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Our route:

25.05.02 - 26.05.02:
  • Oslo

  • Oslo
  • Hedda

    28.05.02 - 30.05.02:
  • Dalen (Telemark)

  • Haukeligrend

    01.06.02 - 02.06.02:
  • Roldal
  • Odda

  • Lofthus

  • Kinsarvik

  • Eidfjord

  • Steindalsfossen
  • Bergen

  • Voss

  • Gudvangen
  • Naeroyfjord

  • Vik
  • Balestrand

  • Olden
  • Briksdalsbre

  • Geiranger

  • Valldal

  • Trollstigen
  • Andalsnes

  • Bud

  • Atlanterhavsvegen
  • Averoy: Bremnes

  • Trondheim
  • Mosjoen

  • Mo i Rana

  • Bodo

  • Skutvik
  • Svolvaer (Lofoten)

    20.06.02 - 22.06.02:
  • Lofoten: Ballstad,
  • Hauklandstrand,
  • Eggum, Trollfjord

  • Vesteralen: Harstad

  • Lyngenfjord

  • Alta

    26.06.02 - 28.06.02:
  • Mageroy
  • Knivskjelodden
  • Nordkapp

  • Karasjok

  •   Norway
    On this page, we (will) describe our experiences in Norway. Apart from the travelogue for this country you will also find a number of links to useful sites, ranging from general information to embassy homepages.

    Written by: Dorrit


    We were glad to leave camping Torsby behind and headed towards Norway around one pm. It was still quite rainy so the forest looked a bit like a fairytale-scene.
    We thought we would at least have some passport check at the border (after all, we are leaving the EU), if not a check on our food and drink stocks (you can only take very little with you to Norway), but the border post wasn't even open!
    The whole afternoon we spent cruising through lovely forests, hills, farmer villages etc. to Oslo. In Oslo, we first drove in circles through the centre, because we didn't have a map and had to find a nice, quiet and safe suburb to spend the night. Luckily I found a city map in one of our road atlases of Europe and with the help of this we managed to find a perfect spot at walking distance to the city centre.


    Radhus in Oslo After a whole day and a whole night of heavy rain the sun came through early this morning and we had lovely weather for the whole of the day.
    Our first goal today - as it was on our route to the centre of Oslo - was the Frogner- or Vigelandpark. This park contains an endless number of Gustav Vigeland's sculptures, Norways most famous sculptor. Most of them picture ordinary people doing ordinary things. The park was quite nice to see actually, but to my opinion the sculptures were a bit too concentrated along a broad boulevard that ran through the middle of it. The "human pillar" formed the centre of it: a sort of obelisk of sculptured human bodies.
    We didn't stay too long, since we had a lot to do today. In the gardens of the royal palace we sat down on a park bench and watched the ducks with their newborn babies in the royal pond and the flowers on the trees and bushes around us.
    The royal palace wasn't really something special, a bit like Buckingham palace but smaller, so we walked on to the Rådhus (city hall), an enormous, square, plump concrete building from the 30's, lined with red bricks. Not nice, but very big.
    We spent the next half hour sitting on the quay in front of the city hall, enjoying the sun and the view, then we moved our lazy bodies a few metres towards Akers Brygge and watched the harbour for another half hour from this perspective. We had a short stroll around the castle / fortress and then continued towards the main shopping street of Oslo. In this street, we also used every occasion to rest our bones on a bench and sit in the sun, watching the city and its people, but by now we got tired of doing nothing and headed back to the van.


    There was one thing we still wanted to see in Oslo; the national gallery. Next to an enormous number of Norwegian painters (Edvard Munch, J.C. Dahl etc.) the gallery also houses a collection of impressionists, which made us quite curious. The museum was indeed very interesting, but after approximately 3 hours we had seen only 2 of the 3 floors and had had more than enough. We left the third floor for what it was and had a last quick stroll into the city. At the end of the afternoon we left Oslo and continued our journey towards the Telemark-area.
    We are now in Hedda, where tomorrow we will take a look at the Stavkirke: a typical Norwegian wooden church with beautiful carvings and dragon-heads at the corners of the roofs.


    The stave church of Hedda was very nice to look at, but unfortunately only 20% of it was original - the other 80% dated from the restoration of 1954.
    In the meantime, touring cars full of tourists arrived at the church, so we quickly left for Dalen. On the map this seemed only a few kilometres away, but we forgot that we had just changed our 1:300,000 map of Sweden for our 1:800,000 map of Norway. We consequently spent over 4 hours in the car, but what a splendid trip it was! Norway is absolutely the most beautiful country I have seen so far in this life: endless woods in thousands of different kinds of green, bright blue lakes, small islands, rough mountain tops covered in snow (at the end of May!), you name it, it is all there! For the car, it was a less pleasant ride, with 12% slopes, hairpin curves etc, but we really enjoyed it!


    This is the first day we really had bad weather since we started our trip in April: the rain came pouring down all day! We didn't do much today, reading the brochures about this area a bit, reading our mails in the library, etc. The main part of the day we spent indoors (i.e. in our van). This was actually a lot better than it sounds: we put the heating on, a candle on the table, drank some tea and cappuccino... all very cosy!


