Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday 29 June - W side of Torsfjord

Where’s Bertie? He's in a small parking area at the start of a popular walk, on the west side of Torsfjord.

Our theory that tour buses wouldn't be on the road much before 10am was disproved this morning. We were on the move by 0830 and it wasn't long before Bertie was having to breathe in to squeeze past them.

We didn't have far to go, with our first stop, for a munucipal service point, being just 10km along the road, at the harbour by the village of Reine. We could have stayed in the village's designated motorhome parking overnight, but £20 for a patch of car park is a bit steep and we would rather spend our money on things like ice cream instead. Granted, both the motorhome parking and the service point were in spectacular locations:

View from the service point

With water bottles filled and the toilet emptied, a bit more of the E10 road, which runs the length of the Lofoten Islands, took us to a turn onto a minor road, which in turn brought us to a parking area. Taking the last space on the waterside, the cars already parked gave the impression that walkers get an early start around here. The truth of the matter became apparent later.

After a late breakfast (having got on the road without so much as a cup of tea this morning) and a bit of faffing around, eventually stuff was gathered together, a packed lunch prepared, and off we went. A way marker pointed up the hill and from the map it looked like we might be able to join a couple of paths into a circuit, but we had no information about the nature of what we were about to walk.

It was as we crossed a pass and started descending towards this gorgeous beach...

...and saw all the tents dotted on the cropped grass, not to mention the people with huge backpacks heading the other way, that we came to understand why the car park had been populated so early - they had been there overnight.

Lunchtime view

It turned out to be perfectly possible to join the two paths marked on the map and thus via a different pass we looped back to the road for a short walk along tarmac back to our start point.

Pretty pretty pretty

We had told a couple in a German motorhome to block us in before we set out. They passed us as we walked back along the road, but when we arrived back five minutes later we found the space that they had vacated had been taken and the whole area so chocka that we wouldn't be able to leave even if we wanted to. As it goes, we are happy to spend the night, and we acknowledge that, being the weekend and the number of people we've seen setting off with backpacks, it's possible it may be Sunday before we are able to leave. If that should come to pass then we'll hope for good weather tomorrow so that we can enjoy another route in this area.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Thursday 29 June - Å

Where’s Bertie? He's in a large car park, with a sea view (at least in the bit where he's sitting), in the village of Å, in the Lofoten Islands (Exact position: 67.87954, 12.97717).

We weren't sure whether this trip would bring us to the Lofoten Islands. The scenery is, by all accounts, stunning, but aside from my general rule of not going on ferries*, the place also has the reputation of having small roads that are rammed full of motorhomes and tour buses at this time of year, making us unsure whether we would enjoy adding ourselves to the numbers.

However, we were already just across the water in Bodø and the weather forecast for this morning was so calm that I was prepared to endure the 3.25 hour ferry ride, so here we are.

We had toyed with getting back from last night's midnight walk up Keiserstein (there's more about that on our walking blog at and heading straight out for the 0315 ferry, or getting a couple of hours sleep and going for the 0600 one. In the end we settled on the 0930, which would have been a good plan if I had noticed before 0730 that it doesn't come into service for the summer period until tomorrow. The 1100 it was then!

With both of the ferries used to date having been almost empty, it didn't occur to us that we would need to arrive early for this one, so we sat around and then went shopping before heading to the ferry terminal with just over an hour to spare. There we found so many vehicles queuing that we had our doubts that we would get a place on board (in which case we would wait until tomorrow, as there was forecast to be a breeze this afternoon).

There was space for us and the crossing (which was perfectly smooth) passed quickly.

Leaving Bodø

With the coastline of the mainland and plenty of little islands being passed on the way to the rugged coastline of the Lofoten Islands, there's more than just sea to look at in this route.

Arriving in Moskenes we followed the crowd and headed down to Å (yep, that single letter is the entirety of the village's name), a 4.5km journey that took an unfeasibly long time due to repeatedly meeting coaches on the tight road. I think we may have to do our driving early in the mornings before most large vehicles are out and about.

Finally arriving, we made like Goldilocks as we moved around as spaces became available, trying to find one that was just right (the main requirement being one that didn't require us to settle ourselves within the foliage of a tree). We settled in the end for a view, and not being backed into tree branches, rather than being level.

Joining the crowds, a look around the village was had this afternoon. It is indeed pretty...

...even if there is a bit of an odour by the racks of drying fish heads that haven't yet been taken down:

Cynical me wondered whether these are left just for the tourists as the cod drying season should be over by now, but we did see some industry going on around them that looked genuine.

