Days 11-12 - Norway
I stayed at a campsite in Olderfjord the previous night with two guys (brothers) from Poland who I met in Nordkapp. They were heading in the same direction as me so we decided to stick together.
This was the route I did that day – from Olderfjord to Tromso:
Set off early in the morning – it was probably before 7am. Direction Alta, then Tromso. It was dry when we set off but it started raining shortly after. We pulled over to put waterproofs on.
Got to Alta about half 8. Stopped at a petrol station to fill bikes up and to have some quick food. There was stuff like hot dogs, burgers, slices of pizza… They had pizza so obviously that’s what I picked.
After short break we got going again. The rain has stopped and sun came out. About an hour later:
Another hour later:
Next there were a couple of short ferry crossings.
I couldn’t get enough of these views.
The guys that I was with wanted to go Tromso to see the wine factory. I wasn’t really interested in going there and I was running out of time, so decided to split up here. They went to Tromso and I started heading south.
I was doing the same speed as earlier when I was with them and the same as I do most the time anyway. About half an hour later I noticed another biker getting close fast in my mirrors. I thought “ok, let’s race!” and sped up faster. Then he switched his blue lights on.
Great, just what needed right now. He overtook me and pointed onto the lay bay to stop there. Got off my bike and he told me to stand behind my bike. Asked for my documents so handed my passport and licence to him. He was on a huge 1800cc BMW tourer. He was huge too with really serious face expression.
“Your journey through Norway ends here” he said. What? What does that mean? I didn’t really know what to expect. Jail? Would I lose my licence? I was doing about 130km/h in 80 zone. That’s like 80mph in 50 zone – in UK I would get 3 or 6 points at the most and £100 fine.
I asked what does he mean and what happens now. He said I’m banned from riding in Norway. I would need to find some transport e.g. someone with a van to get my bike out of Norway. I asked what about other countries and what happens to my licence? He said I’m allowed to ride in other countries, it’s just Norway that I’m banned from.
But he’s keeping my licence and he will write me some police paper saying that I got my licence confiscated in Norway in case someone asks for it somewhere else. It wouldn’t be much help anyway, I would rather say that I lost my licence somewhere and show them a photocopy than this. Then once I pay a fine they would post it back to my home address in UK.
Ok, so what fine will I get? He wasn’t sure but said around 1700 euro (£1500). That’s a lot. In fact that’s more than I spent on this whole trip. He said that if I’m unable to pay this, alternatively I can go to jail for 30 days. How nice of him to give me this choice (lol). I was later talking to some Norwegian guy at a petrol station and he said that if it was him, he would have no choice but go to jail. Probably they gave me this choice because I was just travelling through Norway.
I was lucky that about a month just before this trip a woman reversed into my bike on post office car park (yes you read this right, I was lucky). I have dropped my bike many times before and there were scratches all over it already so she didn’t do much more damage. The only damage was few new scratches and broken rear footpeg. I put a claim through on her insurance and got £2000 for this. £2000 for broken footpeg and few scratches, not bad. That paid for my fine. If I didn’t get this payout maybe I would then have to pick jail.
In the meantime he made some phone calls. He said that I will need to go to police station in Tromso tomorrow at 1pm. It was 3pm at the moment, that means almost 24 hours wasted (by the time I got it sorted was 3pm so 24h). Nothing I could do about it. I was already 30 miles past Tromso, so how am I going to get there if I’m banned? He made some more phone calls and eventually said that he will write me a permit which will allow me to ride in Norway for the next 24 hours. That would give me time to leave the country without having to find a transport.
The funniest part was that at some point I heard 2 bikes approaching. I couldn’t see them until they went past as there were trees on one side, so they couldn’t see me either. It was these guys that I was with earlier. Great, I should have went to wine factory with them! Then probably I would have avoided being pulled over. (Or all of us would). I didn’t want to go to Tromso for half an hour but now I will be stuck there for 24 hours!
