Stage 3 was the stage from Kirkenes Norway through Finnish Lapland to Junosuando Sweden. A relatively short stage of 646 km, my initial plan was to do it with 3 overnight stops, that was before my sister joined the trip. I extended it to 5 overnight stays on the route and took another longer route with more traffic, and the option if needed to take a bus or a taxi.
Kirkenes to Sevettijärvi
We got off the Hurtigruten ship in the morning at the Kirkenes Hurtigruten Terminal, we took the bicycles out of the ship’s car deck, and prepared the bicycles for departure. We said goodbye to people we meet on board that was going to return with the ship to Bergen, Norway.
We start cycling along the main road in Kirkenes, we stopped at the first supermarket to get food, drinks, and snacks for the trip. We got to the outside of Kirkenes climbing up the first hill of the day, at the road sign to go on to European route E6. E6 goes all the way from Kirkenes through Norway to Trelleborg Sweden.
We only stayed on the E6 for a few hours, the first part of E6 was rolling coastal hills, with some very long climbs not to step but long also with long downhills sections.
After a specifically long climb we stopped and ate some, eating is important even when you don’t feel hungry to be able to do long cycling trips. The weather was on the chilly side around 10+, very little wind it was pretty good weather for cycling.
After our break we continue onwards tills we came to a long downhill, this was near Neiden at the bottom we would turn off E6 to head towards Inari in Finland.
There was no navigation required at this point in the journey, you go on to a road and you follow that road for hours and then you turned on to another road, and you followed the same pattern. Being far from cities my mobile phone connection was excellent the few times I checked.
We took the turn in Neiden and then start climbing up a long hill, this took us some time, and when the road flattened out we came across the Norwegian custom building, we were still a few kilometres from the actual border. Normally you clear the custom when you cross a border, I guess there was only one road and that they had a bigger area to cover so having the custom building away from the border may be beneficial for the people that working for the Norweigian Custom.
When we got to the border, there were no buildings just a fence that marked the border, on the finish side there were some signs that were telling us we were now in the EU zone and some other information.
A few kilometres after the border we came to the small village of Näätämö (Neiden), there were a few shops here and looking at the registrations of the cars parked outside most of them was Norwegian and Russian cars.
We stopped, got food to eat, sat outside as the temperature had gone up since we left Kirkenes, it was 24 celsius. Fueled up we continue on the road to Sevettijärvi where I had booked an Airbnb room in a house.
Just before we go to Sevettijärvi, we stopped at a beach on the Lake Sevettijärvi, it was beautiful the weather was sunny and the air temperature was in the 20s nice condition for a swim, tills I put my foot in the water and that was it, the water was so cold. A better choice was to find the house and have a shower, at this point I need to use my mobile to find the house, the reason was that there were no road signs in Sevettijärvi, no identifications of the house. There were not that many houses in this village, the Airbnb mobile app map, gave a precise location of the house.
The house had a shed, we put the bicycles in there, we got into the house and found the room, this house had several rooms, the kitchen, sauna, and the living room was the common area. We settle in, had our showers, ate dinner when another couple arrived, they had booked one of the other rooms. They were from Finland, the man could speak some English his wife did not.
We watched a World Cup game, before going to bed.
Sevettijärvi to Inari
After breakfast and cleanup, we were ready to go it was already warm outside we had no need to dress warmly. There was only one road, it would take us to Inari, navigation would be very easy.
We had not gotten too far before we came across the first reindeer of the day, the road we were on was taking us through the Same territory, and in the summer reindeers stroll freely around the area. I have not come across an aggressive reindeer yet, you should always take some cautious approach before passing.
My sister did not adhere to my method, she just rang her cycle bell continuously and shot past the reindeer. I followed after, my bell was not working that well, I got passed and continue down the road.
Our first stop for the day was in a designated parking place along the road, we rolled in there and an RV camper was parked there, I checked the number plate on the RV camper and it was registered in Sweden. I walked over to chat, it was a couple from southern Sweden that was touring this area of Northern Scandinavia. They offer some coffee and my sister was not late to accept.
After our meal, the coffee we said goodby to the Swedish couple and continue our cycling trip, after a few hours of cycling I noticed my sister was struggling, I checked on her told her that we would be at the Europa route E75 shortly, and that point we would be about 2 hours north of Inari. She said that was ok.
When we got onto E75 and cycled towards Inari she could not go anymore, we found a parking area and she called for a Taxi. I found out from her that she had done her research on how to continue in case of different emergencies or tiredness etc. by getting a Taxi or a bus.