Finally, I'll end with a bonus photo of a 'caravan' that is parked in this car park this evening. I think it may be home made...

(*It is possible to drive to the Lofoten Islands, but the distance to access them by road from the north end, driving all the way south to see them, before driving all the way back north again to exit, would have added several hundred miles to our journey. The current plan is to drive along the chain as far as Lødingen and getting the ferry back to the mainland from there. That ferry will save a bit of driving and that is only a one-hour crossing.)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wednesday 28 June - Bodø

Where’s Bertie? He's in a very large car park on a hill above the town of Bodø (exact loc: 67.3011, 14.4433). This is the view from his windscreen:

Taken when we arrived. The clouds have now cleared.

Every blog I have read of people motorhoming around northern Norway in summer has, at some point, reported incidents of unintentionally late nights when the continuous daylight has caused them to fail to realise that bedtime has been and gone. I was interested to see if this could possibly happen to me as I am an early-to-bed sort of person, who is quite fond of sleep.

As it turns out, the sun being high in the sky can fool my body clock too. I'm typing this at approaching 2030, yet it feels like late afternoon. As a result, our evening meal is often a couple of hours later than we would have it at home and bedtime has shifted back accordingly.

We've still been getting up reasonably early (0730) most days, but today wasn't most days and I lounged around in bed, initially listening to rain, then contemplating going out for a walk. Laziness won out in the end.

Bodø was our destination today. More particularly the Air Museum, which proved to be an afternoon very well spent. At £15 a head it's not a cheap one, but even I (i.e. the not-a-plane-geek) was thoroughly impressed with their displays. I certainly didn't expect so many planes inside:

The military wing of the building

And the civil wing

The view from the control tower was good too

Throughout, the history of Norwegian aviation was told, with an interactive section at the end explaining some of the science behind flight.

My only gripe concerned the car park, which requires you to guess, before you've set foot inside, how long you are going to be. The first three hours are free (you still have to get a Pay & Display ticket, you just dont have to pay for it) and not wanting to pay £2.20+/hour unnecessarily, we just went for the freebie ticket. The problem is that, when I went out to buy an extra hour when the original ticket expired, I discovered that you can't just buy an hour - a paid hour comes with three free hours and we had already had our free time. Given the choice between just taking another free ticket and hoping a warden hadn't been around noting numbers, or paying and getting four hours, I did the honest thing and paid. Later I heard the receptionist in the museum advising a German couple to just get another free ticket. Hey ho.

After a thoroughly enjoyable and educational afternoon, we had but a short drive, with our night stop being just 3 miles away. As the photo at the top shows, it has a spectacular view and, facing west, is a good location to witness the midnight sun (provided it doesn't cloud back in!).

It seems like we arrived, and nabbed a spot with a view, just in the nick of time as it has turned out to be a very popular place for running and walking. As working hours finished, so the car park filled up around us. There are still lots of people coming and going and my usual theory of "It'll quieten down once it gets dark" won't work here!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Tuesday 27 June - Storvik Beach and Saltstraumen

Where's Bertie? He's in a small car parking area at the start of a couple of walking routes just to the W of Saltstraumen (exact loc: 67.23296, 14.53856).

What a miserable day it has been today! Grey and wet has been the overriding theme, with the cloud down as low as the fjords at times.

With our next intended destination being well up within the cloud, and with the sole purpose of going there being for the walking, we modified our plans and (after following a JCB-style digger slowly through an 8km tunnel), sailed past the turn to the car park.

Instead we stopped in the car park of 3 supermarkets (yep, all sited next door to one another) in a place called Ørnes and, after buying some croissants and pastries, we sat and watched the rain on the windscreen over elevenses.

Not much further along the way, I called for another stop in a nice beachside picnic area at Storvik. There we had lunch, after which the rain abated, prompting me to change into full Paramo and take a walk along the beach. I was glad to have worn a woolly hat. Gloves would have been wise too. We reached a high of a chilly 9 degrees today.

Nice, firm, golden sands

A bit of street art on the side of a building and waterfalls slashing white lines through the trees beyond. There were a lot of spectactular waterfalls today; it's a benefit of wet weather.

With the choice of frittering away the afternoon where we were, or moving on, we moved on. An hour up the road lay the Saltstraumen, a tidal maelstrom, and my reading of the tidetable for today (the website I found was in Norwegian, making it a bit trickier to decipher) I reckoned the maelstrom was going to reach its peak two hours hence, at 3pm.

