Graham Laing decided to retire 10 years earlier than planned to enjoy an epic driving tour with his SLC. The plan, inspired by conversations with his Father, was to drive the SLC from the southern most tip of mainland Europe in Spain to the northernmost tip of mainland Europe in Norway.
When he told his children, they said ‘you should write a blog about it’… So that’s exactly what Graham is doing. Graham approached the SLSHOP and asked whether we would be interested in hosting his work, and we were only too happy to share his story. The SLCenic Route was born!
In this episode Graham almost gets to Russia and then turns back for home.
The SLCenic Route
Episode 23 – Lakselv (Norway) to Ianri (Finland) via Russian Border 270 miles
Now the start of the journey back home. Proving that a car, as mighty as my 46 year old SLC, can go from Southern Europe to Northern Europe is only half the battle; it still has to get me home. I’m reminded of the African saying “If you want to go into the bush, take a Landover, if you want to get back out, take Toyota Land Cruiser”. The SLC still has 4000 miles to cover before getting me home, I have no doubts that it will.
Goodbye to Norway, at least for a while. Hello Finland.
Sad to leave Norway. Must admit really struggled with Norwegian, you can google all the translations, but when looking at them written down, I couldn’t remember how to pronounce them. So I became a typical useless English only speaker. Luckily, the Norwegians are both patient and fluent in several languages, in the shops they speak to you in Norwegian, if you look like you’ve no idea, they speak in English, still no idea, they speak in German. After that they struggle, but only a little bit, generally someone in the shop will speak your language.
Back on the E6 for a while today and discovered this is the place Norwegians consider the back of beyond. Fuel was 17.4 NOK or £1.58 per litre, ouch. The road condition wasn’t as good and Alta seemed a long time ago.
As we drive towards Finland and away from the coast, I took my jumper off. First time in 4 days but it isn’t exactly the south of Spain. Here, the sun only gets as high as it does in the early UK spring. This is good news for my freckly pale skin, no need yet to wear a hat or apply suntan lotion, but it is warming up nicely and the cold wind off the North Sea has gone.
Gone are the mountains of Northern Norway, replaced by large areas of low gently rolling hills. The trees show you have far south you have come; after the barren north, the shrubs and low twisted trees start to appear and by the time I get to the Finnish border the classic large pine trees are everywhere, thick and impenetrable.
Finland is a different time zone and a quick twiddle to the nob on the SLC’s clock and the time is adjusted. My android phone however is a pain. It went wrong when arriving in France 4 weeks ago, spent the first couple of days trying to figure out which option to tick, googled answers which didn’t help and gave up. Last year it worked fine, who knows what has changed. I could have altered the SLC’s clock a thousand times during the wasted hours fighting my supposedly clever phone. Grrrrr!
In Finland the road changes; the Romans didn’t get here but their thoughts on how to build roads did. Long straight roads going miles into the distance, followed by a gentle curve and another straight as far as you can see. The one thing to stop the monotony was the lakes. Not sure how many Finland has, but I passed shimmering lake after stunning shimmering lake for hours and hours.
Had the chance to take a quick detour to see the Russian border. It’s 20 miles away, but on the road I saw just 4 other vehicles and 3 of them were at the border trying slowly to get though. Not sure if Finland and Russia have a massive amount of trade, but if they do, it doesn’t go down this road.
At the border, it looks like the Finns stop the Russians invading by having a couple of small huts and a piece of wood across the road. I’m no expert on military stuff, but when someone says we need to spend billions on some fancy new technology to keep the Russians from invading the UK, maybe question them more.