Location: Haparanda / Sweden
"Brace yourself, winter is coming." -- The words of house Stark
A hardshell, waterproof trousers and trekking boots. 5390 smackers… Scandinavia is expensive…
Luckily it’s swedish crones, so it comes down to “only” 616€ but still quite a sum. Again my mistake was leaving germany without thinking too much and taking longer than expected. I thought I would be here in summer. But actually it’s more or less autumn right now. There was rain for sure (got soaked once on this trip), there will be more and the temperatures gotta be around twelve during the day and at least above zero at night. But still locals told me that it’s the best time to visit because of the leaves turning colorful, the mosquitos turning dead and the tourists (re)turning home. So there’s no use in whining, I just had to step up my game gearvise. Since everything over here seems to be very expensive, getting a good deal is not too easy. At the Haglöfs Factory Outlet the prices were more or less in the same range as German mailorder prices. Considering the 25% VAT in Sweden that’s cheap! Now I’m proudly owning Haglöfs Grym Trekking Boots, and an Endo Jacket plus the matching trousers. If they keep the promise of being top shelf outdoor gear I did quite good. So far the only experience I had was that the boots look clunky as hell but are as light as the ads suppose and that I can actually drive the van wearing them. (I should have started breaking them in weeks ago so I just put them on in front of the shop…)
I remember being in Christians flat in Gießen sipping beer and watching clips from the world air guitar champignonships and thinking how awesome it would be to go there. That was about ten years ago and we never went to this weird place far up north where they take place once a year. Just after arriving somebody told me that the place is Oulu and the time is now!
Sorry for the crappy pic. Just check the official Homepage for more.
It’s really a fun event, Dan “Björn Töroque” Crane did a hell of a job hosting the show and the contenders were awesome! There is a message behind it as well.
The purpose of the Air Guitar World Championships is to promote world peace. According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar. This is why the whole universe is invited to play the Air Guitar for the world peace at the end of the competition.
A clear sign to the Russian gouvernment to stop repressing people.
An article about Eric “Mean” Malin, the winner of the contest
A couple of days ago when I left the van one window was still open. I just “closed” it from outside so that it looks closed but the latches are not engaged. At the the moment I thought that’s quite stupid because I surely will forget to close it probably. Well, today I lost the window on the highway.
I tracked back but couldn’t find it anywhere. So I paid the next Bauhaus a visit to gather stuff for a semi permanent fix.
An XPS foam panel, an extruded aluminum U-shaped profile and some screws, nuts and large washer, 12€. Why not acrylic? Because it’s fucking expensive, tricky to shape with the tools I have at hand and last but not least isn’t insulating at all. Since the nights are quite chilly already and the window is just over my bed I really don’t want water to condensate over there and drip down during the night.
I surely did stuff of more beauty in my life but I guess it will suffice until I gather a new window. And if you’re concerned about that not being waterproof: XPS actually is and the panel is pressed against the original seal of the window. I guess it will be alright, but the next rain will show for sure….
Loosing time and money because of stupidity is always a bad thing. But somehow I’m getting used to it.
Location: Oulu, Finland
The last big city before the wilderness. The capital of the north they call themselves. I decided to stay a couple of days and use the powers of the mighty interwebs to spent some time in good company before going north. Just after arriving I met up with some couchsurfing folks. One told me that there’s a chance to see northern lights (aurora borealis) in the night so we went off to a nearby lake which also doubled up as a decent spot to spend the night for me.
Aurora Borealis. Thats how they look like. Thx to robin for the picture.
Sitting on the beach and sipping beer we waited and talked with some late night swimmers and came up with some fun facts about our home countries: Finland has approx 5 million inhabitants and an area of 338000 square kilometers. Germany has 80 million and approx 380000 square kilometers. So roughly 1/16th of population density. People are always amazed when I tell them that the west part of the Harz Mountains has 100 lakes. Finland has 188000 lakes. Not too bad at all. But the western Harz has the higher lake density with only 800 square kilometers.. Finland feels a little bit like the northern version of Australia.
