Written by am on 16.03.2018 at 20:47.
What's actually at the North Cape to see what you can't find elsewhere in Norway? A breathtaking view in the midst of a gigantic setting with the sea, cliffs and an endless horizon one can also experience in many other places in gorgeous Norway.
Different that often claimed, the North Cape is not the northernmost point of the European mainland, but only the northernmost part of Europe, which can be reached on a road. Nevertheless, the place in the far North, where Barentsee and the Norwegian Sea meet, receives 200,000 visitors each year.
Most come in summer, when the sun does not set for two months and the plateau of the cape offers a perfect spot to observe the midnight sun. The cliff of the North Cape rises at its highest point imposing 307 meters and impresses visitors with a wide view of the Arctic Ocean.
At the beginning of October, when we were heading to the North Cape, our journey was accompanied by bright sunshine. Only one night we had spent in Norway until then. Said night at the Porsanger fjord was very cold, but in the morning the sun was laughing through the windows of the G and melted away the frost of the night.
Accordingly, we were hopeful that weather gods would be well minded on our several hours drive to the North Cape. Either way, we felt well-equipped in terms of clothing and were determined to defy every conceivable weather situation we might encounter at the cape.
The journey is the reward
The road to the North Cape is already worth a trip. The only road to the cape leads through a stunningly beautiful landscape without destroying it. Across fjords and over mountains, the road either gently winds around or passes straight through them, which is why there are some tunnels on the route.
The most spectacular is certainly the North Cape Tunnel, which brings you to the island of Magerøya, where the Cape is located. Unless you arrive by ship or by air, you have to pass it. We did not have a clue about this tunnel. Of course, looking at the map, we had noticed several tunnels to drive through on the way to the cape, but we did not spend any further thought on it.
Unknowingly, we approached the tunnel. "Attention: fog in the tunnel" I read on a sign in front of the tunnel entrance, just before the dark devoured us. A 9% downhill grade was awaiting us. The G rolled downhill and downhill, it smelled of moisture and the deeper we got into the tunnel, the more foggy it got. "You know what that is, right?" Christian asked me from the driver's seat. Even before I could answer, he cheered "We're going below sea level." I could find little joy in this fact - just a few concrete walls between us and the force of the entire sea? Instead, I critically watched the transitions of the concrete shells where water ran down.
Every downhill is usually followed by an uphill. Slowly, the G struggled towards the exit. Meter by meter, until we finally saw again the desired daylight. The underwater tunnel is nearly seven kilometers long and lies at the lowest point 212 meters below sea level. I was glad that I learned these facts later - as the seven kilometers already felt like an eternity for me even without knowing these details.
"There are places where man does not belong," I philosophized, after leaving the tunnel behind and finding my words again. By the way, on the way back, the passing of the tunnel was not less disturbing for me than the first time - which probably outed me as a claustrophobic.
The sun above the North Cape
Past the small town of Honningsvåg, we headed further and further north. The road, which used to run mainly along the sea, continued its way inland.
But these last kilometers through a high plain with small lakes in which the blue sky was reflected, were not less beautiful than what we had seen so far. Just shortly after 3pm, the sun stood already low and its white rays were displeasing our eyes. How glad we were to have our sunglasses with us!
Uphill and uphill, the G, who had already achieved a lot that day, tirelessly managed also the last few meters. Then finally, a sign indicated that we had arrived. I took out my purse, expecting to pay the tickets at the entrance. But the barrier was up and the ticket booth was empty.
Hence, we passed it and stopped at the parking lot, where we had expected many more cars. On the other hand, we had already noticed on the way that more cars were coming from the cape’s direction than heading towards it.
We got out of the car and were even more baffled: when grabbing for our winter jacket, we noticed that we probably won’t need it due to the warm weather. The sun was still shining, the wind was barely noticeable. We couldn't believe that we had been pondering so much about the arctic temperatures at the North Cape and then, finally there, it actually felt like 15 degrees.
We couldn’t wait to see the cliff on which a globe, the symbol of the North Cape, towers. The Visitor Center, which offers various exhibitions, as well as a restaurant, souvenir shop, post office and even a chapel, was already closed. Only a few visitors circled around the globe, took pictures and disappeared quickly. We were pleased about the small amount of other people there and watched almost alone the sun set over the North Cape Plateau.
One night at the northernmost parking lot in Europe
The question of where to spend the night had been answered soon after we observed how a few other campers obviously had settled for an overnight stay at the parking lot.
We found a spot in a far corner and spent an exceptionally warm night on probably the most northerly parking lot in Europe. The next morning at 7.00 am we were lucky to observe the sunrise over the North Cape - this time totally alone, without being surrounded by other visitors.
Although the North Cape is not exactly the northernmost part of Europe, it felt a bit like the end of the world. Standing there was a sublime emotion - the breaking of the waves against the cliff beneath you and the view of the vast expanse of the sea made us understand why the North Cape fascinates and is a dream destination for so many people.
After a hearty breakfast we left the North Cape parking lot at around 11am and noticed that the visitor center just opened and the ticket office in front of the car park had become busy with newly arriving vehicles. Unintentionally, we had spent a few hours at the North Cape, without paying for admission. Certainly unfair vis-à-vis paying visitors, but the fact that we saved little money in an expensive country like Norway, did not exactly feel wrong.