In Inari I had booked a room on top of a Restaurang/Bar, it was more like an apartment kitchen, bedroom, living room which we had for ourselves. With the bar downstairs and the world cup playing, I pop down to have a pint and watch a game on a big-screen TV.
My sister told me that evening that she was not cycling with me the next day, as she had arranged to take a bus to our next stop. I was going to be on my own. Watch I got to see in Inari, especially the view of the lake Inari reminded me of the Area around Buckhorn, Ontario Canada, where I have spent many summers when I lived in Canada.
Inari to Vuotso
The next day I was on my own, I had a steady breakfast, and did some resupplying in the supermarket in Inari before getting out on the road.
It was another warm day, during day I stopped a few times to resupply, there were several restaurants along the highway, to eat and refill my water bottles.
I arrived in Ivalo around lunchtime, I had lunch at a fast food place, I just ate as much as I could. In Ivalo, you are not that far from the Russian border and only 300 km from Murmansk Russia. I was thinking for myself that next time I head to Russia.
Before I set out in the morning, I checked the map and the elevation I would go through, and I knew I would have a few climbs today the longest would be near Saariselkä. When I got to Saariselkä, it was built up as a resort town, with downhill ski runs. I stopped at the gas station in Saariselkä to refill my water bottles and get snacks. I noticed there were a few people inside the gas station, and they were all playing video slots machines. They all were in my age group, I felt sad that they spent their money this way, maybe they needed some excitement.
So far I had not been so concerned about beer and wolf, I had been thinking before my trip, what would be the worst scenarios I could experience and how would I protect myself. Bear and Wolf was a concern, and with the weapon laws different in each EU country, I was hoping to get some type of bear spray. That was not possible, you needed a permit, now when I was heading more into forest land this concern came back to me.
I decided to snag my mental concern and go harder on my bicycle, to push myself into thinking about getting to the end of the day in Voutso than building up fears. With the biggest hills behind me, I started to do more tempo riding, and it worked. On my way to Vuotso, I passed by Tankavaara where you could stop to look at the Gold Museum or try your hand on washing for Gold.
I stopped at the entrance to the Tankavaara museum, to drink water when I put my shoe on some tar that had been used to patch cracks in the road. The tar was soft, tar stuck on my shoe luckily I could still clip on when I got going again, in the evening I had to scrape off the tar that got stuck on my shoe.
I got to Vuotso, another AirBnB room that I had booked, a much larger building than the house in Sevettijärvi. The building housed 10 different rooms with common areas for the sauna, kitchen, dining, and living space. On this day, we were the only guests. My sister had already arrived, she had cooked, I just sat down had a meal and Karhu beer. I watched a game of World Cup soccer before going to bed.
The breakfast was great, it was a buffet with the local food and porridge, I really ate. I also talked to the people that run this facility, they were from locals that had lived and worked in Sweden for 30 years+ before returning.
Vuotso to Sodankylä
They were telling me that, the airport in Ivalo was going to be extended to allow direct flights from China. In the winter a lot of Chinese people come to Ivalo, Vuotso and the area around to see the Northern Lights, experience winter sports and the airport extension would bring more people and that would be good for the local economy.
My sister and I got ready, she was cycling, we did not get very far before we run into a museum/shop in Vuotso that has iron reindeers, bicycles as part of an exhibit. When we crossed the river in Vuotso, we found a supermarket and filled up our supply and leaving the shopping area we run into a herd of reindeers that were shielding themself from the sun by standing under some trees, it was a warm morning and hotter it became during the day.
We cycled along the E75, it was easy cycling no bigger hills to climb, we stopped a few times at restaurants along the way. One of my favourite food items was freshly smoked locally caught fish that was sold in all places we stopped at.
During the cycle trip, we noticed a car, that we passed several times when parked on a parking spot, The first time we passed the car I did not pay attention – then my sister asked if I had seen the car before. A pattern emerged the car stopped at these parking spots along the way, we passed the car then it overtook us and then it was parked further up the road. We got on our toes, looked at alternative ways – we wanted to stay on the busy road, and not get off.
We followed that approach, and when we got close to Sodankyla we went onto the cycle path, and after that, we never saw the car again. The great part of cycling in Finland is that all the cities and villages that I have cycled through have cycle paths, and cycle paths reach a bit outside the towns and villages.
In Sodankyla we went to our Airbnb for the night, we were staying in a home, we were met by a man at the door and he showed us around the house. We sat down and shared some beers, he told us that he worked at the mine outside Sodankyla, and he was divorced. He was a very nice guy, and I tried to get him to hit on my sister, it did not work out.
They went together to the supermarket, I guess there was no spark ignited between them when they got back, so we drank a few more beers watch a world cup game. He also showed me his man cave, a gazebo he had built, it was really cool.
