We wake at 5 and the bed is soaking wet. Welcome to traveling with a two-year-old who has ditched diapers completely and only experiences the odd ‚emergency‘.
As lovely as camping can be on most days, soggy sheets are definitely a low-point. We have to strip the sleepy and whining kid, wipe him down and put him into something warm before deciding that going back to sleep is not an option right now.
Traveling on the bright side
On the bright side it is broad daylight already so within minutes we have the van ready to hit the road. We refuel the tank at Karigasniemi and head over to Norway. It’s funny how you can cross a river and suddenly find yourself in a different country and even a different time zone. The landscape starts to look a lot different, too.
We have a small breakfast at the wheel and Markus and I feel reminded of traveling before having a child, setting the alarm for the wee hours to get going before the crowds on German Autobahns. The most striking difference besides the now-giggling-toddler between us is the light. Also, there is no traffic (except for some early-bird reindeer) and the scenery is simply stunning. After our snack Mats and I slowly drift back to sleep while Markus continues driving.
Arctic Ocean Coffee break
When he finally pulls over we wake to the steel-coloured, beautiful Artic Ocean. We prepare the coffee we skipped at 5 a.m. and take a moment to enjoy the surroundings. It soon becomes obvious that this was only the beginning, though. Steep, rigged rocks to the left, turquoise, dark blue water and rolling green hills to the right while the sun slowly comes out – Norway has got its impressive natural ways to welcome new visitors.
Detour: the northernmost doctor of Europe
We have made up our minds that we will drive up to Nordkapp today but before that we need to stop at what is probably the northernmost health station of Europe in Honnigsvåg. Mats has developed some sort of eye-infection and we feel uncomfortable traveling further without consulting a doctor. The experience is unique. When we stop at municipal medical at Honnigsvåg around 10 a.m. and I explain to the kind receptionist what we are here for, she apologises. The doctor is with a patient at the moment so would we mind waiting a bit? Our son would be the next one in line. Less than 10 min later a very friendly GP greets us and leads us into an examination room. He diagnoses Mats (who is very brave!) with an eye-infection and prescribes an antibiotic cream. And then we don’t even have to pay a single kroner, because
„as resident of an EU-country we treat him just like a Norwegian boy – and children never pay“.
Norwegian doctor at Honnigsvåg
Glad having taken this small detour we continue our drive towards the Northern Cape. The outside temperature and the wet sheets require us to stay in a small cabin at the base campsite and run a load of laundry. Mats loves the little hut and claims the upper bunk bed. Honestly, we all welcome a night in a warm place because a camper without a heater can be rather chilly at night-temperatures in the single Celsius digits.
The Northern Cape had been our landmark of reference when making plans. Of course, guide-books disdain it as a tourist trap, yet we don’t want to miss it. When we arrive around 7 p.m. the parking lot is crowded yet there aren’t any big tour busses anymore (and we leave just in time before the masses of „Mein Schiff 3“ cruise are being dropped of here).
The cape itself is only arguably as spectacular as the drive up to this point. However, standing at (almost!) the northernmost tip of Europe with nothing but the ocean and the sun at the horizon in front of us is impressive. Traveling with a toddler also means we won’t be staying up here for the midnight sun, but having experienced yötön yö (nightless night) in Finland already we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything. On the contrary, this day turned around completely – from the somewhat sudden start to a day well-traveled. Needless to say, we all sleep like logs that night.