Days 83 – 87: In search of warm and sun

83 – Friday in Frederikstad

More running, followed by packing up and using the emptying and refilling station on the campsite.  We are hammered on toll roads as we are over 3.5 tons … somewhere around 3 times a car toll, so we set Sally Sat Nav for toll free.  No idea how much she saved us, but the views were prettier than the main road and motorway, if slower and bendier.

We had been ‘collecting’ Norwegian beer and cider cans.  You pay a ‘Pant’ (deposit) on them and then post the empties into a machine that prints a credit note for use in the supermarket.  The machines cleverly spot fakes … it rejected a Finnish Fosters can.  K went in with two bags full and came out with the tinies value in milk and cheese spread.  We did well leaving Finland with only about 50p in local currency; K had looked for something for 6 NOK, but could not find anything that cheap!

We stopped off at Frederikstad.  K thinks it vaguely familiar .. Must ask Mutt if we visited this … she WILL know.  It is incredibly twee and pretty, but worth the stop.  It was a fort for over 300 years.  Cafes and craft shops now;  see the crochet bench below.  K had to explain to James that there is always room for an ice cream or cheese as they go into a different stomach.  He was eventually persuaded to have an ice cream so K could … too embarrassed to pay for only one using a card!

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And so to Sweden, once more.

We have parked up off the main roads in an archipelago overlooking the Tjorn bridge, which opened in 1960.  A disaster in the 1980s when it was destroyed by a ship in mist, who could not alert anyone for 45 mins that the bridge was down.  8 people died in cars that drove onto the bridge … and off.

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84 – Saturday: Another Archie Pelago

We decided to stay on the island and explore a bit.  The plan had been to go onto Gothenburg, which is the 2nd city of Sweden and had 4 pages in the guide book to denote its importance.  However, we were feeling a little citied out after our two days in Oslo.  And the weather looked fair … time to enjoy being outside.  We drove to the the tourist information in the main town on the island and picked up a cycling map and were told there was the annual harbour festival going on.  We had a wee dander down there and an ice cream (separate stomach, remember!).  What was really lovely to see was there was not a booze bar in sight.  Lots of coffee and cake, music (including the diesel engine for the country and western railroad sound), local produce and arts and crafts stalls, old wooden sailing ships with joyful bunting.  People were having a really good time without the need to get off their faces.

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The whole of the Swedish Ford Mustang Club had convened and James was finally towed away.

 

 

 

Lunch back in Chardonnay and call it a reaction to warm weather, but we both went for a nanny nap.  The bike ride became a distant non-reality.  We drove to the sculptures / ancient burial mounds and then decided not to go in as it was £8 each.  Just as well we had not cycled after all!!!

Back to our pitch of last night and the view of the Tjorn Bridge.  A BBQ at the picnic tables – lovely.

85 – Sunday: Driving to Denmark and Hamlet castle

Little to report … we drove, passing Gothenburg …. this will be another trip.  Arrived at the dock for the boat to Helsingor DK… paid £72 and boarded almost immediately.  Castle in view on arrival so we followed our noses and parked up between it and a marina.  We had a leg stretch around the very pretty town and fair gawped at what seemed really cheap prices.

Another motorhome had checked it out with locals… yes it was free.  The toilets were free.  The chemical toilet disposal was free.  And the water was free.  And yet, the castle car park next door was fee paying and packed!   We did laundry and both showered … it makes such a difference knowing you can replenish water supplies the next day really easily.

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86 – Monday: Ferry Unexpected Ferry

We wandered into the town to replace part of James’ e cigarette and by the time we had done this it was properly raining (again).  Our urge to visit the castle was washed away.  Something about the rain as we feel we should use the day as a driving day … so we did.  Replenished water and set the sat nav for fastest route to Bordeaux, near our destination for 12 days time to meet up with K’s family.

It was not until the symbol of a ferry came up, that we became aware that Sally Sat Nav was taking us down to Rodby for the ferry to Germany … we had expected to go across the Storbaelt and Little Baelt – island hoping through Denmark.  A quick phone call to Scandlines and J discovered that the 45 min crossing was less than we had thought  it might be … £85.  Given the Storbaelt bridge was £36 we decided to go for it.  Unfortunately, we had a 2.5 hrs delay as one of the boats had broken down, fortunately we could see it gaping hull in the dock, so no one was stranded at sea.  We took a  thrown together salad up onto the boat and, as it was 9.00 p.m. when we alighted, we headed almost immediately to a Stellplatz in Burg auf Fehmarn.  Stellplatz are motorhome parkings in Germany.  Sometimes they charge and often have sanitary services and electricity.  We had to do a wander and get coins for the parking ticket of EUR10 …  does this count as a campsite?  We have stayed in campsites for only 22 nights and in a fee charging marina for 2 nights. Pretty good going.

