We enjoy our breakfast on a picnic blanket and then wash the sleep out of our eyes in the river. Our destination today: the North Cape! It’s the northernmost point in Europe that’s accessible by car. We are a good 3,000 kilometers from home.
As usual, we take a short break enroute. Fatty’s door opens and Matteo points his small middle finger into the distance. It’s about time he learns to use his pointer instead, I think. But at this moment, nothing else matters. The diaper boy is so happy he’s jumping for joy. He’s discovered a herd of grazing reindeer.
The North Cape
End of the line. I talk to the guy in the porter’s lodge. Behind the bar, the iron globe hides on a massive hill, surrounded by a thick cloud. A globe. For which they charge 30 € per person. Babies are free. “Many thanks,” I politely decline. And return to Fatty. Too bad the gate is permanently manned and one can’t even get in for a short time at an affordable price. And, this isn’t even the northernmost point. A freshly tarred broad road that eventually becomes a dead end. And at some point, somebody decided that this was now the northernmost point of Europe.
But, the true North Cape does exist! And that requires a lot.
7 kilometers away from the wrong North Cape, we reach the parking lot.
We check the time. It’s 4 P.M. and the sun has long gone into hiding. Our bags are packed; we are warmly dressed and fully motivated! We are not impressed by the approaching low hanging clouds. An old information board at the parking lot points out that the route is 18 kilometers long. We can do that!
Matteo’s supposed to sleep, but he doesn’t keep quiet – as if he already had a sense of foreboding. Only after a good deal of snacks and singing children’s songs non-stop, does he finally shut his eyes, being gently rocked to and fro in the carrier. We’ve made a quarter of the route. The easiest quarter.
Euphorically, we continue our hike, make films, take pictures, feel excited about the destination of all destinations. 2,100 km further north is already the North Pole. Almost within one’s grasp. After two and a half hours of hiking we see the open sea before us. “It doesn’t go any further, guess we’re here!” we naively think. But the track doesn’t end here. It’s getting cooler.
To our right, we can see the slate cliffs protruding from the sea, embraced by a thick cloud. But where is the real North Cape hiding? The cold is slowly creeping into our clothes. Go back or move on? In this rugged solitude, there is no one about who could make that decision for us.
The little one is still sleeping and we let our pride make the decision. We hike another full hour along the rough and rugged coast going north. An icy wind is blowing our way.
Then, finally, the long-desired northernmost point. What a moment! We are actually standing at Europe’s northernmost point and make plans when might be a good time to travel to Europe’s southernmost point. We’re happy; we goof around, dance and screech euphorically. We’ve made it! Too euphorically. The baby wakes up. Oops. For now, he’s still in a good mood, but we know from experience: hunger and cold can change that immediately. So, better get moving! We must start our way back!
At breakneck speed we head back. The baby is happy. Every time the carrier jolts it means action!
The father sing’s the child’s praises. Soon after, it’s all over: Little Bigfoot is screaming at the top of his lungs. Break! We take out our little one from the carrier, provide body warmth, cookies and snuggling. His cheeks are red, his little hands and feet ice-cold, despite the wool. We start to feel guilty.
Despite his screaming, we put him back into the carrier and head towards the parking lot. A thick soup of low hanging clouds is approaching and has now also closely enveloped us.
Dear Reader, you know what’s coming now: we’ve arrived at the beginning of our story. At the lips turned blue, at the eyes red from crying, and all the damn hills that never want to make room for a view of our destination. The parking lot with our home. Did we get lost?
How could we! The tarred place and the company of other tourists would have done it, too.
60 Euros!? What’s 60 Euros?
Then finally: our Fatty! We’re a good 500 meters away from him. “We’re almost there!” is how we encourage each other. Our little one has fallen asleep from exhaustion.
We start to drive, take off our son’s clothes – followed by body warmth, a hot water bottle, cuddling, kissing. Our bad conscience is almost killing us. These are exceptional circumstances for all of us. The thermometer reads 5 degrees Celsius.
It’s the first time that we are somewhat haunted by sentences such as “Do you really think you can do that with a baby?” and “That’s pretty bold, or actually irresponsible!” Tonight, we won’t open a bottle of champagne or something similar to raise our glasses in a toast to the North Cape as the tradition might require. We just hold each other and cry for joy. We made it. This could have also gone differently. In a reflective mood and physically exhausted we fall into a restless sleep.
The next morning our boy wakes us up with joyful laughter, pulling at our hair and noses. He doesn’t seem to remember anything. We observe him over-watchfully, still feeling bad. But nothing – he’s his old self. Not even a runny nose!
We are more grateful than ever. Over a strong cup of coffee and scrambled eggs we recall what happened the day before – unforgettable!
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