Travel Journal

The Longest Day

(Sunday 22 June 2014) by Mariken
North Cape
North Cape
We experienced the Longest Day yesterday, the Summer Solstice. Truth be told, it wasn't any different from the previous days, in terms of light that is. We have been experiencing the midnight sun for about a week already and those extra few minutes did not really make a difference. I do know now though, that the 'darkest hour' (if you can call it that in broad daylight) was at 01.18 am this night (Jacco looked it up on the internet). I was already in bed at that time, being exhausted again. Much as I love a lot of daylight, my sleeping pattern is definitely suffering from the lack of darkness these days. That, combined with the less than perfect weather up here in the north, is reason enough to head south again. Through Finland this time, where we arrived two days ago.

But wait, talking about Summer Solstice and being in the north... did we reach the North Cape as planned? Yes, we did! A few days ahead of schedule, which was just as well, as last night it was apparently raining buckets there, whilst on the 18th, when we visited, the weather was good. Not perfect, unfortunately I could not picture the actual Midnight Sun (the orb, that is), but I could still take pictures of the sunlight coming through the clouds which was in any case a magnificent sight. It was freezing cold, standing on that cape in the middle of the night, but we were wrapped in down jackets, gloves and beanies, so we could stand it well. Besides that, the temperature must have been raised by a few degrees, just by the sheer number of people present at that spot. It might have been annoying, normally we tend to avoid huge tourist crowds, but there is something exhilarating on standing on a huge bare plateau looking at the horizon and sharing the same awed feeling of being on top of the world with so many people. For the killjoys: yes, I know that the North Cape is strictly speaking not the northernmost spot. That honour goes to Knivskjellodden, which can be reached by a 9 km hike (and then 9 km back of course). We thought it over, but as we were told by someone who was soaked until over his knees, that the ground was sodden for 9 km (clearly!), that the loop took at least 7 hours to make and the weather forecast predicted a lot of rain, we decided to leave that for next time. We don't really mind some less than perfect conditions, but we really do try to avoid getting soaking wet when day temperatures are not over 5 degrees Celsius and nothing to head back to except a tent. Other than that, it is of course stupid to call any place on an island the northernmost spot of mainland Europe. Unfortunately, the true northernmost spot of mainland Europe, Cape Nordkinn, is very difficult to reach for mere mortals like yours truly, as it involves a 24 km hike (and again 24 km back) over rough terrain, which usually takes more than two days to cover.

So, the North Cape. It was cold, windy, touristy, barren of any vegetation and frankly there is nothing to see and it was wonderful to be there. As said, you really have the feeling to have reached the top of the world. And best of all, it was free! That deserves some explanation, as all guidebooks quote horrible entrance fees. Well, the North Cape is being exploited by a company with a commercial purpose. In plain English: they want to make as much money as possible. Nothing wrong with that of course, but the Norwegian parliament decided that the North Cape as such, the actual - natural - plateau, should be accessible to everyone. So, they criticized the astronomical entrance fee. Strictly speaking you paid for the Nordkapphall and not for the cape it self, but since there was no choice in the matter, a differentiation had to be made. So, I went to the ticket sale desk on foot and asked about the entrance fees. I was quoted the highest fee, 490 NOK (which is about 61 euros!) for two persons. That included a 48 hour entrance to the Nordkapphall and everything it involves. But why on earth would I want to spend 48 hours in a tourist trap? So I asked whether there were other possibilities, cheaper, that is. Yes, there was also a ticket for 320 NOK (40 euros), without entrance to the Nordkapphall. I asked whether it made any difference coming with a car, but no, the car was free. Ok, 40 euros it is then. So I paid, grudgingly, but convinced that this was the cheapest option. However, we saw other people, hikers and cyclists, passing the ticket sale without purchasing a ticket. Huh? We ignored it for a while, but in the end the feeling of dissatisfaction grew too strong and we went back to ask. And guess what we were told? If you come without a car, so walking or by bike, you get free entrance! Excuse me? I asked whether having a car made a difference and was told the car was free. And now comes the joke: I was again told the car was free! Then what on earth do I pay the 40 euros for?? I really failed (and still do for that matter) to see the logic here. Needless to say that we were not happy campers. Fortunately, the girl at the ticket office sensed our distress and called the manager, who, after some discussion back and forth, offered us a complete refund. I offered to take the car out, park it on a parking place 2 km away and walk back - fair is fair after all - but that was not necessary. So, free entrance to the North Cape (not to the Nordkapphall obviously, but I seriously wanted to avoid that anyhow), but I am still baffled by this intransparent procedure. And it's not like we didn't do our homework; we searched the internet for information on entrance fees before we headed up north and we asked several people who had just been there. If there is anyone who can explain, I promise I will be an eager listener! To end on a positive note: we had expected our visit to the North Cape to be spectacularly expensive what with having to go through a toll tunnel and the entrance fee to the cape. It turned out that the toll tunnel is no longer a toll tunnel (but just a tunnel) and with some poking around we got free entrance to the cape. We did pay 12 euros for the campsite though, but for that price I had free reindeer in my 'backyard' and I slept soundly and peacefully. Mission accomplished, we have been to the southernmost point of Europe (Tarifa) and the - so-called - northernmost point in Europe. Time to explore new horizons!

  • fantastisch! by Marianne
  • North Cape!!! by Marije

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