    Hurray, the rain has stopped! First we went to Dalen-hotel, which we had read about in the brochures yesterday. It is an 18th century wooden building in the style of a Norwegian stave church. You could also have a look inside if you weren't a guest of the hotel; inside it looked like one of those 19th century British gentlemen's clubs, featuring exclusive leather fauteuils, silk tapestry, paintings, nut wood tables etc. Pure luxury!
    Then it was time to start our first Norwegian hike, an 8 km route (not too long, after all it was our first one here) to the village of Eidsborg. The lady in the tourist office warned us that it was very steep, but we just smiled and said that was no problem for us. Our arrogance was punished immediately: as flies on the wall we had to climb the steepest hill I have ever walked so far, sometimes we nearly walked on all four! I already got into a state when I only thought of having to descend this hill again tonight! But we were rewarded with the most splendid views over the Bandak-lake and Dalen, surrounded by steep, green mountains, snow-covered mountain tops and waterfalls.
    In Eidsborg we took a much needed break in the open-air museum, consisting of 17th century wooden houses which roofs were covered with moss, grass and even young birch trees. The return trip downhill turned out to be the drama I expected, but eventually we both got down in one piece.


    Haukelifjell We left the beautiful Telemark-area behind and headed west, towards the fjords. The Haukeli-road from Telemark to the fjord-area was recommended very highly by our travel guide (Baedecker) and indeed exceeded our expectations. Norway is such a beautiful country! Today's trip first ran through green fields full of sheep and little lambs (it being springtime), surrounded by rocky mountains and hills covered with needle woods. All this was completed by crystal-clear streams with little waterfalls and mirror-like lakes, it was all very idyllic, sometimes it reminded me of Austria in summer.
    Until we turned a corner somewhere halfway... from one moment to the other we were surrounded by snow-covered mountains, a bit like the Alps at the end of the winter. It was a very bizarre sensation, since it is nearly June and we are not even 1000 metres above sea level!

    Between these mountains we found a place to sleep and took a stroll after dinner at 11 pm. It was still light, but a very strange kind of light. It was just as if it was filtered by a huge glass dome, making everything look very surreal. We walked some time between the mountains, to a completely frozen lake (it was about 5° C outside). The contrast between the dark brown colour of the mountain and the white snow was so intense, it made the lake look turquoise. It gave me the feeling I was walking on the moon. In the midst of this wilderness, a lonely fox was roaming the sides of the lake, looking for something to eat...


    Lovely weather, bright blue sky, looking even brighter in contrast with the bright white snow around us. Via sparsely lit tunnels we drove on towards the west. Just before we reached Odda we admired the enormous Låtefossen, a huge waterfall with a free fall of 164 metres. Not bad!
    Odda, our next stop, is a lovely little village full of wooden houses between two mountain ridges at the southernmost point of the Sørfjord. It was the first fjord we saw and it looked quite different from the lakes and rivers we had seen so far: its colour was not blue or nearly black, but a bright mint green. A bit like some places in the Atlantic ocean, which is no surprise, since it is the same water. It also smelled like the sea, which was kind of surprising, since we were standing between the mountains and the forests instead of on the beach!
    As we wanted to sit down for a couple of hours in the sun and as always wanted to have the most beautiful spot there is to be had, we drove into a small sideway just above Odda towards Skjeggedal. The road turned out to be just over 2 metres broad and very steep. A fantastic ride, but with 3200 kilograms and 75 HP the car did not drive any faster than 20 km/h. In Skjeggedal we indeed found this most beautiful spot, directly at a mountain lake and had a lovely quiet evening there. The only other camper van is a Swiss one, maybe they wanted to do a mountain holiday for a change?


    Haukelifjell The first thing we do today is returning to Odda, to the tourist information, and get some information about this area and available hiking routes. A hiking trail to the Buarbre, one of the glacier-arms of the Folgefonna-glacier, happened to start in Odda, so we parked the car, put on our hiking boots and headed for our first glacier. The first 5 kilometres was easy walking over a broad path. But then it quickly got more difficult: the path became a very narrow mud trail, then seemed to stop. To get any further we had to climb over rocks, wade through the mud and every now and then had to cross waterfalls by balancing over narrow wooden planks. At the second waterfall the wooden plank was lying loose in the water and we had to jump from stone to stone over the waterfall. I felt quite brave after crossing that one!
    Some kilometres of climbing rocks and stones further we were standing in front of a huge, pretty wild waterfall, about three times as big as the first two, which "bridge" was neatly waiting in its winter placement on the other side... Nowhere, although we did climb up some time along our side of the waterfall, did we see a proper place to cross this waterfall and since it was already 5:30 pm. we decided to let it be and go back to have diner. Too bad, but up north there are some other glaciers we will be going to. They will probably be much easier to reach..


