After the last update, where we were at the glacier, we made our way towards Bergen, taking the ferry from Lavik to Ytre Oppedal. Arriving in the outskirts of Bergen we abused free coffee and internet at IKEA again and did web updates. We found a late-night camp at a co-op, but in the morning (Tues 10th April) we awoke to find it was still under construction, oops! We weren’t in the way luckily and made a sharp exit.
We found a camp site just on the entry to Bergen and called in for a much needed shower. After freshening up we headed into Bergen centre in search of a birthday coffee (Sharon’s treat, from her birthday money her folks wired to her J). We’d heard good reviews on a place called Kaffemisjonen so called in there. Weren’t impressed sorry, seemed very geared up for coffee snobbery, even giving me a little spiel about where ‘todays beans’ were from and what flavour notes we should expect… What we received however was a lukewarm cappuccino and mocha, with flavour notes of ‘did I really just pay THAT much for THIS’. Not really my favourite flavour if I’m honest. Too painfully British to complain. Missing Costa. (is that like a typical brit missing fish and chips on holiday in spain?)
Coffee’d up we took a walk into the city centre, it was freezing, especially in the harbour. Took a look in the fish market and avoided the ‘Whale burgers’ :-S Saw lots of monuments and sculptures and found our way in old Bergen which was cool, everything made of wood, the street floor, walls, buildings – much of it replaced but clearly some scarred and pitted original timber, god knows what that timber witnessed in the years of sailors coming ashore.
Back to the campsite to get some washing done and get an early night. Lots of cats on the site, rubbish internet and ‘worse for wear’ looking people camping and using the facilities. Terje (I still struggle to pronounce his name without me sounding like a foreign douche) got in touch via facebook and we agreed to meet the next morning.
Wednesday morning we weren’t quite up when a defender parked along side us. I jumped out and met Terje. We chatted for a long time and he kindly explained that the camp site we had chosen was ‘not the best’ and that it in fact was known for being a place where alcoholics resided, as it was cheaper and less hassle then renting a house under those circumstances! Ah well. We’re all about seeing the real world we are!
Later on after some shopping and internetting we met up with Terje again and he took us to Gamlehaugen, to a castle built in 1900. We walked around and chatted with him and his Rottweiler. He invited us back to his for a coffee (really good black coffee, never thought I’d say that!) and he showed us some pictures of the great places in Norway that we couldn’t visit due to the time of year! He also gave us tips on places to go – funny story (to me) – before Xmas I saw a video on facebook of this scary looking tunnel. I asked Terje about it, turns out he was the one who posted it! It was due to be closed off in the next few weeks as a new tunnel was nearing completion.
Terje gave us a couple of beers, a book (A2A) and after declining his kind offer of his spare room, escorted us to a nice secluded wild camping spot. Thanks Terje, great to meet you J
In the morning we took a walk on the trails around where we slept, beautiful place, and nice walk in the morning sun before hitting the road. We headed out to Jordalsvegen, the tunnel mentioned before and drove up and down it. Pretty freaky, dark and narrow, with holes broken out through the rock like windows into the valley below. We videod it, it should be online soon. Sharon was scared and wouldn’t let me get out and explore! I think Terje telling us about the locals being afraid of the rocks falling in from the ceiling had something to do with it.
After the tunnel we headed a few more k’s up the road to Stegastein, a walkway built on a hill overlooking a beautiful Fjord. On the way up the road the views looked amazing, probably better than Geiranger, but the weather deteriorated rapidly into snow and the cloud descended. Up at the top and on the walkway, we could barely see anything! Ah well. Can’t win them all.
We pushed on down the E16 and saw Tvindefossen, a large multi-waterfall before joining the E13 and passing through the Vallariktunnelen – complete with underground roundabout. We slept in a layby near Sekse.
Friday 22nd We carried on down the E13, it’s a great road, getting narrow in places and feeling off the beaten track despite being a major road. In places it was really quiet and the views just non-stop.
I think it was on this road that we climbed up out of the greenery and back into the snow, with busy ski slopes open along the way. Norway is strange. There are some places where the ski season only starts in summer, due to the winter just being too severe. Sharon and I both wished we could ski. Might have to convince our friends Stu and Beth to help us out with that!
