Saturday, 24 June 2017

Saturday 24 June - Hell and High Water

Where’s Bertie? He's in a car park at the top of a voluminous waterfall associated with a hydro-electric plant, to the NE of Garland (exact location: 64.54405, 12.45399)

All was quiet, save for a few other runners, as I trundled along the riverside at Trondheim early this morning. It has only just occurred to me, in writing the post title above, that it is the weekend, which would account for there not being the bustle of people rushing off to work.

We didn't rush off either, and overstayed the 24-hour limit by a few minutes (although I did notice that the parking restriction sign was missing from our row of the car park, which probably explains how the van next to us has got away with parking so long - it's tyres were low, it's brake disks rusty and the grass had grown considerably under its rear overhang, where the municipal mower could not reach).

Our first stop this morning wasn't far up the road. Leaving the E6 trunk route after less than half an hour, it was the road to Hell we took. There we plonked Bertie in the car park of the 'Hell Kjopsenter' (Hell Shopping Centre)*. After buying a few supplies the intention was to wander off for a look around the town, which seems to have capitalised in the appeal of its name by putting a Hollywood style sign up on the wooded hillside (you can see it in the top right of the snap below):

When it came to it, faced with a continuing greyness and light rain, we found that we couldn't quite be bothered. A couple of snaps next to the road sign, and a pause for coffee, and on we went, North, through some good scenery, and an awful lot of trees.

Our intended night stop was in Snåsa, chosen partly based on the length of drive it was to get there and partly because its a place interesting enough to get a brief mention in our guidebook. The parking there was a disappointment in the context of arriving in the middle of the afternoon, with the only view being of a football pitch and running track (a minute back down the road had been stunning views, but nowhere to stop).

After a cup of tea, and without even stepping foot outside to look at the place, I suggested that, rather than spending hours looking at an unattractive view, we may as well continue our movement northwards. A few minutes later the SatNav was set for a place 100km up the road and we were on the move again.

We only got just over a third of that distance. Only a handful of kilometres after a picnic area we had wrongly rejected having no view, only realising too late that it was actually quite nice, I saw a spectacle that caused an exclamation. We pulled in, joining a line of other vans already parked and took a walk down the wooden walkway to see this:

I had intended a detour from the main road tomorrow to see a waterfall, but I fear that, after this, it may be disappointing - even if this one is partially man-made by virtue of the hydro-electric dam above.

Lots of vans have been and gone whilst we have been sitting here (mainly German and Dutch), so we don't know if anyone else intends to stay the night, but we can't see anything to say that we can't.
*In Hell we watched the diesel price drop from 10.2NOK/litre to 9.99/litre (that's just 93p!). Alas, we had filled up a short while before in Trondheim at 12.2Kr/litre, which seemed a bargain compared to yesterday's prices, but turned out to be a rip off at today's mid-morning price. By afternoon, prices were back up at 14.5. That's a swing of more than 40p per litre in the space of a few hours, which is being repeated several times a week. I'd love to know the reasoning behind it.)

Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday 23 June - Trondheim

Where’s Bertie? He's in one of the free-for-24hr motorhome spaces in the official parking area in Trondheim, which is surprising as we weren't planning to return to the city.

As I ran some pretty, but violently undulating, forest tracks early this morning, it occurred to me (perhaps because of the pong) that I should have done more laundry yesterday. If I had included the sheets and towels, not to mention my running gear and various other forgotten items whilst I had the facility available, then everything would have been clean and we shouldn't then need to seek out laundry facilities for another three weeks.

Back at Bertie, Mick was dressed to run, but I soon put him off with my description of the lumpiness of the local trails and he was amenable to my suggestion that we go back to Trondheim, where he could run the riverside paths and I could do more laundry before we made tracks towards Hell and beyond.

Following SatNav's directions (yesterday I navigated) annoyingly took us unnecessarily through a toll, but more notably it included a road of speed humps that weren't just unmarked but positively camouflaged. Even in a car I wouldn't fancy hitting them at the speed limit of 40km/h. We proceeded with utmost caution.

"Shall we even try the motorhome parking?" I asked Mick, and he thought it worthwhile. Seeing two vans just leaving as we approached, there was slight optimism. Seeing two vans had just manoeuvred into spaces, that optimism waned, but only for the two seconds it took me to spot the one empty space on the back row, facing the river*. Pulling into it, our plans changed again; we are allowed to park here for 24hr, so we will.