    Fjord Today we drove on to the next village on this side of the fjord: Lofthus. In Lofthus we wanted to walk the so-called "Monk-stair"-route: all the way up the mountain bordering the fjord to a stone staircase near the top of the mountain that was built by monks in the 13th century. The way to the monk-stairs turned out to be very steep and very long: one way took us more than 3 hours! One look on the map told us this was not surprising: we had to cover a height difference of over 1000 metres. The view over the fjord with the snow-covered mountains and waterfalls behind it was more than worth it though! Behind us, the Hardangervidda-plateau started, covered by rocks and mosses in all kinds of colours, in front of us the steeply falling mountain slope and still further, about 1000 metres below us, the village with its fruit trees on the side of the mint-green fjord.
    Returning was quicker and easier, also because the heat (today we had more than 26°C again) had become less intense, it being 8 pm now...


    Today we took it easy. At the Bosch-car service we had someone listen to the funny sound the engine is still making and could make an appointment for tomorrow morning to have the ignition time checked and if needed adjusted.
    Other than that we did not do much more than reading a bit, playing the guitar a bit and resting our weary bones a bit.


    The mechanic had a look at the motor and concluded: the ignition was set 2° from its correct point. The motor is a lot quieter now and seems to have more power too ... but the funny sound is still there! Maybe it is the vacuum pump after all?
    From Lofthus we drove directly on to Eidfjord: a fantastic trip overlooking the different fjord-arms of the Hardangerfjord.
    In Eidfjord we wanted to have a look at the Vøringsfossen-waterfall, so we combined to of the offered hiking routes and walked over 6 hours in the end. We did not plan to climb another steep mountain slope again, but the mountain we had to climb this time was even steeper than the monk-stair-route! With aching knees we dragged ourselves up the approx. 1000 metres again, again to the Hardangervidda-plateau. This walk has been the steepest and hardest so far (maybe except the one in Dalen/Telemark), but the view over the valley made up for it this time as well.
    The next part of the tour went over the Hardangervidda itself, between heath plants, mosses, rocks and small birch trees. This is what I suppose the tundra in the north of Scandinavia must look like, but less hot maybe. Norway is in the middle of a heat wave it hasn't known for decades!
    Coming near the Vøringsfossen we could see why it is so famous: from a height of approx. 1000 metres (the ones we climbed to get here) the water fell down the nearly vertical rock walls of a narrow ravine, creating so much foam and steam you could see several little rainbows in it.
    Next to the waterfall there was a hotel with parking place, where touring car after touring car was spitting out loads of tourists, who got exactly five minutes to look at the waterfall, then could just about buy a drink or something to eat before they had to get back into the bus again.
    The way back, the second hiking trail, was as easy as the first one had been difficult (i.e. quite!): it turned out to be the old road through the valley. Now that there is a new motorway through the tunnel the old one has been closed for motorized vehicles and is now used as a walking path. The road wound its way around one mountain after the other, offering splendid views over beautiful Måbødal; a narrow ravine with high, practically vertical walls and deep down at the bottom a wildly foaming river: we needed more eyes than we had to take it all in!
    At some parts of the road, a part of the rock-wall had come down during the last winter and had only just been cleared away from the road. You could still see the holes in the asphalt-surface where the rocks must have landed, a scary thing to see if you have to pass that spot yourself. We walked a bit faster there..


    Fjord We got up very early, as it was too hot to stay in bed any longer. Today it is even warmer than yesterday!
    Our first goal of today was the Steindalsfossen-waterfall. To get there we drove a very narrow road of about 2,5 metres broad, with every now and then a place where you could move aside to let the cars in the other direction pass. It was a bit difficult to drive, having a mountain wall to your right and a steep abyss ending in the Hardangerfjord on your left, but the view over the fjord was fantastic.
    The Steindalsfossen is a big waterfall where you can stand behind the falling water, i.e. between the overhanging rock and the water that comes falling down from it.
    After this impressive sight we went on to Bergen. Near the centre of this coastal town we found a superb spot to leave the van and prepared to visit Bergen.
    Via the old part of Bergen, with its white-painted wooden houses, 1920s street lanterns and narrow cobble-stone streets we started - armed with a bottle of whiskey-orange juice and a package of cheap cookies (Maria-cookies) - our evening stroll to the city. Bergen was really in summer mood: the terraces were full of people, those who could not afford the Norwegian prices were sitting on the quay, those who had a boat moored at the quay were sitting in that, it was definitely one of Bergen's best nights. In the reddish evening light the old wooden houses from the Hansa-era and the old ships a bit further down the quay all looked really pretty.


