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Aussies on Tour in Norway 2012 PDF Printable Version E-mail

Aussies on Tour in Norway 2012

Martin and Pam Williams
May to Juy 2012

In 2012 Martin and Pam Williams, from Perth in Western Australia (WA), continued their Euro-wanderings, this time with a focus on Norway. In 2010 it was France and the Pyrenees – French and Spanish (13 weeks, 7400 km); in 2011 it was to Greece and back (24 weeks, 16,700 km).

A detailed account of their 2011 journey can be found on this website at: Aussies in Europe 2011.

This time, 3,030 miles (4850 km) in 5 weeks took them the length of Norway to Narvik and the Lofoten Islands, well above the Arctic Circle, with a return through Sweden.

For a summary photographic record of the journey, check out the following link: https://picasaweb.google.com/108520371100176229503/2012Summary
(The 'summary' consists of 148 images!)
Ignore the few personal shots at the start. Click on a photo and you can then step through them using the arrow on the right of the picture, with a rough map position showing on the right hand side.

Nine images of the journey are shown below as well as in a Gallery and Slide Show on this website.

The Williams write:

It was our first time in Norway and we loved every minute of it - we now have a new favourite holiday country. Move over France, Greece and forget about Australia – enter Norway!

So what is it about Norway? Well what do you know about the country? Yes, it is thin and long – so there is a lot of driving. It's outside the European Union, so no Euros – instead think Krone. We were warned that it was very expensive and yes it is an expensive country – but certainly no more so than Australia, and the strong Australian dollar helped enormously!

Norway has the midnight sun if you go north of the Arctic Circle; well in summer, at least. That's a huge novelty for us because, when we left home (Australia) at the beginning of May, the sun rose at 6.30 am and set at 6.45 pm, and with no dusk to speak of.

Norway is not exactly crowded, even with all those tourists. It only has about 4½ million inhabitants. 12% the size of WA with about 2½ times the population.

Norway is just so beautiful, and so varied. Just when you think that you've seen it all, it comes up with more and more, better and better. Great mountains, fabulous fjords, stupendous waterfalls (Norway has 9 of the world's 20 highest waterfalls), a fantastic coastline, great cities and superbly engineered roads – with 18
designated national tourist routes. We sampled 8 of these.

Our motorhome went really well in a road trip of 11,290km!

Overall, the driving was enjoyable and safe. The Norwegian roads were good and seemed to be full of motorhomes. We read a newspaper – OK we picked in out of a bin in McDonalds when we were using their free WiFi – which said that Norwegians have over 250,000 motorhomes. I'd believe it too – they were everywhere. Mostly great big ones! Even so the country is big enough to swallow them up. I just got fed up with waving to each one that we met coming the other way!

For the holiday overall we had 3-months to play with, leaving Perth on 6 May and returning on 6 August. That's about half the time we had last year! The key destination was always going to be Norway.

Getting there

The first challenge was how to get to Norway. It is a very long way from where we store our motorhome in the English Midlands. In the good old days there were ferries from Aberdeen and Newcastle to Bergen and Stavanger. Those ferry routes closed a long time ago, so we had a roundabout route to get there, and of course we chose a route that included a number of other countries.

Distances travelled by Country

Basically we took the ferry to Calais, dawdled up through Belgium – the weather was too good to miss - visited a dancing friend in Holland (as the weather was awful for sightseeing), shot through Germany and Denmark and took a ferry from Hirtshals to Kristiansand.

A summary of our overall distances driven by country:

Country

Km

days

Norway

4850

36

Sweden

1801

6

France

1217

9

UK

1061

20

Germany

1046

6

Denmark

861

2

Belgium

483

8

Holland

241

2

Favourite Norwegian cities

Trondheim and Stavanger were nice but we were most impressed with Bergen.

Navigating and finding Places to Stop

Basic navigation was via our Garmin 1390, which worked quite well but it did spit the dummy on a few classic occasions. We updated its maps before we left the UK and in retrospect we probably should not have bothered!

It had a major problem in Stockholm – tried to take us via the island of Mariehamn when we set it to a fuel station just out of town on the E4 south-west of the city!

We used the 2012 edition of the ADAC Stellplatzfόhrer, which was very good. We also used a 3-year old French Aires book as a backup. Of course, in Norway and in Sweden you really don't need anything other than the Allesmansrecht law in their constitution.

