What a title hey. Our story is one day ‘late’ because we’ve been driving non-stop for the past few days and I get carsick when I try to look at a screen while driving. Hopefully this won’t be the case on the boat, because that’s where we are on at the moment. To be clear, yes we are going home but luckily for good reasons, nothing bad is going on. And also not unimportantly, we are going home TEMPORARILY. Read on to find out why we are suddenly in such a hurry to go to the Netherlands. And to find out what our plans are, if we have any… Hold on, it feels like a rollercoaster this one, at least for us, at times.
So.. We stayed in Ritsem, very far north in Sweden, above the Arctic Circle. When we woke up in Ritsem we first enjoyed the view. But then we went to Muddos NP, today would be dominated by the preparations for our multi-day hike in the park. On the way driving there was a waterfall where we could hike to and because we would get little exercise with all the driving, it was nice to stretch our legs. The last part to the waterfall was a real scramble over the rocks, but when we got to the waterfall… wow. What a power again and you could get very close. It was also very special with the beautiful snowy mountains in the background and the entire lake was emptied by this waterfall. We’ve been watching for quite some time. After that it was lunch and on to the NP. Here we wanted to start the next day on a three day hike of 44 km. We were both really excited about it. As we said last week, it wouldn’t be in the mountains but we would hike through a beautiful old forest and encounter several waterfalls. So, once at the parking lot of the NP we got to packing our bags and I baked a banana bread for on trail. Meanwhile, a Dutch couple, Noor & Rick with their son Vic, arrived. We had already chatted with them a few times via instagram. We chatted with them all evening. But not until too late, because we had to be fit for our hike. We had heard from the people coming back from the hike that it wouldn’t be a hard hike as it would be mostly flat. But hiking with the backpacks full of our camping gear, including a tent, and over a long distance is, or well for us at least, a challenge.
The next day, however, started very rainy, in the afternoon it would clear up so we decided to chill in the camper first. Around noon the rain would stop and if we have a choice we would rather not walk in the rain. And because it does not get dark here, it is not a problem to arrive late at the camp. After saying goodbye to Noor, Rick and Vic and having some lunch, it was really time to hoist our bags on our backs and set off. We had planned to walk 16 km today so we still had a bit of walking ahead of us. And as that goes with these things, after 10 minutes, “J: Hey Lon did we turn off the gas? L: Um no, I don’t think so.” So, Jap went back to do so but after that we could really get going. The hike went through a very old forest, it was very green with all moss and at a certain moment we could also look into a ravine with a river going through it. After 2 hours we arrived at a beautiful waterfall where we wanted to take a rest. We had already noticed along the way that there were now and then some mosquitoes, but if you walk you are less bothered by them. But when we stopped we noticed that there were quite a few mosquitoes damn…. But everyone had warned us that there would be a lot of mosquitoes in the north so we were well prepared for this… we thought… we had buckets full of deet with us, our fancy hiking pants that would also help protect us against those mosquitoes and we had brought the hammock with the new mosquito net if we wanted to sit somewhere mosquito-free. We wanted to, so we went to hang the hammock between two trees so that we could relax without mosquitoes. We both underestimated how hard it was to hike with a backpack with all your camping gear. It was tiresome on the legs already, but we still had at least 10 km to go. After some rest and enjoying the view, there was a beautiful high waterfall, we went to the first hut we would encounter. This was about half way on our planned route for the day, but the closer we got to the hut the more mosquitoes started zooming around our heads. We were constantly trying to keep them off our body as much as possible. I wore my hood all the time but Jap didn’t, as it was actually way too hot for that. Then, when we were at the hut we decided to walk on quickly so we didn’t have to stop and become an even bigger target for the mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes continued to hunt us and Jap started to have a hard time mentally trying not to be constantly focused on those damn mosquitoes. After another half hour to an hour of walking, I suddenly realized that we are doing this for fun and that there was really no fun to it. We had no mental capacity left to chat with each other, enjoy the surroundings and we were actually only halfway. And above all we walked towards a swamp where it probably wouldn’t get much better. So I said to Jap, “Shouldn’t we just turn around, pitch our tent at the hut and decide tomorrow what to do, take the smaller route or go back. Because if we persevere now, we will immediately be stuck with this for an extra two days because then we will be so far into the park that you can’t turn around anymore, now it’s still possible.” Jap didn’t know how fast he had to turn around and we quickly decided to camp near the hut. Here we could go inside for a while to escape the mosquitoes. Back at the hut we immediately got to work. I went to try to set up the tent and Jap went to chop wood to make