IN THE WINTER WITH THE VAN TO THE NORTH CAPE
IN A HOTEL UNAFFORDABLE, FOR US WITH THE VAN ALL-INCLUSIVE
When we opened the side door of the van a crack the next morning after waking up, we were speechless for a brief moment. A breathtaking landscape spread out in front of our front door, with a small bay forming its center. The light and colors in this part of the world were simply incredible.
Although it didn’t get really bright, the white of the snow and the blue of the sea shone incredibly richly. At the same time, as it were, the bright and rich colors were beautifully contoured by the brown tones of the stone beach, the mountains and the grasses.
I retrieved my sweater and pants, which I kept in the front of the driver’s seat. Admittedly, sometimes the van lacked a bit of headroom. Basically, though, it was okay to put on your stuff sitting down and then straighten everything out when you were standing in front of the van. Still fast shoes, cap and jacket and already it was warm again. Although it was relatively mild on the coast, it had -2 ° C on this day and with a little wind it felt quickly times after -8 ° C.
With a little effort, the slightly icy side door drove back. As I stepped in front of the van, I noticed that last night’s music and specially created dances under the influence of the delicious, home-mixed mulled wine had not passed completely without a trace. I rolled a cigarette while Kathy made herself comfortable with the blanket on the bed by the door. She looked out of the van and just enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. For a whole moment, neither of us spoke a word, we just looked out at the water and were a part of this incredible tranquility.
ADMITTEDLY, WE HAD SLEPT A LITTLE LONGER THAN USUAL
One disadvantage of our idea with the kettle was that the voltage of the additional batteries dropped quite quickly. The two coffees in the morning had to be anyway, so we started the engine of the van so that the current transformer did not start flashing red like crazy and emit a permanent warning tone. What was a bit unpleasant were the diesel exhaust fumes spreading in the cold air. In any case, the smell was even more extreme when it was cold. For the summer I would have to think about another solution here, but for our trip with the van to the North Cape it was just so.
So, while the kettle bubbled, the exhaust fumes from the parking heater and the running engine filled the air with progressiveness, and we wondered if at some point we might just lie unconscious next to the van, we simultaneously considered the plan for today.
In Alta there was a museum, which dealt with rock drawings from the Stone Age. Today it was unfortunately already a little late for it, because it would still be about an hour light. Tomorrow we wanted to take this sight but definitely before we finally went on the road with the van to the North Cape.
Until we were finally ready to go, it takes a while today. A second coffee, a delicious breakfast from the jar and after we both tested the bathroom suitability of the toilet in the wooden shack on this beach, we could finally go. We headed straight for the city center of Alta.
In the meantime, the temperatures had become extremely mild. When we drove to the large parking lot in front of a shopping center, we saw on a display board that it was +2°C by now. The jacket remained open while we walked across the square to the beginning of the pedestrian zone. As we turned left, we were a bit surprised. It was just half past two, but the streets were deserted.
And if you’re thinking that it could be a side street, I can assure you that this was the central pedestrian zone of the city. I don’t know what this looks like in the summer, but on our trip to the North Cape by van, it seemed a bit strange.
WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?
The parking lot, where we also parked, was full of cars. But where were all the people? We walked a bit through the shopping street. To our left was the shopping center of the city. In the lower part there were numerous cafes, bars and restaurants where you could sit. Through the windows that faced the street, we saw that the places were very crowded. A door opened in front of us and as if from nowhere, a mother and child scurried across the street.
When we walked through this door into the shopping center, there was a hustle and bustle. The whole life of the city seemed to be concentrated in this manageable space. Two floors, each with about fifteen stores and eateries. We took our time and even walked past the same stores several times, as the layout seemed a bit confusing on our first visit.
After a while, we noticed that basically cities never really differed from each other and, even if in a different language or currency, always provided a relatively identical concept and range of goods. We had already noticed this in Copenhagen during a longer walk through the city.
We left the complex again and walked down the street a bit more. At some point, an indoor swimming pool appeared at the end of the shopping street. Unfortunately, I hadn’t packed a bathing suit for the entire trip, although I had advised Kathy to wear swimwear. But we thought about freshening up there tomorrow. Fortunately, the indoor pool had taken precautions and offered a store with all kinds of swimwear in the checkout area. Probably especially for people like me who had left their bathing trunks at home.
For the moment, however, we felt more like a delicious lunch in one of the restaurants than an indoor pool atmosphere. So we looked a little further and saw an imposingly illuminated church in front of us.
Without knowing that the building is the Nordlyskatedralen Alta Kirke, I spontaneously had to think of a sect that must dominate the Norwegian city. That’s how impressive and present the place of worship seemed. When we got to the entrance, a wedding was taking place and unfortunately we could only admire it from the outside. Google replaced my imagination about the modern-looking church building with facts. Built in 2011-2013, the Northern Lights Cathedral is the largest church in Alta and borrows its name from Alta’s “City of Northern Lights”. Again what learned and now but what to eat.
CULTURE PART DONE, WHERE TO FIND SOMETHING EATABLE?
Even though you might assume that I’m the hungry one in the relationship, it’s actually Kathy. The 1.59 tall girl with her 55kg actually always has something to eat “for emergencies”. To the question, which emergency would have to occur, so that we need food for survival, I have not yet received a satisfactory answer.