 

87 – Tuesday: Shorts and Driving

Exercised and K spotted really cheap shorts and trousers in the centre of Burg – she was definitely not moving fast enough!   Given she is using string to hold some up, it really was time to replace some items in her wardrobe.  After breaky we set off and returned with 3 pairs of shorts and one pair 3/4 length trousers – all for a grand total of £32.  We do like Germany and its prices.  The town offered multiple choices of lunch for around EUR10.  We also stopped at Lidl and bought fuel on the way.  As we departed, the queues to get into the town were humungous.  Mostly S and some DK plates all on a much cheaper than home shopping spree.

A driving day and the rain came and went and returned and left again.  Was K too optimistic in buying shorts?

Having decided to stop by 7.00 p.m., we found a free Parking … with free, if slow, wifi, at a place called Neuss (nice and free) Ski Hallen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Days 79 cont – 82: Stave Churches and Osmosis in Oslo

79 – Monday Continued

Having left Flam and its very efficient wifi, we headed off on the E16 for Oslo.  The weather forecast for the next 5 days is cloud and showers.  We stopped off to look at Borgund Stavkirke.  There were 1000s of wooden churches built in the countryside before the (Lutheran) reformation.  Very few remain and this one has remained unaltered since the Middle Ages.  Slightly ominous as we drew up … big carpark, big visitor centre and biggish price – NOK80 each …. approx. £14 for the two of us.  We desisted; we are all for supporting preservation work, but not yet another museum and infrastructure … especially on our budget!    Whilst we missed out on seeing the inside, but could see a fair bit from the outside.

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Sally Sat Nav tried to take us off the E16, but as we were not expecting it, we ploughed on.  Was it 15 or 20 miles of road works we encountered?  Very slow and dirty.  Just as well Chardonnay is well overdue a wash, however she has a new level of muck on her existing dirt.

As we have come further south, there have been fewer and fewer free parking (overnight) opportunities; again all part of the reaction against the sheer number of motorhomes and encouraging us to pay for campsites.  However we found a lay by and joined a German van.  We anticipated the noise from the E16 so close would keep us awake, however, there seemed to be very little traffic …. had everyone else known about the road works?

 

80 – Tuesday and Driving

Having slept in, we basically just drove all afternoon to the Ekenberg Campsite, over looking Oslo.  I remembered staying here with Maddy and the Aged P’s about 8 years ago.  Very busy … park up where you can so long as you are 3m apart and try and find a levelish bit – our wheel chocks have made an appearance!  Two loads of washing and a BBQ – more fresh meat and enough for 3 meals …  Aah lovely 🙂

As soon as we finished cooking it started to rain, so us and all the wet laundry (refused to pay for a dryer) into the ‘van.  Quite inventive … smalls suspended from the rotary hanger, jeans from trouser hangers, T shirts on normal hangers, a towel from trouser hangers and the duvet from two trouser hangers … hanging off every shelf, hook and the roof lights.  Starting to smell like a Chinese laundry. (J did a 2 mile run on arrival – the campsite was ideal for running as it is situated in a large multi facility park that stretches for miles – nice soft ground for running….).

 

81 – Wednesday: Osmosis in Oslo

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We knew the weather forecast was for wet … but it teamed down all day until 5.00.  Waterproofed head to toe we caught the bus to the central station.  Climbed the roof of the new Opera House.  The Opera House is really impressive:  completed in 2008, white Italian marble on the exterior sloping down to the sea shore.  Still raining heavily so we booked tickets for one of the summer concerts.

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Took shelter in the cathedral, which surprised us as it only seats 900.  The Crown Prince royal wedding must have been cramped and due the cross shaped seating only half the guests would have seen the ceremony.  Whilst the foundation stone was laid in 1694, the ceiling is really low and was over painted in 1936-50 in a modern style.  Slightly odd and incongruous looking.

 

 

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We persisted in our tourist walking route, but having picnicked under the shelter of a car park canopy we aborted!  Back to the Opera House for a coffee and beer and somewhere dry to sit.  After the concert we went to the National Gallery.  Really well done as it is not too large, all on one floor, and it take you through only one room of icons and more swiftly onto explaining the more modern influences on Norwegian artists, from Munich, Berlin and Paris .  So we saw and did not understand the Scream; it was more interesting reading about the two Scream thefts and how one of the 4 Screams is the most expensive painting sold in private ownership.  Liked some of the Thomas Fernley and Christian Krohg.

