NORTHERN EUROPE 2015

Trip duration: 63 days (March 7th 2015-May 8th 2015)

Countries visited: 7

Route: Denmark - Faroe Islands - Iceland - Norway - Svalbard - Norway - Sweden - Finland - Estonia - Finland - Denmark

North Atlantic Ocean (2)
Day 1: March 7th 2015 (Hirtshals to North Atlantic Ocean)
Day 2: March 8th 2015 (North Atlantic Ocean)

Faroe Islands (21)
Day 3: March 9th 2015 (North Atlantic Ocean to Tórshavn)
Day 4: March 10th 2015 (Tórshavn, Nólsoy)
Day 5: March 11th 2015 (Tórshavn to Skála)
Day 6: March 12th 2015 (Skála)
Day 7: March 13th 2015 (Skála, Tórshavn Kirkjubøur)
Day 8: March 14th 2015 (Skála, Leírvik, Varmakelda, Klaksvík, Kunoy)
Day 9: March 15th 2015 (Skála to Tórshavn)
Day 10: March 16th 2015 (Tórshavn, Kaldbak, Argir)
Day 11: March 17th 2015 (Tórshavn, Gjógv, Eiði)
Day 12: March 18th 2015 (Tórshavn to Saksun)
Day 13: March 19th 2015 (Saksun to Tórshavn)
Day 14: March 20th 2015 (Tórshavn, Total Solar Eclipse)
Day 15: March 21st 2015 (Tórshavn)
Day 16: March 22nd 2015 (Tórshavn)
Day 17: March 23rd 2015 (Tórshavn, Sandoy)
Day 18: March 24th 2015 (Tórshavn)
Day 19: March 25th 2015 (Tórshavn, Gásadalur, Tjørnuvík, Skála)
Day 20: March 26th 2015 (Tórshavn, Skála, Runavík, Toftir, Toftavatn, Æðuvík, Rituvík, Velbastaður)
Day 21: March 27th 2015 (Tórshavn, Klaksvík, Muli, Viðareiði, Fuglafjørður, Elduvík)
Day 22: March 28th 2015 (Tórshavn)
Day 23: March 29th 2015 (Tórshavn)

North Atlantic Sea (1)
Day 24: March 30th 2015 (Tórshavn to North Atlantic Ocean)

Iceland (14)
Day 25: March 31st 2015 (North Atlantic Ocean to Seydisfjörður)
Day 26: April 1st 2015 (Seydisfjörður to Egilsstaðir)
Day 27: April 2nd 2015 (Egilsstaðir to Reykjavík)
Day 28: April 3rd 2015 (Reykjavík)
Day 29: April 4th 2015 (Reykjavík, Þingyvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss)
Day 30: April 5th 2015 (Reykjavík, Seltún, Blue Lagoon)
Day 31: April 6th 2015 (Reykjavík to Patreksfjörður to Bildudalur to Króksfjörður)
Day 32: April 7th 2015 (Króksfjörður to Þingeyri)
Day 33: April 8th 2015 (Þingeyri)
Day 34: April 9th 2015 (Þingeyri, Ísafjörður, Northern Lights)
Day 35: April 10th 2015 (Þingeyri)
Day 36: April 11th 2015 (Þingeyri)
Day 37: April 12th 2015 (Þingeyri to Hólmavík)
Day 38: April 13th 2015 (Hólmavík to Snæfellsnes to Reykjavík)

Norway (1)
Day 39: April 14th 2015 (Reykjavík to Oslo)

Svalbard (6)
Day 40: April 15th 2015 (Oslo to Longyearbyen)
Day 41: April 16th 2015 (Longyearbyen, Bolterdalen)
Day 42: April 17th 2015 (Longyearbyen, Ymerbukta, Barentsburg)
Day 43: April 18th 2015 (Longyearbyen, Larsbreen)
Day 44: April 19th 2015 (Longyearbyen)
Day 45: April 20th 2015 (Longyearbyen, Sarkofagen Mountain, Midnight Sun)

