The journey so far:
46 days on the road:
3763 miles by land, about 2000 miles by sea(plus the bit to Norway from Denmark, no idea how much),
Days without any rain 1200
Days with rain almost all day 3
Nights camping 38 Nights in hotels 4 Nights at sea 4
Countries visited 8
Days driven out of our tent by the weather 1
Number of ferry journeys 3
Well, we managed to get our waterless coolant in a most unusual place. We found the garage via the internet, about an hour south of Hirtshals. It seemed to be the only supplier in Denmark and, when we got there, what a treat! The place was virtually a shrine to the great times past of the MG factory. It had TWO of the enamel plaques from the original factory and the owner was very excited to tell me all about it. This is the place in Denmark where they bring cute little old Minis and MGs back to life. The shop was gorgeous and you could buy original-style sheepskin flying jackets, leather flying helmets and a whole host of British classic paraphernalia. The boss’s wife actually said that ‘We are trying to create a tiny corner of England in Denmark’. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
We went back to Hirtshals to stock up and catch the ferry; we didn’t have much time, but we thought the prices could be very high in Norway and we should at least get a few cans of beer in. We got to the port in plenty of time and then had to wait for ages to be loaded onto the ferry to Kristiansand, last of all. Not so bad really, because it means you get off this particular ferry first. We could leave at 6 pm and be in Norway by 8 (because it was the fast catamaran) and then straight into the local campsite.
OK, good idea, not so good in practice. The boat left 15 minutes early. Yeh!! On the boat the announcement said that there was a fault and the fast ‘cat’ would be going slowly. Bah!!
We docked at about 9 pm, drove off, following the camper vans that we thought might be making their way to the campsite, doubled back when we realised they were were lost too, and the found the campsite after all. We paid up (£30 a night, a shock after Iceland), found a spot and pitched the Tentipi just before the light failed. The time between docking and sitting down for a snack was about 40 minutes, so we were pretty happy with the tent.
Next morning, it was not quite so good. We had chosen a spot about 20m from the main bins and it was pretty smelly. There you go, sometimes you just have to put up with stuff, and I was just relieved to have a place to sleep.
A plus point was feeding the local population of sparrows. You sometimes have to make your own entertainment!
Wednesday we drove on to Oslo, a journey of about 200 miles that we thought, would be easy mostly via motorways. It turned out to be a bit of a shocker. Most of the motorway between Oslo and Kristiansand is single carriageway. Yep! The major route around the south of Norway has only one lane each way with occasional passing lanes to keep the boy racers happy. Oh, and much of it has a speed limit of 50 mph.
The plus side was we had many tantalising glimpses of the mirror-like lakes through the trees. I get the feeling that we are going to see a LOT of trees on this trip.
When we started to get near to Oslo, then there were more ‘normal’ motorways, but the road clogged up very quickly due too many cars. The rush hour seems to start before 3 o’clock here.
Having got to Oslo, we followed the signs to the Bogstad campsite, which seemed very hard to get to, what with all the traffic jams. It is, however, lovely; it reminds me of an English country park with wide open grassy spaces and mature trees. I suspect that this because this is the end of the season and the place is empty. The facilities are jolly good too.
Thursday mornings entertainment was provided by a red van driving along the road at the edge of the campsite. There was a huge bang and a scraping sound; one of his wheels had come off. Nobody hurt, but he wasn’t very popular with all the motorist trying to get past him while he waited to be picked up for the next couple of hours.
We spent a few hours exploring Oslo centre, it’s about 30 minutes from here by bus. It’s a very nice city, surrounded by water on one side and beautiful hills all round the rest. It’s clean and feels safe (despite the warning on the bus to watch out for pick-pockets). Much of the old town is in very good condition and many of the museums are free.
My favourite spot was the Opera house, which you can walk over, right up to the top. It is very hard on the eyes, as it is clad in pure white marble and aluminium. It’s just as dazzling inside and the toilets are quite esoteric. The doors to the cubicles are about 4 inches thick and coated in mica, and it feel as if you are shutting yourself into a vault. Most odd. (Thanks to my mum for suggesting that, it is really worth a visit.)
We had a lunch out, beer was about £7 for 0.5 litres and an omelette and chips was £15. I don’t think we will be eating out much in Norway.
We had a quick look at the royal palace, you can get within a few feet of the building, and it was actually smaller than several English stately homes. The public have been allowed to use the park, right from the beginning. The Norwegians seem a pretty laid-back, egalitarian lot. We did, however, decide against knocking on the door to send best wishes from Liz and Phil.
One thing is perplexing me; having left Denmark behind, I am wondering when the last of the earwigs we picked up from the last campsite there will be gone. I have found them in the cookware box, in my orange juice, in the squash, in the tent, in the rack sack, in my clothes. None in my ear, you will be pleased to hear.