A Travellerspoint blog

Day 23 ~ The Catch Up

Here I am, a whole week after our holiday ended, trying to finish it off, as usual. There’s not a lot to say about our journey back, it was long, with a lot of driving, another ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich, and then another lot of driving. We got home about 1am on the Monday morning, with Lyn back at his desk at 8.30am. The week since then was taken up with working (Lyn), washing, emptying the van, cleaning, shopping and then restocking the van for our annual Bank Holiday break in Pembrey, where, for a change the weather played ball with us, and we had beautiful blue skies, lovely sunshine and fantastic stars.

So, how do we rate our Scandinavian holiday? I would say we preferred our original Scandi holiday, 3 years ago, when we went further up North, but this holiday was still a good one. Maybe we tried to cram too much into a short space of time, and did too much mileage. I think we would have benefitted with more chill days, we were always in a rush to get to the next place, but the clock was ticking for our ferry back. Hopefully when Lyn is retired we will return and do a much slower journey. We enjoyed the Swedish part, especially the Kosterhavets day, but again, I think I prefer the Baltic coast of Sweden, which was more rugged and definitely less populated. Norway was as beautiful as ever. There is never a day where the scenery is not spectacular. In fact, you almost get blasé about it; there’s another fjord, another waterfall, another lake, another river, another mountain around every corner. It was strange to read about hosepipe bans and droughts back home when we were surrounded by so much water daily. The weather definitely had an impact; more sitting and chilling outside the van would have definitely been nice.

I think we can now safely say we have seen the fjord region, and seen it well.

Some stats from our trip:

5 countries visited
4 different currencies
23 nights away
12 nights campsites, 11 nights wild camping
2600 miles driven
£653 fuel costs
9 fuel stops
7 ferries
Countless tunnels
Too many pick n mix, not enough sausages.
No arguments.

As I finish off this blog, I invite you to join me on my next adventure. This is a big solo challenge for me, as I leave on Friday to walk the 500 miles of the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago across Spain. You can sign up on https://cariadjohn2.travellerspoint.com/

See you in Spain!

Posted by CariadJohn 14:17 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Day 21~ 22 The Long Road Home

Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, England, Wales!

overcast 21 °C
View To the South of the North 2022 on CariadJohn's travel map.

3pm Sunday, and I write this laying in my single bed in our cabin. Lyn is sleeping in the double bed opposite me. It’s taken 2 whole days of driving through 3 countries to get to this point, so his sleep is well deserved.

Our ferry trip from Bergen was long, but comfortable. As we had booked a cabin we were able to shower and catch up on some sleep, before eating. We had taken a chance and booked the on board dinner buffet as well as a 6.30 breakfast buffet. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we’re
soon standing in the 19.30 queue to enter. Is there anything worse than a buffet queue? People are anxious, and you can see plans being formed. We were shown to our tiny table, crammed in next to a German couple, whilst others were already battling their way to the food. Lyn took no prisoners and was off like a lion hunting it’s prey. He had returned with his first plateful before I’d returned with the drinks. I joined the end of a long queue as we shuffled forward, passing the caviar, crabs legs, lobsters and shrimp and Lyn’s favourite, pickled mackerel, with me getting ever more anxious. Soon, the end of that queue met the end of the other queue, shuffling forward with their plates piled high. I had inevitably backed the wrong horse; their queue had passed steak, turkey, stunning chips, potato croquettes…. I then had to try and interject into their queue, not knowing what language to apologise in. So stressful, but soon I had a plate of food. Luckily, the food was surprisingly good quality, so we ate up. Some more than others, but I’m not mentioning any names Lyn!!

Desserts were lovely, although I ended up with a bowl of chocolate mousse, fruit compote, chocolate cake and cheesecake in 1 bowl as I couldn’t face the queue again. I’ve come to the conclusion queuing is much harder when you are little. Certain people with long arms and long legs see it as a personal challenge and win!

We didn’t have the best night’s sleep, possibly due to a combination of a) overeating, b) the rolling motion and c) stuffy cabin, but the alarm soon went off at 5.45am so I could shower before breakfast. Needless to say neither of us really wanted breakfast at that time, but we had paid £18 each for it so we were going to bloody eat it. The coffee was good but there was a perpetual line for it longer than the line for the ladies on a good night out, so we only had the one cup. One bacon roll and some watermelon later it was time to gather our stuff for the long journey ahead.

Once we were off the ferry, the day became just a blur of roads and horrendous traffic jams. We drove straight through Denmark, as we have found there is not much there for us. Once we were in Germany the driving got more aggressive and the notorious traffic jams around Hamburg proved as hellish as ever. We stopped in a supermarket for a last cheap shop and beer stock up, then hit the road again. We planned to stop just before the Dutch border as it’s easier to find a good place to stay in Germany. It had been a long day, over 600 miles, with over 10 traffic jams, the longest being over 2 hours.

Our trusted app found just the place, in a free parking place for vans alongside a river. We quickly went to bed, both exhausted. No proper food today, just a series of junky snacks. Needs must. We slept well, although noisy youngsters outside kept me awake till nearly 1am.