    This morning we walked through the old part of Bergen to the centre again and bought a big piece of smoked almon and a smoked mackerel on the fish market.
    We bought a loaf of bread and headed to the park to have a luxury brunch at one of the park benches in the sun... or rather in the shade, it is far too warm in the sun! According to the local paper it is 36° C in the sun today. Hard to believe so near the arctic circle, but our outside thermometer indicated 28° in the shade that night, so it must have been true.. and that in Bergen, where it rains 275 days a year according to our Lonely Planet travel guide! We are very lucky again!
    Back to the lunch: the fish was excellent, a lot better than what we are used to, especially the salmon. After stuffing ourselves with these delicious bits we had a stroll to another park, then walked through another lovely old part of Bergen, Nordnes, to a peninsula which had a park and benches overlooking Bergen's harbour and the islands in front of its coast. Here we sat down for an hour or so and enjoyed the view and the lovely weather. This was probably the only spot in Bergen where there was a little breeze and it wasn't so hot as downtown.
    We left Bergen in direction Voss, according to our travel guide the most important winter sport area in Norway. Now, during the summer, it is a centre for those who love paragliding, rafting, bungee-jumping etc.


    valley We had breakfast at a picknick bench directly at the beautiful mountain lake of Voss, then we left for the Naerøyfjord.
    In Gudvangen, at the beginning (or the end?) of the Naerøyfjord boats left for the touristic village of Flåm. At least 5 empty touring cars were waiting on the parking place and the souvenir shops near the boarding place it was crowded with Japanese, German, French and other bus tourists. All of them were stuffed into a small boat, only 20% could stand outside and enjoy the view over the fjord, the rest had to sit inside in this heat! We are sooo happy to have a camper van!

    From the souvenir shops a small road went a few miles along the west bank of the Naerøyfjord up to Bakka (three farms and a small church) where we parked our van and had a beautiful walk.
    To honour this fantastic place for the night we treated ourselves on a self-made pinha-colada and sat outside until 11 pm, taking in the best view you can imagine: steep rock walls on both sides of the fjord, mirror-like mint green water, grass green fields and dark green woods on the lower mountain slopes, further away the inevitable snow-covered mountain-tops... in one word: fantastic!


    Today promised to be another one of those hot summer days, we heard that it is warmer here than anywhere else in Europe, including the Canarian islands!! Every Norwegian is lying outside in his swimming suit or is swimming in the fjords..
    We didn't do much today, drove on to the Jostedalsbre-glacier that we want to visit tomorrow. The way to it was a great experience again: first an 8% slope upwards to ca. 950 metres above sea level, where snow and ice still ruled, then a just as steep slope downwards on the other side of the mountain, offering a great view over a green valley ending in the Sognefjord. There we took the ferry to the other side, which gave us the opportunity to view the fjord from the water. Beautiful view over the various fjord-arms and - yes, here they are again - snow covered mountain tops.


    We had breakfast outside in the sun at a lakeside. Yes, the weather is great again, it just won't stop!
    Today we drove quite a lot, not in distance maybe, but in time. Uphill, downhill, all slopes of 8% and more, usually in second gear, passing mountain lakes of the most intensely blue water, everlasting snow, winding roads, wooden villages, green valleys etc. A couple of times we had to slalom around small groups of sheep, who simply walk on the road here. It made me feel like Heidi, hearing all these sheep bells in the mountains..
    Through the marvellous Oldendal, passing the 11 km Oldenvatn-lake that had a intense mint green colour we drove to the Josdedalsbre-glacier. A Dutch couple had warned us for the hordes of Japanese tourists that let themselves be driven to the glacier in horse carriages. Although it was 25 degrees they supposedly wore knitted caps and gloves, because the brochures had said they should do so.
    We only arrived after six though, so we had the glacier to ourselves!
    The glacier was marvellous: An imposing ice-wall that lay between two mountain walls like a white stone avalanche. When we took a closer look, the ice turned out to be blue instead of white. Not a light-blue but, especially in the deeper splits of the ice-floes, a intens deep-blue, almost dark-blue.
    The foremost glacier arms stretched out in front of the glacier like two Sphinx feet into a little river that originated from the glacier's melting-water.


    Geiranger fjord After breakfast we drove to Stryn to look for a new vaccuum pump. According to the sound it produces, it is really broken now. The technician at the Volkswagen garage however, told us we could drive with it for another few thousand kilometres at least and advised us to buy the pump in Poland, not here.
    Relieved, we drove on to Geiranger via beautiful mountain-passes at 1000 metres above sea level with everlasting snow, frozen lakes, etc.
    On top of the last mountain before Geiranger we enjoyed the splendid view over the Geiranger valley: a very narrow valley enclosed at all sides by very steep mountain-walls. It seemed to be a deep pan with a little water at the bottom of it.
    Afterwards we found out that a Dutch girl crashed down 500 metres only two days before. On our way down to Geiranger we even saw the red cross people searching for her body. Poor girl!


    For the walk we wanted to do today, we had to walk quite a long time uphill via the road, inhaling the exhaust fumes from diesel-driven campers and trucks that were slowly fighting their way up. But then it got better: first a grind path, then some real climbing of the type we were by now getting used to in Norway.
    The final destination was - as ever - worth the effort: a spectacular waterfall that came crushing down in a green valley below. Like at the Steindalsfossen, you had the possibility to get under the overhanging rock (via a small path) and stand behind the waterfall. However, this was much better than the Steindalsfossen even though it wasn't as big: the ridge behind the waterfall was more like a cave and because of the difficult path to get there, there were nearly no other tourists.