Norway (7)
Day 46: April 21st 2015 (Longyearbyen to Tromsø)
Day 47: April 22nd 2015 (Tromsø to Svolvær to Svinøya)
Day 48: April 23rd 2015 (Svinøya to Ballstad)
Day 49: April 24th 2015 (Ballstad)
Day 50: April 25th 2015 (Ballstad)
Day 51: April 26th 2015 (Ballstad)
Day 52: April 27th 2015 (Ballstad to Narvik)

Sweden (6)
Day 53: April 28th 2015 (Narvik to Gällivare)
Day 54: April 29th 2015 (Gällivare to Båtsuoj Samecenter)
Day 55: April 30th 2015 (Båtsuoj Samecenter to Stockholm)
Day 56: May 1st 2015 (Stockholm to Visby)
Day 57: May 2nd 2015 (Visby)
Day 58: May 3rd 2015 (Visby to Stockholm)

Finland/Estonia (4)
Day 59: May 4th 2015 (Stockholm to Turku to Helsinki)
Day 60: May 5th 2015 (Helsinki)
Day 61: May 6th 2015 (Helsinki, Tallin)
Day 62: May 7th 2015 (Helsinki)

Denmark (1)
Day 63: May 8th 2015 (Helsinki to Copenhagen)

Ice fishing in Norrbotten, Sweden
Ice fishing in Norrbotten, Sweden

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On March 7th 2015, I set off on my first ever journey. With just my camera, tent and a few pieces of clothing, I was ready to explore my own backyard, Northern Europe, for two incredible months – completely on my own. I chose to travel through Northern Europe instead of the more typical backpacker regions such as South-East Asia and Australia because I wanted to explore the unknown and the raw, untouched nature of the North is exactly that. I felt that it was important for me to explore my neighbouring countries before jetting off to faraway destinations. And I must say that the North delivered! I’ve had a constant longing to return ever since I got back to Denmark.

When I first read about the Total Solar Eclipse that would happen on March 20th and be visible in just Faroe Islands and Svalbard, I knew that it was the right time to go and I chose Faroe Islands to be my starting point and to be the place where I would experience the eclipse. The decision was made and I was off on the journey of a lifetime that took me through seven amazing countries that all had something special to offer.

Faroe Islands

I spent two nights on the ferry from Denmark, where I met four amazing people, Elien, Liam, Steve and Ildi, who were all travelling to Faroe Islands to view the eclipse. I ended up spending a lot of time with them and I’m happy to say that we are still keeping in touch and meeting up around the world. I spent my first two nights in a hostel in Tórshavn and then went to Skála to camp with Steve and Ildi. But a storm was brewing and soon I was left without a tent and with very wet clothes. Thankfully, you can always rely on the kindness of the Faroese people! We were rescued and spent a lovely evening with a Faroese family, before going to the house where Elien and Liam were staying and spending four nights there until the storm was over. I now had a useless tent and didn’t know where to go. But I got lucky and found a lovely couple in Tórshavn, who offered to take me in for the remaining two weeks on the Faroe Islands. Erling and Asa, as they are called, have a grandson called Regin, who I quickly became friends with and he showed me some beautiful spots that I hadn’t seen before. The next two weeks were spent exploring new villages, hiking in the mountains (with our own Faroese guide for one trip!), watching the Total Solar Eclipse, seeing some smaller islands and having fun with my new travel buddies!

Iceland

After three weeks it was time to leave Faroe Islands and head further North to Iceland. Steve was also leaving to go to Iceland on that day, so we decided to spend our time on the ferry together. One day later, we arrived to a very cold and snowy Seydisfjördur in East Iceland and spent the first night there in a guesthouse and got stuck in the worst snowstorm we’d ever experienced while exploring the beautiful town. The next day was spent in Egilsstadir and then I headed to the South to meet my parents, who had flown over for my 20th birthday. Together, we explored Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and Reykjanes. On their last night, we met up with Steve, who I travelled with for the rest of my time in Iceland. We went to Westfjords to visit my friend Thorhallur in Thingeyri, but got lost by 700 km. on the way there and got stuck in the snow 5 times on the way back – and had to be rescued twice! Westfjords was amazing and there we had our first experience of the beautiful Northern Lights! After 5 days with Thorhallur, we drove on to Snæfellsness and then said goodbye, as I headed to the airport and Steve stayed in Iceland.