We still had another 2.5 hours to drive to get to our final ferry at the Hook of Holland, but the Dutch roads are more pleasant, although slightly confusing in their layout at times. We got into the ferry on time, to witness a case of road rage in the queue by a very aggrieved British middle class lady who leaned on her horn for a full five minutes at the car in front of her, then got out of the car to have “stern words” with the car that had cut her up. The Dutch immigration control bloke stopped her to as what the problem was, and she said the other car had been “Vairy, vairy stuhpid” (say it in a posh accent). I think that will be a key phrase of ours now! Her indignance knew no bounds, but she had no idea what a complete tit she looked!

No road rage in this cabin, just too tired people, who have eaten their ready prepared ham rolls and are looking forward to a jaunt round the duty free, spending what’s left of the holiday money. Yes, we have money left!

Obviously, it’s not Sunday 3pm anymore, and not in a ferry cabin. Instead I’m at home drowning in washing! Will catch up with the last day and some sum up points in a few days.

Posted by CariadJohn 12:03 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Day 19 & 20 ~ Bergen Burgers

Bergen

semi-overcast 19 °C
View To the South of the North 2022 on CariadJohn's travel map.

I’ve combined these two days into one blog post as they are both Bergen based. Yesterday was mainly getting here, finding a spot to stay for 2 nights and a quick visit into Bergen, whereas today was a much longer visit.

Yesterday was only a 2 hour drive to get into Bergen. The road got noticeably faster and there were far less places to stop and have lunch with a view. We ended up in a truckers park on the outskirts, but who cares, the cheese toastie was good.

We drove into Bergen but were apprehensive about finding somewhere to stay. In contrast to most of Norway Bergen is quite inhospitable to overnight Motorhomes. We drove into one Motorhome place, but it was unsurprisingly full. We then headed up to another spot just up the road where we were excited to see a big empty car park with quite a few Motorhomes in it. Lyn quickly did a U turn, only to find an apologetic Norwegian blocking the entrance with his car. He was instructed to only let people out, not in, as they were about to start building work. He did give us directions to a nearby campsite though, just 10 minutes up the road.

This is now our home, last night and tonight, before we leave tomorrow. We are basically in the parking area of a motel type place with little chalets, and are paying £25 per night for it. It’s a bit noisy, but beggars can’t be choosers!

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To get to Bergen we have to walk for 15 minutes, then get to the light railway stop to catch the Bybanen into the centre. As in most European cities bar the UK the transport system is second to none. We just downloaded an app, set up a card on it and bought 2 tickets. The trains come every few minutes and are clean, organised and fast, green fuel, with excellent signposting for where to get off. It cost us about £4 each one way to travel the 20 minutes into the centre of Bergen where it terminates.

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Bergen is quite a compact city and easy to get around on foot. I am totally ashamed to say yesterday we got in and headed straight for Burger King as I was so hungry. £27 for two barely warm burger meals. Learn a lesson Luce! I compounded this by needing a loo soon after so dragged Lyn into a pub. £14 for a half a cider and 0.3l of beer. The toilet was good though! You can see from the photo Lyn stepping into the bizarre little toilet. I used the other one as I didn’t think I was tall enough to get my leg over!

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Today was much better. We knew that today was going to be our most expensive day, so had lunch before we went. 2 coffees and 2 cakes cost £18 in a cafe, dinner was a very good pizza and a lasagne, 1 coke and a 0.6l beer which cost a reasonable £37, and we also found a microbrewery, where I had a fabulous cocktail , and Lyn had 3 beers. The barmaid took pity on Lyn when he said how expensive the beers were and bought him a surprise free one! We thoroughly enjoyed our time there; we were the only 2 sat on a tiny balcony overlooking the famous Bryggen and watching the tour boats and ships come in and out.

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Lyn also had a much yearned for fish stew in the famous fish market on the harbour. He has craved a good fish stew ever since he had one in Helsinki. Luckily this one was good too as it cost £15!

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We enjoyed looking around Bergen, and had a good old mooch around. We walked around the lake on the main park, then over to the the cruise ship docks, where there was a huge German cruise ship in. From there we wandered up and down pretty cobbled streets, with colourful houses. This was my favourite part of Bergen.

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From there we went back over to the Bryggen where we had visited quickly yesterday. This is Bergen’s most famous attraction, and is a World Heritage site. Bryggen is “the dock” in Norwegian, and these Hanseatic buildings were built after a fire in the 1700s. The wooden buildings are very distinctive from the front, with little alley ways and tiny shops behind. Lyn convinced me he really really needed a new Norwegian beanie hat to keep his ears warm when he runs, so that was added to our mortgage extension for the day.

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So, tonight is our last sort of night in Norway. I say sort of because we get on a ferry at mid day tomorrow, for 18 hours, until we land at the tip of Denmark. Then it’s a frantic trip through Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands before another ferry to the UK.

Posted by CariadJohn 19:48 Archived in Norway Tagged bergen norway bryggen travelswithharvey Comments (2)

Day 19 ~ Can we aForde the Dental Bill?!

Forde

overcast 22 °C
View To the South of the North 2022 on CariadJohn's travel map.