    From the top of the "Eagle road", a very steep and winding road leading out of the Geiranger valley, we had a final look over the Geiranger fjord and the surrounding snow covered mountains before driving on. This view was definitely the best we had of the Geirangerfjord so far!


    This morning we left Valldall, where we spent the night, over a plateau that looked like a moonscape: bizarre rock walls covered with moss and snow. Totally different from what we ever saw before. Norway keeps surprising me. Every time you think you have seen the best, you will see something just as beautiful or even better. Too bad we did not have the possibility to stop and immortalize this landscape on a photo.
    On the way we stopped to see the Gudbrandsjuvet: a 5 meter broad and 20 meter deep ravine through which a river had to wriggle itself. Lots of swirling and foaming, it looked really cool.
    At the end of this plateau, the Trollstigen started: a 12% descent, partly hacked out of the rocks, partly built on brick walls against the mountain slope. Looking from above, the view was great, as long as you were prepared to wrestle yourself through crowds of French, German and Japanese bus tourists... From above, the Trollstigen looked very impressive and dangerous and also the brochures described it as being very dangerous, so a bit more careful than usual we started descending.... only to find out it was not more dangerous or steep than many of the other slopes we have ascended and descended so far in Norway! Its fame is probably due to good marketing rather than its danger.
    Anyhow, it has been the last really steep mountain slope we had to pass for now, because we are now heading for the coast. In Åndalsnes we spent the afternoon working on the website and sending some mails.


    We spent half the afternoon putting our Sweden-travelogue online, but as it was raining anyway, this wasn't so bad. On our way to Molde, the rain stopped and made way for clear-blue sky and sun. Near Molde we wanted to have a quick look at the Trollkirke (Troll church): a couple of chalk-stone caves that should be worth visiting. A quick look turned out to be a devastating five hour walk up a steep mountain slope, over rocks and through mud. Really the kind of walk I have learned to love here in Norway! The Trollkirke was very impressive though: via a kind of emergency ladder you had to climb straight down some 20 metres to get into the "church hallway", from which you could walk on to the centre of the cave. An entirely white chalk cave containing a round basin in which a 20 metres high waterfall came crushing down. On the floor around us lay a score of bright white, perfectly round chalk rocks, covered partly in crystal-clear water. Above us was a cavern in the church "roof", allowing daylight to come in. Wow!
    It was already 8 pm before we drove on towards the Atlantic road. We slept in a place called Bud (what's in a name..). Bud is a lovely little fishing village of wooden houses in white, red and blue. From the hill we are standing on we have a marvellous view over the village, the Atlantic ocean (smooth and very blue) and the many little green rock islands (Schaeren) in front of it. The mountains are a lot less steep and rocky than in the fjord area, more like green hills and meadows. A totally different landscape from yesterday..


    Waterfall Highlight of today was definitely the Atlantic road.
    On our way from Bud to this road we drove a long way through a sort of dune landscape, the only difference with the Dutch or Belgian dunes is that the subsoil is not made of sand but of rock. Every now and then we could see a glimpse of the ocean and the Schaeren in front of the coast, it tasted like more!
    Schaeren are little rocks that rise out above the surface of the sea, made all round and smooth by the ice from the last glacial period. The bigger ones are usually less round and covered with moss and grass, sometimes also heath plants.
    By mistake we accidentally found a very small and very picturesque fishing village, containing only dark-red painted wooden houses. Here we had a lovely walk over the rocky coast, sniffing the salty sea-air, really nostalgic! After all these bizarre fjords and mountains I am quite happy to see something familiar, just giving the eyes a bit of a rest.
    The ocean water is remarkably clear, much clearer than in front of the Dutch coast. This is probably due to the fact that the bottom of the sea is made of rock instead of sand.
    On to the Atlantic road itself. This road consists of a number of bridges over several larger Schaeren to an island called Averøy. On this island we wanted to visit a cave in which human beings have lived as long as 12,000 years ago! A narrow entrance lead to a stack of stones (to keep the enemy outside?), behind which a surprisingly large cave emerged. A bizarre idea that people lived here 12,000 years ago! According to the information board the landscape has not really changed since, so you could really imagine how they must have lived there.


    Did Trondheim.
    Not as nice as we hoped it would be, maybe because of the rain that kept pouring down all day. We started with the cathedral, which looked quite special from the outside with its enormous facade full of sculptures. Because of some repairs, the crown jewels could not be seen, however.
    Trondheim proved to be fully deserted. Yes, it was Sunday afternoon and it rained, but there was really nobody outside! The old bridge and the wooden merchant houses standing on pillars on each side of the river were okay, but without any people to make it look alive it looked kind of sad in the rain..
    We tried the view over town from the fortress on the hill, but because of the rain you could not really see very far. We decided not to waste any more time here and drove on to the north.
    On our way we stopped in a place called Hell. On the train station they had a storage room for goods coming from the train, in Norwegian "gods expedition". Consequently, they had a sign above the door saying "Hell, Gods expedition".