In Trondheim we used the free Aire in Klostergata, SW of the centre near the footbridge.

Stick to the Main Roads

Normally we try to take a few back roads when we travel – it's often more scenic, less crowded and there are small places to visit. This doesn't quite work in Norway, as there are mountains and fjords everywhere, so you tend to have to stick to the main roads. To get across the fjords there are over 100 vehicle ferries which are very efficient and not very expensive – individually – but boy do the ferry costs add up! To get around the mountains there are passes and lots of tunnels. We took some that were over 8 km long – one of which we drove through without meeting anything coming the other way and no-one behind us either, so not really a very busy road! Once through we were rewarded with a fabulous stopping spot wedged between the mountains and a fjord, with a wonderful view of the midnight sun.

Tolls – yes that's 'Tolls' not 'Trolls'!

Many of the tunnels and bridges charge a toll, as on many of the main roads – usually there's a toll just where you can't avoid it! Their system of collecting the tolls is brilliant – you register your bank card on their website and they take $50 from your account! You then just drive – a camera takes your photo each time you go through a toll and at the end of the holiday they add all your tolls up and credit you with any money left from your $50. For us it worked really well.

The World's Longest Road Tunnel

At 24.5 km long the Laerdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world; so long that there are large and differently coloured chambers at intervals to relieve boredom and to stop drivers from falling asleep! We decided against taking the tunnel, opting instead for the mountain road over the top.

The Best Lookout

The road over the top started in Aurland with a series of Z-bends up to the Stegastein lookout, which we christened the 'Mother of all Lookouts', projecting over a huge drop down to the town nestled by the fjord.

Best Tourist Route

This just had to be the Trollstigen, the Trolls Road, to what we named the 'Father of all Lookouts'. The view was amazing and keeping your eye on the road with 11 hairpin bends was challenging, particularly so as right alongside the road was a 320 m waterfall. Yes, we did get a bit wet!

Closest encounters with Snow

We saw a lot of snow – even though it was summer! The most impressive drive was on mid-summer's day when we climbed up to over 1300 m on what is called the 'Snow Road' – good name that! Our van is over 2.7m high, so there's a lot of snow up there – not bad for the middle of summer! (See picture taken on 20 June.)

Best Exercise

We did do a lot of driving but we also got some exercise at times, such as walking to Pulpit Rock, one of the iconic places on the Norwegian tourist circuit. It's an amazing rock platform with a vertical drop of over 600 metres on 3 sides down to the Lyse fjord. No warnings and no safety rails! All the blurb said it took 2 hours to reach. We took about 3 hours coming back! We did take a lot of photos though!

Best Reflection and the Midnight Sun

Norway is a wonderful place for reflections – there is so much water around. The open sea, fjords, lakes and rivers – it varies from really rough to absolute calm. The picture taken about 10.30 at night is actually an arm of the sea – not quite like the Indian Ocean!

We spent about two weeks north of the Arctic Circle and for a while we despaired of seeing the midnight sun. In the Lofoten Islands we had a lot of mist, low cloud and rain. Eventually it relented and we had two wonderful 'white nights', one at Delp on Austvagoy (Lofoten) and the other at Forsan (Steigen).

Summary Itinerary

The following is a brief extract of our travel log, from when we 'hit' the Continent on 21May to our return to Blighty on 29 July.

France/Belgium/Holland/Germany and Denmark

Mon 21 May: Reading - Calais – Veurne 277 km

Down to the M3 and on to a busy M25. Stopped at Sainsbury in Folkestone for last minute supplies! Good crossing on the 3.40 pm ferry. Nice drive up to Veurne (Furnes), where we stopped on Kaaiplatz at a free Aire. The floodlit town and square looked superb – very few people about, but it was a bit cold. (51Ί04'12.2 N 2Ί40'00.9")

Tue 22 May: Veurne (Belgium)

Grey, cold start, sunny pm. A relaxing, organising and "let's see Veurne" day!

Wed 23 May: Veurne to Brugge and on to Eeklo 150 km

Tried to buy LPG in Belgium but wrong fitting – same old story! Back to Dunkerque to fill up – just before they closed for lunch! Drove on to Brugge and parked on the ring road just south of the Kruis Poort bridge. Spent the rest of the day exploring the town using the 'Love Brugges' brochure. Great place. Left about 7.30pm (not sure about stopping) – so drove to the Eeklo Jachhavn (7€) – interesting artwork!