But as luck would have it, Kathy didn’t have any emergency snacks in her purse today. Sure, there would still be something in the van, but I noticed how the mood began to fall by the minute. We spontaneously went in search of a café or restaurant to do something against hunger.
There was an interesting correlation between an empty pedestrian zone and the available seats in restaurants, cafes and bars. Logically, the fewer people on the street and in the cold, the more people sat at the tables. After our third round past the windows outside and the open entrances inside the shopping center, we gave up, annoyed. Simply to someone at the table we do not want to sit down and wait for that at some point something became free just as little. Since the radius search on Google showed that obviously all other localities were in the winter break, we decided for a simple and inexpensive alternative.
MINIRACLETTE IN THE VAN WITH THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEW IN THE WORLD
Honestly, we rarely cooked anything elaborate in the van. But with the Miniraclette it was actually a highlight. Another advantage, the part acted as a heater at the same time, because the heating rods gave off quite a bit of heat. In addition, two people with closed doors on about 6 square meters and the auxiliary heating could stay off for the time being.
So we had moved our little visit to the city to the supermarket and thanks to the hunger pangs, everything we just felt like had flown into the shopping cart. I don’t want to go into the prices in the supermarket at this point either. They differed in each case substantially from those in Germany, with it one had to live evenly. Nevertheless, each purchase in the Scandinavian countries let the vacation cash shrink enormously, even if one did not have much in the shopping cart.
While our fish cakes with chicken strips on top and slices of toast below, racletteten before itself, we tried already times the delicious crab salad. To accompany the mood in the van, music was playing from the Bluetooth box and somehow the mood was perfect. Occasionally we opened the side door and looked something on the sea.
One big difference between the well-deserved annual vacation at the All-inc. Hotel and the trip by van to the North Cape was certainly that you couldn’t just get up after dinner and let the waiters do the rest. Vanlife always involved a certain amount of work and organization, even on the more sedate days. Washing dishes was a particular challenge. Although there was a small sink in the kitchenette, we had refrained from using it until now. This was also the case on this day.
Kathy boiled some water in the kettle and poured it into a collapsible tub, along with some dish soap and cold water until the temperature was right. What she had rinsed, I dried off directly and stowed it in the van. The whole thing happened with the side door open and both in front of and inside the van. It’s amazing that we never got in each other’s way without a lot of coordination, but that it always worked perfectly right away. In less than ten minutes, everything was done and the van looked tidy again.
BIG CINEMA ON A SMALL SCREEN AND A WALK
You have to get a little creative in the van. Even though I had to rebook my Internet quota, the connection was unbelievably good, no matter where we were and where we were standing with the van. I was used to a different kind of roaming in southern European countries.
Since even streaming movies worked flawlessly, we decide to lie on the bed for a moment and indulge in some cinema. The sound via my Bluetooth box was pretty good, even if the screen of my phone was a bit small. I always hung the phone upside down on a selfie stick with a tripod function on a line strung between the driver and passenger seats. This was the perfect position to lie comfortably on the bed in the back of the van while watching a movie.
After the movie-going experience for van travelers was nearing its end, the now standard question came from me, “Now what?” Kathy listed several things we could do now. Obviously, however, she hadn’t counted on my actually choosing the evening walk through the residential area on the outskirts of Alta.
We put on warm clothes and opened the sliding door. In the meantime, a few locals had joined our sleeping place, who had lit a campfire in the barbecue hut and were obviously having a good and boisterous time.
But we preferred to walk and first visit a neighborhood with apartments that were located directly on the sea. Beautiful apartments that had a balcony overlooking the water. For the colder season, the balconies were equipped with glass panes and looked like small winter gardens.
We walked further up a hill and came to a more densely populated neighborhood. Every single house was lovingly decorated for the Christmas season. The wooden facades and the chosen colors look eerily homey. The Christmas lights chosen mostly emphasized the tasteful aesthetics of the houses themselves.
NOW HAVE A PERFECT PHOTO AND THEN GO TO BED
After just under two hours, we had covered quite a distance across the suburb of Alta and seen quite a bit. Besides the houses, which fascinated us very much, we had noticed something else. Almost every Norwegian in this residential area had a motor home parked in his driveway. Actually, we were not surprised, because who lived in a country like Norway with so much impressive nature and the possibility to park everywhere with his motorhome, of course used this opportunity.
When we got back to the van, the locals were still sitting by the fire and a couple had joined us on the beach. With a camera on a tripod in the snow they looked excitedly into the sky. Since it was still relatively bright for us before thanks to the streetlights, we hadn’t noticed it at all. In the sky shone somewhat faintly, but still easily recognizable, northern lights. Although we were actually tired and wanted to lie down, I still quickly got the camera out of the van, put it on the tripod and snapped some pictures with the remote shutter release.
“Today it won’t be clouds I photograph,’ I thought and got started. Picture after picture processed the camera in the cold. How long the battery will last, I do not know.
After about twenty minutes, the spectacle was over for the time being and I decided it was too cold to wait for more aurors. I packed everything back up and sat down excitedly at the laptop in the van. The development of the first image showed, it was definitely not clouds. A short conversation with the couple for a cigarette showed that there were even crazier people than us. The two had flown to Alta especially from Italy to photograph auroras. The two students had to laugh themselves when they told me about it.
Since we wanted to get up at eight o’clock tomorrow and be fit for the museum in Alta, it was now really time to go to bed. We closed the door of the van, turned up the heater and we were both asleep.