Mick went for a run. We did laundry, taking a couple of walks out whilst the machines did their work. A foray into a supermarket had us gasping at many of the prices (£45 for a small fillet steak!, various veg 4 times the price in the UK), so we couldn't believe the signage in front of the bakery pick'n'mix counter that said we could have any 3 items for 34NOK (£3.20ish). That was lunch sorted:

Cheaper than Greggs and much superior in quality

It was 3pm before we sat down for lunch and then somehow another couple of hours had escaped us before I declared an intention to go out and look at the old town, the fort and the royal palace (I'd been reading the guidebook over lunch). After an initial reluctance to move, Mick opted to come along, but I fear that was something he soon regretted. Rain started the moment we stepped outside and five minutes later it became heavy.

My desire to see these bits of Trondheim was greater than my desire to stay dry, so on we went, over the old bridge with its view of the old riverside buildings...

...and through the old town, omitting my intended detour to the fort in view of how wet our jeans were getting (should have picked up the waterproof overtrousers; at least we had jackets today).

Just as the jeans were becoming uncomfortably wet, a supermarket appeared before us, representing shelter. So long was spent examining their full range (and prices - cooked chicken is good value) that I'm sure security must have been watching us.

The fun one can have in a foreign supermarket when waiting out the rain.

By the time we stepped back outside, we were drier and the rain had stopped. Onwards to the palace we went, which sits in the middle of the city, on an otherwise ordinary street, within touching distance of passing pedestrians:

We got back to Bertie before the rain returned, happy that we have now seen much more of this city than we expected when we left yesterday afternoon.

*It seems that 8.30am is the best time to hit this place if you want a slot in the motorhome parking. Or maybe that was just today.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Thursday 22 June - Trondheim

Where’s Bertie?
He's in a large car park in some woods, but with a bit of a view, in between Flatåsen and Ringvål (both of which are to the SW of Trondheim). Exact location: 63.36684, 10.30157.

Knowing that Trondheim is a popular place and only has motorhome parking for around 16 vans, we decided our best bet was to arrive between 10 and 11am as in most places that's the time of day when people tend to start leaving. The exception to this general rule is large towns and cities, but it still seemed the most appropriate strategy.

It was just 5 degrees out as we left last night's kipping spot and made our way along a gorgeous valley with the river rushing alongside the road. As we descended and the sun got its hat on the temperature rose, such that by the time we arrived in Trondheim, at 10.30, it was 12 degrees.

There we found the motorhome parking slots (both the free-for-24hr-max-stay and the paying ones) to be full. There were, however, a couple of car slots available and we can squeeze into a car slot, so we did (after the German van who had pulled in ahead of us and parked across both spaces had seen the error of his ways).

Whilst better than nothing, this was not ideal. These spots cost 23 NOK (call that £2.20) per hour. It was 10.30am and the charges apply till 8pm. We opted to pay for a couple of hours and have a very swift look around the town.

The cathedral was the obvious starting point, being as grand and big as Oslo's was small and plain:

We tried to identify who was represented in the many statues adorning the front wall. We managed to get Adam and Eve (Adam is in this shot; I didn't capture Eve standing next to him), but it took a bit of discussion to agree that the chap on the bottom row, second from right, was Gandalf...

We didn't go inside. Aside from lacking time, it was 90NOK a head, and it was rammed with tour groups. Instead we wandered next door to the historical Archbishop's Palace...

...and had a quick look around the ground floor of the military museum. We had no time for the other two and a half floors.

A walk through a busy market took us to the Tourist Office where various useful brochures were obtained, then in our final half an hour it was to the waterfront we headed. I've seen pictures of the wharf there with very colourful buildings, but we didn't find them. Instead I got distracted by finding the laundrette that Google had told me was thereabouts.

Back at Bertie with two minutes to spare, I took a quick scout around a nearby street and found the parking there to be unrestricted, with plenty of space. We moved and I predicted that within ten minutes another motorhome would spot us and follow our lead. I was right and it only took five minutes.

After lunch Mick was left behind whilst I set off for the 2km walk back across town to the laundrette*, where the wash cycle was long enough to allow me to zip off to the Tourist Office to download some more newspapers. Not knowing how long the drying would take (and having hung the synthetic items around the room, so I could put the drier on high heat), I waited in the stifling temperature of the room until it was done. It was refreshing to step back outside, although not as refreshing as what came later...

View from the bridge next to which Bertie was parked.

