For the past week we have been very low on gas. We had stopped at several locations to try and exchange the bottles, but the fittings are different in Norway and no one had European bottles. Starting to get a little concerned we found a caravan and camping store in Larvik, just a short detour south of Oslo. After talking with their technicians they generously gave us a fitting that we could use on the bottles here. They also told us a place where we could actually refill bottles, success, we managed to refill both our bottles. A sigh of relief and we were on our way again.
We stopped for the night at a small campsite, by a lake, called Haukelifjell. We discovered that it even had a small chair lift and a couple of ski runs.
As we continued towards Haugesund we need a brief pit stop as one of our headlights had blown. As we checked all was ok other one went, very frustrating but when you are going through tunnel after tunnel after tunnel... working headlights were a priority. I can tell you there are a lot of tunnels in Norway. All we seemed to be doing was either a tunnel or a roundabout. Cant even think of the number of roundabouts we have had to encounter... Pete is so over them!
Haugesund is on the west coast and it was from there that we planned to head north following the, fjords and islands. This was, allegedly, even more scenic than the routes we had just taken.
3 cruise liners had docked overnight so, the the next morning, the place was heaving with tourists (says us!). We took a walk around the harbour, visited Rosencrantz Tower, which was under renovation (by Guildenstern builders plc....RIP), St Mary’s Church, then made our way to the Floibanen a century old funicular railway that connects the city centre to mount Floyen.
The fish market was bustling with tourists but we hadn’t had fresh seafood for a while so we picked up some mussels, other seafood and a side order of reindeer salami! (At tourist prices!)
It’s strange that in Norway, with their amazing fishery and great farmland, there’s almost no butchers or fishmongers, whenever we ask the locals, they tell us to go to the supermarket where all the meat is pre-packaged in display shelves, disappointing.
We headed off later that morning following the Osterfjorden north. Again just breathtaking scenery. Crystal clear waters, sheer cliffs and countless waterfalls. We stopped for lunch at a lookout over the fjord, then caught the ferry from Leirvag to Slovag.
The next morning we left Eivindvik and headed north for a ferry from Rutledge to Rysjedalsvika. At the crossing, I met up with a German guy and his wife who were trying to make head or tail of the confusing timetable (being in Norwegian didn’t help) eventually we decided the ferry didn’t leave for about 2 hours, “Bugger”. I was annoyed and frustrated at having to wait when he turned and said “oh well - we are on holiday right!??” The penny dropped, he was totally correct! It was a beautiful sunny summers day, we were parked along a picturesque fjord- get a grip girl! We went back to the vans, he then took out his fishing rod and went to the waters edge to fish!!
The next day we walked to the Glacier Museum. A really interesting museum, small but very well done, informative and well laid out.
We couldn't get this close to the glaciers and not actually go for a hike on one could we? We found a company, recommended by the museum, and booked a tour for the next day. Realising Pete didn’t have any suitable pants we took a short drive back to Songdal and found a pair on special, success. Unfortunately trying to get out of a very tight area we soon learnt that- long van versus a tight turn= bugger!... back at camp, after some elbow grease with the polish and a little hammer time, Pete minimised the evidence!
Wet and cold, yet very happy, we went back to camp. During the glacier expedition the guide had been telling Pete that the lake we were staying next to had the best Trout in Norway. No more needed to be said... Pete bought a fishing rod, a fishing license (something required in Norway when fishing in a lake) and even though wet and cold, he was in a happy place. Let’s say we didn’t have fish for dinner.
The next morning we stopped in Lom to find a garage where we could put the van on a hoist to get a good look underneath. We were sure everything was fine, but peace of mind is better. Especially when we knew we had the ‘Death defying Trollstigen switchbacks’ to come, no place to have car issues. With the help of the technician we checked it out and nothing appeared to be damaged. We were back on track.
Our plan paid off. The next day saw sunshine and clear skies, perfect weather for such a route.
A cruise liner had docked in the bay overnight and we were a little concerned seeing the queues of tour buses about to do the same route as us. We grabbed some breakfast delights, snacks and lunch from the local bakery and headed off ASAP.
We found a free camping area for the night. no great outlook but there was a sculpture inspired by a can of whipped cream, we had to check it out! It turned out to be a a series of white marble pieces that had been ‘squeezed out all over the rocks and pools along the rocky shores. It was fun and in a strange way really worked with the natural landscape. After a predinner drink at the cliff edge we had a bbq dinner, then a sunset walk back to cliff area for photos of the sculpture.
The Atlanterhavsvegen includes the ‘Atlantic Ocean road’ an 8.3km stretch from Karvag to Vevang connected by 8 bridges. You basically island hop your way up. The new James Bond film for 2020, was filmed here last month on one of the more well known bridges.
Olav took us out about 2km from shore. We were given a rod & reel. We both cast whilst Olav sussed out the area. I had a bite and lost the fish about 2m to the boat. So typical!
Happy with our catch and way more than we personally needed we headed back. Pete cleaned enough fish our consumption and Olav took the rest for his guests. His company also had Orca expeditions, now that would have been cool! www.orcanorway.no. He is also building a new hotel and was keen to show Pete his plans.