Sodankylä to Kittilä
The next morning we had breakfast, my sister said she was taking the bus, I was on my own. The weather remained the same as previous days very hot, I passed the supermarket got everything I needed and set off towards Kittilä.
It became a long day on the bike, my bear/wolf anxiety came back, I had at the supermarket bought some salmon as that was my tactic if I bumped into one. Throw the salmon to the bear, and ride off. For a wolf, I had no plans, more than climbing a tree. I have not heard about wolves climbing trees, bears are good at climbing trees.
The road to Kittilä went through some deep forest, the villages were far apart, there were some villages that I passed that looked abandoned. My anxiety was not helped by the fact I came across a farm, where they had built some barrier near the road to protect their cattle and horses against wild animals was my guess.
My anxiety was so bad at one point, I was just cycling waiting for something coming out from the forest. This time it did not help to push myself to the limit. The anxiety took a bit overhand, I got through it.
I arrived in Kittilä around 18:00, I did some shopping sat outside the supermarket cracked a beer open, and drank some locals on their way to the supermarket stopped and chatted with me. When I felt energized I went to the Airbnb apartment that was booked for the night. My sister was there waiting for me.
We got a visit from Thord and Maria from Junosuando, they had some business nearby and they offered us to come with them to Junosuando that evening, we said we would like to cycle there, they took some of our bags. Later I watched another game of World Cup soccer and went to bed.
Kittilä to Junosuando
I woke up early, packed everything up. As the apartment was on the 3 floors we had stored the bicycles in the apartment, we had to carry everything down.
We headed out of Kittilä and took the road towards Kolari, the day gave us some rolling hills, after a few hours of cycling we came to Ylläsjärvi. Ylläsjärvi is a ski resort, we stopped for a short while before we continued to Kolari. In Kolari we ate food, I ate a really good creamy salmon soup, it was so good that is why I still remember it.
Kolari is also interesting as they have a train station, which is the most northern train station in Finland. Another interesting fact at least for me is that the trains that go from Kolari also take cars, you can take your car with you and go to Tampere or Helsinki on an overnight train journey or you could travel from these cities to Kolari.
Kolari is a border town, you can cross over Saaripudas River into Sweden, and that was what we did. On the crossing, we open a beer to cheer our entry into Sweden. We also stopped at ICA Nära Lahtis supermarket, to get snacks and drinks, then we headed down highway 403 towards Pajala.
After what felt like a long time, we reached the Torne River, on the other side of the bridge is Pajala. We stopped enjoyed the view and rode over and into Pajala. My sister wanted to stop her and call my other sister Helena who lives in Junosuando to come and pick us up. I was contemplating riding the whole way to Junosuando, after having a beer with my sister celebrating our journey, I decided to go in the car as well.
The main reason that I choose to take the car option was due to the heavy traffic on highway 395 that goes past Junosuando, there is an iron ore mine in Kaunisvaara outside of Pajala, and the iron ore they breaking there is transported by trucks to Svappavaara. Heavy trucks frequency the 395 24 x 7, I did not want to be a statistic and opted for a car ride and beer.
We got to Junosuando, this is my maternal family home that has lived in Junosuando for hundreds of years, I have done some genealogy and I can trace my maternal family back to 1600 living in or near Junosuando. It was good to be back, I have spent a lot of time here as a child and in my early teens, have not visited much during my adult life. Lots of memories from Junosuando.
My youngest sister Helena lives in Junosuando, and I came to visit her and other family members. I had visited Junosuando the year before when my sister turned 50, and there was a huge party in the village, it was a great party.
When I arrive I went to see my aunt Siv in Isojarvi, that is where we take a sauna and a dip in the lake. I got a little tipsy that evening and had a hard time getting back to my sister’s place on my bicycle. I got there with some help, and all was good.
My plan was to stay 3 days before leaving to start stage 4 to cycle to Stockholm via Turku Finland, I stayed 5 I did not feel that great, I think the cycling from Kirkeness had taken a lot out of me as the weather had been hot the whole trip and I was in the saddle 5/6 hours a day. I did not have the joy in me to enjoy my time in Junosuando, I was worn out mentally and physically.
My sister had arranged a party at her house, the party started with some games at the sports field, I skipped it was up for it after the games people would meet up in the village pizzeria to see the World Cup quarter-final between Sweden and England, I went there and saw the first half, then I left.
I went over to my cousin’s Mats, and we sat there to watch the end of the game and chatted, and later we went over to my sister’s house where the party was in full swing, I ate some food and some beer and then it went black.
Next up stage 4 Junosuando to Turku.