a fire against the mosquitoes. Or well, we both made a very vigilant attempt at that. Logically, it was almost impossible to concentrate on building a fire, a task that often takes at least a few minutes of your patience under normal circumstances. However, we hoped that the fire would give us some peace of mind from the mosquitoes. Actually, we should have filmed it from a distance. It must have looked hilarious how we tried to keep walking while doing our tasks while milling our arms around us trying to keep the mosquitoes away. At the time, though, it wasn’t all that funny. We both went crazy in a matter of minutes. So many mosquitoes swarmed around you, we both really have never seen so many mosquitoes together. It looked almost black around us and as soon as you stood still for 1 millisecond they were all over you. It really wasn’t doable. So we decided that the only logical thing we could do was…turning back. What an epic failure. It really felt like a lost game and a failure. But the mosquitoes had completely overtook us and we had to surrender. We ate our evening meal in the hut, which was fairly mosquito free. And headed back. It was a very hard way back. The mosquitoes were still there, of course, and our backpacks felt heavier with every step. But 2.30 hours later we were back at Bob. We were completely wrecked, both physically and mentally, our phone indicated that we had walked 24 km that day with an extra 10-15 kilos on our backs. We both had bruises from our bags and tired legs and were covered in mosquito bites. Jasper easily has 50 on his head alone. And those mosquito-proof pants have partly done their job, but the mosquitoes had clearly found two weak spots on my buttocks. What a trip! We were both very disappointed, we had been looking forward to it. But in the end you also have to enjoy it and you don’t do it just to be able to say that you have walked 44 km. But we dragged each other through it and tried as much as possible to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. We drank a well-deserved drink and then went to bed quickly to continue cheerfully the next day!
We figured that we deserved a sleep in after yesterday’s long journey. So we took it easy before heading north. The next stop on our program was Kiruna. This is a mining village where they have found out that it is in danger of sinking into the mine! They are therefore now working to move the entire village 3 km, financed by the mining company. It was a 3.30 hour drive here so it was quite a ride. It should all be ready in 2033 or so, which showed as they were busy and work was going on all around the city. We wanted to eat something in the village and found a nice place to eat and sit for a while. Once at the campspot, the weather seemed really nice at first, the sun was shining. But it soon got colder because the wind picked up, although one positive side, wind means no mosquitoes! But because it was a bit chilly, we wanted to make a fire to warm ourselves. Unfortunately the high winds also made it a challenge to light the fire, we worked through all our matches quickly trying to light the fire. But in the end it worked with the first match we got from the people who were a few 100 meters away. However, when the fire was burning nicely, we let it go out quickly. The wind was so strong that it almost blew the burning sticks out the fire and caused sparkles to fly all over the place. So in order to prevent a forest fire, we didn’t think it was very smart to keep it going. Hahah, though we had been warmed up by all the effort. Hahah, mission accomplished, but with a short-term effect. Unfortunately, we had to move inside, we already had on all possible layers of clothing that we could wear. The rest of the evening we ate pancakes and played games. We were recharged for the next few days and recovered from all those mosquitoes.
Earlier I was talking about a roller coaster, well here it comes. Pfff what a day. Let me start at the beginning. When we woke up and took our time to start the morning, we realized that from today it should be possible to make a Janssen vaccination appointment in the Netherlands. After some searching on the internet, Jap found out that a special phone number would be made available for this. But the question was, of course, which one. After some further searching he found the number and that it would be reachable at 10:00 am, it was 10:15 am so I quickly called. But all the lines were already busy and there was almost no getting through. After 10 minutes we got through it… we thought… but the automatic tape told us that there were no more vaccines available and that we would hear through the media when new ones would become available. What?! Finished already? We expected that many people would be interested in it related to the possibility to go on holiday, but we really did not expect this at all, we counted on Jap to get the Janssen vaccine and we could quickly continue the journey. But now this seemed impossible. Pff ok what now. What are we going to do? We were both completely defeated. We decided to see if he could make an appointment for another vaccination as soon as possible. This would mean that we had to bridge 5 weeks in NL, but that vaccination seemed really necessary to continue, countries like Norway seem to require that you can only enter the country if you are vaccinated and also to enter America, for example, this will definitely be a requirement. After entering all kinds of zip codes, we found the dates June 30 and August 4. Those dates were still kind of okay, then we might still be able to go to Canada or America in mid-August