That afternoon we finally made it over all the bridges then, after buying some fresh bread rolls, we stopped and cook up some of our freshly caught fish!! Yummo!!!! Simple meals are sometime so good! Simple pan fried fresh fish in a soft bread roll. :-)
Turning east again we headed toward Trondheim. Time to look for a camp spot, we saw a potential spot down the hill by the waters edge where another camper had just pulled up. We went down to join them. Pete went to park and suddenly I saw the back wheels of the camper sink down into the mud. I felt sick! All I could think of was how the hell are we going to get out of here? Luckily Pete used his 4WD experience. As opposed to revving the car, spinning the wheels and just getting bogged, he managed not to get the camper stuck, but quickly got out of the boggy area! Given the rest of the area wasn’t suitable, we ditched that idea and went back up the hill to find another spot. Shortly up the road we came across a nice pull of with stunning views over the lake on a cliff edge. We lit the Weber and cooked up one of our fish.
Next morning, we drove into Trondheim to look around. Our Sat Nav needed updates loaded so we found a MacDonald’s to use their WiFi (we had previously discovered they have strong free WiFi) Unfortunately this time the WiFi wasn’t so great and the updates didn’t work - in fact we lost all our maps! Now no TomTom!!!! Peeved we wasted time and lost the maps we tried to sort out a new sim card but nothing was straightforward! Annoyed we had wasted the best part of a day we left. Decision time! which route to take? Head east into Sweden then up the middle through the national parks or continue north following the Norwegian coast. We felt we hadn’t given Sweden enough love so we headed towards the border. With about 200 roundabouts and 100 tunnels behind us, we headed to the border of Sweden!....
On the way to visit the Opera house we met a South African lady who used to be a Ballerina at the Opera who suggested that, after our visit we should check out Salt and then take the Fjord Harbour cruise.
I was keen to see the Fram Polar Ship museum and the Viking ship museum so the next morning we hopped back on the harbour cruise (it was a 24hr ticket) and headed to the museums.
I had only heard about the Fram once we were in Oslo but it turned out to be one of the most interesting exhibitions I’ve been to. The Fram was a wooden ship built near Oslo at the turn of the century to explore the arctic and was specifically designed be ‘trapped’ in the winter ice with a hull shape that was pushed upwards rather than crushed by the advancing ice. It was involved in several expeditions including Amundsen’s successful South Pole expedition. All these expeditions along with the actual boat are exhibited in fascinating detail. https://frammuseum.no
I had been driving the camper for a few weeks and Bea felt It was time to test my competence. As we approached Stockholm, she suggested we try a campsite smack bang in the middle of town called ‘beautiful, idyllic parkland, serenity campground’, or a name to that effect. Sounded too good to be true, especially as I had done some research the night before and hadn’t found it! Anyway, after months on the road, you have to trust the misses, so into Stockholm we headed. Through the outer suburbs, through the inner suburbs, through the outer CBD, into the CBD, into the one way system of lanes and into the 3.5m wide cul-de-sac ending next to a shop called ‘beautiful, idyllic, parkland, serenity, outdoor store;, or a name to that affect. Something got tested that afternoon.. and it wasn’t my driving! With a can opener and a set of stilsons I extracted the van from the CBD and head back to the outskirts to a pleasant enough Stallplatz, close to the city train.
Fotografiska is one of the world’s largest meeting places for contemporary photography. Four unique large exhibitions and about 20 smaller exhibitions are presented annually.
Vincent Peters, Light within- a collection of his best portraits
Refit Anatolia, Latent History- an amazing digital collage history of Stockholm using algorithms and 150 years of photographic history.
Mandy Barker, Sea of artefacts- images using waste plastic collected from beaches around the world, as well as
Scarlet Hooft Graafland’s, Vanishing Traces and James Nachtwey’s Memoria
We left the Stallplatz relatively early the next morning and, avoiding the CBD, headed out along the very picturesque ‘Route 66’ toward Oslo, Norway.
Arriving into Gothenburg by ferry is a little underwhelming, its all industrial buildings and tank farms, that is until you approach the bridge. Passing under it is a little like Alice’s rabbit hole, the view transforms from modern industrial to historic(ish) port town.
We drove off the ferry into a new country with its own traffic nuances, getting to grips with this we found ourselves at a Stallplatz* on a picturesque hill on the outskirts of the city. The location turned out to be part of a large parkland designed for outdoor activities. It was at the juncture of two long distance hiking trails and had a range of running trails, mountain biking trails, soccer pitches and an 18 hole frisbee golf course! We used the jogging tracks and were keen to try the frisbee golf but alas time was not on our side.
*A Stallplatz is a designated area for camper vans there is no reception or amenities accept power, its first in first served and you pay for a parking ticket at a machine. They are a great way to get a cheap site close to town.
