A trip to Murmansk – trip home

This article is part of the series “2018-02: A trip to Murmansk”.

Day 24 of my winter journey 2018

After two days of visiting Murmansk we were prepared for our trip back. The bus arrived shortly after 7 o’clock local time (5 o’clock CET) and we started our trip home.

We left town and crossed the Kola Bay. It was still dark.

Then I fell asleep. I woke up shortly before our rest at the small shop, that seems to be located in the middle of nowhere.

Meanwhile it was as bright as day. We followed the E105 that would bring us first to the Russian-Norwegian border and then back to Kirkenes. Some images taken from the bus:

Finally we came to the border. We had to leave the bus with all our luggage. I bought huge winter rubber boots in Murmansk and some books and was curious what I would have to do at the customs, but since I stood in the queue “nothing to declare” no one cared.

Next station: showing the passports. Chris, Ørjan and Annika had already went through, now it was my turn. I gave the passport to the border official, trying not to smile – no one seems to smile when communicating to strangers. The man looked at my passport for several minutes, typed things into the computer, looked at the passport again, stood up and left. He came back with a woman discussing something in Russian. The woman left again, the man continued working. Again he left, again he came back with the woman. I didn’t understand a single word and started wondering what the problem could be, I guess it was computer problems. It took round 15 minutes until I got my passport back with some Russian words, probably an apology or an explanation about what went wrong.

I climbed into the bus and we were driven to the Norwegian customs. What a difference! The handling was not only much faster, but much more friendly. The Norwegian border officials smiled, made some friendly small talk and hardly a minute later we were through the customs and again in the Schengen Area where you can move between countries without needing a visa.

Some very brief observations from Murmansk:

  • The difference between poor and rich, cared and ruined is quite visible
  • People won’t smile at you, especially the officials and salespersons
  • The food in the restaurants we visited was extraordinary good
  • Many people don’t speak any English. Exceptions found in our hotels and restaurants
  • I felt like 4 year old when I tried to decipher the Cyrillic letters.
  • I didn’t feel welcome every second, but safe all the time

Travelling to Murmansk was a very interesting experience and I would love to see more of Russia. Next time I would like to use internet services as e.g. couchsurfing to get into contact with the locals. I guess I would get another view of Russia.



5 comments to “A trip to Murmansk – trip home”

  1. Peer 2018-02-28 09:01

    Hey Olaf, so You passed some days in Russia for the first time? I spent about 6 months in Russia in various locations, all I can briefly resume is: being able to speak, read and write Russian was the best tool I had with me. Russian people are very warmhearted, realistic and sometimes rough, but, as I mentioned, always warmhearted. Your heart melts when the poorest offer everything they have in order to accommodate guests. I would guess as well that You had a quite new experience of smells, food behaviours, infrastructure. I hope You are well!

  2. way-up-north 2018-02-28 09:34

    Hey Peer, nice to read from you. Hope that you’re well.

    Thanks for your comment. I know, that my personal experiences I made in Murmansk are not representative at all. I came as a tourist and a stranger without more than five words of Russian to Murmansk. I’ve already started to learn Russian and I’m quite eager to return to Russia some other time when I’m able to communicate.

  3. Kilian 2019-08-28 00:12

    Hi the photos you guys took looks really good, im buying a new camera soon and therefore i wonder wich camera you used on the trip :)

  4. way-up-north 2019-08-28 09:18

    Kilian: I used a Nikon D750 on this journey with three lenses (14-24mm, 35mm, 90mm macro).

  5. Kilian 2019-09-03 10:05


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