Monday, 30 June 2014

Broken

Mr Fluffy was not content with sitting on my new Kindle and breaking the screen a couple of trips ago. He has now managed to break my glasses by dropping my ipad on them. Should I be taking a hint. As the saying goes 'never two without three' I am wondering what will be next.
ouch
Luckily I have brought a second pair with me which have been run over by a Land Rover but are still functional. Oh well I need a new pair anyway :))

Expensive Norway?

Last night we bit the bullet and went for a meal and a drink at a lovely café in Henningsvaer. It cost us £60.00 which is at first quite shocking when you consider that the meal, in a mountain climber’s café, was basic local food consisting of one bowl of fish soup and a stew made with bacalao (dried cod).  The drinks were a small beer each.
We went on to a hotel and had two small beers which cost £17.50.

Yes, eating out in Norway is expensive but when you consider the lack of overnight charges it doesn’t seem so bad.  We have now spent 8 days parked in various lovely locations without being charged a penny for water, toilet empting facilities, or camping.
The cost of fuel in Norway varies from around £1.20 to £1.45 per litre – we try and top up when we see a cheap fuel rather than when we are running low. This compares favourably with the UK if a little higher than most of Europe. 

Food shopping can be quite expensive – a small loaf of bread and two (very tasty) pastries cost us £8.50.

The Cost of ferries and tunnel/ road tolls does add up and we have had to avoid some of the coastal routes as they are so many ferries. So far we have spent around £ 100 per week on ferries.

We have come to the conclusion that travelling around Norway by Dickie is probably the most cost effective way to do so and the absolutely stunning scenery makes up for the shockingly expensive food and alcohol prices. Just stock up your larder before you come.



Sunday, 29 June 2014

A (with a circle on top)

Our first port of call in the Lofoten Islands was A (with an o on top). It is a typical fishing village with cod drying on wooden poles and robu (fishing huts) everywhere. It is quite gorge so here are a few pics. The wee fee is not great around here so we are just doing a few quick pics today. Heading north for whale watching tomorrow.
Cod R Us

Robu in the background

view through to the sea

gorge village

Arctic Circle Pics

Here are a few more Arctic Circle pics because we either a) like them or b) find them amusing
lots of little cairns people had built
 
more rocks
the centre
Fluffy among the rocks
woo oo to the Arctic Circle

we bought a troll

To the Arctic Circle

Yay we saw a moose on the road yesterday and managed to stop for a quick photo. He seemed very tame and just checked us out as we snapped away. I presume he is young and will soon be a sausage as he is much too trusting of humans.
hi chaps...nice to see you

Mo I Rana lived up to the reputation of most of the other Norwegian cities we have visited and was fairly unimpressive. It had a nice old town section but was split in two by a railway line with Its older section and marina on one side and the modern hideous bit on the other. The surrounding villages and fjords were stunningly beautiful as usual. We wanted to eat out at a restaurant called No 3 which has a good reputation for local cuisine but it was booked out so we ate at an Italian called Gusto which was run by a British woman and her Spanish husband who had left Tenerife due to the poor economic situation in Spain. The money is in Scandinavia so probably not a bad idea.
Anthony Gormley statue in the water at Mo I Rana

This morning we headed off to the Arctic Circle and were pleasantly surprised by the very friendly staff at the centre itself and the not too outrageous (relatively speaking of course) prices of the tourist tat. We purchased a troll for Dickie as they are meant to bring good luck. The landscape changed dramatically around that area ... Forests one minute then barren glacial landscape the next. Further on the forests returned and we made our way to Bodo, our stepping off point for the Lofoten Islands to go whale watching.
a kaftan for the Arctic occasion

modelling 101 - Arctic style

the dudes in the Circle
The ferry trip is four hours long and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. We can't believe a country can be so stunning! The islands we are heading for are said to be the most beautiful in the world (as voted by the Lofoten island tourist office:)) they're looking pretty good so far. It's hard to believe this millpond-like sea is the same Atlantic Ocean that slams into the Cornwall Coast.
gorge sea
Chillin' on deck

We arrive at 9 pm so still have 24 hours of daylight to play with. We're looking forward to NOT seeing the sun dip below the horizon at all.