Thu 24 May: Eeklo to Ghent 30 km

Drove to Ghentbrugge about 1pm and parked at the Aire (ex ADAC book) near parkland – also near the autoroute! Went for local walks, checked tram and readied for Friday.

Fri 25 May: Ghent

Took the tram to Kouter and walked to Visitor Centre – it had moved! Tried to follow the DK recommended tour but it was like touring building sites! Detoured to the new VC and got a better map. After that we were impressed and left with lots of good images. There were some 12 motorhome week-enders in the Aire when we got back.

Sat 26 May: Ghent – Mechelen 77 km

Drove on, via McD's for free WiFi, to Mechelen. Really impressed with the town after we'd worked out where to park. Parked overnight with 4 others near the Customs House just outside the ring road.

Sun 27 May: Mechelen – Lier 18 km

Drove on to Lier, which was having its 800th year celebrations - big festival and marches. Several trips and walks around town; we did a lot of people-watching.

Mon 28 May: Lier – Turnhout 155 km

Another walk around town before heading off to Turnhout. Not impressed, although the chateau and the moat were OK.

Tue 29 May: Turnhout – Apeldoorn (Holland) 132 km

Very busy motorways and poor visibility on a cool murky day. Checked out the windmills at Kindersdijk. Got cheap fuel at Amersfoort before joining our International Folk Dance teacher at Apeldoorn for a nice bottle of Australian red.

Wed 30 May: Apeldoorn 5 km

A day of talking and dancing.

Thu 31 May: Apeldoorn – Cloppenburg (Germany) 203 km

A wet start and a very wet end to the day. Booked the ferry to Norway and did some more dancing before we set off. Stocked up at local Lidl.

Fri 1 June: Cloppenburg – Brillit 126 km

The dry start allowed us to see some of the open-air museum and do a local walk. Key image was of the ducks swimming on the deep puddles in the car park! Drove into Bremen but failed to park. Navigated to 'our' sports field, thanks to the ADAC book.

Sat 2 June: Brillit/Gnarrenburg - Wischhafen 76 km

Bitterly cold day of driving, shopping and filling with fuel. The image of the day was the silt and mud in the local yacht basin.

Sun 3 June: Wischhafen – Blankhoj (Denmark) 332 km

Drove a few km to the expensive ferry - expensive maybe but at least we avoided a drive through Hamburg! Cold crossing. Filled the LPG at Rendsburg (German border) before making good distance towards the Denmark/Norway ferry – due to leave at 6 pm Monday. Stopped at Danish motorway service area at 10 pm.

Mon 4 June: Blankhoj – Kristiansand (Norway) 211 km

Filled and emptied the van waters before heading to McD's at Aarlborg. Slowly drove on to Hirtshals and filled with fuel before booking in for the cat ferry. The ferry was very squeezy – small lanes and low roof. We left on time for a very flat crossing – not so the day after, which was very, very rough apparently.

Welcome to Norway

Mon 4 June: Kristiansand

This was where the SatNav failed us. We wanted an ATM and we were guided through pedestrian areas and up one-way streets the wrong way! We gave up and set the SatNav for ATM's close by. The one we chose was in a shopping centre that was shut. It also had the nearest McD's for WiFi, so we signed up for and paid for our road toll. We ended up stopping the night in the centre car park!

Tue 5 June: Kristiansand - Lyngdal 111 km

Quiet start – we'd parked away from the stores that opened early! Followed motorhome dumping sign and ended up at RV superstore. Got advice re
Norwegian sites. 'Did' the local, stylish shopping centre and finally got some cash :-)

On through our first autotoll to Mandal. Walked around town and then the beach – got sandblasted! Thought about stopping on the front with others but drove on to Lyngdal picnic area, termed a 'pit stop'. We wanted to go to the lighthouse at Lindesnes (ex Lonely Planet) but the SatNav could not find the road!

Wed 6 June: Lyngdal - Sogndalsstrand 74 km

Stopped at Flekkefjord – got bread at Co-op. We're really impressed with the Norwegian bread – Jeger this time – and the 'slice it yourself' facilities. On to Jossingfjord and the old houses at Helleren – evocative under the overhanging cliff. Sogndalsstrand was really nice – peaceful, calm and quiet. We reparked with 3 other vans at the end of the small harbour. Great spot.

