Northern Norway: Day 1: Helsinki-Kalajoki

Now we’re finally home and somewhat back to normal after the trip. On one hand it was great, but on the other hand it was quite exhausting as well. I feel a bit like needing a vacation after the vacation we just had. 🙂 I feel like I need a decent break before embarking on the similar trip…

So the first day’s plan was to drive from Helsinki to Kalajoki. Not that Kalajoki is a must place to visit (although it has quite unique scenery for Finland), but a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen for years, was vacationing there. Kind of two birds with one stone situation: we managed to drive 550km north, but also had dinner with a friend of mine and her husband as well as took a stroll on the famous Kalajoki sand dunes.

 

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Day 1: Helsinki-Kalajoki

We ended up riding our bikes the direct road instead of driving via Pietarsaari and Kokkola. I thought that by driving the “beach route” we might catch some nice scenery, but apparently you can’t really see any sea anyway. So we’d end up looking at the same grassy scenery but for longer. 🙂

First we drove 270km to Jyväskylä, where we stopped for lunch at restaurant Figaro, which was quite a good place, because just across the road there was plenty of parking for bikes and you could observe them from the restaurant terrace. Wouldn’t want somebody to steal your stuff the first day on the road. 🙂 Foodwise Figaro was quite decent, but nothing spectacular.

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From Jyväskylä we continued directly to Kalajoki. We stopped of course once in a while, because roadster bikes aren’t really the most comfortable ones for long riding. For some odd reason most of the roadside parking/stopping spots were in the middle of the forest with no scenery whatsoever. Why couldn’t they be placed somewhere with some nice scenery is beyond me.

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Unusually nice break stop

We reached Kalajoki around 7 p.m. and we had a cabin reservation at Rantakalla camping. Kalajoki and its sand dunes is a popular tourist destination, so all the hotels were super expensive during the summer season (160-180€ per night). After researching the situation, we decided to rent a small cabin for price of 39€ per night. We figured that at the beginning of the trip, it would still be ok to stay in a very basic place and this was very cheap compared to the hotel prices. At the destination it turned out that there wasn’t any bedding in the cabin and we had to pay 10€ per person to rent the bedding from the hotel, so the final price per night ended being 59€. You needed to pick up the keys and bedding from Hotel Rantakalla reception and from there the cabin was a minute drive away.

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Hotel Rantakalla

We finally found our cabin and left our things there. The cabin was small and more worn out than I thought. Also there were some bugs flying around, so keeping the door open wasn’t really an option if we wanted to get some sleep during the night. There was a small ventilation window in the cabin with the mosquito net, but it wasn’t very helpful in terms of actually getting some fresh air from the outside.

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Rantakalla Camping

Toilets and washing rooms were approx. 20 meters away from our cabin, so that was ok. The facilities were pretty basic, but in an ok condition. No privacy whatsoever really as there were a few showers in the same room with windows on the level that somebody could peek in at any time. So if a privacy is a must for you, this is not a good choice. Also there was a bit of an issue with hot water as the water temperature changed constantly. All in all this was the worst accommodation on our trip, but you get what you pay for.

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Cabin on the inside (with all of our stuff)
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Ventilation window and a drape, which was too small to cover the entire window.

There was also only one outlet, so charging two helmet radios, two mobile phones, and one GPS was rather problematic.

We went for a dinner to the restaurant Pihvitupa, which was located very near. Despite being very touristy, it had quite decent food, although the prices were on the Helsinki level. We spent the rest of the night walking on sand dunes and chatting. I got so much sand in my shoes that after returning to Finland after spending two weeks on the road I still managed to empty some Kalajoki sand from them.

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Sand dunes
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Sand dunes

 

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Sand dunes

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