    Today we only drove so we did not really do much. We drove from Trondheim to Mo i Rana, an ugly industrial town at the end of a lovely fjord. Tomorrow we will continue our journey to Bodø and from there on to the Lofot islands.
    The landscape here is definitely not the same as in the fjord-area. Less rough, more like in Dalarna in Sweden: lots of forests, hills, meadows, Bordeaux-coloured farms and lakes, many beautiful blue lakes.


    Glacier The road we are driving is called "North cape route" or E6. Although the name E6 would suggest a four-lane motorway, we are actually driving on a road that is just 2 cars broad, making it difficult to pass trucks or other camper vans. For that, it does run through a magnificent nature area which makes it a nice route to drive.
    The landscape has not changed much since yesterday, except on the Arctic circle plateau just above Mo i Rana, this was because of its altitude more like a tundra. At the arctic circle itself we made the inevitable picture of ourselves at the arctic circle statue, then we fled this tourist stronghold as fast as we could.
    On our way to Bodø we passed a number of those typical Norwegian tunnels. Tunnels here are not what they are in central Europe, which are neatly finished with concrete or tiles. The tunnel walls are not covered at all, so you directly look onto the hacked-out rock wall, sparsely lit by the very few yellow lights that hang from the ceiling.
    We parked our van in the centre of Bodø and made a midnight walk around the old fishing harbour. Since we passed the arctic circle, the sun does not set anymore, making the nights as bright as the days...


    We left Bodø behind and drove to Skutvik, we are on our way to the Lofot-islands! Again we drove through a fabulous nature area with lakes, woods and bare mountains of the same anthracite colour as the sky behind them.
    We had planned to spend the night in Skudvik and take the ferry to the Lofot-island tomorrow, but when we arrived in Skudvik the ferry was just about to leave so we hopped on immediately. The 2 hour crossing to Svolvaer on the Lofot-islands was a great experience, in spite of the cold we sat outside and enjoyed the view over the sea, the waves and the sharp-peaked mountain tops on both the Lofot-islands and the mainland.
    Upon our arrival in Svolvaer rain started pouring down, no midnight sun for us this time...


    Lofot museum The weather is awful! Rain, storm, even hail and snow is coming down!
    We did our groceries in the very touristy centre of Svolvaer and managed to get some brochures about the islands. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading these brochures and planning our route over the islands for the next couple of days. It was still raining cats and dogs after that so we decided to just cruise the islands then, so that we at least had seen the spots we wanted to see. What makes the Lofot-islands so special though - the sharp peaked mountain ridge that stick out of the sea like a row of wolf teeth - is not visible due to the low clouds. But we can still see the rocky islands in front of the coast and on our route we also saw a seal as well as a sea-eagle (this last one from a very short distance). The fishing villages that are supposed to be very picturesque were a bit disappointing, but the beautiful nature that surrounded it made up for it by far, despite the bad weather.


    In spite of the bad forecasts for this whole week, the sun came through during this morning and it became a lovely summer day. The rain for this week probably all fell down yesterday..
    We started the day with a nice bit of cruising, then wanted to walk along the coast near Ballstad. Splendid view over the coast and the rock-islands, the little bays, the fishing ships ploughing through the deep-blue ocean water and the moss-covered mountain slopes behind us. Now that the sky is clear you can also see the sharp peaks of the Lofot-mountain ridge, a very special sight. The more special, since the nearly vertical mountain walls are standing in a 90° angle on the completely horizontal swamp lands that surround them.

    Haukland beach A bit further on the west coast of the island we drove to the Haukland beach. You cannot begin to imagine what you see there: between the green mountain walls there lay a little bay of turquoise ocean water, bordered by a sandy beach that was completely white. It looked as if we were approaching a tropical island! Upon getting out of the van the outside temperature of 12°C reminded us we were far above the arctic circle, but that made it only the more special!
    As real die-hards we grabbed our camping chairs and went to sit on the beach. We had no beer, but to compensate we had a superb view on the ocean and the mountains surrounding us. We had free view to Greenland, so to say..
    Die-hard or not, after an hour or so we were deep-frozen and drove on to Eggum, where we wanted to spend the night. It was the first really picturesque village I saw on the Lofot-islands, full of wooden houses in all kinds of colours situated directly at the coast.


    At 11:30 pm last night we made a 2.5 hour night walking trip along the coast. Excellent! The sun came through at 0:00 hrs exactly, so it was our first good view of the midnight sun. Funny enough there was a very local rain cloud exactly above our heads, so we watched the midnight sun from under our umbrella - we were prepared - in the rain. Behind us, a bright midnight-rainbow formed against the mountain wall to make it all the more bizarre. Somehow, the colours of the grass on the hills and of the rainbow seem more intense in the midnight sun than otherwise. It looks a bit like the last sunbeams before the start of an enormous rainstorm. We walked in the sun until 2 am, then we went to bed to get some sleep after all.

