Thursday, 29 September 2011

67 ....71 Degrees last

Tuesday 27th Sept.
We were expecting a dry tent to start the morning off. However, at about 2am it started to rain heavily and carried on for the rest of the night.....and all day too.  We were a little bit peed off and on to say the least.  We struck gold though as we battled through the grey fog, when I spotted dolphins in the Fjord and as we both struggled to get our cameras ready for action, a white tailed eagle flew through the scene.  We both missed that photo opportunity, but our faith had been restored and we tackled the rest of the weather with a new spring in our step.
Wet is wet

Draining wet

This is how the cross country skiiers train. She was going up hill

Our journey northwards took us further along the E6, which has been our main route through Norway.  At this point it is a normal two lane road, one either way.  There is very little traffic, very little vegetation, but lots of herds of reindeer.  Bearing in mind that this is the main route for lorries as well, it can get a bit hazardous and whilst we were busy taking photos of these beautiful creatures, a lorry coming the opposite direction had to ram on his brakes and took to the middle of the road to avoid a stag and his harem crossing the road.  I don’t think they are related to the lemmings, but maybe it has something to do with the awful weather that makes them all suicidal.  We again saw loads of birds of prey.
Is that snow, no its Rain Dear.

This was at the side of the road

I don't have this problem when Santa's in charge

Did we struggle to get this piccy or what ! A white tailed Sea Eagle

This place realy is bleak. Very few trees survive this environment.

We drove through the final part of our journey north and had to drive through a tunnel that connects the mainland to the northern most point. This tunnel was 8.2k’s long and was quite disconcerting in that you could see for ages as it went downhill, apparently it is 200m’s below sea level, and then we watched it go back up again. (Ray’s ears kept popping).
We crossed 71 degrees north and then had to start looking for somewhere to stay. Owing to the fact that it was a lot colder here and still drizzly, we wanted to be in a hotel or at least in a cabin.  Having consulted our trusty “where to stay and what is still open in Norway at this time of year book”, we didn’t think it would be too difficult.  It was, sites and hotels that were shown open to the end of September, as in the 30th, had obviously had a bumper season and closed early.   

It was looking like wild camping, and in a land of nothingness, we weren’t going to be too difficult to spot, but that was only if there were any people to see us.  We tried our last phone number which was a cabin on the west side of the island, approximately 40k’s from NordKapp.  Ray rang a very charming man named Bjorn who said he had a lovely cabin with a sea view and we could stay for 3 nights.  We arrived there about seven just as it was getting dark.  Having settled in and watched a DVD at about 10:30 we got in Gromit and headed back off into the hills and find a bit of clear sky so we could look for the northern lights.  We saw them briefly and faintly, but we did see an amazing shooting star. It is certainly the brightest one we have ever seen.

Wednesday 28th Sept.

We awoke to joy of joys, lovely sunshine.  We sorted ourselves out then got Leon and off we went to the most northern point in Europe.  If yesterday’s scenery was bleak, today’s was bleaker.  By the time we reached NordKapp, there was a really cold wind blowing which dropped the temperature right down. Nordkapp (North Cape) was first discovered and named by a Brit called Richard Chancellor in 1533 whilst looking for a north east passage to china.

There was only one other person there when we arrived and then an Italian contingent arrived waving their flag, so not to be outdone, we got out our big guns, the Union Jack and Leon.
The Big Guns.
We did not know we were making the same pose. We know each other too well.!

From there it was down into Honningsvag for a spot of lunch and then back to our little cabin and a much needed afternoon nap, in preparation for hitting the hills later on to see the northern lights, sky’s permitting.

ON the road to Honinngsveg

A view from our dinner table at Honinngsveg

Ray says the troll is the one on the right.
We then drove back to our cabin.

Our cabin

The boat that goes with the cabin is the little dark one on the left.

We have the upstairs bit. Half of it is too low to stand up in. but it is quaint and we like it.

At about 11:30 we noticed that the sky was clear, albeit for a short while, so we jumped in Gromit, went about 5 miles back along the road for a clear view of the sky and managed to take a bad photo. It was however my first attempt at a night photo so I am not too dissapointed.

Monday, 26 September 2011

66 ....69 Degrees, 30 Minutes North

Today we awoke in the hotel to a beautiful morning. With our spirits lifted we packed up quickly, went down for breakfast and then set off.
With better light the photos were better too.

Leaving Bjerkvik

A distal view of Bjerkvik

A war memorial to the Norwegian and allied fight against the Germand in 1940 "The Battle for Narvik"
Karen spotted a sea eagle here so we stopped but the photos of it were useless.

