For many people, a wedding represents an important dividing line. A change of course which involves sharing a house, free time, sad and happy moments. Partner’s choice is often based on common ideals, emotions, passions and life styles.
The story we’re about to tell is about a rather singular marriage, the protagonists of which are Stefano and Lara, 35 and 27 years old, both passionate about bike travel.
To make this day the most beautiful day of their lives the two soulmates have thought about putting icing on the cake and reach one of the most coveted landmarks for travellers: Cape North! But let’s get them to tell us their story…
…We leave home on Saturday 13th of August 2016 with the best intentions1 and after a good breakfast. We, spring loaded and our Honda carrying all the weight.
The wedding is fixed for Sunday 21st and we count on coming back within the following one. 16 days in total.
We have a lot of ground to cover and little time to dedicate to ‘tourism’ in the classic sense. The idea is to reach Rostock as quickly as possible, from this German city a ferry departs towards Denmark, we would mostly use the motorway. The first stop takes us 630 km from Bologna to Langebruck, just above Munich.
The day has been perfect: sun, little traffic and not too hot. Kilometres pass smoothly allowing us to get to our destination before the scheduled time. Better still.
The second stop is Dallgow (another 540 km). The frustration of not being able to enjoy stretches where the speed limits are not in place, is added to the boredom of travelling on the motorway: over a certain limit the front part of the Honda is too “shaky”.
The intercom allows us to not be hypnotized by the infinite greyness of the path ahead of us and chatting on the fact that we will be married when we come back slips away a big part of Germany, all the way to Berlin’s gates. We stop for the night in a very cute place immersed in greenery and surrounded by horse farms. We feel on holiday.
The third leg allows us to step beyond three borders, passing from Germany to Denmark and from there to Sweden. In total we cover 422 km. But let’s go step by step.
At Rostock the ferry is on perfect time; just on time to take a walk on the endless city beach by the Baltic sea and we are ready to queue to embark, revving a bit, as good Italians do, we make friends with two compatriots who left Milan by bike heading to Copenhagen.
Even the port attendant joins the group: he is a motorcyclist and he tells us about his motorbike and his travels.
Just an hour and half later we are at Gadser port, little Danish village where we fill up with gas and leave heading to Sweden. We are always in a transfer phase since the destination of our trip is further north.
To get to Sweden there is the spectacular Oresund bridge, it is a masterpiece of engineering diving into the sea and continuing for 16 km. The street road and rail traffic travel on top of that, on two levels. We enjoy the crossing and we reluctantly pay 28 euros at the arrival gates, which function as border with Sweden.
A nice policewoman stops us to check our papers, but without being too fussy she lets us leave. The final destination for that day is just outside the historic and multicultural Malmo, to be precise at Djurslövsvägen.
NORWAY WELCOMES US
Everything calmly proceeds and we begin to grow a desire to see the border written sign “Norge”.
The sunny day is perfect to face the 575 km separating us from OSLO. The road is very peaceful to cover and we begin to encounter landscapes we are not used to.
A very quick “check” at the border sign, the usual picture taken, and then off all the way to Norway’s capital, where we stay in a student’s hotel.
The rest of the trip is more than travelling. This is the place where we decided to make the “big step” and we want to fully enjoy it. Distances remain a challenge, but what is around us is truly spectacular.
The bit that takes us to Molde, city situated in the north-west part of the country, in the fjords region, is riddled with lakes and colourful houses, true postcards.
The road gets lost in the green, alternating little forests to small villages. We’re reaching the ferry that in 15 minutes will takes us to Afarnes and Solnes and from there, 22 km to Molde.
This stop has a new flavour: we sleep in a splendid apartment with a view on the fjords and on the countless peaks in the background. We are excited: tomorrow the appointment is with one of the goals of this trip: going down the Atlantic Road.
THE ATLANTIC ROAD
It’s one of the most beautiful roads of Northern Europe. Travelling through it is like going on a roller coaster… but on the ocean.
From far away we see the first turns and inside the helmet a smile widens! The route on the fjords is not very long… but we continue through the woods and it is a joy to consume a bit of the side of the tyre after going straight for so long! The small souvenir shop that we encounter is a must for people passing these areas.
The path is only 46 km long and takes us to the Swedish territory. The temperature is getting lower and the thermic layers as well as our technical jackets are essential.
We sleep at Äre in a pub hosted by a cyclist who on the top floors has set up some small rooms.
Äre is the starting point of the longest and most challenging route which will make us cross Sweden all the way to Gallivare. We are talking about 814 km. Here is how it went.