Friday, 27 June 2014

We love Dønna

Graham's in love with Dønna
It’s 1030 at night and the sun is shining. A stone chat sits on the bush outside the door calling to his mate and the bells on the sheep must be driving them mad but sound rather quaint and atmospheric to us.
very friendly sheep
The day started with a tour of Dønnes Kirk with a group of Norwegians who kindly agreed to take the tour in English. The statues within the church were around 800 years old and the Madonna looked suspiciously like a Black Madonna which had been painted white. The guide told us it had indeed been painted in the 17th century. The mausoleum held 22 caskets but we were not allowed to photograph them.
first (and last) catch of the day
Our next stop is probably one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. It is the beach called Brevika on the south west side of Dønna where the sea meets Dønnamann, an 860 metre high mountain, which is classed as ‘difficult’ to climb. Dickie is parked up on the small area between sea and mountain and we have been fishing all day. Graham managed to catch a (very yummy) cod with his first cast and I managed to break the world record of seaweed catches in any one day.
not bad for a beginner

Despite my castings being very impressive, reaching a great distance, I was suitably unable to come up with anything other than seaweed (apart from a rather large clam which kind of goes nicely with Mr Fluffy’s starfish)….no puns intended there.
caught a lot of seaweed


Graham has taken a teeny video to show where we are but these snippets never give the true fabulousness of the place.
Tomorrow Mo I Rana.

Heading to Dønna

Woke early this morning as there is no perceptible difference between day and night – we are not north of the Arctic Circle yet so the sun does still just set but the sky is always light. It also didn't help that I misread my watch and was up and about before 6am. Turned the radio on and picked up the local Sami station that was playing what I assume was traditional Sami folk songs – I loved them and had fun wondering what the lyrics might be: “As I was a wandering one mid-summer’s morn, I heard the call of a distant moose” or “I've been a wild reindeer herder for many a year and I spent all my Krona on moose sausage and beer”….

As the day wore on we found ourselves craving reindeer sausage. Luckily, we just happened to have one in the fridge so we snacked heartily on it for lunch. Norwegian bread is decidedly uninteresting but we've managed to find Danish bread in the Remy 1000 supermarket. It’s very heavy but really tasty and goes very well with all our yummy purchases.
the kirk at Dønna
This drive up the E6 to the Arctic Circle is stunning in a very different way to down south. The road snakes alongside a river full of salmon and fishermen, and to the sides there are fields and pine forests and in the distance there are snow-capped mountains.
We are currently parked up at the ferry port on our way to Dønna and the giant phallus. This is moose and reindeer country so we’re hoping we see some in the wild.
………………….
The ferry trip to Dønna was straightforward enough – about 25 minutes and we had arrived at Bjørn ferry harbour. Off we went and immediately saw a moose by the road along with some strange looking birds – like jackdaws or crows with rather fabulous pale coffee coloured backs. Heading north on the island we saw the ‘Fallus’ sign about 20 minutes in to the drive and excitedly pulled in to the parking area.
a marvellous marble phallus
The marble statue stands on the top of a small hill and is around 89cm tall. It’s very white and prominent and is surrounded by farms. What a lovely neighbour to have. Just along the track is an Iron Age burial chamber, one of the largest in Europe at 35 metres in diameter and 5 metres high. It was covered in moss and lichen and as we walked around the area it felt like the ground was trying to suck us in. It was extremely spongy and there were a few holes here and there so we had to watch our step. It was guarded by some crows who had been feasting on some other bird’s eggs. There was a small skull sitting on top but we couldn’t work out what it was – maybe a badger.
There is a distinct lack of Dickie parking areas on this island so we are now in the carpark adjacent to 12th century Church and graveyard listening to heavy metal music on the only radio station we can get. Apparently there is the largest mausoleum in Norway inside the church so we are hoping to get a look in tomorrow. Graham is cooking his potato garlic combo as we speak so I am feeling guilty that he has driven all day and is now making dinner. But he looks happy enough.
interior shot of church
Obviously there is no wee fee here but our next destination is Mo I Rana, just short of the Arctic Circle so we shall post from there.