if the borders opened, if …. but that means that we have to be in NL in a week and therefore our workaway, which we were really looking forward to couldn’t go through… But, okay we both had the feeling that the vaccination should be given priority and now we at least have the certainty that he will be vaccinated. Several options already came up for the 5 weeks between the vaccines, for 4 weeks to Iceland, workaway in NL, workaway in Italy. We went for it, as much as we were disappointed by this situation, there seemed to be no other good option. I booked the boat back and we made plans for the last days. Then Jap was about to cancel the workaway when I sent a message to Iquana.Panamericana a.k.a. Koen and Saskia, who also want to travel the panamericana and whom we have already met a few times in Utrecht. They sent us a message that they were on the phone and making an appointment for the Janssen vaccine… Huh? Were they not all gone? Well, if they can do it, we should be able to do it too. Okay quickly call again. Two phones at the same time and just trying to get through. After calling 60 times we got through and were in the waiting line. Once Jap was talking to someone, everything went smoothly until we got to the moment to actually make an appointment and then the line suddenly went silent. Hello? Hello? Nothing and I even had full phone reception.. that couldn’t be it. Man what is happening… hello? No sound. Okay try again there was nothing else we could do. We really felt the pressure to act quickly, there are few vaccines and this morning we already got the impression that they had run out so… One more time through the system again, but the lines were overloaded all the time… Well making a short story long… eventually we got through it again only to get disconnected after 20 min on hold. Maybe something with the cell reception after all!? I had already said this a number of times, but according to Jap, the connection seemed sufficient every time, even though the line cracked a lot with the waiting music. Anyway, just to be sure, we quickly threw everything in the car and drove to the ‘civilized world’ for more reception. In the meantime Jap had already ended up in the queue and after 20 minutes he finally got someone on the line again….and you might have guessed it….this time it worked. Jap has hopefully learned this time that he can save a lot of stress if he just listens to me, right baby? Anyway, June 30th he can get his Janssen vaccination and then we can make plans again, SUPER NICE. Pffff man what a stressful morning. It wasn’t quite over yet because we still had to call John from the Workaway to explain why we couldn’t come. We were really sad that it was not possible but this really had to go first and luckily John was very understanding of our situation. The rest of the day we recovered and kicked out our frustration with a little exercise and Jap took a dip in the water. We can now look ahead again. We have a plan and in a week we will be in NL. Now enjoy our surroundings. We did some shopping in the evening and drove on to Abisko where we will go for a walk tomorrow and the day after.
We slept in a really nice place in Abisko NP with a nice view of the snowy mountains. Today we wanted to do some walks and as final icing on the cake, the chair lift up the mountain to watch the midnight sun. First we wanted to get some information at the Naturum, but unfortunately, it was closed. We quickly checked whether the chairlift was really open and especially whether it would also be open in the evening. And luckily it was, the plan is to go up at 10pm and walk to the top of the mountain and then back down around 1am. Still hoping for good weather because the forecast was cloudy. We will see. But that was only in the evening. Now the weather was fine and we took a short walk along a ravine with a number of waterfalls and rapids. They had made a tunnel here for the water through which the water flowed hard. It looked like it would be a good water slide attraction hahah but unfortunately no tubes went through it. After that it was lunch and on to the next walk. This circular walk was not very special, but we chatted and strolled around. After this we drove back to the camper place and watched some movies and did some things on the computer. Unfortunately, the prediction seemed to come true and the sun disappeared further and further behind the clouds. In this way we would not be able to see the midnight sun. We decided to postpone it until tomorrow, then it would still be cloudy, but the forecast was clouds and sun and not just cloudy. One more chance to see this special spectacle, a sun that never sets. Really crazy.
We actually had little planned for today. It’s our last real day in Sweden before we drive to NL. The only thing we wanted to do here was see the midnight sun and whether that would happen was still the question. The forecasts were reasonable but it was now raining and it was quite cloudy. We just have to keep our fingers crossed! After breakfast and a quiet morning we went back to the information center to see if there was a nice walk that we really had to do. Unfortunately we weren’t really inspired by the possible hikes and we just decided to go back to our camper spot and chill here until we took the lift around 10pm. We mainly selected some things for when we are in NL and also looked at what we want to do afterwards. I’ll give a small summary at the end of the story of where those plans are jumping to. And to be honest, they’re just loose ideas, but they’re not much more than ideas. We actually have no idea what we’re going to do yet.
