Helsinki to Narvik (draft)

Where/when: narvik 4th

Train to savonlinna. Walk around: strongman contest, markets – food and craft, opera festival in a castle, camp next to hiking trail. Our run of camping spots has been pretty good – no waking up to the sound of regular thundering freight trains, usually dry, and nowhere really illegal. That’s the beauty of camping kn scandanavia: as long as you are respectful and leave no trace you can camp wherever you want!

Bus to porosalmi, walk with no lift, get canoes, lost then ok interupting nude bathers who sent us on our way with clear instructions.

Families on small island. Speaking broken english and scribbling on bits of paper until an older son returned from berry-picking and acted as interpreter. Funny though, we probably still needed an interpreter who understood ‘drunk-talk’

Paddle over to main island, farm, nature walk. Paddle to next spot, camp alone, bathe naked. Very still, beautiful, fish jumping, boatmen walking on water. Set off with corrected compass bearings, and navigated without doubt until the last island.

Relief to get shuttle bus the 9km to rantasalmi in pouring rain after a long coffee in the warm resort where we hired our boat from. Bus to peksiaimaki, where a late-leaving train completely revised our well-planned schedule: which had taken numerous phone calls, pages of paper and frustration to plan.

Series of trains and buses next 24hours to abisko: 3hours on a park bench, dazed walking across the border with no controls, lulea was nice, museum and organic food market and vegie cafÁé, dazed and slOw wandering around the only supermarket open before 10am.

Alighted at Abisko with other, more-serious-looking hikers. Turns out there was some serious hiking race on (fajl-raven classic)…

Expensive camping but lovely place and a deep sleep (after a good shower). Our first time of actually zipping up our sleeping bags.

Next morning long walk across the driest (322mm) and most biodiverse hillside in sweden. Nice rapids, clean, crisp air…might have been a bit much for us both though after too little sleep, as we really started to fade a few kmas from

Picked up our bags to camp in the bush outside the nat park and save a few bucks. Lots of mossies, but few trains: probably because the tracks were getting repaired.

then on to bus to narvik: picturesque, remote ‘summer’ cottages and an increasingly dramatic landscape as we headed towards the northern norwegian coast…

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