Through Hell and High Antlers

We went through Hell today, well we bypassed it actually. Hell is a small town on the E6 highway on the way up north. Fortunately ‘Hell’ in Norwegian means ‘success’ or ‘luck’ so I would presume there is no stigma in living there.
sampling the wares
We spent the morning mooching around the summer market and took advantage of sampling the free food. There were some excellent cheeses (we bought a creamy blue called Histra Gardsmat) and some yummy berry jellies (we bought the Aquavite jelly). These jellies go really well with cheeses and sausage. It was a good opportunity to sample some moose and reindeer and, yes, we bought a reindeer sausage but I managed to urge Graham NOT to try the whale meat.
Picture of a Moose - the one on the rock that is

There is a large 6000 year old rock carving of a moose at Bolareinen so we made that our main destination today. It is pretty much life size and we found there is a carving of a chap on skis there as well. Quite incredible how they have lasted so long in all the cold and wet weather they have up here.
there really is a skier carved in this rock
info from the site

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Trondheim

Don’t you just love opening a new soap? This month’s is vervain and lemon.
To reinforce my better mood today I am wearing a cheerful orange trouser and pug dog sock combo. The sweater is fairly normal as I don’t want to appear weird. The sun is shining and Graham has lured me into continuing north with the promise of Northern Europe’s largest phallus on the demurely named island of Dønna, and the summer markets of Trondheim. We may even get to the rock carvings in Alta at this pace.
to the old town of Trondheim

Trondheim was our destination du jour and we arrived around 2pm to a free aire conveniently located near the centre of town. I must say Trondheim has been my favourite Norwegian city so far. It has a definite centre and a very large cathedral which we visited today and had a very nice tour guide called Nora. Nora recommended we come back for the organ recital at 1740 hours which we duly did as the organ has been restored and became fully functional only on May 17th this year.

We stayed for the first piece but I could not quite sit through the Adaggio which should have read A-dirge-io. It can be said I am not a massive fan of organ music though Mr Fluffy seemed more keen. The town itself is quite large but has a small town feel. It’s on a river, a fjord, and the sea, so has a pleasant maritime feel. Lovely colourful buildings line the river’s edge and all seems well with the world.

Tonight we are eating Sodd.
dinner anyone?
 Having thought we’d like to try some local Norwegian food without robbing a bank, we purchased the amusingly named Sodd to see what could possibly be in such a tin. I am using my ipad translating device and have discovered that Sodd contains the balls of a chicken with the fat of cattle, onions (or a locomotive), sellerirot (hopefully that is not rotting celery), and other ingredients which didn’t show up for translation. I would hate to meet the chicken whose balls were contained therein as they were a bit on the large side – he would have had a very funny walk.

Tomorrow we will have a look around the summer market then head north phallus bound, maybe overnighting in Steinkjer due to its amusing name.


Misery Guts

The day started well. We had lots of water so Graham decided to wash his shirt and a few other bits. He popped out to fish as I had my shower. I use the term ‘had my shower’ loosely as Mr Fluffy had used all the hot water washing is bits. As I was already undressed I rapped myself in Jesus, Mary & Joseph (our giraffe blanket) to await the heating of the water. After 5 minutes of nude holy family wrappage I could bear it no longer and had a quick slosh in the sink. Thanks to Laura for the Impulse Dry Shampoo gift.
Mr Fluffy happily caught a mackerel in the pouring rain and we have just eaten it for dinner. A nicely free alternative to the £90 extravaganza of last night which, in the UK, would have cost around £20.
K with J, M and J
It seems one is charged for just about everything here so I am getting a bit fed up with it. Despite the absolutely stunning scenery one just can’t do anything exciting as it costs an arm and a leg. The tolls and ferries add up so much that one has spent almost £100 before anything has happened. It’s all a bit much and I’d like to just be able to go out for a quick beverage in the sun without it costing the earth. And it’s pissing down.

