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To the Roof of Europe

Back to the journey. We were now well on our way to the town of Kirkenes, the last town in Norwaybefore the Russian border, where we found a nearby campsite. This was the first challenge. Neither my brother nor I had erected our new tents before, let alone unpack them, since buying them from Argos. Were all the parts in there? Was an assembly instruction leaflet in each of them? My brother’s tent was simple enough, but mine required two people to erect. So, with the help of Kate, who obviously has a PhD in the art of tent construction helped out. The plan (no option) was for my brother to sleep in his one person tent and for Kate to share my two person tent. After settling into the campsite, we drove up to the town of Kirkenes in the county of Finnmark (population about 3,300). In the extreme north eastern part ofNorway, it located on the Bøkfjorden, a branch of the Varangerfjorden, which is a vast bay connected to the Barents Sea near the Russian/Norwegian border. The midnight sun shines from May 17th to July 21st. One oddity about this area of Norway is that it is located east of the neighbouring country of Finland. This means you can travel directly west from Kirkenes changing the time zone forward instead of backwards, like it usually does. Travelling east into Russia changes the time zone forward by two hours instead of one. The three-way border between Norway, Finland and Russia is consequently one of the few such places where three different time zones meet at one single point. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, Kirkenes became a base of the German Navy. The town suffered heavy bombing during WWII. In October 1944, only 13 houses were left. The town was liberated by the Red Army on October 25th, 1944.

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