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From North Cape to Alta (via Hammerfest)

Home -> Europe -> Norway -> Travelogue Norway -> 25 & 26 June 2002

Tuesday 25 June, from North Cape to Alta (via Hammerfest)

Our cabin HammerfestA hard wind blows at night and sometimes the rain is pouring down. Next morning the sky looks grey and we are glad we will move on to the south. Except for a nice waterfall opposite of our cabin we don't like it here very much.
Again we have to pay toll, this time for leaving the island by tunnel. We pay most of the toll tunnels, roads and bridges by creditcard so we won't notice until later how expensive the it really is. We take a detour to Hammerfest, the most northerly city of Europe. But roadwork is being carried out and most of the time we can only drive 30 km. an hour, so it takes a long time to arrive there.
Hammerfest HammerfestThe town has been rebuild three times after it got its city charter in 1789 and therefore it looks fairly modern. Here we met the most expensive hamburger ever: 200 kroner or € 28.5, a bit too much for us. We just take a walk through the small town but we are satisfied with a picture of this church which is shaped as a fish airer.
Samen churchFrom afar Hammerfest looks at its best and the surrounding villages also. The weather has changed completely after we left the island Magerøya and the sky is quite clear now.
On the long way back we see more and more hills and mountains covered with snow. And suddenly there stands a small Samen church, in the middle of nowhere, with these snowy mountains on the background.
In the snowAnd a small piece of ice where we have to take a picture of ourselves, of course. How could we know that we would see much more snow and ice for the next two weeks?
Altafjord AltafjordWhen we arrive at the Altafjord we can see the town Alta lying in the distance. The view on the Altafjord is very pretty, from whatever side one looks at it. Alta consists of four villages and it takes quite some time to drive through it. This is also the only place north of the arctic circle where we see speed cameras. Just when you think you can drive a little faster there is another one.
Rock drawings, Alta Rock drawings, AltaAt Hjemmelluft, the most westerly village of Alta, we visit the famous rock drawings of Alta, varying from 7000 to 2500 years old. The drawings have been carved into the rock and are now painted with an ocher colour to make them better visible.
Rock drawings, Alta Rock drawings, AltaExcept for hunting people, reindeer and elk make up the most important part of these drawings. It is quite a walk to see all of the paintings and there is also an interesting museum with more information on the history of this area.
Rock drawings, AltaAn impressive open-air museum, certainly worth a visit, if only for the clear drawings. We can imagine clearly the artists or shamans busy drawing in the rocks.
We have a reservation for a log cabin for tomorrow here, but we first drive eastward, hoping to find a hotel in some small village, since we would like to have some luxury for one night. But after almost 50 km. we still haven't seen one, so we return to the camping near Alta.
Our cabin at AltaThere we pay a little extra for a somewhat more luxurious cabin (with running water, a shower and a private toilet, exactly what we are looking for). This will be the first time we will stay for two nights on one place so we want to enjoy that. It feels like a short break. A holiday in the holiday.

Wednesday 26 June 2002, looking for the largest Norwegian canyon at Alta

We want to sleep late, but we can't with the light outside, although we have tried to keep out the light by covering the windows with blankets and towels. But sleeping late is something to do at home, on a day off, not in the holidays, we agree. So, early in the morning we hit the road again to explore the environment of Alta. First we drive to the south, until Katokeino. Especially near Alta this road is fantastic, through a small valley between high ridges; it is just a small canyon. But later on the day we want to visit the 'real' Norwegian canyon, so we spare our pictures for that moment.
Rivier at Alta Waterfall at AltaThe further southward we drive, the more boring the landscape becomes. At Katokeino we take a side-road, unpaved, but the landscape doesn't change so we decide to drive back. Before Alta we try some small unpaved roads to go to the east, searching for the famous canyon and we find all sorts of waterfalls and several slate quarries.
But despite all the beauty we always end on impassable roads, barriers on the roads and dead ends. The Alta Canyon is supposed to be near the Hydro-electric powerstation and well-known, but at the tourist information at Alta they know nothing and we try every road on our map. We search for almost 6 hours but except for the beautiful sceneries we don't find the canyon.
A lonely houseNorwegians still have a lot to learn to promote tourism, that is quite obvious. Cut off roads and a lack of direction signs don't make it easier to find a place.
The campsite of Alta Our cabin at AltaAfter a 10 hour drive we quit our search for Norway's most well-known canyon. We have done our best and we have seen many interesting and beautiful places. We are glad we have a few hours left to enjoy our luxurious apartment. By mobile phone we hear that it is cold in Holland and raining; but we are sitting in T-shirt, outside, far north of the arctic circle.


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