, discovering the tiniest flowers we ever saw huddling in clumps among the moss. As we peaked tentatively over cliff edges we noted the lack of seabirds. Cliffs such as these in the UK would be home to thriving colonies raising their young this time of year but we could see no such nests in existence and could hear only the occasional squawk of a lone gull. There were however, flyovers from tourist planes come to see the North Cape from the air, while cruise ships, large and small sailed past from time to time far below.
The midnight sun was once again visible on our second night at Nordkapp. The atmosphere was less jovial tonight and there were far fewer people gathered outside to see it... they were all huddled in the Aurora Borealis Bar because the cold and wind made it uncomfortable to be out! After solar midnight we soon returned to the van ourselves and watched clouds that were forming as the cold sea air rose where it hit the cliff and wafted accross its flat top where we were parked.
We made 2 videos while we were at Nordkapp, both are on VnW Travels' YouTube channel.
-To see us at the Globe monument near midnight click here: https://youtu.be/EEoJ7MnaqkY
-To see a time lapse of the midnight sun filmed from the van dashboard click here: https://youtu.be/Slbq_rYaIuIRead more