After a long drive we made it to the Preikestolen car park. It was 4pm and sunny. I convinced Shaz that despite us both being tired from driving that we should hike it to Preikestolen in case the weather was rubbish the next day. So off we went in a bit of a rush. What a hike, its not easy for two unfit brits! The walk is amazing, steep climbs where you feel that you are ascending a waterfall using boulders as stepping stones, crossing huge worn-smooth expanses of exposed rock, climbing up and down where wind and water has worn them away. I’m sure it must be tame for seasoned walkers but the way it has been laid out (with the help of Nepalese Sherpa’s) really makes it feel like an event climbing up there. Once up there it is scary. There’s no railings or restrictions and you can easily tumble to your death. But its so worth it, I wish the pictures could do it justice but I was probably just a little bit preoccupied with not stumbling off any of the 600-metre-high ledges.
After the hike back down our legs were like jelly. Back at the truck we knew we weren’t allowed to camp at the car park area so were planning where to go. One of the site staff wandered over and struck up a conversation with us about us driving all the way to Norway in our Landrover. We explained where we’d been and what we’d seen and he said ‘well, after a long drive, why don’t you park over there where no one can see you and stay the night’. Awesome. We had a well-deserved sleep. Bed at 9:30pm!
Next morning we were both aching, and slowly got ready and hit the road to Stavanger – back up the 13 and onto a ferry from Tau into Stavanger. We passed through town and had a quick look, before heading for the 3 swords monument, Sverd i Fjell. Whilst taking photo’s two local girls wandered over in full traditional dress (the dark haired girl celebrating her confirmation day, and her friend taking photos). I asked if I could photograph them and they obliged! I probably seemed a bit weird but wanted the shot haha.
We headed out of Stavanger on the E39 and took the coastal route headed for Oslo. We were going to cut through but found a few roads were closed so decided to just take the main route.
Images might be a little out of order due to different uploads from phone and from camera
Tried to take a look around the harbour in Narvik as Shaz’s dad had visited here in the Navy in the 50’s. Didn’t see much unfortunately! Couple of fishing vessels and tankers heading out to sea maybe.
At some point I noticed that the 2nd alternator wasn’t working, no light on the dash, and no charging voltage on the gauge. Stopped at a supermarket to shop and after that I did some tests that confirmed the regulator had probably died. Great. We don’t NEED that alternator but its nice to have, knowing we can start the engine if we hammer the electricity. So we were reliant totally on solar. Tried a couple of places in Narvik but they didn’t have anything I could even bodge together.
It was late and everything was closed so we found somewhere to sleep near a ski slope. There wasn’t much snow however, mostly ice, but still a couple of buses arrived and people got out seemingly to go for a walk up the hill in the dark, then go back on the bus an hour or two later? Strange.
Thursday 7th April we got up to find it had snowed overnight and kids were sledging down the slopes. Looked pretty fun. But we needed to try and sort the alternator out. Tried Hellanor, they could get an alternator but it would be a few days, and cost over £400! (~£50 they are in the UK). But hellanordude said he knew a guy who used to recondition alternators across town and gave me his address. We headed over and whilst we were parking up a guy from the Hifi store next to the garage came over, he was Kjell (Chel) from the Norway Landrover club, owner of 2 landy’s -an ’84 110 and a 2006 TD5 90. We went into the garage and showed the guy some photo’s of the offending alternator. He said he didn’t recon alternators any more but he might have one at home, and to wait 30 mins. Off he went and we hung out in Kjells hifi store chatting landrovers and taking advice one what to see and what roads to take. In the end both drew a blank regarding the alternator, the garage guy had none left and Kjell’s friends didn’t have any. Ragnar from Landrover camping Norway knew someone with a spare in Narvik but he wasn’t back til Friday. Kjell said we might get one at the Bilextra shop in Fauske, so we thought as it isn’t a critical part, we’ll head south and try our luck. The solar was working ok despite the overcast skies. We took the 827 instead of the E6 and caught a ferry from Kjopsvik to Drag. 200NOK and 45 mins. It was cold and overcast but luckily calm waters. Off the ferry at 7pm we found a layby about 70km from Fauske and spent the night.