A quick sortie by Mick as I returned had him come back at a run, saying "Quick, a motorhome is leaving!". So much haste was made that we failed to notice, for the second time today, the unmarked speed hump on the way (cue the complete and involuntary rearrangement of the contents of Bertie's cupboards), yet someone still got to the newly vacated space before us. We gave up on Trondheim and left, taking a detour to the SW because we knew of a car park there that looked nice.

The car park did indeed have a good view of the adjacent lake, but it was also sloping and closely overlooked by two houses, so we only stayed long enough for me to go for a swim. Being a fresh water lake, and having forgotten to include my costume in the laundry, it seemed like as good a way as any to rinse the salt out from last weekend's sea swim. As for the water temperature, it was very cold indeed. I didn't stay in long!

We didn't have to retreat far to find a more suitable car park. Almost full when we arrived at around 6.15pm, we started to deduce that there was an orienteering event going on. Now, at nearly 9pm, it is emptying, although two cars have just arrived with bikes. It's not as if they're going to run out of daylight!

As for us, I think we may go to Hell tomorrow.

^^(* Considering Norway's reputation for its high cost of living, the laundry was remarkable for its value. A large wash was under £4 (only £2.50 for a small machine), and drying was just under £1 (and the machine was an automatic one that only stopped when the clothes were dry, rather being for a set time). I've never done laundry that cheaply in the UK; only Spain has come close. In other cost news, diesel this morning was down to 11.5NOK/litre. We didn't stop for any. By this afternoon it was up to 14.7. What is the logic behind such frequent wild fluctuations?)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wednesday 21 June - Lillehammer and E of Hjerkinn

Where’s Bertie? He's in a small informal parking area, at an altitude of around 900m, alongside a dammed lake to the E of Hjerkinn (exact position: 62.2120, 9.6010).

There are 936 metal-mesh steps leading up to the top of the Olympic ski jumps at Lillehammer and we started our day with a walk up and then back down them.

Many people were met along the way. Coach loads, in fact, but only a handful were seen to be walking upwards, the popular choice being the chairlift up and a walk down.

Taken looking down from between the take-off point and the start of the landing zone. The area at the bottom is where the 1994 Winter Olympic opening ceremony took place, and the tower where the torch was held is at the bottom in the middle.

Back at Bertie, we turned his nose northwards once more, not currently being at leisure to sit around for a day: we're on a mission to reach the Artic Circle before the sun starts dipping down below the horizon at night.

The next five hours were spent feeling like we were taking a long time to make little progress. Before we even left town there was a stop for fuel (footnote 1), then another for bread/failed attempt to use McD's wifi. A while later, on a single carriageway section of the E6 main road, which joins Oslo and Trondheim, we ground to a halt. Roadworks with a convoy system in place was the cause and it must have been three quarters of an hour before we got through. We did have a good view for some of the engine-off waits for movement, so it could have been worse.

SatNav was throwing a bit of a fit trying to get us back on course as we then enjoyed a large section of new motorway (of which the SatNav was unaware; it thought we were driving across fields and woods), and it was along there that we enjoyed lunch at a brand new picnic area with quite a view:

The new road and the continued ire of SatNav made navigating to our next stop (an LPG station) a bit trickier, but we managed it. We also managed, without any trouble, to obtain LPG from the unmanned station. Provided it stays warm enough not to need the heating, we are hoping that the small top up we bought should see us through the rest of our time in Norway.

More new motorway ensued (and accordingly more toll charges, about £13 worth today) before SatNav was finally happy when we rejoined the old road. We had gone about another hour and a half, along and beyond the very attractive Gudbrandsdal river valley, when it suddenly occurred to me that, after I'd isolated the gas bottles prior to filling them, I hadn't shut the gas locker door (which is inside the garage) and nor had I latched, never mind locked, the garage door. Fortunately it's design is reasonable tolerant of such stupidity (air pressure and a hydraulic arm keeping it closed) so no harm was done, but we still stopped at the first opportunity to rectify the omission. I'll wager we'll be doubly careful about that in the future.

A very long steady climb (that doesn't do the MPG any good!) took us up to and across a high plateau (900+ metres). It's a vast area of open ground, liberally scattered with stunted trees and less liberally scattered with wooden houses, many with grass roofs.

Naturally, as we had gone up the temperature had gone down, all the way to 9 degrees. Seeing plenty of places we could have pulled off the road for the night we agreed that it would be lovely to spend a night in such a place, but that it could get a bit chilly. We both expected that any moment we were going to start a long descent and that the parking spot for which we were aiming would be lower down. Gradually it dawned on us that the distance to go was small and that there was no sign of descent.