We leave without our rain suits, while it drizzles, we are convinced that we will soon come out of these clouds.
Big mistake! Along the road, villages start to dissipate and we carry on big long roads with perfect pavement immersed in the woods (pay attention to reindeer and deer); rain is serious and finding a safe place seems impossible. Soaked and cold we decide to carry on but 50 km before Gallivare we encounter very challenging road works: instead of pavement there is 5 cm of gravel making us travel at a walking pace for 7-8 km. A true nightmare! We are exhausted.
One night of deep sleep and we are ready to carry on. Cape North is close. And we’re not afraid of the bad weather anymore.
From the top of Sweden, we pass to the top of Norway with a 500 km ride. The landscape seems to change again and trees at the sides of the road leave some completely open spaces, where we see the first reindeer happily crossing the road, fortunately without causing any danger.
We find ourselves travelling through rocks alongside the river: the famous local red houses become our “hotel” for the night. The experience is beautiful. We are immerse in seemingly virgin nature.
THE BIG DAY IS GETTING CLOSER!
From where we are Cape North is only 297 km away.
Mr Cato (the priest who will host the ceremony) called us yesterday to confirm the appointment at 2 pm at Cape North! Just hearing him say such words gives us shivers from happiness. We leave the “red nest” at daybreak to discover the little distance separating us. The transalp starts at the first attempt (waking the sled dogs behind the fences around the house) and we are back on the road excited like never before.
About three hours separate us from the dream… but we soon find out we have to fight to reach it. The climate is trying very hard to stand in our way, in every sense, 70 km from Honnisvag, the most northern municipality in Norway, rain and wind gusts violently push us against the guard-rails separating us from the ocean.
Honnisvag is the last service station before the final stop. Better to top up on fuel. Another stop at the camp site where we will pass our first wedding night and then we will face the last 20 km. Really low clouds erasing the road in front of us are added to the rain and wind… we blindly travel ‘till we reach the long awaited “NORDKAPP”. We are here!
We enter the referred structure and we descend to the lower floor, where the chapel is located. Mr. Cato gives us a quick briefing and straight afterwards he starts the ceremony, short but nevertheless emotional, half in English half in Norwegian.
Back to the upper floor the emotion continues, the sky is open and finally there it is, the “Globe”. Beautiful. We don’t waste time: with wind cutting our face, we take pictures of this memorable moment.
We come back home as husband and wife!
THE HOMECOMING TRIP
Briefly the stops.
747 km from CAPENORTH to Överkalix
The bike starts to cave in, the fork oil seals jump and we are forced to wrap the Transalp’s “paws” so as to prevent oil on the disks. Rain continues to keep us company but we are no longer afraid, everything seems easier. The desire to go back home is strong.
579 km from Överkalix to Bjästa (Sweden)
The day goes rapidly and without too many issues; we nostalgically look at the changing landscapes leaving behind the almost untouched nature and returning slowly towards civilization.
546 km from Bjästa to Eskilstuna
We continue directed to Stockholm together with a group of cyclists we met at a service station.
636 km Eskilstuna – Trellebor (Sweden)
We go back to see lifeforms without horns and furs; we head to Trellebord port together with a warm breeze, the one belonging to the kind of Europe we are most accustomed with.
From here a ferry will take us to Germany.
276 km Trellebor – Berlin (Germany) km 276
After being used the saddle, 7 hours of ferry seem strange. We take advantage and rest a bit as well as exchange some words with some bikers… who only speak Norwegian. We understand each other through sign language.
613 km Berlin – Munich (Germany)
Our home is just round the corner now!
Cape North is considered the most northern point in Europe, but this is not correct as Knivskjellodden cape, situated on the Magerøya island, west from Cape North, is visible from the cliff itself, and is situated 1.400 metres further north. There is another game-changer aspect: the two points are both on an island and can be considered “the most northern geographic point in continental Europe, passing from Cape Nordkinn, or Kinnarodden, Gamvik municipality in the peninsula of Nordkynn, roughly 70 km east from Cape North.
THE BIKE AND THE TRAVELLING EXPERIENCES
Stefano and Laura are very fond travellers of the European continent
Their previous travels speak for themselves. Before facing Cape North they crossed Greece, Austria, Germany, France, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands… without forgetting many Italian journeys worth of notice.
Their next stop will be the WILD ATLANTIC WAY (Ireland).
In all of this, their Honda XLV Transalp 700 from 2010 has a central role, “GIVI” equipped with three aluminium Trekker Outback cases (58-litre top case and37-litre side ones) and a series of useful accessories to improve comfort while changing gear and navigating (spoiler, tanks, smartphone holder…)