The top of Norway

Trip Start Dec 01, 2011
Trip End Jan 20, 2013

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Flag of Norway  , North Norway,
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I was met in the Kirkenes airport by a couchsurfer named Oggedir.  I always feel strange about staying with a single male couchsufer, but this guy was OK.  There is not much to do here in Kirkenes.  It is pretty much a border town with Russia and I flew in here because it is easy to get from here to Finland, which start my trip going through Eastern Europe.  If I were to go anywhere else in Norway, I would have gone into Sweden down through the middle of Europe.  I asked him about the Russians and if they come here illegally and he said no, but the Norway economy would not survive without Russia because Norwegians do not do labor jobs such as cleaning hotels.  They come here legally and get married to a Norwegian girl or man and stay here for better work.  Kirkenes had a big battle about 70 years ago between Germany and Russia.  One country occupied the city and the other one took over and burned it to the ground.  There were only 8 houses left and one of them was one that I was staying in.  All the other houses were rebuilt.  One of the funny things about Norway is that they are not in the European Union and neither is Switzerland who are the two strongest countries in Europe now.  In 1995, they had a vote in Norway to join or not and it did not pass by 55% and now no one in Norway wants to join the union.  Oggedir drove me all over the roads near here.  We stopped by a store in a small Finland town, then went up to the Arctic Ocean and had some look at the ocean and saw the Russian border several times.  It is really interesting up here.  Not many people live here permanently, but they have vacation homes out here or log cabins.  There is a lot of rivers that run into the ocean here and the river seperates Russia with Norway.  Russia's borders are heavily patrolled.  THey have watchtowers along them with cameras and two electrical fences, which I'm not really sure why because Norwegians don't go to Russia for better opportunities.  Apparently Russia and Norway have a really stable relationship. 

The second day, my host went into town for a meeting for work and I explored the town, which took about ten minutes.  There is nothng exciting there, however apparently a lot of tourist come here because there is a boat that stops along 35 cities during a Norwegian Cruise.  The very last stop is Kirkenes before returning to Oslo.  The tourist shop here had a bunch of viking dolls, however the vikings never made it this far north in Norway and the only viking remains left in Norway is the viking ship museum in Oslo and I have yet to go there yet.  I helped my host stack his firewood for three hours and then went on one last drive to the Russian border called Nikkel.  It's very interesting how different a few miles can be that seperate a country.  Russia doesn't have so many trees where as Norway is full of them.  It's awesome here.  There is not much to do, but enjoy some of the best nature in the world.  It reminds me of home in near Seattle. There are so many nice cabins and churches here. It is a big interesting to get a change from the other churches around the world. These churches are classic wood and pretty plain, but at least it is something different.
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