We have no complaints though. The location is spectacular:

I took these snaps when we arrived. Since then Bertie has been surrounded by about eight billion flying insects. We won't dare open the door again tonight.

From what I can work out from the large scale maps we have available to us, we are sitting just to the north of Norway's first National Park, Rondane (a high alpine zone that is apparently a very popular walking area (footnote 2)) and to the south of Dovrefjell National Park. It's possible that we are within one or the other, but even if we're not, their proximity explains why it is so nice here.

Footnote 1: the price of diesel was down 0.3NOK to 14.2NOK/litre this morning. By later afternoon we were seeing it at 13.1.
Footnote 2: we would have liked to have stopped to see more of Rondane National Park, but our desire to get to the Arctic Circle by the end of June is greater. We will be visiting another highly recommended National Park later in the trip, and as we have maps for that one, it's probably the wiser choice for exploration.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tuesday 20 June - Oslo and Lillehammer

Where’s Bertie? He's in a car park at the foot of the Olympic ski jump at Lillehammer.

Of the 70 or so motorhomes at the Oslo parking area last night (capacity: 250), the slot we took (the only waterside one available) happened to be next to the only other British-registered van. When the rain finally let up at gone 9pm, I nipped out to take a photo of the view from Bertie's front bumper...

...and a while later we got chatting to our neighbours, Andrew and Louise from New Zealand.

If we thought importing a motorhome was stressful, they trumped us. They bought their's from a private seller in Wales whilst they were still at home in New Zealand! All went well with their long-distance transaction and they are now at the start of a 12-18 month adventure around Europe. It's their first time in a motorhome, so they're going through a steep learning curve.

Some time after 10pm the sun dipped over the hills across the water and shorts and t-shirt were no longer enough for hanging around outside. Louise and I shivered a while before I blinked first and declared I needed to go inside. I also needed some sleep, as we had an early(ish) start planned for today. Unfortunately our after-11pm bedtime last night was followed by yet another 5am wake up. Darned daylight!

To allow more time for looking around Oslo (bearing in mind that our parking at the marina expired at 2pm), a train was caught into town, rather than walking. It was thus only twenty past eight as we stepped out of the station and made our way around a building site (a waterfront development project has been going on for some years and is due to finish in 2020) and to the opera house:

I wasn't taken with the design of the building, but climbing up the sloping roofs, the view was nice from the top:

Next a walk around the waterfront took us to the fort (Akershus Slott), which houses buildings used by the military and a couple of museums. Since 2000 it has been open for the pubic to wander freely around the grounds, so we did:

Next was the cathedral, which by appearances is more of a medium-sized church, with a complete lack of grandeur. I didn't take a photo of the outside and the one I took of the magnificent organ fails to show its magnificence. We've been known to spend hours looking around cathedrals. This one took ten minutes tops.

I remembered the royal palace from my visit to Oslo in '98. It still seems odd that you can walk right up to the front doors:

By contrast, a couple of minutes after leaving the palace grounds we came across a building that looked like a prison. Narrow slitty windows in a very robust-looking structure, which was surrounded not only by very sturdy security fencing, but also a ring of bollards on the pavement. We eventually found a sign saying what it was: the US Embassy!

From there we walked back out to the marina, failing to find a bank on the way. Successive sorties by Mick and then by me in a quest to find some cash (I finally used the power of Google maps and found a hole in the wall) meant there wasn't time left for my hair to be shorn whilst we had electric.

Just before our 2pm deadline, we drove out of the marina and started incurring an unexpected number of toll charges. Every ten minutes or so we were going through another set of cameras, with the charges ranging from 34NOK to 15NOK with various other numbers in between. I know not what makes some 1NOK higher than others.

Fuel was the other pricey issue of relevance to us. Bertie's fuel gauge was heading towards empty, but a jump in prices from 11.95 yesterday afternoon to 14.51 today had us reluctant to fill up. We've heard that the fuel prices in Norway go up and down depending on time of day, day of the week or the colour of the manager's underwear. It's possible the price could go up again by tomorrow, but we're hoping to catch it in the other direction.