After mocking us for trying to watch northern lights that early in the year the locals took off and some hours later we actually saw aurora borealis! This actually is quite uncommon but for some weird sun cycle reasons and solar witchcraft I arrived just at the right time of the 11 year sun cycle to watch fancy lights…
Pics or it didn’t happen? Alright, here you go… Thx to robin for this pic as well…
Before the trip I thought I won’t see any because I’m up here in the summer. Well, summer is actually at it’s end (it’s shorter in the north) and I’ll probably see plenty of northern lights. And have an indian summer like experience. And less mosquios. Not what I expected but appreciated non the less. Got to do some shopping for warmer clothing though.
Location: Pyhä-Häkki National Park / Finland
After the short (6.8km) late evening stroll (I started at 20:00) from yesterday I decided to stay another night and do the 17km track. It was really nice and since I had a late start around 15:00 as well I had the whole park for myself since the tourists started early in the morning.
The shack from yesterday in daylight
The lake in front of the shack
The actual shelter on the other side of the park. Elevated wooden floor for insulation, a fireplace in front for heating and a second fireplace for hanging out. Two height adjustable BBQs, wood storage on the left, outhouse on the right (not on the picture).
There’s not much to add to these pictures. The folks over here know what they’re doing outdoor wise. Can’t argue with that…
some moss I haven’t seen before
I will spent the next couple of days in Oulu, so there will be not too much hiking…
Location: Pyhä-Häkki National Park / Finland
In Germany all national park visits start with a sign of what is not allowed. No camping, no fires, no picking mushrooms or berries, no fishing, … They try to spoil the experience as good as they can so most people drive there, walk for a couple of hours and then drive back to their home/hotel. There are some small shelters against the rain sometimes which you can misuse for staying overnight.
Archive Picture: Typical Harz Mountains Shelter. No toilet, no fireplace and quite small. Quite an old picture. Who recognizes the two?
In Finland there are also signs at the park entrance, for example: Camping and fires are only allowed in the designated areas (see map just aside the sign), picking mushroom, berries is allowed throughout the park as well as fishing. The tracks are well marked and maintained, it is really difficult to get lost. I once did because a sign pointed in the wrong direction. I also really like their take on “designated area for fires”:
A fireplace, chopped wood, long pokes for roasting stuff, pans, kettles, salt, ...
Some additional wood on the back of the shack
And just in case you run out of wood, an additional hut full of wood.
The surroundings of the campsite are also nice...
… and here I sit, on an almost perfect beach with a beautiful sunset sipping ice-cold german beer. Alone. Nobody wanted to join in on the trip because everybody is so occupied doing whatever. Some folks probably are, I won’t deny that. But I’ve got the feeling that for most people it’s just a barrier in their heads. This reminds me of one situation at work where I told some collegues that I’ll be traveling for a couple of months when my contract is over. Everybody was like “Oh, that sounds nice, I would really love to be able to do this as well but …”. I was totally amazed by one guy who told them that they are bonkers and that they could if they wanted to. He closed his motivational speech with “…but I don’t want to. Why should I travel the world if I can stay at home on my sofa and watch TV?”. Good question. I don’t know if his obesity issues were a reason but I guess that he is really just the kind of guy who likes to stay at home. I’m not.
And just for the record the sunset from the day before yesterday…
The sunset yesterday looked quite the same actually. Forgot my camera though…
Location: Nuuksio National park, north of Helsinki
Odo: approx. 284200
Helsinki was feeling wrong somehow. Not too bad of a city at all, some nice places, some nice folks, not as shiny as swedish cities, a place which just seems real. Almost familiar… Since I developed that certain “I think I’ll stay at home today and will not do anything but reading and drinking tea” mood I flew from the city to the Nuuksio National Park. Just a half hour drive of the city center lies the first inland place on this trip which seems to have some magic in it. It’s difficult to put in words but it feels good being here. My senses are pleased with beautiful nature and my head is spinning free.
Here it came to me. Helsinki has a little more that 600k inhabitants in the city and 1,3m in the metro area. Seems familiar indeed… It’s Hannover again! Or at least the size and the bits I saw. Another indicator for the wrongness I felt was stuff that S. told me. She’s quite interested in alternative living projects, especially eco villages. There are not too many in Finland and by coincidence she was just about to hop on a plane to germany to visit “Sieben Linden”, a quite large eco village just about 50km away from Hannover. So I came here to search for intentional communites and the locals go to my homeplace to find these. That was the second time somebody asked me why I’m coming here to search stuff which is just at my doorstep at home.
Today was also the first time where I started to have second thoughts in my travel plans. Almost a month into the trip I really miss partying with friends. Right now I would love to do just that. I know I would get sick of it soon and would wish to get going again fast. Probably I’m a little bit homesick. I really took it slowly so there’s no big WOW all the time which normally compensates for that. The trip is just nice. Lacks a little bit of partying actually but that’s more or less my own fault since I missed most opportunities on purpose.
So I’m feeling a little lonely and I’m about to drive into the wilderness where there are no people to meet online and few to meet in real life. Sounds wrong somehow. Since it seems that none of my friends will join in on the trip for some time I’ll probably spend some time just with myself. Maybe that’s just the right thing to do. I still have no clue what I want to change in my life. And judging by experience I won’t find that clue partying or hanging out at home.
It’s about 1500km to Hammerfest and another 2800km from there back to Hannover. For travelling in Germany this seems like a really long distance. I guess I just give it a shot. If it’s too boring I’ll to switch to “Australia Mode” where this would be a short trip to the outback. Maybe I’ll even find decent company on the way… I should get the soundsystem going and gather some audio books anyways…
(posted a couple of days after writing, feeling more content about travelling on now…)
Today I got locked up on a parking lot. After I had to leave motonet because they were closing I cross checked some prices online. An truly awesome store btw: car, motorcycle, boat camping and outdoor stuff. Looking up from the screen I saw two guys locking one of the gates of the parking lot. When I started to drive in their direction they drove off. Dickheads… All gates were closed. A local couple was locked out and couldn’t get to their car and I was locked in. At least they could translate this sign…
“The parking lot is closed 15 minutes after the shops. If you’re locked in call the following number and pay 40€”
They guy tried to phone someone in the store and I had a look at the gate. I asked if they would consider opening the gate ourselves illegal and got no answer.
13mm bolt & nut… One nut already missing…
Hmmm, if they would really have wanted to lock it the would have used the chain hanging on the left because the joint between the actual lock and the gate is just two bolts. The rest of the story is quite short, his wife (?) started laughing when I gathered tools from the van and didn’t stop until we had “locked” the gate again and were driving off. Didn’t take that long actually…
Location: Helsinki, Finland
That roadsign on the highway and the fact that I crossed a timezone (Finland is GMT+3) made me aware that I drove quite a distance to the east. I spent some fun days at Turku, made friends with a very decent local who brought me to a vegan book cafe.
I forgot to ask for a translation but probably it says smash fascism… and that ponies are awesome :-)
feeling at home in a bathroom of a vegan cafe… the first time I actually saw political stickers. And yes, I photographed all of them. There were no more.
The resemblance of the harz mountains is growing stronger. It’s not that flat anymore and it’s rocky as well. The view from my friends window could be anywhere in the wester
The same window from the other side.
At the moment I’m in Helsinki. Yesterday a very nice local gave me a little guided tour around the not so obvious sights of the city. An former freight harbor is being converted to housings. The process will take 20 years and the city actually paid somebody to coordinate the usage of the area in between. Urban gardeners are given free soil and water by the city. Walls are put up for graffiti artists. There are large Freight containers for different projects like a cafe for example. And there’s quite some space which people just use as they want. Some folks build a sauna but that was too much for the city, they took it down. A pizza oven was accepted after some quarrels though. I quite laughed my arse off when a motorcycle driving school did the first lessons of a student (drive around cones) just next to some stunting guys making wheely circling, stoppies and wheelies sitting on the handlebar. I forgot to take a photo.
It seems the alternative scene isn’t that strong over here. Info shops, cultural centers, squads, alternative trailer parks (I’m still searching for the translation of Wagenplätze), independent youth centers and places alike are not very common in scandinavia. I already got some hints for possible causes but I think I’ve got to investigate further…