We packed up and left after breakfast this morning. Today was going to be quite a chilled day, but first let me tell you about the teal octopus who lives in our boot! Lyn had decided in his wisdom to bring a big beanbag with us on this trip. We had crazy dreams of chilling in the sunshine amongst the mountains. This, alas, was not to be! The Norwegian weather has been against us, so the only time the beanbag has seen the light of day is when it slithers from the depths of the boot every time Lyn opens it, wrapping him in it’s teal tentacles. Lyn has had strong words with the teal octopus but to no avail. Never mind, it has a lovely scenic tour of over 2000 miles!

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Again we could tell by the traffic that a cruise ship was in Olden. This was a huge P & O ship, the Iona. I knew that one of my favourite Instagram bloggers Kat Farmer is on there at the moment, so I messaged her to say I was looking at the ship from outside! To my surprise she replied straight away! Slightly starstruck, and yes, I realise how sad that makes me sound!

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All we had to do today was make our way down towards Bergen, where we want to be tomorrow evening. This meant quite an easy driving day on better roads. We stopped at yet another fjord view at a lay-by, had a leisurely lunch, then read, before opting for a mid day nap. Is there anything better in life than having a really naughty mid day nap?

We stopped off at the biggest supermarket we have been to in Norway, in Forde. All we needed was coke and salad, but I snuck away to the pick n mix. To my absolute dismay I couldn’t find it on the self service till, so had to leave it there! Even worse, on our self service receipt we found an extra charge of 24NOK for something called Pant! Now I can assure you no pants were bought, so I have no idea what that was for!

We have stopped for the night now at a rest area on the Songefjord, the King of the Fjords. The largest and deepest fjord in Norway, stretching 205km inland, and 1300m deep. ( Thank you Wikipaedia!) We are parked up, with not another van in sight, just a short walk over beautiful pebbles to the sea, and a little island to the front of us. We picked our way over the rolly pebbles, and I was just mesmerised, so many colours and patterns. I found a beautiful heart shaped one. Norway I ❤️ you!

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We had to dip here, the views were incredible, looking out over layers of mountains disappearing into the mist. The water was so clear we could see right down to the pebbles on the floor, and the shoals of little fish. It was not cold either, not compared to the rivers and lakes. Another memory for the Happy Bank. I’m so glad Lyn has chosen to join in with me this holiday. It’s so lovely to think of all the places we can swim together on our travels.

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So we are now sat, listening to the rain, still watching the view, contemplating the ever encroaching end to our holiday. Oh, and as for the title about aForde ing the dental bill? Lyn’s very expensive £270 filling that he had done just before the holiday came out today, and he wasn’t even eating one of my licorice caramels!

Posted by CariadJohn 18:05 Archived in Norway Tagged beaches norway hymer travelswithharvey dipping Comments (1)

Day 18~Turn Around Bright Eyes

Lovatnet

overcast 21 °C
View To the South of the North 2022 on CariadJohn's travel map.

Today’s the day in the holiday where thoughts start inevitably shifting back to going home and the realities of life. We are now at the furthest point of our holiday, and every mile done now takes us closer to Bergen and our ferry to start the long journey home.

We opted to leave the last lovely campsite and head into the next valley. We got up quite late, mainly because both of us were up till nearly 1am as we couldn’t put our books down. We feel our age today.

On the way out we passed through Olden. The traffic increased hugely; there were buses, tours buses, double decker buses and tourist trains. Yes, the cruise ships were in. We parked up in Olden to have a little look at these mammoth beasts. A cruise is definitely in the pipeline for us both, but it definitely won’t be to the fjords. We’d much rather bring the van again and relax looking at the view rather than being shepherded onto a bus with hundreds of others. As we looked at the cruise ship, some cruisers came to our van and took a photo of us! They wanted to know our story.

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After Olden, we stopped at Loen to pick up some food. £60 later we were done. Our 2 pieces of salmon cost us £14! Yikes! In saying that, I have finally cracked the Norwegian pick n mix and stocked up with my favourite salted licorice caramels in chocolate. I also had to splash out and buy a new hair brush as I seem to have lost mine! I must have left it in the camp site shower, and some strange person must have stolen it! Bizarre! I had to replace my hairbrush in our last holidays in the Outer Hebrides as it fell down the toilet, but that’s another story!

Lyn had a campsite in mind; one that he had seen in a archetypical camping in the fjords advertising picture. Alas, the best spots he had wanted had gone, but we still have a prime site view on the banks of Lovatnet Lake, looking down through the 3d mountains to yet another glacier. We spent a few hours chilling outside with our kindles, until Lyn finished his book and demanded conversation. The cheek of it! I had a little conversation and then took a nap!

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Dinner was very expensive salmon, cooked on the bbq with a garlic chilli marinade, with Peruvian quinoa (out of a packet!) and avocado. It was lovely, and I also made (actually made!) crumble, so that is cooking in the oven now.

We start the drive down to Bergen tomorrow, hoping to find a nice spot to overnight on the way

Posted by CariadJohn 18:17 Archived in Norway Tagged waterfalls sky boats lake glacier scandinavia motorhome hymer travelswithharvey hymerlife Comments (1)

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