Thu 7 June: Sogndalsstrand – Egersund 68 km

Drove slowly round the coast road to Egersund. The weather was bleak and cold. Walked along the Midbrodoy path to the Eigeroy lighthouse. Great walk but long and cold, very strong wind. Drove back to small Aire and stopped with 3 Norwegian vans.

Fri 8 June: Egersund – Hoyland 138 km

Still raining at Egersund so did not stop. Filled the LPG at Algard then on into Stavanger – parked by the Concert Hall and walked into town in the rain. Spent ages walking and absorbing – nice town. Drove via Sandnes to our first National Tourist Route at Jaeren. Very flat and nowhere to stop. Ended up on a beach road near the Telemuseum at Hoyland. Very quiet – a few dog walkers and one car of hoons at 11 pm that worried us a bit.

Sat 9 June: Hoyland - Lauvvik 71 km

Not the best stopping spot – we were close to a bike race! It was ending as we left and they hurried us through – we missed the sleeping policeman and smashed some crockery! Shopped at Rema and Co-op at Bryne; hit the WiFi at McD's and filled with fuel. Ended up in someone's garden trying to avoid the Autotoll! Headed for the ferry at Lauvnikk and found a great lakeside free camping ground some 10 km from the ferry. Us and 9 others – including some very rowdy Norwegian vans. Why were they dressed as Elvis?!

Sun 10 June: Lauvvik – Preikestolvegen 27 km

Drove to our first Norwegian ferry and loaded after a 10 min wait. Fabulous scenery on the drive up to the Pulpit Rock parking area. We took about 3Ύ hours on what was billed as a 2 hour walk. The weather was superb, the scenery more so! We were slowed up by so many locals on the track. Well it was Sunday. It was surprisingly quiet at the rock itself. We got back close to 9 pm and moved down the hill to a small roadside spot with one Italian motorhome in it. Fabulous day – just the sore feet and aching muscles to contend with.

Mon 11 Jun: Preikestolvegen - Suldalsosen 151 km

Awoke to a cold, grey, thick cloudy day. So lucky yesterday with the weather for Pulpit Rock. Drove back to the ferry at Tau for water, then drove up to Ardal Stave Church. Really neat. Spent ages in the church and in the village. Checked out the big chair at Hjelmeland then took ferry to Nesvik. Looked at Sand waterfall and drove to Kolbeinstveit – old mills on river. Ate, then walked to the open-air museum up the road.

Tue 12 June: Suldalsosen - Sekse 124 km

On north up the R13 with lots of tunnels – some up to 2.3 km long. Many being resurfaced, so no lines and some with no lights. Stopped at Nesflaten at the end of the lake before calling in to the gorge and waterfall above town. Talked to a French guy on a recumbent bike – he was really having fun through the tunnels! The Bratlandsdalen Fall was impressive. The tourist office and the Stave Church at Roldal were both shut (should not have been), so we did some shopping at the local Co-op! Superb scenery heading north – the waterfall at Lattefosen was really unbelievable, as was the long tunnel and the ice-filled lake at the top.

Lonely Planet described Odda as dull but they were dismantling the works in the centre of town and it looked to be improving. Stopped at small Aire on the edge of one arm of the Hardanger Fjord, with two other vans and a tent. Superb spot!

Wed 13 June: Seske - Ulvik 118 km

North to Lofthus and Kinsarvik. Checked out the two very two different stone churches, then on to Eidfjord at the end of the fjord – not very impressed, although the driftwood at the very end of the fjord was amazing. Visited Voringsfossen falls – it changed from wet and miserable when we arrived to quite nice later. We took the Brimnes ferry to Bruravik – where a new suspension bridge is being built – and pulled into Ulvik in really crap weather. Stopped with 2 other vans. Went for a walk around town - wonderful reflections.

Thu 14 June: Ulvik – Bergen 166 km

Grey cloudy start. We took the high road out of Ulvik – Rv572. Great drive with a few tornati. Then followed the R7 – a mixture of wide and then very narrow. Stopped at Oyeste to check out the bronze statues, and had nice walk around Norheimsund. Concerned about where we'd get to stay in Bergen – we took the long route in but failed to find a place to stop. The BobilCentre (motorhome parking) was full when we got there! We stopped on a wharf nearby, suggested by a 'muso': "this place is empty – we've practised here for years!" Settled in out of sight, ate, then walked into Bergen with a Swede and a Pole – crazy, crazy guys - felt good though. Lots of building and up- market apartments going up everywhere.