We then visited an arctic zoo where they keep only animals that can survive the harsh winters, on of which is approaching fast. Note the now lack of leaves on the trees in this area.
A baby red deer

A wolverine (about 6 feet long in total)

A brown bear

A lynx

The same baby dear and dad.

An arctic wolf


An arctic fox cub

Time was getting on so we set off again and the scenery is getting more and more raw. Unfortunately the sun has gone in so the piccys get blander.

This brings back memories....

Momories....mostly painfull ones !
We found a campsite at GPS N 69 32 33.6 E 20 32 51.3 and despite looking very basic and rund down, I am sat at a kitchen table writing this, Karen has just cooked mince and potatoes on the campsite cooker and we are now off to bed.

PS the GPS coordinates; if you copy the bit that this time, I have highlighted in red, open Google Earth and then paste them into the "Fly to" part in the top left corner and press the magnifying glass next to it, it will show you the location.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

65 A rainy day up north

After finishing writing this blog last night, we decided to eat in the campsite restaurant. We had a simple local dish of beef strips in a local sauce with chips and veg all washed down with a half litre of beer. The taste was great but the bill was bitter - £48. I worked out what the beer would cost if it was a pint... £8.58...Whaaaaat !!!

Anyway, we sat down in Gromit and watched a DVD and then went to bed. The weather was overcast but at least dry(ish).  At about 5am the heavens opened up again and it did not stop raining all day. It was a thoroughly miserable day and we are getting a bit fed up with the rain.
Reminds me of the UK last year and Spain get the picture.
Anyway, being Sunday, Norway was shut for business so we just drove all day through the rain. However, all was not bad. The scenery is getting better and better. Unfortunately the rain did not do the photos any justice but here are some anyway.

We decided to abandon camping for the night and found a hotel in a town called Bjerkvik. They allowed the cat in so all was good. Now, time for a bit of dinner and a long hard think about buying a beer !

Saturday, 24 September 2011

64 Halfway up Norway

Wednesday 21st Sept.
Up early to sort ourselves and the hut out for handover. We left at about 10am and took a picture of the campsite owners laughing goats.
Hey kid, does my smile look good this way?

We decided to go straight North and went up into the mountains. As we neared Lillehammer (as of the 1994 winter olympics) we drove straight through a toll booth without paying not realising what it was. We filled up with diesel at the next station and I asked the attendant what to do about it. He gave me a phone number to ring and sort it out. I rand the number and got the usual ...Press 1 to hurdy gurdy....Press 2 to mumbo jumbo....Press 3 to mumbo jumbo gurdy. As you cam probably imagine I understood none of it and gave up. As least I can show that I tried from the record on my phone when I am arrested !
We stopped in Lillehammer and did some shopping and then set off north again and found a high mountain plateau. The scenery was just awesome and raw. Nothing except rochs, heather and the occasional hut. The huts incidentally are a major feature of Nordic life, apparently they either have a holiday hut or a boat or sometimes both. The majority of the huts on the plateau have grass sewn on the roofs for insulation.
Raw scenery
Try nicking the lead off of this church roof.

We stopped here for lunch.
It was a tad breezy.

We stopped again 2 miles down the road off a side dirt road to a lake.

These pictures speak for themselves.

We were then struggling to find a quiet place to camp and I eventually drove up a dirt track in the dark and found some unoccupied holiday huts and we just climbed in the back of the van and went to sleep(ish). (GPS coordinates  N 62 42 50.3 E 9 55 52.5 near Ulsberg)  It was a very uncomfortable night and we got up at 4am, Karen having had little sleep and we set off again. We have no idea what was actually around us as we left in the dark too.
Thursday 22nd Sept.
We drove through Trondheim, arriving there at about 6am when the place was twilight and just waking up. The place was still shut so we just drove through and then along the Fijords towards the north west coast of Norway. It rained most of the journey and one of the things we came across was lots of roadkill. We later identified them as Lemmings and Karen saw one dash across the road, and back again, and back again in front of us. He had obviously failed previously and was still trying to join his mates in Heaven.
A nice view to wake up to.
We then found a turn off and tried to play guess the duck in the adjacent fijord whilst eating breakfast and hiding from the rain which had started again. A few hours later the rain had abated and we took the opportunity of having lunch by (you guessed it) a fijord.

Lunch with a view.

The camera does not do this justice, the reflection in the water was mirror sharp.

Leon assisting Ray with the lunch prep.
 Some pictures of one of the bridges we crossed and a couple of waterfalls.

Hawkeye then shouted at me that she had seen an otter so I pulled over, we got the binoculars out and lo and behold, there was 6 dolphins swimming in the bay. I am never going to catch her up now.
Dolphins honest!