The fuel light finally came on as we made our way steeply up to the top of the ski jumps in Lillehammer, shortly before we joined the unpaved road which was to take us the final kilometre to our chosen night-stop. Arriving there, the spot would have done just fine for the purposes of sleeping and it would have been free too. However, it didn't have a view, whereas we had seen on our way up that the car park at the foot of the ski jump was much nicer (and a number of other motorhomes already there suggested it was okay to overnight). We had also seen that it charged 100NOK per day, but decided to pay the price for the benefit of the view.

A long time was spent at the ticket machine deciding if the charges apply outside of ski season and eventually we erred on the side of caution. The parking machines we've used so far have been complicated things, but we tried our best and did indeed get a ticket. Looking at it, it seems to say that it is valid from today until 15 January 2018, which I'm taking to be an indication that we didn't need to pay. On further inspection, it seems that the second time I pressed the 50NOK button it didn't register, so at least we only paid £5 unnecessarily.

One final observation before I go:
Electric cars seem to be extremely popular in Oslo. We've seen more in the last 24 hours than we've seen cumulatively in our lives before. One road today had about a dozen charging points along each side, and every one of them was in use:

Very many electric cars!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Monday 19 June - Oslo

Where’s Bertie? He's in a front row slot, overlooking the water in the motorhome parking area of the marina on the SW side of Oslo. It's an eye-watering 300NOK (£1 = 10.4NOK) for 24 hours. That includes electricity and water and waste, but showers are extra.

With a desire to get to Oslo in time to get some sightseeing in this afternoon, we were on the road relatively early this morning, although we did make time at Uddevalla to detour to the last Lidl we would pass in Sweden. That was probably the last groceries we'll see at prices that won't make us wince (although even then some prices were defintely wince-worthy) until we cross back into Sweden in August.

At the Norwegian border it looked like we were going to be waved through, like the three cars ahead of us, but at the last moment a hand was put up to indicate that we should stop. We weren't even asked about carrying restricted items (Norway is in the EEA and Schengen area, but duty free allowances are in force. Helped by the fact that I don't drink and neither of us smoke, we were within the limits). After a chat about our vague plans, we were waved on.

We would then have driven straight to Oslo, except that both parking options I had earmarked in the city were chargeable, so it seemed sensible to stop for lunch somewhere free (i.e. a motorway picnic area) so as to get the most out of our paid parking time.

So much for maximising time and saving money: a failure to notice the turn into the marina on the first pass netted us an extra £3.30 toll charge (annoying!), and we didn't want to go past that toll point again to check out the other parking area for which we had conflicting information as to charges (it may have turned out to be just as expensive as the Aire, but without any facilities).

Parking up, we only spent as long as it took to plug Bertie in and deploy his levelling ramps (in that order; it would be preferable to do it the other way around), before we were off on foot in the direction of Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Vigeland was a Norwegian artist and, between 1924 and his death in 1943 he donated his works to the city of Oslo, thus creating this magnificent park.

I saw the monolith that forms the centre piece of the park...

... on a TV programme in 1998 and immediately decided that I needed to see it in person. A few weeks later I flew out to Oslo for a long weekend and managed to see not just the Vigeland Park but also most of the other tourist sights of the city. Mick, however, had never been.

The main difference I noted between my 1998 visit and today is that (to my recollection; I'll check my photos when I get home) in '98 there were only a couple of other people in the park. Today there were hundreds. It made it tricky to get a photo of anything without someone posing on or next to it.

It's been difficult choosing which photos to post here, so I've just picked a random selection of those I took (although I reckon I took fewer than I did in '98, when, of course, film and developing were involved).

I had intended, upon leaving the park, to head into the city for a quick look around (and for a cashpoint), but only a few steps down the road we realised that afternoon was rapidly approaching evening, and that maybe we should defer our trip into the city until the morning. An exceptionally good call, as it turned out. By the time we got back to Bertie a light rain was falling. Soon after it was lashing - and we had gone out (in the earlier sunshine) without jackets, or even an umbrella.

I've used the extra time in Bertie taking advantage of having electric. Water has been heated and a few bits of hand washing done. Those items are now hanging in the shower room with the electric heater turning the small space into a drying room. On a campsite of normal price I would be unlikely to fritter away electricity in such a way, but at the best part of £30 to park here for a night, it doesn't feel unreasonable to use a few kW.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday 18 June - Ålabodarna and Aröd

Where’s Bertie? He's in a wooded car park not far from the beach to the east of Aröd, which is to the NW of Göteborg.