As the rain stopped (for a while) we were able to BBQ and move some of the washing around …

 

82 – Thursday:  Fram and Trams

Running am……….. J did 4 miles up and downand i ran for 16 mins VERY slowly for a lot less!

With a wet am forecast we planned a late start, as it was, it was fairly dry although still chilly.  We bussed to the Bygdoy Island (now joined to the mainland as they filled in the sound in C19.  I remembered the Kon-Tiki museum from my Maddy and Aged P visit, so we went to the Fram museum.  My interest had really been stirred in the Arctic Explorers at the small and old fashioned museum in Tromso.  We spent all afternoon here.  Two floors explaining about the background to the race to reach the Poles, the crews and the technical developments towards each.  The Fram was used initially by Nansen who believed they could be locked in the winter ice and drift over the North Pole.  He realised the drift would miss the Pole, so he and one other headed off with kayaks and sledges and made it further north than any one previously.  They saved each other’s lives and over wintered in a hut.  Sverdup then used the Fram for a scientific exploration or the Arctic.  Amundsen intended using it to go to the North Pole, but as someone claimed to be there already, changed his mind and chased off against Scott for the South Pole.  There was also information about Scott’s expedition:  it really was ill prepared for the conditions compared to Amundsen’s.  The other boat there is the Gjoa, in which Amundsen was the first person to make it through the North West Passage.

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All (Arctic) Heros above.

Nansen is absolutely my new all time hero. After his exploring and contribution to science, he worked with refugees from all over and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  The Nanson ID card is still in use as identity for stateless persons.  Amundsen was first through the NW Passage, contributed to science, first to South Pole and first to visit both the N and S Poles.  A couple of biographies straight onto my reading list.

We were so late out of the museum, we’d missed the last bus out so had to use the tourist ferry, but it took us straight to the Town hall Area.  We then used our public transport pass to tram and bus around the city a bit.  We had planned to walk past the Bislett Stadium, but mistook trams for busses so gave it up as it was getting late. But saw the Town Hall and the Nobel Peace Prize building; Peace being selected by Norway, all the other prizes by Sweden.

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Days 78-79: Soggy Flambe

78 – Sunday:  Driving around Sognefjorden

James had passed a terrible night … passing traffic and the odd horn, so we decided against a long walk today.  We did, however, drive to the next town to exercise along the cycle / pedestrian path and then moved onto a proper picnic viewpoint to breakfast.  All this takes time, you know!

And driving around the fjord also takes time … slow bends, two ferries and lots of tunnels.  One tunnel was 16 miles long.  Claimed to be the longest in Europe – does anyone know any better?  There were a couple of wide emergency places built in; they looked like the inside of glaciers due to the lighting:

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The fjord is really pretty, but not spectacular like some of the scenery … more wooded slopes down to the water and quite a lot of fruit growing.  We had booked the Flam mountain railway for Monday, so had to get on round so no stops, other than for lunch and driver changes.

Typical church with extremely well tended graveyard

Typical church with extremely well tended graveyard

We struggled today to find chemical toilet emptying.  A number of signs have been taped over and the waste point now invisible or removed.  There are also more signs in lay-bys starting no camping.  They are definitely reacting against the number of motorhomers free camping.  However, we ignored a crossed out toilet sign, found the emptying point and found a lay-by with no signs!  We even BBQ’d the second lot of meat purchased the day before and hung our washing on the bike rack…. thumbed nose to ‘no camping’!

 

79 – Monday:  Soggy in Flam

Drove to Flam (passing the crowded campsite!) and the visitor centre printed our tickets for us.  Breakfasted and onto the train.  Pretty empty .. would this be due to the weather?  Rather sodden and increasingly wet.  An American couple told us the train was fully booked tomorrow; I suppose it depends when the tour groups get in.  Last time K did this with the Aged Ps and Maddy it was even wetter and mistier, so a slight improvement there.  Nice scenery:  at one point you can look up the valley and see the hairpin path and the shuttered railway track.  The train stops at a waterfall for passengers to take pix.  There is also a dancing blonde and red clad siren swaying to music at this point … one of the local legends.  However, the scenery is nothing compared to further north.  If the weather had been better, we could have taken the bikes up and cycled / free wheeled the 21 km back down.  Perhaps next time … third time lucky with the weather.

