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Pole to Pole

Day 20: Karasjok to Ivalo

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleSouth towards Finland on the Postilinjat, the post bus that is the only form of public transport available. I was beginning to feel becalmed in northern Norway and am glad to be on the road again. A shower has passed over, Nigel is napping and Basil is worried that he's spelt reindeer 'raindear' on a card to his daughter. The bus is a fifty-seater, but few of the seats are taken. A Japanese couple sit efficiently in front, a bearded Frenchman hunches over a backpack and a young Norwegian boy is off to spend the summer with his Finnish grandparents.

We cross the Norway-Finland border at a sleepy hamlet called Karigasniemi. The Japanese couple, who have been clutching documents for the last half-hour, cannot believe that no one wants to see their passports. I look, in vain, for signs of Finnishness. There's a Shell garage and a café, with a Mercedes outside, serving pizza. The only locals are clustered around a Space Invaders game.

There are quite a few more Mercedes on the ninety-mile run down to Ivalo. Many of them are towing hefty caravans on their way north, to the lakes and forests for summer with the mosquitoes. Finland strikes me as more obviously affluent than Norway. They even seem to have more reindeer, and the bus, when it's not stopping to deliver mail into makeshift roadside boxes, is pulling up to avoid them. I'm told that the reindeer, now that they are shedding their winter coats, are tormented by the clouds of flies and mosquitoes and find relief in the cooling wind that blows down the highway.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 20
  • Country/sea: Finland
  • Place: Ivalo
  • Book page no: 40

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