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!

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