Fri 15 June: Bergen

Glorious weather. Spent the day exploring Bergen – great place. So many good images – University, botanic gardens, harbour, Bryggen. The 3-masted sailing ship 'Statsraand Lehmkuhl' was something else. Some graffiti and a few 'derros' around the back streets. Spent some time on WiFi at McD's until they closed the upstairs lounge. Walked back via the Theatre and a Rema 1000 store!

Sat 16 June: Bergen – Voss 124 km

Awoke to rain and grey skies, so we headed off to the Fantoft Stave Church. The SatNav took us the back way on very narrow roads. Filled up with LPG and set the SatNav to Voss – it took us up a ridiculously steep, single-lane 2-way hill. Footy finals were happening in Voss so we refuelled and drove through, stopping at a big Co-op Extra just out of town. Stocked up, then dumped grey and black water and filled water tanks just up the road. Still heavy rain. We turned down a road to Reppavegen and stopped at 'P' for Nesheimstumet. Joined later by a French van – it rained and rained. Great reflections in the lake.

Sun 17 June: Voss to beyond Vassbygdi 93 km

Talked to our neighbours for some time – they were off to Finland. Drove off in rain and stopped for walk and lunch at Gudvangen, where we ate at a picnic table in the drizzle. Not very impressed with Gudvangen but Undredal was nice – the stave church was in pieces so we walked along the fjord towards Stokko until the path got really rough. Almost stayed put for the night but ended up driving back up the dale, through the tunnel and down to Flam – also unimpressive, even with a train in. The Saga Ruby cruise ship was polluting the air. Took the side road to Hol and stopped in a walker's car park in Vassbygdi. One other German van there. Went for evening walk down Aurlandsdale.

Mon 18 June: Vassbygdi

Talked to our neighbour and went for walk up the valley. Back for lunch and ablutions, then set off under low cloud and in drizzle. Walked for a couple of hours, then Pam slipped and fell on a slippery rock. Nothing broken luckily – slow walk back – got to van at 6.30 pm. A nice and slow dinner, licking our wounds.

Tue 19 June: Vassbygdi - Naddvik/Aurdal 89 km

Cloudy start – we did the things that you do when you have access to h & c running water and a toilet. Drove down to Aurland (ignoring the Laerdal tunnel road), stopped in town to check out the nice church and buy some bread and strawberries at Spar before pushing on up the hill to the Stegastein lookout – see above 'the mother of all lookouts'. We had lunch there. The rest of the 'Snow Road' was wonderful – 2½ metre snow banks on both sides of the good road – the many motorcyclists must have been cold; so too the tourists walking down the road from their coach on one of their holiday experiences!

Down into Laerdal, which was nice. The tourist office had moved, which confused us for a while. Used their free WiFi late in the day. Drove to the Mannheller ferry, then decided to do the Tindevegan so we backtracked up the Ovre Ardal road. Long hold-up waiting for something – never did find out what. We stopped by the fjord a few km before town. Great spot.

Wed 20 June: Naddvik/Aurdal - Lom/Skjak 140 km

Where next? Read the Lonely Planet re 'Route of the Peaks' and decided it sounded OK, just. The climb out of Ovre Ardal was tricky but after that the Tindevegan was fine. It was all magnificent – well except for the weather! Images included mist-covered hills, helicopters, skiers, roadside mountains of snow higher than the van and road signs buried in the snow! We went through so many different climate zones as we dropped down to Lom. Once there we did the mineral/gemstone/fossil museum, the stave church and the open-air museum – all well worthwhile. Drove out to Skjak and stopped by a rafting depot. Went for an evening walk.

Thu 21 Jun: Lom/Skjak - Slettvikbrua 164 km

Brilliant weather so decided to go for Geiranger and the ferry! Still lots of snow about – 'give way' sign was half covered in snow and the lake at Breiddalsvatnet was covered in ice – all this on the longest day! Wonderful drive and drop towards Geiranger – great lookouts. The town itself was heaving and there were 3 big cruise liners moored offshore. We took the ferry to Hellesylt and enjoyed a fabulous trip. We met the Hurtigruten ferry heading for Geiranger. Stopped and enjoyed Hellesylt for some time before heading up to Stranda and the ferry to Liabygda. Stopped to look at Juvet before stopping with 3 German motorhomes in the snow at Slettvikbrua.