After dinner, delicious homemade pasta, we got ready for the cable car up the mountain. For a moment we were afraid it would be closed for midsommar but luckily it was open. It was also really nice to watch the midnightsun at midsommar. The celebration of the midnight sun and also a bit for fertility. The weather was mostly cloudy but there were certainly some blue parts so hopefully…. It was really a very small two-person chairlift up. And, something we both didn’t expect at all, Jap really shitted himself. Man he found it really scary, when normally I’m the one who finds things scary. And I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit at the beginning at Jap and the fact that he was scared and I wasn’t. But I understood his feeling, he had the camera bag full of all our camera stuff on his lap, and because of the beam of the lift he had to keep it on the ‘wrong side’ and he constantly had the feeling that he would drop it. He also had valuables in the side pockets of his pants, which gave it an extra dimension. But after a bit of giggles at this rare occurrence, I noticed that he was really scared and I tried to make him more at ease, as he normally does for me. The way up felt like it took forever, although it took 20 minutes …but it felt so long as the wind was blowing hard and it was -1 degrees Celsius. Once at the top, Jap could breathe a sigh of relief and his cramped hands, which had really held the bag in an iron grip, relaxed and warmed up again. The sky had very nice color, the sun shone very beautifully on the clouds, only we could not see the sun itself, it was still hidden behind the top of the mountain. It would take about an hour to climb to the top. On the way to the top we both really enjoyed the views. It is really strange to start a walk at 10.30 pm and that it is still so light. At the very top, the top was covered with clouds so there was little view and the sun was not visible at all. Fortunately, the clouds broke open now and then so that we had a beautiful view of the lake and the surrounding mountains and we stayed up for about an hour. In the meantime it was already 00.00 o’clock while you really couldn’t imagine it. But we headed down anyway. We were both very happy with the warm clothes we had put on because even while walking it was occasionally really cold due to the wind. For the chairlift I thought that we should now try to put the bag between us, it was perhaps not very comfortable, but luckily it gave Jap the peace of mind he needed to enjoy the view on the way down. The view was beautiful. It really is an infinite sunset here, where you can normally be happy with 30 minutes of beautifully colored clouds and a beautiful red glow, over here it takes hours. Once down, we got ready to drive a bit more. We had slept for 2 hours in the afternoon and because it was still light we were both not tired at all. We drove for 1.30 hours and then made a pit stop at a place where we had slept before for a few more hours of sleep. On the way the sun had started to rise around 2:00 am and I spotted one fox after another! One even from very close with a prey in its mouth very cool. They were really quick so unfortunately we were not able to take a picture. You have probably already noticed, but spotting wildlife is really our hobby!
This ride was the start of three days on the road. It made us realize again how huge and especially how long Sweden is. We have driven 1,900 km in the past few days! In total it is 2600 km before we are home. Soon we will be in the Netherlands and on Wednesday Jap will also be vaccinated. It will be weird to be in NL without being able to go to our own house, it will just be a short visit in which we really enjoy seeing family and friends. But luckily we have the prospect that we will continue soon because we are far from finished with this adventure.
But speaking of that future… We have a couple of options, however our focus is still very much on the panamericana. We’ve kind of put it out of our minds that we’re going to start in Canada. Canada now says it will open when 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, they are currently at 20%. So they still have a long way to go. However, Americans are already able to travel to Europe! However, America is not yet letting Europeans in. This feels a bit unfair and there are other, read airlines and European diplomats, who luckily agree, America is being pressured to open their borders to Europeans as well. So it feels like a matter of weeks instead of months before this should be possible. At first we wanted to go to Iceland. However, partly because of this, we feel that this is not the best option. The boat tickets for the ferry with the camper are very pricey, around 3000 euros for there and back. We might be willing to do this, but only if we can commit ourselves fully to staying there for 6-8 weeks. And now we just have the feeling that we want to be able to stay flexible, and going to Iceland doesn’t feel flexible enough. Another idea was to do a workaway in Italy. A completely different environment, we like variety, and the idea of almost guaranteed good weather. We notice that we are both very excited about that. However, with a workaway you also have commitment, and really just the idea that we can go to America releases so many jitters that we also feel that once we can, we don’t want to be in a workaway place. So maybe just go on holiday in Italy for a few weeks? But we have doubts about this because the summer holidays are approaching in Europe and it will therefore be expensive and busy.. That doesn’t fit either…another option is to drive back and enter Norway. Norway is not yet open but will most likely opens very soon for people who have been vaccinated. Here we can again make use of the allmansright and therefore stay relatively cheap. And although Norway will really be different from Sweden, we both don’t know yet whether we think it’s different enough. So, like I said, we don’t know yet. And that’s not a bad thing either. We will now first go to the Netherlands and then we will see where the wind will take us.
Love and till next time,
Jap and Lon
Menu of the week
|Monday||Tiki Masala (Dried hiking meal)|
|Thursday||Bulgur Salade and left over quiche|
|Friday||Pasta with truffle oil|
|Saturday||Curry a la Lon|
Spendings of the Week
Budget per day €54 and per week €378 and per month €1700
Driven kilometers: 1040