A warm sunny morning kicked off with an energetic start as a run along the seafront road to the south of our car park was followed by a dip in the sea. Swimming seems to be such a popular pastime (the waterfront is dotted at regular intervals with swimming piers), that I thought I ought to give it a go, and Mick was up for coming along too.

She's going in

I disengaged brain and at the bottom of the steps just plunged in, reporting back to Mick that it was quite warm. That was an outright lie. Within seconds I was fighting my body's urge to shiver and gasp. Just a tiny bit of swimming around got me used to the temperature.

He's going in!

He didn't disengage brain. As a result he spent a few minutes splashing himself gingerly with water and gasping before finally bringing himself to swim. By then I'd given up on a photo and was back in the water myself.

We didn't stay in long, but it was enough to make a valid claim to have swum in the sea.

A very late al fresco breakfast and a pore over the map and at noon off we went, stopping after only half an hour or so in a McDonald's car park for coffee.

I'm sure we could have found somewhere more attractive, but the bonus of McDonald's car park was that (with the use of our wifi booster) we were able to get online and finally download some newspapers. It's not that we want to read the news, but we've been missing our nightly crossword. All set with the last seven days' worth of puzzles, and with coffee and pastries consumed, northwards we went once more.

Our meal and bed times are all over the place (but generally late) at the moment, so it was gone 3 by the time we stopped at a motorway service station picnic area for lunch. It was a nicer location than you might think.

By then I'd had a rethink about our destination for the night, opting to find somewhere less distant than originally planned. This car park at Aröd is what I came up with, and for the third time today the SatNav warned us of a toll ahead.

Before we left home I registered us for the payment of tolls in Norway, but it hadn't occurred to me to check whether there were toll roads in Sweden, and if so, how they worked. Belatedly a bit of Googling was called for whilst Mick drove, which told us that there is a 'tax' payable on the motorway around Göteborg, but that it is only levied Monday to Friday. It would only have been a few pounds anyway, but I'd still rather hit it on a non-chargable day.

Having driven through lots of very green agicultural land, with a landscape gradually drifting from dead-flat to gently undulating, the SatNav finally told us to leave the motorway and after 10km of increasingly narrow roads, we arrived in our car park. It puts me very much in mind of a Scottish Forestry Commission car park, except fre of the trees here are conifers.

The sun is beating down again, having driven through various levels of cloudiness this afternoon and, at 6pm, the sun is still high in the sky. It must be time to go and take a stroll down the path to the beach.

Later ... I did take a stroll. Below is what I found, with the first photo looking north up the coast, the second looking south:

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday 17 June - Copenhagen, Denmark and Ålabodarna, Sweden

Where’s Bertie? He's in a coastal car park (at 55.9439, 12.7715) just up the road from the little harbour village of Ålabodarna, in Sweden.

The party that was going on behind Bertie as I posted yesterday's blog was a flash in the pan. At 5pm a trio of chaps were erecting a big gazebo and laying out drinks. Guests arrived. An hour and a bit of raucousness ensued (where the women found it too much trouble to walk the 100m to the toilets and were happy to squat within our line of sight). Then suddenly it was over and the gazebo was dismantled. By 7pm all was quiet.

We still had a marginally disturbed night (comings and goings at 2.30am), but still bounded out of bed before 7am for an early breakfast. A couple of hours later we were running the ParkRun at Amager Strandpark, along with 70 other people.

It wasn't just ParkRunners out - all the paths around water features in Copenhagen seem to be full of people exercising. Every time we have passed, the lagoon here has also contained a good few swimmers pulling fluorescent inflatable markers.

Save for going over a couple of bridges, the course at this venue (it's one of three ParkRuns in Copenhagen) is dead flat, with the only impedance being that the one path, lying between a lagoon and the sea, is fully exposed to the wind. Happily, that wind wasn't as windy as it had been yesterday and overnight. The rain, which had been hammering at some points overnight, also gave way to increasingly fine skies.

With our runs complete, we didn't leave town, as had been our rough plan. Instead, after showers and second breakfast we jumped on the Metro and went back into the city. I had two missions: to get a map of Norway and to see if I could find some new running shoes at a price I was prepared to pay (annoyingly, the side support of the pair I brought with me has collapsed).

We succeeded in the map mission (at 2.5 times the price of the identical one I bought but didn't receive before we left home), but failed on the runners. I wasn't prepared to pay £150 for my usual brand, or to squeeze my feet into a £100 pair of a brand that are too narrow for my feet.