Friday 8th we drove the 70km into Fauske and as soon as we hit the edge town we saw a scrap yard. I went in and they had a bunch of alternators that might work for 600NOK. Though I’d try Bilextra first for a new one, but again they needed to order one and the cheapest was £200. Back to the scrapyard, found one off a ford escort 1.6 that was almost perfect. The guys in the scrap yard were so helpful, one guy cut and welded an old tensioning bracket for me that made the job as easy as swapping out an original. Didn’t have any cash to give the guy a tip but saw him smoking so went round the corner and bought him a pack of Marlboro’s to say cheers. Back on the road again fully charged!
We headed for Bodo and then turned off for Saltsraumen, apparently the worlds most powerful Maelstrom (whirlpool). Created as the tide flows in and out of the fjord through a bottleneck, the currents get really strong and the water is churned violently. We went out in the evening (there is a timetable online for the strongest currents) up on the bridge, pretty high for me, but didn’t see the huge ship swallowing whirlpool we were hoping for (we weren’t expecting that really). we just saw a few small whirlpools amongst the churning frothing water, but still the power and chaos of the currents was great to witness. We would have another look tomorrow. We slept in a layby again not far from the Salstraumen car park.
Saturday 9th we got up and went to view the maelstrom again, it was going the other way this time as the tide was coming in not out, saw a few other spectators and some speed boats but no big whirlpool. Was nice to see the churning turquoise waters again but shame not to have witnessed a Jules Verne style whirlpool!
I was long overdue a web update so we found some camping with wifi just a couple of hundred yards from the Saltsraumen carpark and set up there for the night after a quick shop in the ridiculously overpriced local Coop!
Sunday 10th was mainly spent walking, cooking and doing facebook updates based at Pluscamp Saltsraumen. Weather was nice. There are a few motorhomes here mainly OAP’s though! They don’t seem to speak any English so we mainly nod acknowledgement to eachother!
Monday 11th the morning was spent adding pages to and updating the blog, plus trying to sort the domain name link. I’m not paying for the privilege so a redirect to weebly it is! Eventually we got on the road, deciding to just run down the E6 as we don’t think we will get to see any of the Svartisen glaciers from the alternative route, and any smaller roads in are probably closed. We stopped in a layby near Røkland with a heated toilet block but a few HGVs. Was OK, but a lot of diesel engines idling in the night and trucks leaving early.
Tuesday 12th and it was Shaz’s birthday! Nothing exciting planned but promised her a bought coffee haha (her choice!) We had some posh organic coffee brewing packs given to us by Lill and Espen in Skarsvag we’d been saving so we decided to share one so even if we did the find a posh cafe shaz would have had a decent coffee, I even frothed the milk in a pan. Really nice and clever coffee pack. 1 was fine to share though! We hit the road and the snow was back, not much from the sky but loads on the landscape, we’d got used to it slowly disappearing. We found the Krokstand Kafe and stopped for coffee and cake. Shared a coffee as it was just filter, no cappacino and shared the cake as it was like 3 quid! Nice though. The road climbed to 700m above sea level and the scenery was wonderful and white again. Saw a fox, some eagles and a white grouse. We wanted to stop at the Arctic circle centre but when we got there it was well and truly snowed in and closed! We took a detour down the fv355 for a few kms but it was closed as expected as soon as the snow deepened. The snow was higher than the gate closing the road haha. Was a fun sort of off road/bad road drive getting there but the truck got absolutely filthy. Back on the E6 we got to Mo i rana and found a cafe in the coop selling cappuccinos so shaz got one after all. One too many, she felt ill from the caffeine! searched for somewhere to sleep and found another large off road parking/layby with toilets. Settled in for the night when Shaz saw northern lights out the back door. Already in our sleeping bags we turned around and lay with our heads out of the door and watched. It was a great show, at one point we lay on our backs and looked directly up, the lights were shooting down on us from above and pulsing green and purple it was freaky and gave me vertigo, awesome though. I wanted to get the camera but thought this time I would just enjoy. Except for the last ten minutes when I had to get at least one shot of the lights through the back door! Great end to the day.