Fri 22 June: Slettvikbrua – Leikvin 166 km

Great spot for breakfast in the snow. Drove a short way to the Trollstigen Visitor Centre, parked and walked to the Plattingen look out – see 'Father of all Lookouts' earlier. After several hours we drove down the hairpins. On via Andales and Afarnes and into Sundalsora, eventually stopping at the Leifkin Open-Air Museum. Walked around the sites in the evening.

Sat 23 June: Sundalsora - Trondheim 200 km

Cleaned up the van before driving down the Rv70, then turning north along the E6. Stopped to watch the 'Great Bike Challenge' - a bike race from Trondheim to Oslo – about 500 km! Drove into Trondheim avoiding the toll on the E6 – great rolling countryside and massive barns. We got the last spot in the free Aire. Went for a walk into town. Lots of litter and grafitti and a few drop-outs.

Sun 24 June: Trondheim

Great weather – lots of walking – nice day.

Mon 25 June: Trondheim - Trondheim University 37 km

Walked around locally in morning – church, yacht club etc. Headed off late – stopped in the car park of the technical university.

Tue 26 June: Dagvoll - Formofoss Waterfall 220 km

Some rain over breakfast – made more interesting when a young elk (moose) ran across the car park. Stopped at Steinker for WiFi, then up the Rv763 to Bolerein site with reindeer rock carving. Rejoined E6 and drove up to the Formofoss waterfall. We stayed with a Dutch motorhome – the couple were nervous about staying alone. Went for late walk.

Wed 27 June: Formofoss - Knitli/Korgan 251 km

Up through Grong and stopped at rest area before Laksforsen Waterfall. Fabulous fall – with old larva flow. Drove up to Mosjoen and around the Sjogata area. Stopped for dinner with lots of others before the closed Korgfjell tunnel. Drove down to Litle Luktvatnet Lake and stopped by war memorial. Went for long walk; also checked out the tunnel entrance.

Thu 28 June: Knitli/Korgan - Sorfold 315 km

Drove up the Europavegen route, as the 8.6 km tunnel was being repaired. Stopped for shopping in Korgan. Through Mo I Rana and stopped at Arctic Circle Centre for an hour – very cold outside – lots of cairns. Short detour up the Rv77 to check the views. Headed north from Fauske and took side road (Rv581). Stopped at Leirfjorden Skole.

Fri 29 June: Sorfold - Lodingen up the Rv837 135 km

Drove up to the lake at Eivatnet for breakfast – the most amazing reflections in the dead calm waters. We watched an elk swimming under the northern shore. Took a walk to get closer to the animal; we could hear it but not see it. We followed the road north and back to the main E6. Stopped for a while for road resurfacing – convoyed through. The stop allowed us to view the ice on the lake to the east of us. Stopped for shopping, fuel and van nappy-changing at Innhavet. Had lunch by the groyne – great views. Thought about next steps – decided not to take ferry to Skarberget for Narvik and instead queued for the Lodingen ferry. We arrived there at 6.15 pm. Stopped on the Rv837.

Sat 30 June: Lodingen - Eggum Headland 200 km

Back to the E10 and down towards the Lofoten Islands proper. Scenery stunning but weather was awful. Stopped for lunch at Hatnesett, at turning for Fiskebol. Stopped on headland near Eggum close to the coastal walk.

Sun 1 July: Eggum - Ε 90 km

Slowly on south, with low cloud and misty rain. Toured Vestvagoy, Flakstadoy and Moskenesoy. Images of bridges, causeways and the undersea tunnel! Visited Flakstad and Ramberg, Reine, Hamnoy and Vindstad. Leknes was damp to say the least. Eventually walked into and around Ε, town and headland. Very very wet – felt sorry for the campers and the cyclists!! Bleak and dismal. Stopped in the main car park with about 30 other motorhomes! Lots of big fish being cleaned. Cod-drying racks everywhere. Went for a walk on the headland when the sun (briefly) came out.

Mon 2 July: Ε - Limstrad 116 km

Heavy rain from 3 am until 11am. We were up late! Drove in atrocious weather to Ramberg, where we used the free WiFi at the tourist office. Checked
www.wunderground.com forecast of a lot more rain! Called in at Nufjord - and we didn't have to pay to walk down the main street. Stopped at Viking Museum for dinner, then on to visit our friends Gabi and Stefan at their holiday cottage on Vestvagoy. Talked until 3 am. We first met them dancing in Bulgaria in 1997 and we met them twice last year – once at a dance workshop in Munich.

