STIL project went on the road on the week before Midsummer. The group consisting of project participants, entrepreneurs, tourism developers and media from Finland and Norway travelled from Inari via Karigasniemi to Utsjoki and Varangerbotn and continued to Sevettijärvi, Inari. In addition to workshops, we left some time to experience the route with bikes some of which were ebikes.
The first workshop was held in Karigasniemi at Kylätalo Sáivu. In that we had a visitor from Norway, Anja Tellervo Hansen representing Sami Naeringshage. Discussion topics were especially related to cross border routes. A particularly interesting new issue that came up in the discussions was Leksev and its nearby villages. For many touring cyclists, Nordkapp is the destination, which has become apparent in previous discussions as well. At Karigasniemi, we got good information about the entrepreneurs and services near the border area.
The trip continued along the Teno river road on the Finnish side to Utsjoki. Many of the group cycled at least some of the way and were intrigued by the views and landscape. Minna Nousiainen from the University of Lapland was astonished how differently one feels the landscape when travelling by bike instead of a car. Weather was favorable: around 16 degrees, no rain and some sun.
In Utsjoki, we had a workshop with local accommodation providers from Hotel Utsjoki and Holiday Village Valle. Inna Suoknuuti from Hotel Utsjoki had noticed that there have been many cyclists during the early summer. Holiday Village Valle has started bike rental and is interested to enlarge this activity. Sonja Sistonen from the Utsjoki municipality told about their cycling development project which is at this stage a kind of pilot study.
The trip continued towards Norway. On the way we checked the old museum road which would be suitable for a gravel-bike with great river views and did an excursion to the highlands and lake Pulmanki from the village of Nuorgam, northernmost village in EU. In Tana, Sten Joks with his staff in Intersport offered good service in repairing bikes – this was also needed as one of us had problems with her bike.
In Varangerbotn we met with Thond Haukanes from Öst-Finnmarks council and discussed the possibilities to develop cycling tourism together with Utsjoki and Inari from Finnish side. Varangerbotn made good impression with its Sami museum, nature conservation area and good 8 Season hotel facilities and also a genuine Italian pizzeria Capri.
Wednesday morning was rainy and totally gray but three of the group started cycling towards Pykeijä/Bugöynes which was our next stop. Norwegian coastline sceneries made strong impression to the whole group.
Our last workshop and last night took place in Toini Sanila’s enterprise beside Kirakkajärvi. Also Toini Sanila’s view was that cycling is increasing and she mentioned that last summer Finland’s former prime minister Juha Sipilä with his friends had stayed in her place when cycling the same route we did. From Kirakkajärvi we made an evening trip to Sevettijärvi, 17 kilometres away, to see the orthodox cemetery and the village itself. The road seemed good for cycling with interesting curves and little traffic.