A 2CV Raid to Murmansk? Ruut van Schie and his rally buddy Raymond van der Meij think it is an uncanning idea. They didn’t need any more encouraging to enlist.
Around Christmas 2016 I stumble upon a Facebook message stating: ‘In January 2018 we plan to drive to Murmansk. Who wants to come?’ An old fantasy pops up. Defying winter, snow and ice, looking for the Northern Light. And all of that behind the wheel of a Citroën 2CV, it doesn’t get any better. Together with Raymond and a yellow 2CV we call Rosie (although she never responds when we call her), we create Team Rosie. In the last few months Rosie has been (p)repaired for her task. Engine revision, insulation of doors, roof and floor, heating blowers, fog- and reverse light, two new batteries, oil temp gauge, oil pan protection plate and an extra protection skid plate fitted. Carburetor adjusted, new engine and gearbox mounts and an overhauled starter motor. The interior was fitted with boudoir red upholstery, a 27MC installation and a battery lock. We are going on a winter holiday!
January 30. 2018, Posio – Toholampi. On this last day together of the actual Raid, we visit an old farm, where 80 Siberian Husky’s await us. The dogs are friendly and we’re allowed to pet. Same goes for the owners. We stick to petting the dogs. We’re in for a 10 kilometer sleigh ride and every couple is fitted with a six dog sled. I immediately loose my balance and almost end up dragged by the sled. The dogs don’t wait, they just keep going. Luckily I manage to drag myself on board again. Maybe this isn’t the right moment for enacting the Young Adonis. One by one we follow the trail through the white landscape. The dogs are very enthusiastic. So are we.
Moving on. Oulu is supposed to present us with another ice road, this time it is on sea! On our way there we hear the road is closed. Alas. In stead we choose a local road. The conditions are icy and driving soon turns into sliding. Good thing the roads are straight and the few bends are taken with considerable prudence. That’s how we eventually reach the final destination of the Raid, Toholampi. Tradition calls for the ‘Enough Drink’. All of us brought local drinks from our home towns to share with the others. We get our diploma’s and a well earned medal. That night I finally get to see my first reindeer. The app says chances are bleek. We stay up quite late tonight.
January 31, 2018, Toholampi – Helsinki. We check our oil and discuss wether or not we will repair our headlights. Since everything else is in working order, I am afraid we’ll only make things worse. Raymond is the sensible one of our two men company and he says we should repair. No need to say I was right. It is time for the last collective photo shoot. To say goodbye to the teams that won’t travel home by ferry Helsinki – Travemunde. Some will travel through Sweden, others by the Baltic states.
On our way to Helsinki we are booked to visit a vintage DC2 airplane. Conditions are slippery. When we stop to change driver, we get wheel spin in first, second and third gear. We stick to the advised speeds and let the car roll when we get near crossings or bends. The considerable number of rolled over cars in the road side are a clear clue. Braking just doesn’t seem to be the best idea.
We are received by the assembled board of the preservation society of the Hansinn-Juka. We get the private tour, explaining how the aircraft was first owned by KLM and later the Finnish Air Force. After which it became a roadhouse with a sun terrace on one of the wings, until, in the end, it got completely restored to its present glory.
In Helsinki we meet up with our local guide. We have a nice room in Hotel Onimani and a giant thirst. Next to the hotel we discover restaurant Lonkka and take our guide Karin out for dinner. She is an old class mate of Raymonds and is fluent in both Swedish and Finnish. She teaches us a lot about Finland. And about Raymond. I’m not sure if he was really pleased with the latter, we sure were.
One last after dinner drink in a local snooker bar. One of the girls behind the bar is wearing a black T-shirt with a design showing skeleton hands meant to carry the weight of certain female forms. Alas the female forms on this particular female aren’t developed to a stage to do the T-shirt honor, yet. Maybe a smaller size T-shirt would have been the answer. The thing is, we don’t go to bed that early.
February 1 and 2, 2018, Helsinki – Travemunde. Our last day in Finland. Outside it’s snowing heavily. Fierce wintery conditions, that’s what we are here for. One more tour of Helsinki. We can hardly see 150 meters and struggle to find the way to the Cathedral. The Lutherian church is beautiful but austere. On our way back we cross the most expensive shopping street in Helsinki. The pavement has underfloor heating to melt the snow, what exuberance. One last coffee and some shopping at Stockmann. We just need to buy some of that delicious canned fish to take home as a souvenir.
We collect Rosie from the parking lot and ascertain that our accommodation came cheaper. Through snowy Helsinki we find our way to the ferry. There are no tyre marks in the fresh snow. We have to wait a while in the port, before we are allowed to board the ferry. It’s five PM sharp when the last remaining participants of the 2CV Raid Murmansk gather for a Jägermeister on the rear deck. We end up in the bar, making sure it doesn’t get to late.
The next morning we have a comprehensive breakfast and learn that there is already a 3,5 hour delay. We spend our day updating our blogs. A certain fatigue is kicking in fiercely. At half past five we have some dinner and afterwards we head straight to bed. At midnight we are rudely awakened. The ferry has reached Germany.
February 3, 2018, Travemunde – Spaarndam. Our sat-nav predicts we’ll be home at 6:45 am. We take up the challenge to meet that in a 2CV. It’s 7:30 the we finally reach Café Spaarndam. In stead of the expected night owls, we are now greeted by the early birds. This is the sad end of magnificent adventure. Without any real technical issues, just a few challenges. Without northern light, without reindeer, but with 4000 km of the most gorgeous snowy white roads. This was an adventure we’ll never forget.
tekst Ruut van Schie
foto’s Raymond van der Meij