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Days 76 – 77 Geronimo at Geiringer!

76 – Andalsnes (Raumabanaen nearly) Geiranger Fjord

Raining and the forecast promises more rain all day.  We drove into Andalsnes as this is where the Rauma railway runs.  Some bloggers have said it is more spectacular than the Flam railway, but we had missed the morning train.  Last night K had tried to get a timetable and prices, but although on 3G, the web pages would not load …. never mind, we’ll do the Flam after all.

From Andalsnes we followed the queue of cars, buses and motorhomes up the Trollstigen … the much photographed very hairy hairpin bends.  Visitor centre at the top with viewing platforms.  Saw one large caravan … no idea how he coped with the bends.  Such were the low revs in our van, that on a half tank of fuel which prior to the ascent showed a range of 200+ miles – this quickly dropped to 70 miles. First gear was used a lot.  The road was so narrow, we had to keep slowing right down and evidenced two motorhomes have a wing mirror clash … fortunately, I suppose, they were both French so could understand each other’s accusations of blame!  We had our own wing mirror contact later on, but fortunately at snails pace, so not even a scratch.

The visitor centre at the top of the pass had some great viewing platforms; one right over the top of some bends and one of the waterfalls. Looking down was not for everyone – a number pf people backed off at the drop.

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The top of the pass had a lot of snow and more amazing scenery.

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Geiranger Fjord was everything it is billed for (K had been in 2007) – truly spectacular – we cruised the Fjord in the tourist boat – 16 Km to the mouth and then turned – it is difficult to describe the waterfalls without exaggerating.  The commentary described life on some of the precipitous farms, where children were tethered to stop them falling of the cliffs and soft fruit such as peaches were grown.  One story involved the ladder which was used to access the farm (and it must have been a long one!) being lifted up so the tax man left empty handed.  Opposing waterfalls … the Seven Sisters and the Suitor … he asked each in turn for their hand in marriage and was rejected … he turned to drink and the bottle, with a little imagination, is visible at the bottom of the fall.  Whilst we have not been blest with a late and cold spring, we are blest that the waterfalls are more magnificent than normal.

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The following are for Maddy and the Aged P:  Pic of the stream where Maddy sat staring at how beautiful it was about 8 years ago … and the camp site was mostly tents then.  Where did all these motorhomes come from?

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Back in the van and more hairpins uphill again – not so bad as before.  But more deep snow packs and a frozen river or was a it a glacier?

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Then down the other side and we happened upon a night parking area by a river with amazing views out towards the snow capped mountains and grass roofed summer huts.

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77 – Near Stryn and Cleaning

We should have left early to travel to Bergen to meet Sinead, but sadly her yacht had to leave sooner than planned due to a bad weather forecast…another time and place hopefully. Instead, we walked/ran in the most beautiful sunshine along the river – what a way to start the day.

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And then – our van spoke to us in a west country dialect saying – “please clean me?”  Bugger….. !  We even lifted the carpets!

Drove a short way to refill water to onto another watery lay-by and cleaned ourselves!  The water stop had not too expensive BBQ meat and ice creams :).  Really good to taste fresh meat, if that does not sound too Anthony Hopkins / Hannibal Lector.  We have been living on tins (thank you M&S and Saisbury’s), risotto made from mostly dried veg and soya mince.  All very tasty, but the texture of fresh chicken …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

76 – Andalsnes (Raumabanaen nearly) Geiranger Fjord

Raining and the forecast promises more rain all day.  We drove into Andalsnes as this is where the Rauma railway runs.  Some bloggers have said it is more spectacular than the Flam railway, but we had missed the morning train.  Last night K had tried to get a timetable and prices, but although on 3G, the web pages would not load …. never mind, we’ll do the Flam after all.

From Andalsnes we followed the queue of cars, busses and motorhomes up the Trollstigen … the much photographed very hairy hairpin bends.  Visitor centre at the top with viewing platforms.  Saw one large caravan … no idea how he coped with the bends. Such were the low revs in the van, that on a half tank of fuel which prior to the ascent showed a range of 200+ miles – this quickly dropped to 70 miles. First gear was used a lot.

Geiranger Fjord was everything it is billed for (K had been in 2007) – truly spectacular – we cruised the Fjord in the tourist boat – 16 Km to the mouth and then turned – it is difficult to describe the waterfalls without exaggerating. Back in the van and more hairpins uphill again – not so bad as before.  Then down the other side and we happened upon a night parking area by a river with amazing views out towards the snow capped mountains and grass roofed summer huts.