Tue 3 July: Limstrad/Smedvik 98 km

Up late – long breakfast in the cottage. Drove around Gimsoya and ended up having a walk near the golf course. Cold wind – only 4ΊC. Drove down towards Hemmingsvaer and had a meal in our van at Djupfjorden. Later walked around the town and drove back via the amazing
Skulpturelandskap near Lyngvaer. Back 'home' to warm up. Went for drive to Kvalnes later to see the midnight sun. The clouds came over from the west just before midnight! In bed about 2 am.

Wed 4 July: Limstrad – Delp 169 km

Farewells to our friends at about 2.15 pm, headed into Leknes for fuel and took the Rv815, southern coast road. Probably one of most photogenic roads we've travelled on – absolutely superb. Failed to get LPG at Svolvaer; had dinner on the road to Fiskebol. Took the side road to Straumnes, passed some superb reflections in the fjord and stopped on the north coast at Delp with a few other motorhomes. There we watched the midnight sun without a cloud in the sky.

Thu 5 July: Delp - Digermulen 106 km

Drove on to Fiskebol – some unsurfaced road. We dipped our feet in the sea at one point. Not bad for feet! Drove down the fjord to Digermulen and explored under a darkening sky. We moved to a lay-by a few km out of town. Really rough and squally outside.

Fri 6 July: Digermulen – Narvik 230 km

We slept to the low throb of passing ships and awoke to early rain and low, threatening cloud. Where to next – stay in the Lofoten or head off? The weather decided it, when we got to the Sortland turning in the rain. We headed for Narvik. Tried to get LPG – the place was closed for the week-end! Used the free WiFi at the railway station. Moved van to the free Aire later with 12 or so others. Drove up the hill to watch the evening water spout.

Sat 7 July: Narvik – Forsan 182 km

Nice morning! Checked out Narvik and headed off without getting fuel! Nice but long and worrying drive down to the ferry at Skarberget – great crossing with distant views of the Lofoten Islands. Drove for quite some time with the fuel warning light on before we got to the 'Best' Statoil fuel at Ulvsvag. Phew! Stopped at the Steigen, Helleristninger – reindeer 'scratching' - before taking the 8-km Steigen tunnel on the Rv827– the one with no traffic! Stopped on the other side with about 10 others. Great spot – fantastic walk and great view of the midnight sun.

Sun 8 July: Forsan – Fauske 172 km

Up late and we lingered in this superb place. On southward – reliving some of the great scenery. Also retraced our steps to Sorfold/Eivatnet Lake. There was someone there in our spot but we pulled in for lunch. Stopped overnight near a boat ramp on the Rv830 past Fauske.

Mon 9 July: Fauske - Arctic Circle Centre 108 km

Stopped at the National Park Centre at Storjord and then did the local walk up the river at Junkerdal. Drove to the Arctic Circle Centre and sent our post cards to get the special postmark! Stayed there for the night with about 30 other vans and lots of mozzies – how do they survive in this cold? OK it's a bit of a clichι to stop here, but there you go!

Tue 10 July: Arctic Circle Centre – Storuman (Sweden) 381 km

Filled the LPG at Mo I Rana and headed off to Sweden in drizzle. The oil warning light came on: 'you need to change the oil'! We saw an elk after dinner. The mozzies were awful!

Wed 11 July: Storuman - Skuleskogen NP 304 km

15 km down the road we found the Aire that we should have stayed at - Lake Balviksajo. On via Lycksele, Bjurholm and Ornskoldvik – nice. Stopped at the National Park West, had dinner and walked to Skrattabborr-tjarnen and back - 2.7 km each way.

Thu 12 July: Skuleskogen West - Skuleskogen North 85 km

Drove back to the Peugeot garage at Ornskoldvik and had the oil changed. Expensive at 1,999 SEK but it had to be done. Back to Skuleskogen – North entrance this time. Low cloud and mist. We set off on two walks at 4.45 pm – the blue trail to the Island of Tarnattholmarna, and then I did the walk to the Slattdalsskrevan ravine, getting there very late in mist and very wet and cold. Lots of problems following the return markers in the dark – we'd got too used to the midnight sun! Got back to the van at 10.45 pm – cold and wet! We never did see the views!