The maelstrom is caused by a narrow (150m wide) channel, leading into two large fjords, coinciding with an area which has a very large tidal range. As a result, as the tide makes its rapid rise or fall, billions of gallons of water have to squeeze through the bottleneck of the channel. Watching the patterns on the rushing water, and the frequent whirlpools, was a mildly diverting way to spend an hour and we were lucky enough that the heavier rain held off whilst we were walking back and forth across the bridge.

I think you would need proper camera equipment and more photographic skill than either of us possesses to capture a true representation of what we saw.

An immaculately kept grass-roofed house, that sits below the bridge, caught our attention.

The large car park, at the north end of the bridge, in which we had parked for this little outing, has signs up advising of a charge of 200NOK (around £18.50) for parking between 2200 and 0800, which seemed more than a little steep for a sloping car park with no facilities. Thus we moved 5km, to the small parking area in which we are now sitting.

The waymarker here had me consult the mapping/walking routes website that I discovered yesterday, which told me that the route followed a track up to a lake, with only about 60m of ascent. Suitable for running, we thought, and once the heavy rain finally stopped, out I went.

At the first bend in the track (by which time I was already gasping), I saw a side trail, clearly marked with blue paint, and took it. It soon became apparent, as I gasped up variously boggy/root-ridden and rough rocky terrain, that this wasn't the path I'd seen on the map, but one that was going up to a nearby summit. I pushed on regardless, running the runnable bits. It was only after I'd got back, handing the (virtual) baton over to Mick and advising him not to be tempted by the turn I had taken, that I looked again at the website and saw that there are two routes starting from here, an 'easy' and a 'moderate'. I'd taken the latter, with 300m ascent! It was probably wise that I turned after 15 minutes, rather than pushing on all the way to the top.

Depending on what the weather's doing in the morning, I may go and investigate the area further, taking my phone with me for some photos (I went empty handed today, hence no snaps).

Monday, 26 June 2017

Wildlife Addendum

I forgot to mention that we saw two moose at the roadside yesterday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We've passed lots of signs warning of moose crossing, but had understood that it was unlikely that we would actually see any, so two in a day was thoroughly unexpected.

Less remarkably, we also had two foxes cross the road in front of us, the first one carrying something large and grey in its mouth.

Monday 26 June - Holand

Where’s Bertie? He's at a picnic area just above Holandsfjorden (exact location: 66.72451, 13.69796)

At about 10.30 this morning we crossed the 66 degree north line of latitude, thus passing into the Arctic Circle. Being on a ferry at the time gave us leisure to take in the surroundings as we slipped over this invisible line, above which the sun does not set in midsummer (footnote 1). Those surroundings were pretty impressive, although they would have been more so if we hadn't been on deck in the wind and rain and with the cloud down low.

Anyone who knows my aversion to boats will appreciate that we didn't chose to do this by way of a leisure cruise. The FV17 coast road from Mosjøen to Bodø is broken in many places by the need to
catch ferries across/along fjords. We have avoided most of these ferries on our northern progress by not having joined the FV17 until after Mo i Rana, but that still left us with two crossings, both of which were today.

Having opted not to try to aim for any particular times of ferries, but rather to arrive when we arrived (the worst case was having to sit at the side of a fjord, drink tea and read books for an hour and a half - no hardship), we found ourselves at Kilboghamn, for the first ferry, half an hour before the 10.10 sailing. It wasn't busy. Against a stated capacity of 60 vehicles, out ferry carried five (four motorhomes, one car).

The drive to the next ferry was but a short hop, but having failed to think about taking a flask with us on the first crossing, we broke it with elevenses at a nice picnic area:

Barely had we turned off the engine in the queue for the second ferry (12.30) when we were called forward, along with two other motorhomes and two cars. Ten minutes later we were rolling off the other side, passing a large queue waiting to go the other way. It's either more popular to drive this coast southbound, or it was just a time of day thing, related to most people doing both ferries in the same day.

We didn't have much further to go at this point, although we did make one more stop when we came across a view point for the Svartisen glacier, which is (apparently) the second largest in Scandinavia. It was certainly worthy of much oohing, particularly as seen across such green water (pity the colour doesn't come across in this snap):

The upper part of the left tentacle of the glacier was also, upon arrival, in view from the picnic area where we are residing tonight (cloud has now been covering it for some hours). Aside from a magnificent view, which had us agog for quite a while on arrival, this picnic spot also boasts toilet facilities better than I've had in many a hotel I've stayed in, as well as a motorhome service point (all free of charge).

A cruise liner nipped by so that it's occupants could take snaps of the glacier from a better vantage point than we managed.