Weds. It got cold in the night! Didn’t realise it was forecast -13! We headed off for Torghatten (a strange hole right through a big rock/hill. Got down to road 76 which leads to it and there were big road closed warnings. Googled it and a big landslide had blocked the road. Gutted. Back on the E6 towards Trondheim. There was a bit of a lack of things to see so shaz found a ruined abbey called Tautra. We headed there, and it was a nice drive along the 753. Crossed a strange reclaimed land bridge with an electronic gate (briefly thought it was another ‘closed for winter’). Got to the ruin and as we pulled up and as the truck idled I could hear a nasty rattle from the engine. Oh great. Got the bonnet up... the scrap alternator has eaten it’s bearings! FFS lol
Took some pics of tautra in lovely evening sun. A couple of people that lived in the adjacent house walked by and after talking to them they said we could stay in the parking area next to tautra.
Thursday 14th we got up and Shaz took a sunny walk down to the water whilst I took the belt off the faulty alternator and fitted a new power steering belt as the one on there was ancient and cracked.
Back on the road we headed for Trondheim. Stopped at an Ikea for free coffee x 2 . Then we popped into Hell for a bit. Not as bad as you might think. Lots of shopping there! On the way out of Hell we ended up right in the middle of a military convoy of around 10 Mercedes g-wagons, I think the drivers (mostly young guys and gals driving) were equally bemused by us!
In Trondheim we parked outside the Nidarosdomen, the medieval cathedral, and took a walk round before having a little walk into town. Its nice, almost stayed and had a night on the town but then we remembered a modest meal and drinks would probably be more than 100 quid so we legged it whilst we had the sense.
The truck was still filthy (and I mean gravel stuck in the mud on the doors filthy) so we thought we’d jet wash it.. found an automated place and put my card in the machine and somehow managed to get 15 quid onto the token card without choosing anything! Couldnt find anyone willing to buy the card after our quick jetwash, and its non refundable, and the only place that you can use the card. What an idiot. So the truck had a mega clean, soap, brush, gloss waxing, 2 litres of screen wash and 10 minutes of hoovering... still had 30nok left on it so left it in the machine for someone else to enjoy. Wish I’d got shaz to hot jetwash me too in hindsight!
Out of Trondheim we climbed into snow world again, so continued on until the road dropped down again. Another layby, OK but a truck driver swap and noisy wild geese in the fields behind.
Friday morning and we think the milk had gone off. Gutted. Took about 20k to find a shop and as we pulled in there was a landrover 110 there! Norwegian but there was a union jack on the back. As we parked the owner jumped out, a British woman who was amazed to see us. She had met a norwegian in Oxford, married him and ended up moving to Valsoybotn and buying a farm.
We ferried from Halsa to Konestraum and headed for the Atlantic road. Passed through Kristiansund and were charged about 9 quid for the privilege to drive the Atlantic highway . Was pretty impressive area though, I was gutted but Shaz was pleased that the sea wasn’t crashing over the road!
We headed in to Molde, had to as we’re from Mold in Wales, and ferried to Vestnes. Lots of roads are closed, including Trollstigen, and the ferry across Geiranger doesn’t start til 1st May! But you could still get to the fjord via Linge and Eidsdal so that’s what we did. Epic drive from there down in to Geiranger. Weather was snowing up high and raining lower down but still geiranger was incredible. Just go there, it’s lovely! First stop was the viewpoint, even the mist couldn't hide that we hadn’t seen anything like this yet. The road down was steep, with loads of hairpins but no trouble, and the road was dead quiet which helped. We camped in a layby right on the waters edge.
Saturday we breakfasted in the layby and Shaz washed her hair. Headed down into Geiranger village for some pics and mooch around, sun was out, prob about 8 degrees which is warm for us at the mo! Really nice, some posh hotels too I bet you could have a lovely expensive holiday there. Took a drive up the other way out of geiranger, towards the closed Trollstigen road, some great viewpoints up there, had a little walk and scared myself on some of the high cliff overhangs (most with railings... I’m a wimp!). Hardly anyone around, lovely, I bet it’s heaving in summer.
We climbed back up the road we came in on, not as hard on the landy as I thought it might be but not really able to get out of second gear much! Stopped at the viewpoint and enjoyed the views minus the snow and cloud. Had out lunch overlooking the fjord, toyed with the idea of staying to catch the fjord boat tour the next day but hit the road back to Eidsdal, ferried to Linge, retracing our steps before turning off for Valldal and then Gravaneset, ferrying over to Stranda.
