At least the midnight sun was free

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The Independent Travel
Some years ago I set out to reach the northern tip of Europe and simultaneously disprove the theory that Norway was an expensive country to travel in. I packed a tent and a very small sum of money. Then I caught a train to the most northerly Finnish rail terminus at Rovaniemi, right on the Arctic Circle.

Hitching the last few hundred kilometres into Norway took a couple of days. Bitter winds blew on my plastic raincoat. For sustenance I made do with chocolate, tinned anchovies and Scandinavian bread.

Long hours passed me by as I waited at junctions in the depths of black forests. A student pulling a piano in a trailer from Oslo to Russia dropped me on the Finno-Norwegian border and magically the sun came out.

The MP for Lapland drove me across Finnmark towards the Arctic Ocean. Heading to the tiny island of Nordkapp, I sat in a German campervan being driven by a bearded man whose wife was showering in the back. It was 11pm and the sun stood cold in the sky.

The Germans took me all the way. There at the top of the European continent I stood in a crowded cafe overlooking a cliff. The coffee and cheesecake were beyond my budget, but there was the midnight sun sparkling onto the blue sea.

At 2am it fell to a corpulent Norwich City-supporting Lapp to take me back to the mainland.

The next morning I was in a bad car accident. It was a farmer in a new Volvo whose brakes failed. Flames licked at our ankles as we descended the coastal road. We got out alive but all my possessions were ashes. I carried on hitching.

As Narvik approached torrential rain set in. A young couple in a Buick drove me the last 40 miles. I scuttled through dark streets and ran into a youth hostel where I lay in the corridor to sleep. The next morning I left without paying. What a bargain Norway can be.