It wasn't just a shopping trip, as our route between the relevant shops took us past another dead end canal...

...on which some very large (and also a few normal sized) swans were gliding around...

I proposed a go on one of the swan pedaloes. Mick vetoed.

...and via Rosenbourg Slot (castle/palace), in whose grounds a 2-day music event was in full swing:

Back at Bertie, after a late lunch and some toing and froing to Lidl*, off we went in search of a petrol station, thence to Sweden.

The Øresund Bridge, which links Denmark to Sweden, celebrated its one hundred millionth vehicle yesterday and, after convincing the attendant that Bertie really is under 6m (he's 5.99m) and that we didn't have a bike rack on the back pushing us over the magic number (the difference between a €56 toll and a €112 toll), he gave us our receipt, an information leaflet about the bridge and a handful of gifts. The gifts were a bit bizarre. They're pencils with caps on the ends. Those caps contain seeds. The instructions tell you to use the pencil, then plant it cap side down, to grow some herbs. I assume they have an oversupply by the fact that we were given six.

Beyond the toll booths, customs waved us to stop, wanting to know where we were heading tonight. Not accepting "65km up the coast" as an answer, a map had to come out to find a name. I'm sure I mangled the pronunciation, but it satisfied them. On reflection, I should have said 'Göteborg'; it's not like they were going to check.

So, here we are, in a car park with four other motorhomes and a couple of caravans. Being in Sweden, we're all here perfectly legally, and can stay up to 48 hours. Not that we will: Norway is calling.

The village and harbour, just down the road from where we're parked

(*In Denmark and Germany (and possibly other European countries in which we have not yet shopped), a deposit ('pant') is payable on cans and plastic bottles. In Denmark the going rate is 3DKK per bottle (around 33p). You redeem the pant by feeding the bottles into a machine, which then gives you a voucher, to be spent in that shop. We had some empties to return from the other day, and used that voucher to buy some bottles of water (3.40DKK each with a 3.00DKK pant). Those bottles were decanted into one of our water carriers, and we immediately returned the empties. Realising our drinking bottles were empty, we bought another bottle of water with that voucher and it started to feel like we could just keep going around.)

Friday, 16 June 2017

Friday 16 June - Copenhagen

Where’s Bertie? He's in the same car park as he was in last night, although he did spend the day elsewhere. It's just gone 5pm as I type this and there seems to be a party going on behind us, so we'll see how it sounds later before deciding to stay here again tonight.

Sometime around 2005, maybe 2006, I made a short visit to Copenhagen. I spent two long days sitting in a conference room, by myself, reading contracts. On the evening I went out for a meal, which did give the opportunity to see a tiny snapshot of the city, but otherwise the only thing I saw was the inside of a hotel room.

The brief glimpse I had on that trip was enough to make me want to see more and, finally, over a decade later, I did that today.

Given the choice between leaving Bertie where he was and catching the metro into the city, or driving to another free parking spot three kilometres closer from where we could walk, we opted for the latter. That meant that rather than getting transport direct to the centre, we walked across Christianshavn, taking a little detour on our way to look at the unique spire of Vors Frelsers Kirke:

Church spire or helter-skelter? The final 150 steps, of the 400 that lead to the tip, spiral up the outside, getting narrower as they go.

I didn't fancy the ascent myself, and we were there before opening time anyway, so onwards we went, getting a view that told us that they like their copper roofs and their towers and spires in these parts:

The spire on the far left is on the stock exchange building. The next one is on Christiansborg Palace. I was told what the others were, I'm sure, but I've now forgotten

Heading over to the colourful tourist trap that is Nyhavn ('New Harbour', a short dead-end canal), I sampled the best preserved antique toilet facilities that I've ever come across, before talking Mick into taking an hour-long sight-seeing boat trip (yep, it was boat-averse me who had to convince Mick!). Given the choice between the company selling their tours for 80DKK and the adjacent one selling theirs for 40DKK, we went for the expensive option, featuring a real live tour guide giving a comprehensive narrative as we went.

Happy to be on a boat trip!

It was good, allowing us to see the key sights of the city with no effort.

Having saved lots of walking time, we thus had all afternoon free to visit the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (an art museum).

After a walk across town, with a pause for lunch on the way, then another pause to watch the rides at Tivoli Park (an amusement park dating from the mid nineteenth century)...