2 miles later we caught the ferry from Holm to Vennesund and then drove another 5kms and turned up a track and found a beautiful bay to stop for the night. Needless to say, we used the tent. (GPS N 65 15 55.2  E 12 06 25.4 ).

The start of a rainbow

Off the boat and tyhe scenery starts again
We had a really chill evening. We set a fire after foraging for wood (all wet needless to say) and Karen cooked an easy tea.
The complete rainbow from our camp

We then sang “Ging gang goolie goolie watcha ging gang goo, ging gang goo” whilst sipping wine and beer until the heavens opened – again.
It doesen't get much better than this.

It was a very wet night and I would like to say the tent performed admirably unfortunately operator error came into play and this idiot forgot to zip up one side of the entrance and wind decided to open it for me and let the storm poke its ugly head in and pour straight on top of my head. Karen slept through all this, like a snug bug in a rug.
Aside from the rain, we are actually sleeping very well in the tent and often get 8 or more hours undisturbed sleep.

Friday 23rd Sept.
We rose just after 7 and whilst I was making tea, Karen had her eyeballs glued to the binoculars watching for Dolphins. I assumed from the “Whoops” of delight that it worked. We struck camp just as the rain came down really heavily – that saved us from having to look for somewhere to have a shower (only joking mum).
breakfast on the beach.
By 9:15 we were off again for the next ferry. We were sort of island hopping and got on the next boat to Andalaswagen. Whilst waiting for the ferry I saw a Sea Eagle being chased by a seagull – got some points back – not enough though as Karen had spotted a small herd of deer 10kms back.
Just managed to get the last one

Once off the boat, it was a quick 16km drive to the next ferry at Forvik.

This was like a shuttle for the locals and stopped at several smaller islands with vehicle reversing on and off before dropping us off at Tjotta. The ferry was weird. It went backwards as fast as forwards and there did not seem to be a proper front or back. It would sail into one port and then as it pulled out backwards it would not turn around  as it went to the next island.
If you look closely, you can see Karen downloading books on her kindle.
One thing that impressed us was the trust these people have in each other. At every small town we saw loads of pushbikes left in various states of abandonment without locks beside the bus stops. It appears they ride to the bus stop, dump the bike somewhere nearby and go to school/work/whatever.

We noticed that the further North we travel, the more autumnal the foliage appears.
We were blindly following the sat nav and it surprised us by taking us to yet another ferry as opposed to our intended road route. Not a problem but they are expensive compared to road usage (and of course failing to pay road tolls !).
Trees turning.

Couldn't resist one of the lake and trees.

Waterfalls as seen from the ferry

Gromit in all her splendor!

Another one we couldn't resist.
By this time it was getting late and were struggling to find an open campsite so we decided to grab a bite to eat in a restaurant called “Bimbo”, (with a name like that it just had to done) and look for somewhere to wildcamp. After a few trips down peoples driveways we eventually found somewhere that was not near a railway line, a road or houses . Yippee. Then we noticed a row of bright lights come on, on top of the hillside across the river. Was a nearby stadium about to fire up ? No, it transpires that we are camped 200m from the end of a runway of the local airport. We have been here for 3 hours and 5 planes have taken off and landed. You couldn’t make it up.
We were however severely compensated by a completely different air show put on just for us by a pair of tawny owls. We had them flying past us with only a couple of feet to spare. They were completely silent and we heard nothing but they were obviously checking us out. The display was beautiful and so were they.
Karen says that this is the most wonderful experience. She has been nervous but had dealt with it admirably. 

Saturday 24th 
We were up early again, I have to say it is totally not like me, but after packing up the tent and breakfast, we hit the road.  We have a plan for today which is to get to a campsite and do the washing and have ourselves a right nice hot shower, or two. 
However, we had not taken into account, that the main road went through so many beautiful places. What should have been a two hour journey, ended up taking the best part of four.  We had to stop ourselves from stopping every couple of minutes to take more pictures of the wonderful surroundings. We crossed the Artic circle and obviously stopped and crossed it several times, just because we could.
Ray looking resplendant on the Artic circle.

Cairns set up all around, very eerie feel about it.

Norwegian for Artic circle.

The Arcic Circle is just a line on the map. It is the point on the globe where the sun just touches the horizon on the 23rd of December. From here North there is 24 hours of night in the winter and 24 hours of daylight in the summer.
Can you see me?

You can't miss him!


Autumn colours

Even more awesomeness

We arrived finally at the campsite called Nordnes and set up.  Leon went on the missing list for an hour, but eventually returned looking quite pleased with himself.  We soaked in hot showers and got on with the chores, and that is where we leave you now.