Friday, July 24, 2009

Border crossings

Sorry the updates haven't been as many as I had imagined I would produce. Not much going on so far north except trying to live with the fact that the temperature lies on a constant 10-12 degrees with strong wind, a blanket of grey clouds and sometimes some rain. Today the sun have been shining from a clear blue sky all day. Temperature? 12 degrees. And we are talking celcius here. But there is a Norwegian proverb from ancient times saying: There are no bad weather, only bad clothes. So, today we headed south and then east, towards the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes. It lies about 200 km from Vadsø, with a fiord in between. So on one side of the fiord - Vadsø, and straight across it - Kirkenes. The fiord is not THAT wide, and I'm sure with a speed ferry crossing it would take no more than an hour (do I know what I'm talking about?). But all we have is the good old Hurtigrute. It's a ship that has been patrolling the coast of Norway for ages, and before the roads were good and flying was an option, that was how people up North got around. It goes from Bergen in the South West to Kirkenes in the North, and turns. It takes 11 days one way, it has a million stops in small ports along the coast, and is now like a cruise ship, carrying bunches of tourists ever year, all searching for midnight sun, reindeer and untouched nature. They usually get it all, unless the clouds are all over all the time.

Why is she going on and on about this, you might think. No idea. But we went on the ship today, fr0m Vadsø to Kirkenes. With car and my father. We were gonna explore. After a 1hr45 minutes boat ride in this luxurious hotel on water, we arrived on the dock in Kirkenes. The first thing we saw were 3 reindeer. Then we headed East towards the Russian border. During the Cold War, sharing a border with Russia wasn't a small thing. There were restrictions on everything and the border was heavily guarded on both sides. Did you so much as wave to "someone" on the Russian side, you could get yourself in trouble. Today the relationship is much more friendly, but you still need a visa to go to Russia from Norway, and you are still being watched in secret from tall watchtowers along the Norwegian/Russian border by Kirkenes.

The German tourists rushing to be the first people out of the ship in Kirkenes.

The welcome committee at the dock in Kirkenes.

The Russians are watching the Norwegians - and vice versa.

Strict rules at the border!

Looking out to the end of the world. At least the end of Northern Norway and Northern Russia.

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