Svalbard

I had my first Arctic experiences on Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, at 78 degrees North and just 1316 km. from the North Pole. I was there for 6 days and did so many amazing things; I went dog sledding in Bolterdalen; I went hiking to the top of Sarkofagen Mountain with all the snow gear; I went on a boat trip to a majestic glacier in Ymerbukta and the Russian coal mining settlement Barentsburg; I went hiking to a beautiful ice cave; and I explored the capital city, Longyearbyen. On my last night, I experienced the magical Midnight Sun and it was the perfect way to end an amazing Arctic experience!

Norway

On the way to Svalbard, I had a 9-hour stopover in Oslo, which made it possible for me to explore the city. I loved Oslo and it’s now my favourite Scandinavian capital! I flew to Tromsø from Svalbard and met a great friend on the plane, who I explored Tromsø with before heading to Lofoten Islands on a 17-hour ferry ride starting at 1 AM. Tired and exhausted, I arrived in the stunning Lofoten Islands and struggled to find somewhere to stay for my first night, so I decided to put up my tent on the island of Svinøya, located just outside the biggest town of Svolvær, and woke up to a world covered in snow. I then decided to go to a hostel and found the cheapest one in Ballstad, and what a great decision that was! I met some great people there, partied with them and hiked to the top of a mountain with the most beautiful view that I’ve ever seen. Lofoten delivered and I will be coming back again! I spent my last night in Norway on a train station in Narvik, before going onwards to Sweden.

Sweden

I spent the first night in the small town (but the biggest one in the area) Gällivare and was surprised by how much the town had to offer. I then went on to Slagnäs, where I stayed at Båtsuoj Samecenter for 1 night and experienced the Sami way of life, went ice fishing and on a snow mobile trip to the top of two mountains in Norrbotten. After being surrounded by snow for so long, I was finally ready to head South and experience Spring for the first time! I went on a night train to Stockholm and spent a day sightseeing, before heading to the island of Gotland, where I spent two nights in the gorgeous town of Visby. Visby is the most interesting town that I’ve ever set foot in and the sunset that I saw on my last night is one that will be remembered forever, it was mindblowingly beautiful!

Finland

After 24 hours of travelling from Gotland to Stockholm, from Stockholm to Turku and then from Turku to Helsinki, I finally arrived in the capital of Finland and settled in on the Stadion Hostel, which was a pleasant stay. I met some great girls here, two of which I explored Helsinki and the nearby island of Suomenlinna with on my third day there – the first was spent on shopping (I needed it after two months of buying nothing but food and Cola Zero!) and the second was spent in Estonia. Finland was my last destination and although I loved every bit of my journey, I was now ready to head back to my home in Denmark!

Estonia

On my second day in Finland, I decided to go on a day cruise to Tallin, the capital of Estonia, with Doris, who I had met at the hostel in Helsinki. We spent the day exploring the old town in Tallin and ended up at the cutest café ever – Cat Café Nurri! Oh, how I love cat cafés! Getting back to Finland was harder than leaving it though, as the ferry chose to leave without me, even though I was only two minutes late to check in. A bad ending to a beautiful day, but it didn’t ruin the experience – I really enjoyed Tallin!

Conclusion

The decision to go on this journey was one of the most difficult in my life – and especially my parents were worried about how I’d get along by myself in the harsh Nordic climate, but now that I’ve come back and can look back on all the great memories and the not-so-great ones, I realize that everything that happened on that journey, made me who I am today. It made me a stronger person, both physically and mentally, and it strengthened my belief in my own abilities. I know now that I’m capable of taking care of myself and coming up with solutions when everything seems just a little bit too tough. I am ready to take on the rest of the World now that I’ve conquered my own backyard. I’ll soon be off on my next big journey, all on my own, and I can’t wait!

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