May 2007 – How long do you think it would take to drive to the arctic circle?

17 July, 2010
And of course, the answer to that is that there is only one way to find out, so we packed up our car, our picnic rugs, sleeping bags and some warm clothes and headed off to find out……17 days, 4600 miles (that’s about 7400km to folks from the modern world), and one headlight bulb and just two litres of oil later, we knew….

Heres the route we took, and where we stopped, thanks to the new google maps thingy:

Our plan was to whizz north as fast as we could, then have a nice relaxing drive home. So having zoomed through France, and really, really zoomed through Germany (the Alfa sitting on 190km/hr on the Autobahn) here we are about to cross the bridge between Denmark and Sweden,
The Nordic countries were everything we had heard about them, from what we saw everyone up there has an amazing quality of life, great public services, beautiful cities, great education, public transport…. and really really expensive… well everything!Our third night was spent in Stockholm, a really beautiful city spread over 100’s of small islands:
Stockholm has the oldest open air museum in the world, its packed full of ancient houses that have been collected from all over the country, like this traditionally grass roofed farm house:
We headed from Stockholm up the the east coast of Sweden, stopping in camping grounds overnight, because as with everything else in Scandinavia accommodation is really expensive, its not often you have to pay London prices outside London, but we paid London prices almost everywhere we went.
So it was a holiday of home cooked evening meals and packed lunches, as advised by the locals we even bought our alcohol with us from Germany!
Here we are heading across the mountains from the coast of Sweden up into the wilderness in the mountains:
On our last night before crossing into Norway we stayed in the village of Tarnaby, a massive skiing town in the winter months, it was practically deserted when we were there, so we got a whole ski chalet for ourselves.And yes that is snow you can see falling from the sky!
This far north we were in the land of 24 hour sunlight (which is very interesting experience when combined with alcohol) so here we are standing outside and enjoying the somewhat chilly mid night sun – thus the chilly toe curls:
The road from Tarnaby to the Arctic circle is one of the most dramatic drives we have ever done, beautifully mountains, massive snow drifts, ski field after ski field and here we are beside yet another massive frozen lake:
And here we have a couple of reindeer looking for some fresh spring grass to munch on – we also saw a massive Elk but unfortunately he didn’t hang around to have his photo taken:
It may have been lovely and sunny when we were there, but you can imagine in winter it would be pretty grim with 22 hours of darkness and even more snow  – enough to justify metal spiked tires and a snow plow this big:
Finally after over 2000 miles, we were almost there:
But of course as it was 7th of May everything in Norway was closed for Norway’s National Day, unfortunately this included the Arctic circle visitors centre, which is why none of you got a post card and we didn’t get to pick up a prized fridge magnet!So here we are at the pole:
After reaching our destination, we began the much more sedate trip home – it had to be sedate as the maximum speed limit is 90km/hr and the speeding fines range from 1,000-10,000 euros!Here is one of our first glimpses of the famous Fjords, even in the rain the scenery was absolutely breath taking:
We stopped for three nights here in Sogndal, a cute little village with a lake in one direction and the dramatic  Sognefjord (the worlds longest and deepest glacier – over 200km long) on the other and of course the standard snow capped mountains all around:
Here is our little cottage on the edge of the lake, we stayed on the Svedal farm which was just magic, as well as cute cottages, stunning lake views, an art gallery – Hans and his family also had a barn full of little lambs and kittens for Cath to play with!Here’s the link to their website if you are looking for magic accommodation in the middle of the fjords:

Svedal Hytter

Here we are settling in for nice quiet night of crappy magazines, baileys and a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle:
And heres the view out the window and back up the valley at around 10pm – even down here, theres not a lot of darkness:
Ok to be honest, the weather wasn’t perfect the whole time, so here we have Cath standing at the end of a rainbow (trust me, she is there) Unfortunately the traditional pot of gold at the end of the rainbow never got translated into Norwegian so when Cath got to the end, the pot was empty!
Another day, another beautiful fjord, its a tough life heh?
Another day, another grassy hill, soaring mountain, dramatic waterfall and sheepies and lambies with bells ding-donging and gamboling everywhere:
Luckily for us, if this global warming thing keeps on getting worse, we will be able to tell our grandkids that we actually got to see the rapidly retreating Nigards glaciers before they disappeared completely:
With so many massive mountains, fjords, snow and lakes, you need about 1,000,000 ferry’s and some mighty fine tunnels to get anywhere in this place, here we are about to drive into worlds longest road tunnel:
And after 15 minutes driving straight into the mountain here we are stopped 12.25km from daylight in either direction:
Next stop was Oslo, again another beautiful, civilized, crime-free, litter-free, child and wheel chair friendly Nordic city full of massive carvings of writhing naked people shaped like a giant pencil
Then back into Sweden, and onto Goteborg – another clean, crime free – yeah you get the idea, its a very nice part of the world….
Next stop was Germany, and after a great night and a lovely lunch in Koln as guests of the ever lovely Pitze clan we headed back to Gregs favourite European city (Brugge) for more Belgian beer.We then filled the car to the brim with super-duper cheap french booze, and jumped back into the Eurotunnel..
then, wham, bam, 4600 miles later we were back home safe and sound…
Till next time, see ya!