    Our last target on the Lofot-islands was the Trollfjord, that separates the Lofot-islands from the Vesterålen-islands. A terribly beautiful fjord, featuring steep mountain ridges and little green islands in the middle of the fjord. What can I say... you just have to see it yourself if you can!
    We wanted to get to Melbu, on the Vesterålen, today, so that we can be in Harstad in time to celebrate the midsummer-nightparty. Harstad is supposed to be the cultural centre of this area, the city where it all takes place. Today the Norwegian "Festspille" have started, with jazz-performances etc., so we expect a lot of it.
    We took the ferry from Fiskebøl (Lofoten) to Melbu (Vesterålen), a nice crossing of some 30 minutes.


    Harstad proved to be a bit further away than expected, we drove until 4:30 pm. The mountains and valleys on the Vesterålen are not as bizarre as the ones on the Lofot-islands, the peaks are less sharp and high, all in all it looked a bit friendlier. We had a splendid view on the "Lofot-wall", the enormous row of sharp "mountain-teeth" on the Lofot-islands, partly covered in snow.
    Immediately after arriving in Harstad we went into town, looking for the famous midsummer-nightparties. We asked a number of local 20-somethings, who all told us to go to the Trondenes-church, a twenty minutes walk from the city centre.
    When we got there, the stake was already lying there, ready to be burnt. To our surprise, it was lit shortly after we arrived, at 6 pm already! It was a huge fire, but since it was mainly chipboard it was over too soon. We noticed that there were only a few people there, mainly young families with small children. But we just assumed the youth would only come a little later on...
    We walked the 20 minutes back to the van, ate, played the guitar and drank the first half of our last bottle of whiskey (saved for this occasion especially!) until 11 pm, then walked the 20 minutes back to Trondenes church.

    Nobody there.

    Fully disillusioned we walked (again 20 minutes) back to town. There would surely be some party going on there, wouldn't there? Near the camper van we met some guys from the black forest, who were also desperately looking for some action, so we set off to town together. In town we met a Norwegian guy who said he knew where to find a party, which turned out to be a nightclub with bouncer who charged NOK 130 (EUR 18) entry. And there wasn't even anyone in there! We politely but persistently declined and went home to sleep off the booze.
    Midsummernight in Norway, nothing to get exited about...


    Today was one of those days where we had to drive a lot again: from Harstad to the Lyngenfjord. The route was fabulous again, but to be honest: I have not had any boring routes in Norway yet! The Lyngenfjord was, like the other fjords we have seen so far, marvellous again. It did not have any steep mountain walls on either side, but to compensate had glacier-mountains, sandy beaches and mud flats during low tide and beautiful blue green water. After dinner we made a midnight walk through the woods, during which we saw orchids that just grow in the woods here everywhere! We came back at 2 am, the sun was still shining, what an amazing country!


    Waterfall All we did today was driving. We halted in Alta, the last big town before the North cape. On our way here the landscape became more barren with every mile we drove on, less and less trees, only grass, moss and bushes left.
    But! We saw our first moose and reindeers. First a moose family crossing the road in front of us, then a whole herd at some distance in the fields, finally a young moose standing at the side of the road watching us.
    Unfortunately, I was still fighting with the camera, trying to change the lenses and by the time I was ready to make the picture the animal was long gone of course...


    The way to the north cape itself is worth the detour alone. Left of us the northernmost fjord in Norway, the Posangerfjord, right of us bare rocks. The rocks here look different from the ones we have seen so far: instead of forming one piece, they consist of many thin stone layers (probably granite) lying on top of each other, some are straight, some are welled like waves. It is a very special sight.
    Via a 7 km tunnel we drove to the north cape island Magerøy. Magerøy is Norwegian for "meagre island" and this is so true! Except for rocks, stones, moss and here and there some grass there is nothing. No single tree on the whole island (the tree line lies 150 km south of the north cape), not even bushes exist here!
    This sounds a lot more boring than it is; after over two days on this island I still marvelled as much at the fascinating sight of this barren landscape as at first sight.
    Our first goal on this island was the so-called "Kirkeporten" in Skarsvåg; a stone arch, formed by the sea water that cut a hole in the rocks at the coast.
    In the meantime it was 9 pm and we prepared ourselves for the northernmost spot in Europe. Not the tourist stronghold at the North cape itself, by the way, because that is not even the northernmost point! The North cape (Nordkapp in Norwegian) has been bought by the air company SAS, who built an enormous tourist-complex on the Nordkapp only because this rock has such a nice, horizontal plateau which made it easy to build a huge parking place on: they only had to cover it with asphalt.
    The northernmost point of Europe is cape Knivskjelodden on parallel 71°11'08" (the Nordkapp is on parallel 71°10'21"). Because of the shape of cape Knivskjelodden - narrow ridge, steep slopes - it is not accessible by car; you can only reach it via an 18 km long walking trail through the pampa.
    Walking boots on, bottle of whiskey (our last half) and a flask of tea in the backpack, as well as some bread and herring in tomato sauce: we were ready for the real north cape!
    Mageroy The walking trail was very strange: already a few steps from the van we could only see a sort of moon landscape, with here and there some moss and grass. No human influence for as far as you could see! We had the northernmost spot of Europe all to ourselves when we - exactly at 0:00 hrs by the way - arrived there. During the afternoon there had been some clouds, so we did not really expect to see the midnight sun, but we were extremely lucky again: during our walk the clouds shifted towards the east, making way for bright blue sky. Around 11 pm the sun came through and stayed with us until 7 am the next morning! From 71°11'08" we had an excellent view over the ice sea and the Nordkapp-rock, that looked quite impressive from here. It is a natural plateau, raging 307 metres above the sea, having practically vertical walls and a perfectly horizontal top. From the Knivskjelodden-cape, which is lying a lot lower than the Nordkapp, you have a marvellous view from below on the Nordkapp itself.
    We had a lovely pick-nick in the midnight sun and walked back at approx. 1 am. The landscape looked even more surreal in the midnight sun than during daytime: when you looked one way it seemed like 6 am, but if you turned another way, it looked like 2 pm on a winter afternoon. The last impression is not even as far-fetched as it sounds: the sun had at this time (3 am) the same strength and height as it usually has on a winter afternoon at home.
    We returned to our van around 4 am and drove a bit further to a parking place near the Nordkapp, where there were also some other camper vans standing. Very quietly, in order not to wake up the sleeping neighbours, we grabbed our camping chairs and walked to the coast, i.e. the border of the plateau we were standing on. There we drank our last whiskey with cola and played guitar, watching the fishing boats sail out at 6 am. At 7 am some clouds moved in front of the sun, making it a lot colder, so we decided to grab some sleep after all…
    what a night!


