As I've already said elsewhere, this trip is mostly about nature destinations. Cities are not my thing. And I say this as someone who used to genuinely prefer large cities - the bigger the better. I've lived in several cities with populations in the multiple millions. As I got out of my 20's however, I suddenly gained a deep appreciation towards the serenity that can only be found in nature. So that’s where I try to spend most of my time now.
Cities are loud, dirty, polluted and unnatural places. There's a constant background noise of cars. The air smells like concrete and exhaust fumes. Everything is artificial; even the park is designed by an architect. There are so many people it’s hard to make contact with anyone.
And that’s under normal circumstances. When I'm on a bicycle trip it gets much worse. Now I can barely visit a toilet somewhere without worrying about where to leave my bike and bags so they won’t be stolen. I don’t even like camping grounds due to the prices (among many other reasons), how am I going to pay for a hotel room that costs my entire week’s budget?
Plus of course cities are just miles and miles of definitely-not-camping-here grounds that it’s difficult to navigate out of.
That’s why I didn’t have the greatest time when I entered an actual city for the first time on this trip. Despite the fact that the place was Tromsø, undoubtedly one of the nicest little cities in the whole world. I was also tired from riding all night. For some reason I hadn’t found a campsite before Tromsø, so I made the very questionable decision of riding through it, instead of turning back and being less picky with my sleeping spot. Another rookie mistake.
So, with all the above in mind, exhausted after a long day, on an increasingly hot morning, surrounded by busy “oh shit I’m late for work" commuters, trying to stay out of everyone’s way and figuring out the local traffic rules, with a very heavy bicycle in a city that isn’t exactly “flat” ‘cos there’s a bloody mountain in the middle (probably higher than any in Finland), having Google Maps shout instructions into one ear with incomprehensible street names telling me to take turns that don’t exist, and after 45 minutes of trying to navigate my way out and somehow ending up almost exactly where I started from… I was, overall, not the happiest I've ever been.
Of course I am fully aware that I can only blame myself for all of this.
Nevertheless, cities are not my thing. And if you are reading this blog hoping to see photos of Paris, Rome and Barcelona, you are most likely going to be disappointed. For the most part I will be avoiding cities, preferring to stock up in small towns and villages. Hopefully I'll get to spend the vast majority of my time in the peace and quiet of nature.