Fri 13 July: Skuleskogen NP - Svartvik 163 km

Drove south in appalling weather – heavy rain, low cloud and lots of spray. It had cleared closer to Harnosand where we did a big shop at LIDL – the first that we'd seen since leaving Germany on 3 June. Walked around the really stylish town after hitting the WiFi at MacD's. Later drove down to Sundall which looked big, gaunt and stopped at the old industrial site of Svartvik – right on the water's edge – us and about 20 others.

Sat 14 July: Svartvik - Stockholm 394 km

We started the day by asking some of the motorhomers about stopping in Stockholm. "It's a problem" was all we got. Long fast drive down the E4 before stopping at Uppsala, when the fuel warning light came on! Had lunch at Gamla Uppsala, checked out the site, looked at a wedding and toured the open-air museum, which was nice. Filled up with fuel before leaving the town to its 200,000 bikes! Or it just seemed like it. Drove into Stockholm using the motorhome campsite co-ordinates at Langholmen. Not an easy drive and we did not like the feel of the place, so picked up a map and a new printed forecast – not looking good! We drove along Soder Malarstrand and spotted a couple of local motorhomes. It was free to park there at the week-end so after talking to them we stopped. Walked into town, in the drizzle, and enjoyed a night of drifting around Gamla Stan. Great place. Back about 11 pm – it poured all night!

Sun 15 July: Stockholm - Norrkoping 159 km

More rain – we're here so we have to do it! Had a great day in Stockholm involving marching bands, street theatre (Alakazam), the wonderful Vasa Museum and lots and lots of walking! We left about 8.30 pm – difficult finding the way as the SatNav insisted on taking us hundreds of km in the wrong direction! Difficult also finding somewhere to stop. Left the motorway near Norrkoping and found a small nature reserve.

The next few days were spent travelling to Alsace to visit some friends. We basically needed to travel a long way in a short time:

Mon 16 July: Norrkoping to Greve nr Copenhagen (Denmark) 493 km

Took the expensive ferry from Helsingborg to Helsingor – should have taken the Oresund Bridge.

Tue 17 July: Greve – Celle (Germany) 583 km

Good trip apart from the big delay getting through Hamburg, where several roads converged on one tunnel that was under repair! Stopped in an ADAC Stellplatz in Celle. Went for two walks in the drizzle.

Wed 18 July: Celle - Gmunden/Felda 375 km

Used earplugs against the local church. Walked around the town and the market. Traffic, well truck traffic, very heavy. Did some tourist things in the Harz Mountains. Again used an ADAC stopping spot – not that it was easy to find, especially with the final Umleitung (diversion)! We arrived about 11 pm.

How did we end the holiday?

The final 10 days or so on the Continent saw us in Soufflenheim, Mt Ste Odile and Rosheim in Alsace; and Sasbachwalden and Saarlouis in Germany. And so back via Montherme, an old faithful, Arques and St Omer – which we were very disappointed with: 'Ville non-Fleurie' - and so back via Calais to Derby, in a final day 's driving of 410 km! A great trip, one to remember – until the next trip!

One thing that we will remember for a very long time is the trip to a dance festival in Berstett and particularly the Armenian Group BERT. They were fantastic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFDsiv0KWkM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nqCNDmuVLI

Language and Communication

Most Norwegians spoke English – and generally very well. Our French got quite a bit of practice, and our tourist German came in quite useful again too. In communication terms the Netbook worked well again, particularly when paired up with McDonalds' free WiFi; until that is we got some way up Norway – very few McD's there.

Other images of the holiday: flowers - lupins in Scandinavia; geraniums and petunias in Alsace; breakfast in the snow at one of the free stopping spots (guaranteed in the Norwegian constitution); getting lost in the mist of
Skuleskogen National Park; and the Vasa museum in Stockholm.

Next year?

We're thinking France, Spain and Portugal. Probably follow some of 'Le Tour' again. And yes we will definitely go back to Norway.

For a summary photographic record of our trip check out the following link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/108520371100176229503/2012Summary 

Ignore the few personal shots at the start. Click on a photo and you can then step through them using the arrow on the right of the picture, with a rough map position showing on the right hand side.

The Bergen Waterfront

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Pam at Breakfast

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Viewpoint on the Trolls Road

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A Sea Fjord almost in the Midnight Sun

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On the Trolls Road

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On the Snow Road

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On the Pulpit Rock

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Misty Day in Ulvik

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Breakfast at Slettvikbrua

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