 

 

77 – Near Stryn and Cleaning

We should have left early to travel to Bergen to meet Sinead, but sadly her yacht had to leave sooner than planned due to a bad weather forecast…another time and place hopefully. Instead, we walked/ran in the most beautiful sunshine along the river, breakfast – and then – our van spoke to us in a west country dialect saying – “please clean me?”  Bugger….. !  We even lifted the carpets!

Drove a short way to refill water to another watery lay-by and cleaned ourselves!  The water stop had not too expensive BBQ meat and ice creams :).  Really good to taste fresh meat, if that does not sound too Anthony Hopkins / Hannibal Lector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Days 74-75: Trondheim and Waterfalls

74:  Wednesday and the 1st of the month

Last night we arrived about 7.45 pm at the free motorhome parking near the Trondheim city centre.  We arrived AFTER everyone else though and all the free parkings were taken, so we had to pay until 8.00 pm last night and for an hour this morning.  There were quite a few of us up and ready to rush into a vacated free spot … James was spotting and dressed.  K was at the wheel in her nightie …. You have all seen the starting rows for the Grand Prix? We were initially on the second row – but surreptitiously nipped into the front row… A free space became available – the chequered flag was raised – and K shot away for the first corner – sorry, the free space! Now shooting away at speed in our 28 foot 4 ton van actually means doing zero to 5 mph in the same day! But, she warded off all comers – Lewis Hamilton take notice please…

It looks as if there is no time limit, so we will probably stay here tonight.

We both ran on  beautiful track along the river Nid … yes even K, although hers was more of a shuffle / plod. And the new trainers got wet as it started to rain 😦 and has hardly stopped since 😦 :(.  And we hear bristol is experiencing 24C!

Bought a combined ticket for the cathedral and Bishops’ Palace … Check mate my very own Bishop!  Some folk we met said Trondheim was not very interesting – but we loved it:   the history about St Olav, the Norwegian Patron Saint.  We sat for an organ recital in the Cathedral which included some Vaughan Williams as well as Bach.  In the Bishops Palace we saw the Crown Jewels.  As Norway only had its very own Royal family from 1905, most of the royal regalia is relatively new and sadly, made in Sweden.

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An old bridge to the … old town …  with waterside warehouses.

 

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Trondheim invented the worlds first bicycle lift!  A very steep hill – metal channel at the kerb side – you placed your foot on a disc – and the lift took you (and bike) slowly up the hill – K interviewed some of the eager participants and see results below!   if it had not been raining we would have cycled Trondheim, such a shame … would have loved a go.thumb_P1050310_1024.jpgthumb_P1050311_1024.jpg

Up the hill to the fortress.  Health and Safety has goon complete mad in the UK and here’s the proof.  The top of the walls of the fort do not have barricades to stop people falling off, just a polite sign reminding people to be careful.  Thus they have not destroyed the fort. thumb_P1050319_1024.jpg
And finally on the walk back to Chardonnay we passed through the old town and later the wooden ‘royal palace’ right in the centre of the town.  As Kings and Queens have to have the benediction (no longer a proper coronation, but similar) in Trondheim Cathedral, they stay here when in town.

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75 – Thursday: Longest in N Europe Waterfall Drop

After exercise and watching all the waiting vans skidaddle into vacant plots, as we had done the morning before, we set south.  We had read that the coastal road around Alesund was really expensive in tolls and a mega tourist rip off and the scenery no better than else where, so we set forth cross country and saw … some amazing scenery!  And even better, very few motorhomes and traffic generally.  Along rivers, up and down through passes.

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And finally to Mardalen waterfall.  A bit of a detour as it is a road in and then the same road out …. but really worth it.  It is the longest drop waterfall in N Europe.  Parked and walked up to the waterfall.

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So many lovely wild flowers everywhere.  In Finland the wild lupins were blue, and blue further north in Norway.  Now there are profusions of purple and pink.  And all sorts of other flowers; I recognise only the aquilegia and foxgloves …. so lovely.  The rolling fields in the valleys meet the steep and dark mountains.  Every scrap of land is being harvested for hay.  Even in large gardens and sometimes hung on wooden rows to dry.  Sanguine red cattle

Short drive to just north of Andalsness.  Very late now … nearly 9.00 pm.  Note to selves, must park up by 8.00p.m. latest – we are too tired and yet to eat!  The parking was right on the fjord and although busy, loads of space and peaceful.  Again wonderful reflections in the still water.

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