Oh well I presume I will have cheered up tomorrow.

Alisund to Kristiansund – The Atlantic Highway

Kristiansund shipyard
This road is one of Norway’s primary tourist attractions – not the places along the road but the road itself.  It passes through stunningly beautiful scenery and is a wonder of modern engineering and art. Somehow the design team made a road that swoops and sweeps in harmony with the landscape. This is a motorhomer’s paradise which is why it is full of motorhomes! You can even fish for Atlantic cod without leaving the road.
Bridges R Us

Last night we went out for a meal to celebrate the summer solstice – we chose a Chinese restaurant close to our parking place on the coast. Kerriann suggested the set menu for two which looked very good and not too expensive at £36.  We had a small beer each as a mediocre bottle of wine was around £ 45. We had a lovely meal but were a little shocked with the bill £89 without tip. The menu had indicated £36 as a price per head for the set meal for two – oh well you live and learn.
Where's Clarkson?

Today we only had one ferry crossing and one toll tunnel but those add up to £46. Most days we are having to spend around £20 - £ 30 on ferries – this is not a cheap country to travel through!
Surprisingly diesel is a little cheaper than the UK – this mornings prices were around £1.27 per litre but they had gone up to £1.34 by the afternoon. It’s always a surprise what the next service station will bring.

me being fed up
Kerriann got a little fed up today – it has rained most of the day and there seemed to be an additional charge for everything. The ferry ticket man charged us double because he noticed that our bike rack took Dickie’s length to about 2 cm over the 6 metre threshold and the tunnel man wanted extra because there were two of us in the motorhome. This took it up to £13 to drive through a 5 km tunnel.  

I want to progress to the artic circle and the ancient rock art in Alta but Kerriann wants to turn around and head for Spain. Watch this space to see who what we decide to do.

We have just eaten the large mackerel that I caught from the carpark in front of Dickie last night – this is a major breakthrough – it is the first edible fish we have caught and landed on the trip!

G




Friday, 20 June 2014

Geiranger

Three ferries and more than 20 kilometres of tunnels today, winding, narrow roads with the occasional large truck or bus- this all made for interesting driving. The last ferry trip was along the Geiringerfjord from Hellesylt to Geiranger and was breathtakingly beautiful. The weather has changed, the clouds were forming around the mountain tops but rays of sunshine were breaking through, and huge cruise liners negotiated the narrow fjord much as I did the narrow roads. 
Hellesylt selfie

on our way down the fjord
captain-esque
This last ferry trip cost us around £40 which I think was great value - £20 a head for over an hour’s tour of some of the world’s most fantastic scenery – the area is a UNESCO World Heritage site - and this included transporting Dickie, our mobile hotel room to his lovely current (free of charge) location alongside the port at Geiranger village.
stay away from the waterfall


Dickie from a distance

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Fishy Business


Since the last post Graham has now caught a starfish
he put him back
and I now have a better pic of the fish he caught - it had spines on its back and pointed teeth
what am I?

Bergen, Knitting and Dancing Mats

I’ve had enough. I can’t take it anymore.

Having looked down and seen the blonde hairs sparkling and swaying on my flaky legs I knew it was time to take the plunge and get the Bic out. The shower cubicle in Dickie is usually more than adequate but it can involve a fair amount of, shall I say, yogic body positioning to shave the legs. I managed after some interesting contortions and weird gruntage. I’m also lucky enough to have rather hairy toes which gives me the option to choose the type of shaving I can perform…do I go the full Brazilian leaving a toe totally denuded of hair or go the landing strip, leaving a thin line of hair down the middle? I decided on the toe Brazilian and am now perfectly denuded with armpits to match.