A tram line at the bottom of the hill delivered us into the CBD in about 15mins so the location was not only picturesque but really convenient. The first item of business was to arrange Internet as our German sim had expired, timing was appalling as it was Mum’s Birthday and we were trying to contact. We managed to get a new sim and a data sim for the van WiFi but unfortunately it was too late to contact mum, oh well, her birthday just got extended by a day!!
Happy 80th Mum!
The alarm went off at midnight, I stirred, reached over for the phone, and rang mum, Happy Birthday, finally! Sorry if I sounded a little drowsy.
The alarm went off again at 5.00am for the Dockers game. I wish it hadn’t! We got smashed.
After the game, a brief nap, and then we headed off to the Gothenburg archipelago, as it was still the weekend, and great weather, the ferries to the island were heaving we had to park a few km’s from the pier but no probs, we were taking the deadly treadlies anyway.
That evening we headed out of town in the direction of Stockholm, but only got a few km’s past Gothenburg before nightfall.
The next morning we continued east debating weather we head straight to the capital or divert Gotland. Gotland sounded nice but it would be $300 in ferries and exorbitant camping fees, Stockholm it would be.
Last Christmas we met Connie and Henrik, friends of Kirsty and Tim, during their annual holiday to Hua Hin. When they heard of our big adventure they offered to host us in their home town of Holsted, Denmark. I wonder if they really thought we would!? 8 months and many emails later we found ourselves in the driveway of a lovely bungalow in central Denmark. Fortunately Henrik was able to take time off work, being a baker he worked nights, and being the peak summertime season, days off were gold.
Luckily we had planned to stay the night in their driveway!! It was a delicious lunch/dinner with great conversation and laughs. The slow lunch with friends is often overlooked in our hectic world but they can be amazing. The next morning the hospitality didn’t stop... we were greeted with another table full of yummy delicacies - including more bakery treats... to my delight!
Thanks Guys, it was amazing and great to catch up.
Blavand, the most westerly point of Denmark, has lovely sandy beaches and calm waters that, when sunny, would be worthy of a day lazing about, however today was not such a day.
Tirpitz” is World War II museum based around one of the most significant bunkers along the coast, This bunker was to house 2 38cm SK C/34 navel guns that, when completed, would have had a range of 30miles, fortunately the war ended before it was finished. The museum itself not only exhibits the bunker but brings to life the human stories of locals who lived through this period. It was one of the best museums I’ve been to well laid out, interactive, informative and well worth the visit. Oh and the building by BIG architects is pretty cool to.
Since the weather was still not pleasant enough for any beach activities, we decided to press on up the very narrow peninsula to the small coastal town of Hvide Sande where we stayed the night.
The next day, the sun was out and it turned into a lovely summers day as continued our drive up the west coast through small towns of Sondervig, Kryle to Thyboron A pleasant fishing town where we stayed the night.
Leaving Kitmuller the previous day we had pulled off to the side of the road to check our whereabouts and reprogram the sat nav, when a guy pulled up beside us and wound down his window. My immediate thought was he would offer assistance... but no! He then threw a tirade of abuse at us saying “Go home. Go back to Germany. We don’t want any Germans here!”... we tried to tell him we are not German, we are Australian... but he just kept going... “You Germans are thieves. Go back to Germany! You look like a criminal!!!”... WTF!!!!??? He then drove off, leaving us totally bewildered. The Danes are such wonderfully friendly people but I suppose there are haters in all societies. After that incident, we decided it was time to get AUS stickers, mainly so people would forgive Pete’s appalling driving and so folks at campsites would chat to us English. Pete downloaded some images onto a thumb drive and as cycled around the town, we sought out a printer place. They were so helpful and printed off a roll of stickers for us. We now have a few Aussie stickers near the number plates! Although to be honest the other day a couple came up to us speaking in German! When we said we are not German, we are Australian, they quizzically looked at us, went back to the back of the van and then said “oh! yes!”
“Auf Wiedersehen” Germany and “Hej” Denmark, we’ve made it to Scandinavia...finally.
Our new home is now all kitted out and we are coming to terms with close proximity living, Copenhagen here we come.
A stroll around and it was back to the motorway and the Storebaelt Bridge, an 18km long bridge that connects East and West Denmark... and a toll that cost approx $50! it was a pretty impressive bridge though.
While we had checked into a campsite a short distance down the coast from Copenhagen getting into the city centre was super easy. The local train ran every 10 minutes and took about 25 mins.. and allowed bikes. In fact it had a dedicated carriage for bikes with a purpose built bike rack inside.
Copenhagen is a city of cyclists so it makes getting around so simple. They have their own dedicated lanes and traffic lights and vehicles have to give way!
We have been 5 months on the road now and even though we have being doing a lot of walking and a lot of cycling, we have not really done any hard cardio exercise and we were starting to feel very guilty about that. Previous we could use the excuse of not having the right clothes, but after a brief stop at Decathlon, we now have no excuse! We had to bite the bullet and getting running again... so with great pain, we set off. Our campsite was located not far from the ocean (a protected area where many yachts were moored and people would paddle). It was a lovely flat run and a great way to get back into it (although I felt like I was going to die!).