Now I was to follow him back to Tromso. There was a campsite in Tromso near city centre that I would be staying at. Not ideal, as I prefer campsites away from the cities. And it would probably be expensive (and so it was – was over £20 which is more than I’m usually willing to pay for a campsite!). But I had no choice.
It was still early when I got there – it was around 4pm. I put my tent up and just sat inside for a while, felt rather fed up. Was pretty annoyed about wasted £1500, but even more annoyed about wasted time. I would need to pick the shortest and quickest way home which was through Sweden. That would mean that I would miss the west coast of Norway which I really wanted to see. I would have 4 and half days to get back home. 2500 miles if I went the quickest way.
Was also thinking about my chain – the knocking coming off it was getting worse but so far I managed to keep going. I wondered if I would make it home on this chain. I have already done some 3500 miles since I noticed a hole in one of the links. Surely can manage another 2500 miles?
It was still light outside and I was already in my sleeping bag. I could probably do something better with all the spare time that I had – go see the city or go for a walk somewhere else. But I didn’t feel like doing anything. Lied in my tent for a while then went to take a shower. After that I was trying to dry my hair using USB hair drier that I had with me (not very powerful!). It was taking forever, and at some point I saw smoke coming from USB port (cigarette socket).
Great, how am going to charge my phone, sat nav and camera now that my cigarette socket has melted? I thought it was broke so it seemed like another thing to worry about. But even though it looked a bit melted, it still worked. Feeling fed up went back to my tent.
Didn’t rush getting up early in the morning. It wasn’t until 1pm that I had to go to police station at. Again, didn’t bother doing anything at all in the morning. Went to police station just before 1pm.
There was a man sitting behind the window at the entrance that you tell what are you here for. I said that I’ve been told to come here at 1pm to get my speeding fine sorted. He said to go in. There were several small rooms and people were waiting for their numbers to show up on the screen. I didn’t have any number so I thought that someone would shout my name or come to see me. Waited about half hour and nothing.
Went back to that man at the entrance and said again that I’m here to pay my speeding fine and nobody came to speak to me yet. He went to get some papers and started sorting it out. There was another Portuguese guy sorting out his speeding fine (in a car). He also got nearly as big fine as me – 1500 euro. Looks like they are harsh with everyone here.
I asked if can I pay by card. They were not sure if my card would work, and it didn’t. They gave me their bank account details and told me to go to the bank or post office to make a transfer. Took me an hour just to find post office! Was trying to find bank at first. Went on Google Maps and searched for “bank”. I tried two or three places but there were no banks at these addresses. Eventually found post office and managed to make a transfer there. Now back to police station with confirmation of transfer.
I asked if I will need to wait for them to post my licence to my home address or will I get my licence back straight away? But they handed me my licence back straight away. Also now that I paid the fine, does that mean that I’m still banned or can I stay in Norway? They said it’s all paid and clear so I can stay if I want to.
That meant that I didn’t have to go back through Sweden. But I was running out of time so I had to go back the quickest way, which was through Sweden. But if I made up some miles today and stayed on the road till late, I could possibly go back to Norway for a bit (further south) and do the Atlantic Road at least?
It was 3pm when I finally got back on the road. The plan was to get as many miles done as I could this afternoon and night. Did nearly 400 miles and got to Kalix just above Lulea about 2 at night.
This was the route I did:
I started getting tired about midnight but couldn’t find any good place to stop for the night. Tried a couple of turn offs but usually there was some house at the end of road. Because this part of Sweden is rather remote, there were no any campsites to stop at. At the same time I didn’t want to stop too early as I wanted to make up some miles. After midnight I still had over 2 hours to go to Lulea. The nearest campsite was in Kalix. It was hard to find wild spot to camp in the dark so I wasn’t even going to try anymore and I kept going to Kalix.
Camping season was over and there was no one there, but the gate luckily was open. I put my tent up with torch in my mouth (like many times on this trip) and went to sleep.
Here’s the video from the previous day, Olderfjord to Tromso: