Travelling back in a car is of course a bit more boring than doing the same on a bike but it was very nice to see my parents again. We don’t see each other that often after all.
On the first day, we went back to Alta by the same road, I took on the way up. It is funny, how different it is when you have a direct comparison. You don’t feel anything of the hills of course but this good feeling of an achievement when you just cycled up a mountain is what you remember. Car drivers really miss something here. And the fun on the descend is another important factor. Even the landscape looks a bit different for some reason. But anyway, we found a nice hotel in Alta and they had a buffet option for dinner. Perfect for a hungry cyclist! Alta is a nice little town but we didn’t stay for much longer than visiting the church (that’s what this spiral thing was, I posted earlier) because we had a long way ahead of us.
So we went on, heading for Tornio at the Swedish/Finnish border, right at the most northern point of the Baltic sea. Our plan was to play a round Golf there the next day. The first part of the road through Norway is following a valley with a pretty strong river. It was still a nice scenery. Also Kautokeino was bigger than I thought. The center of Finnmarka is not as spectacular as the coast but still worth a visit. Only, I don’t know if I would like to do all these kilometers on a bike. After crossing the border, the landscape slowly turned to a never ending forest. The only interesting things to see were the reindeer herds. Then we arrived in Tornio and found a hotel, which offered a package, including the green fee for the local golf course: perfect. Also the restaurant of the hotel was a nice surprise. They had a short menu but what they offered was promising. So my dad and I tried the reindeer filet, which was presented in a very nice way and tasted great. The only problem here was that the hotel was very warm because it was an old building and the weather was still exceptionally hot. So the night was not too relaxing.
The next morning welcomed us with a weather change to thunder storms. After breakfast, we went to the golf course to check their status, but unfortunately, the course was closed and the forecast didn’t look promising. So we went on south in hope to escape the weather and find another course on the way. Nice service up here BTW: we got the green fee part of the booked package refunded without any problems.
We kept driving south for a couple of hours. On the way it was raining quite often, but finally the weather was getting better again. It was already afternoon when we reached Kokkola, a small town close to the coast – and they had a golf course! It turned out that it was a very nice one, with old trees and challenging but mostly broad fairways. I hadn’t played for a couple of years now, but I was surprised how well it worked for me. Only the putting was just a catastrophe. That is probably the first you loose when you don’t practice. We played for about four hours for the 18 holes and it was getting late. So we booked a hotel in advance over WiFi of the golf course. It wasn’t far away, in the center of the town. The next challenge was to find a restaurant. It was Monday, past 21 o’clock and we were in a small town. So after some searching we went to a bar/restaurant with good beer and tex-mex and burger menu. The food was very tasty and it was a nice evening after a good day. Unfortunately, there was a surprise waiting for me. I went to bed at around 1 o’clock with a funny feeling in my stomach. I thought it was the beer and tried o sleep. Two hours later I woke up again with a terrible feeling. And the expected followed.. Throwing up and diarrhea most of the night. Not the best burger I ever had, I guess. Luckily, I was the only one affected and my parents were fine. I had to stay in bed for a bit longer to be able to sit in a car without throwing up again. Around noon, we could move on and went on with driving south. Not the best day for me of course, but we made it all the way to Turku, including a short stop at one of the smaller coast villages to have some ice cream.
I had booked my ferry to Stockholm in advance and it was leaving the next day at 8:15. So we took a hotel next to the harbor to keep the morning easy. Everything went smooth there. I said goodbye to my parents wished nice vacation time, build up my bike and went on the Silja line ferry. I was still not feeling too great so I was sleeping for some time on the boat, but it still took forever to get to Stockholm (11 hours). Finally there, I had 4 more hours to spent until the night bus to Oslo would leave. So I went for a nice ride through the lively and sunny city (including a photo shooting with some Japanese tourists, which thought my bike is some kind of attraction, apparently). Finally at the bus station, I packed up my bike for the bus. It was going to take 8 hours. From 22 to 6 o’clock. I never did this before and didn’t know what to expect. Good thing was that I booked priority boarding (because with the bike, I would have ended up as last to board). So I took the seat just behind the back door. Like that I could stretch my legs at least some times. And that damn bus was fully booked. I didn’t expect that in the middle of the week. It stopped often on the way and people were coming and going. Sleep was barely possible and it was pretty terrible in total. We also had to stop twice for a passport check at the Norwegian borders. When we finally arrived in Oslo (with a delay) I still had to carry my bike and luggage to the train, which is damn far away in Oslo and took almost 30 minutes. The 45kg of stuff left some bruises on my shoulders. In the end I made it to the replacement bus to Ås (train was canceled as usual, when I want to take it). Back in Ås, it was probably around 8 o’clock, I build up my bike again and cycled the last 2km home. I was so tired that I went straight to bed and slept until 14 o’clock (after a lot of alarm clock resets). Afterwards, I started to unpack my things and finally felt healthy again after the food poisoning. In total, the last 24 hours were pretty terrible. Maybe I should have cycled from Stockholm… But at least I made it back before the weekend. Like that, I have some days before work starts again.