...we arrived at the impressive-looking building that houses the museum. As it turned out, the exterior of the building was nothing to the interior. I know not what the building was originally, but it's very grand. I was too busy looking at the exhibits in the most spectacular of the rooms to think to take a photo, but here's a snap of a different one:

We sped through the Egyptian, Greek and Mediterranean collections as they were largely similar to collections we have seen elsewhere. The stars of the show were the 'modern' art and sculpture (mid nineteenth century to second world war), featuring a huge collection of Rodin sculptures and Gauguin paintings not to mention an impressive array by Van Goch, Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Picasso and Renoir. The 95DKK entrance fee had been higher than we had expected, but I adjudged it to have been well worth it.

Leaving the art behind, we should then have gone in search of a bookshop to right our lack of a map of Sweden and Norway, as the one I ordered didn't arrive before we left home. We didn't find the enthusiasm to do that though, so maplessly we returned to Bertie and swiftly moved back to last night's location. It was so quiet here last night; it's so noisy just now!

Just one other comment before I go: bicycles! It is remarkable quite how many bicycles are being ridden around this city. Far more than there are cars being driven, I'm sure. I particularly like the ones with two wheels at the front, in between which sits either a child carrying box or a load carrying box. A huge cat den/scratching post, the musical instruments for a whole band or another bicycle: they can all be carried by pedal power.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Thursday 15 June - Roskilde and Copenhagen

Where’s Bertie? He’s in a car park next to some lagoons to the SW of Copenhagen (in between the city and the Øresund Bridge, which links Denmark to Sweden). There are toilets here and bins (and, of course, picnic benches).

It was a relatively early start today and a pre-breakfast relocation to a free car park that sits next to the Viking Museum, 0.6km outside of the centre of Roskilde. The museum wasn't of sufficient interest to us to make is want to part with 120DKK each (last I saw, £1=8.4DKK), but I did want to look at the cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, apparently the best cathedral in Denmark.

As is so often the case, there was nowhere from which to get a good photo... here’s a photo of a model of the building

By virtue of its opening times not being as stated in our guidebook, we arrived a little early, so after a walk around outside and a bit of loitering, where were almost first through the door. Hot on our heels were a couple of coach trips, the clients of which seemed to have left their manners and common courtesy at home, making us feel repeatedly like we were in their way (look, if you want to take a photo of the thing I'm looking at, then just wait a few moments. Don't stand half an inch away from me and thrust your camera in front of me. I guess they must have all been on really short holidays, making time of the essence.). Aside from that gripe, it was an interesting place, mainly by virtue of not being comparable to any cathedral I've visited before. Being made of red brick was one feature that made it stand apart, but beyond the structure, the inside came across as more of a mausoleum for the royal family than as a place of worship. There are no side chapels full of relics and religious paraphernalia here, instead there are side chapels full of sarcophagi (37 kings and queens are laid to rest in the building, not to mention their offspring).

The cathedral has been evolving for 800 years and continues so to do, with one side chapel (the only one set out for worship) having been recently updated. I was unconvinced by this depiction of Christ with shroud draped over him...

...nor was I taken with the adjacent modern altarpiece:

The west entrance door to the main body of the cathedral was also modern, but I didn't mind that so much, even if I did reckon that the depiction just below centre on the right hand side was of a dementor performing the kiss (a Harry Potter thing):

Other elements were more traditional, like this impressive organ:

After a couple of hours we had explored everything, declaring our visit to have given reasonable value (as major cathedrals go) with the 60DKK per head entry fee including a comprehensive glossy guidebook.

The cathedral had been my only reason for wanting to go to Roskilde and, being rather hungry by the time we emerged, we didn't do much exploring of the rest of the town. In fact, we only made it as far as the first bakery we saw, treating ourselves to some pastries (Danish ones, you know...).

We might have had coffee with them and eaten them at the outside tables, but whilst I was prepared to splash out on pastries, I wasn't prepared to pay £4.50 each for coffee. Back through the park to Bertie we went.

Then it was off to Copenhagen, taking a bit of a detour on our way out of town to a Lidl for a restock of some essentials (i.e. ice cream). The detour was unnecessary - our chosen car park in Copenhagen has a Lidl almost opposite its entrance.

We've chosen to base ourselves where we have, just outside the city, on the basis of it being handy for a ParkRun on Saturday morning. Having walked the course this afternoon, it's rather a pleasant location - provided that it's not windy.

This view is ten yards away from us, but not visible from the car park

This view is visible from the car park, but if we parked in front of it we wouldn't be level. We've opted for a level parking spot rather than a sea view.