    Nordkapp We slept until noon, then had a delicious breakfast in the sun. The sun is now standing in the south, exactly opposite of where it was last night. I suddenly realized we were nearly at the top of the world: it seems as if the sun is making rounds around us! Very strange experience…
    Our French neighbours gave us the tip to walk widely around the box offices of the SAS-complex and get to the Nordkapp-viewpoint from behind. There were no fences there, the view was probably free for everyone.
    Although my expectations were not very high, the viewpoint still disappointed me: a concrete square with an ugly 1970s black building, a fence around it to prevent people from falling down the cape and the famous globe. The globe turned out to be standing on a concrete block full of ugly graffiti, reducing the effect it should have had by 90% at least. But maybe that is a matter of taste. The view over the ice sea was beautiful, of course, but not different from the Knivskjelodden, we were just standing some 300 metres higher. However, instead of looking to the impressive Nordkapp, we were now viewing the Knivskjelodden, but this was from afar not half as beautiful as from where we were yesterday. All in all not something you should pay the EUR 50 SAS is charging for!
    Now that we had seen both capes, it was time to get back south, but before leaving the island we wanted to make a last walking trip near Honningsvåg.


    Unbelievable: it is still cloudless.
    Unfortunately we couldn't find the trail itself and ended on a sort of goat- (or reindeer-?) trail along the coast. No need to worry, after all the goal of this trip - a fishing village left some 50 years ago - would also be on the coast, so we would end there in any case. The trail got more and more difficult, as we expected after one month in Norway, but the views… etc. Left of us the deep blue ice sea, glittering in the sun, right of us the steep mountain slopes and around us the most bizarre granite formations. Rocks formed like swords were sticking out of the earth, an amazing sight. There were also plenty of animals, you can clearly see that this southern part of the island has a milder climate than up north where the wind always blows. Except loads of seagulls and crows we also saw some cormorants on a rock, some reindeers tanning on the beach and even a sea-otter.
    Unfortunately, the high tide made it impossible for us to walk on, so we returned without having seen the left-alone fishing village. Despite the high parallel it was really warm here in the sun, since the wind was blocked out by the mountains next to us. I even had a light sunburn. From the polar sun! Not bad, eh?

    We left the island Magerøy behind and drove towards Karasjok. Approx. 150 km south of the North cape we indeed saw the first trees again and the further we drove on, the more diverse the landscape got. However, until far below Karasjok we would still only be seeing birch trees.
    At night we had a delicious meal with reindeer meat, it tastes a bit like a crossing between veal and deer, surprisingly tasty!


    On our way to Karasjok, the capital of the Sami (Laps), it started raining and it did not stop for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, there was nothing to do in Karasjok. Except a very expensive and touristy open-air museum there were only a few petrol stations and every now and then a house.
    Back to the Euro-zone then, via another unmanned border post. We drove through an enormous tundra-area, looking kind of cheerless in the rain. Birch trees everywhere you looked, only birch trees. We arrived in Inari around 6 pm Finnish time (the Fins are one hour ahead of central Europe)... But more about that in the next episode!


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    Our top 8:

    1. Eidfjord/Mabodal

    2. Mageroy

    3. Briksdalsbre

    4. Haukeligrend

    5. Naeroyfjord

    6. Geirangerfjord

    7. Lofoten

    8. Telemark