Anyway I digress from our travels.
our view of Sognefjord

We are now parked up by the Sognefjord which, yet again, is stunning. Is it possible to get tired of endless stunning? Mr Fluffy has attached some rather sparkly mackerel feathers to his rod and I am hoping he will catch a couple of fish for dinner. It is true that Norway is beyond expensive so we are rather glad we stocked up on food before we got here.
The fish market in Bergen was excruciatingly expensive but everything looked absolutely fabulous. We spent the night at a stellplatz just outside Bergen and took a tram into town to see the World Heritage site of Bryggen which has 18th and 19th century houses down by the wharf. Very interesting and we would have loved to have had a beer in one of the old bars but I couldn’t get the mortgage organised in time.
Bryggen walkway
I forced Graham to go along to the knitting museum in Salhus yesterday and surprisingly he really enjoyed it. It may be because they took us through the old factory and showed us how the Victorian machines worked. It was a very interesting museum in a gorgeous setting overlooking a fjord and had a very amusing film before the guided tour. I would recommend it.
Knitting machines in Salhus

Mr Fluffy getting in on the knitting action

Eek Graham has just raced in, muddying the dancing mat on the way, to grab his fish identification book as he has excitedly just caught something.
anyone know what this fish is?
Am now back in the van having checked the fish and, having been unable to identify it, Graham has put it back and it is now swimming away with a very sore lip. Hopefully it wasn’t something tasty.
What is a ‘dancing mat’ I hear you ask? It may look like a very boring beige mat, purchased in Belgium, but every time we step on it we must do a cute and amusing dance. If you are lucky, one day we may do a little film of hot ‘dancing mat’ action .


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Pulpit Rock

Pulpit rock
Another lovely drive along rather too narrow, Norwegian roads – luckily we did not meet any big trucks in the thinner tunnels or hairpin bends, they were tighter than a nun’s nasty as the saying goes. The two ferries today cost around £29 in total. We do not mind paying for the ferries – their cost is covered by the lack of campsite charges. We haven’t paid a penny to park up in the most amazing places for several nights. 
The kind Norwegians provide free stations where we can empty Dickie’s toilet cassette and fill up his water tank.
setting off- unaware of the hike ahead

Our destination today was Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen. 
Over thirty years ago I did the hard climb/walk to this amazing natural viewing platform with my close school friend Rodney who sadly passed away some years ago. My fear of heights has clearly gotten worse – on my first visit I dared to lie on my belly and wriggle to the edge of the rock and peer straight down many hundreds of feet to the fjord below. This time I couldn’t go near the edge and the sight of youngsters sitting with their feet dangling over the drop gave me the collywobbles. It was a hard climb to Pulpit rock and I was secretly nervous about Kerriann who has had problems with her knees and a general wimpish nature but she did me proud.  Barely a word of complaint was uttered on the ascent and only a few minor moans on the descent. All in all another wonderful day even if our legs are a little stiff.
surveying the kingdom

our smiles belie the painful legs

G

A little stiff? I could start my moaning now but I’ll refrain. What a fab, if hideous, hot, and hard climb it was today. It was quite exhilarating though. My favourite bit was when we passed a group of Chinese tourists all clad in varying degrees of fabric, some swathed in fleece, others in glamorous street clothes, and the last lady in the line was wearing a white cardigan trimmed with blue lace. I smiled at her as we passed, she looked at me and let out the largest burp I’ve ever heard from a sixty something woman on a trail in a Norwegian forest. It took a few seconds to register then my guffaws could be heard throughout the trail. What a woman!
this is as close as I'm getting to the edge

Quite a few Aussies on the trek, along with many Germans and a Spanish woman who did not draw breath for the entire 2.5 k walk down from the rock. Sheesh! There were several dozen women who must have been at least 70 doing the trek so I thought 'if they can do it so can I'. Ugh! I hope to recover (with the aid of vodka) by tomorrow as we head up the islands towards Bergen.
It is currently 11pm. It is broad daylight outside but there is a hint that the sun may go down briefly very soon. We are parked at a marina a few kilometres from Stravangar. It’s quite windy but I don’t care as I am warm and snug in Dickie.
snug in Dickie 
K