My chat with the lady in the Tourist Information office here, about walks in the area, failed to mention the little circuit that starts from this very car park. Mick happened across some information about it and after a false start which took us accidentally past this well appointed house...

First view

Even better when the deck comes into sight. I was being dive bombed by a tern as I took these snaps.

...a backtrack put us on the right path, taking us down to a picnic-/view-point built out over the glorious green water..

...before undulating through woodland, sprinkled with information signs...

... back to our start point.

A mighty fine day really, even in the face of almost incessant rain, made yet better by the fact that we arrived at the end of our day so early and thus have enjoyed a relaxing (footnote 2) afternoon.

(1 Now all we need is some clear weather so we can witness the sun's failure to set.
2 Relaxing except for the incident where I discovered that one of Mick's 3-litre boxes of wine has sprung a leak. A bit messy, but it could have been worse if it had been left to leak for much longer.)

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday 25 June - Mo I Rana and by Flostrand

Where’s Bertie? He's at a picnic area just W of Flostrand on the N side of Sjonafjord (exact location: 66.31978, 13.31103)

The town of Mosjøen was our first stopping point this morning. It was an unremarkable 2.5 hour drive, through grey raininess, to get there, during which we passed into the north - a difficult fact to miss:

On arrival in Mosjøen, in the continuing rain, we didn't trouble ourselves to look around the place (although we may well stop by on our way back south), instead heading straight for the service point at a petrol station just out of town. We found it out of order, which was a bit of a nuisance as our primary need was for drinking water and we knew the water at next service point along the way wasn't potable*.

After a quick elevenses in the petrol station car park, I managed to beat Mick to the driver's seat (for the first time in Norway) for the one hour drive to Mo i Rana, involving the longest tunnel to date at 9km.

Our arrival in Mo was just in time for lunch, which we took in the uninspiring location of an empty supermarket car park (elevenses at a service station, lunch in a supermarket car park, we were maximising the stunning scenery today!), before walking the short distance to the harbour to see the Anthony Gormley sculpture there.

On first sight it looks like it may be sitting on land, just beyond the harbour wall...

...but, no, it is actually out in the water:

As the harbour wasn't sufficient a leg-stretch away after a whole morning spent driving, we continued on along the nicely developed waterside walkway, past some modern, colourful houses and to some more traditional residences. Many of these sported turf roofs, which are in full bloom at the moment:

Our night-stop was only another hour or so further on and, after a whole week of driving on it, we finally left the E6 trunk road, which runs the length of the country, to take the coastal route.

Suddenly, after a day of driving through trees, albeit with some views of snowy mountains, we were in a wonderland of scenery. The fjord was a greeny hue, gushing streams ran down half-pipe shaped rocks, rubbed smooth by erosion, and the huge snow capped lump of rock of a mountain next to us was something to behold.

In amongst all of this scenery, we had two choices of places to stop. Having overshot the first (the coordinates we had were a little out), we went to the second, just 900m further on (where we found toilets and a service point where the water wasn't labelled as not drinkable). The parking there was right on the edge of the fjord and, on a sunny day it would probably be an attractive spot. However, this afternoon was every bit as grey and rainy as this morning had been, and we agreed that the picnic area up the road, whilst having limited views, was nicer.

Having been developed from an old quarry, it is immaculately presented, with seven parking slots laid out in such a way as to make it look just like a small campsite:

As I type this at 8pm, the final slot in this picnic area has just been taken. The two vans who have set up an extensive camp arrangement in the middle are both Norwegian; with Bertie in the slots around the edge are six Dutch vans. All of our neighbours were Dutch last night too. Is this because the same places appeal to them as to us, or because there are a huge number of Dutch people touring Norway?

I'm rather glad we opted for this place, as on arrival we spotted a way marker pointing up an adjacent track, so I consulted a map, donned full Paramo, left Mick to chop some veg, and went out exploring. Wow! What surroundings I found!

I walked up there - not to the top but to just before a delightfully located hut

Arriving back, I recommended the outing to Mick, who left me to cook the veg he had prepared, donned his running gear and trotted off to the same location, returning with the same opinion that it was an incredible route.

I shall write more about it (including more snaps) at

*Actually, I strongly suspect that the water there is fit for drinking but that because one of the taps is provided for the purpose of rinsing toilet cassettes and the other for flushing the grey water drain, it is marked as not fit due to possible external contamination. We almost always bleach taps before we use them, because even when clearly labelled as drinking water, people will use them for unsavoury purposes, but we didn't take the risk of my theory as to the safety of the water being wrong.

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.