Having spent some time traveling north of Saint Petersburg with friends, two of them head home but my friend Sam (who does a great job editing the stuff I write) remains as together we want to hitchhike to Norway’s northernmost town in Hammerfest.
The weather’s shit, but we’re determined to hitchhike for old time’s sake. Also, public transport is ridiculously expensive. The first ride comes along soon enough. But after that things get tough, and also very cold. Even without the snow the land we travel through would seem bleak with its long winters and harsh landscape. Not many people can live up here. One guy giving us a ride is a social worker at a school who tells us about programs to reduce suicides. We ask the next person giving us a ride what people do for a living up here. ‘We cut each other’s hair’ she replies.
By the evening we check into a motel in Karasjok. The next morning, not keen on repeating the previous day’s experience we opt for a bus journey further north, which also gives us enough time to visit the Sami parliament and a museum.
The scenery along the road is spectacular: barren mountainsides occasionally covered in snow. I’m glad I’m inside a warm bus. In Hammerfest we stay at a friend of a friend’s place who provides me with some old boots as a substitute for my sandals and woollen socks. He’s a local tour guide so he has some good stories to tell about the area. Though when he invites us to accompany him and his dog for a hike up a mountain Sam and I decline, opting to just wander around town before settling down for a meal in a cozy restaurant.