We stopped at the parking place for the old Bridge Honndalsroken, toilets and nice and quiet. Shaz cooked Welsh griddle cakes in the frying pan. Pretty good but lots of washing up.
Sunday we left in search of Glaciers, Shaz looked at the closed roads etc but thought we could make it to Kjendal and see a bit of Jostedalsbreen. The road down to the carpark/trail had a sign saying ‘Vinterstengt’ (closed for winter) but the blockade had been moved and we could see cars further down the lane. We got as far as the picnic area, where a fallen tree had blocked the track. I could have pushed or dragged it out of the way but decided not to risk the landrover paint! Parked up and walked from there, about 4k, to the bottom of a branch of the glacier. Lovely walk, the last kilometre was picking our way through rocks but was really nice to have a walk in the sun, not a person in sight until we were almost back. Back on the road we headed for Bergen via a couple of ferries. Stopped at a waterfall on the way, strange position tucked behind a school, but lovely setting with a crystal clear river joined by another, via the water fall. The weather deteriorated to heavy rain and we had a wet camp, trying to hear the Walking Dead over the noise of rain drumming on the roof.
Here's a crap timelapse of some driving from somewhere in Finnmark down to Tromso. Crap because 2 second timelapse is too long, results in a even faster and jumpier vid. Why am i posting it if its crap? cos it takes time to make!
After leaving Skarsvag we headed back to Alta, sleeping on the way in a layby between Olderfjord and Skaidi. It was very windy. The rocking of the truck isn’t so bad, it’s the occasional gusts that jolt you awake! Back in Alta - which was very closed as it was Easter Sunday - we resisted the temptation to have luxury camping and simply filled up with fuel and water and continued on, destination Tromso.
It was still cold and the scenery very white and icy but starting to see broken ice on the water and water dripping on the frozen waterfalls. The roads are clear now and I can unleash the full power of the landrover… haha at least I can do the speed limit on occasion anyway.
Arriving in Tromso on Monday 27th we found a couple of camp sites but decided to try and camp slightly out of town in case there was some northern lights in the evening. There was indeed northern lights but, it all seemed to be happening behind one big rogue cloud. I hoped it would move on but it just span on the spot! Must have been in the centre of some weather system – annoying! There were street lights on the road, to take pictures I needed to have the street lights behind me, but the northern lights kept switching sides of the sky so I had to grab my camera and cross the road back and forth. I wished I had two cameras – one for timelapsing, and one for standard pics. I even tried the gopro – didn’t catch any northern lights just street lights and headlights! To finish me off for the night I slipped on the ice where we were parked and hurt my knee! Awesome.
Tuesday 29th we headed into Tromso and had a brief look around. Annoyingly, the diesel had been 10.69NOK a litre when we came in the night before. The morning after it was 13.74NOK a litre! Was it a bank holiday tax relief thing? Who knows. Enlighten us if you do. I’d wanted a haircut so we found a place in a mall. I explained I just wanted a basic clipper cut, all one length… £40!!! So we found a cheaper looking barbers around the corner, and they wanted £25! Didn’t get a haircut. We were in need of the essentials – Shower, clothes wash, internet updates – so we stopped at Tromso Camping. Really nice modern and well thought-out camp site. The internet was fast fibre and covered the entire site, the showers were great, BUT a clothes wash and dry was 100NOK – like £8! Sharon nearly passed out. We did it anyway. Sharon managed to give me a haircut using her fingers and my beard trimmers! It wasn’t bad but a proper cut will be needed in future. Whilst cooking our tea in the kitchen block a young German guy came in with his camera, tripod and all the gear. We talked a bit about the northern lights etc. He moaned about the same cloud I was moaning about earlier!
Weds 30th We decided to stay another night at Tromso camping and locked the truck up and took a walk towards Tromso Centre. Walking though some of the residential streets this time of year it looks filthy as the snow piled up to the sides of the road is covered in grit and road grime. The kerb stones seem to be granite and most look like they have been heavily damaged by snow ploughs, leaving gravel/chippings everywhere. Unless they put the gravel down on the footpaths for grip? We passed the Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Cathedral), walked over the Tromso Bridge on the wrong side (cycle side) oops… and took a walk around town. Tromso is nice, a mix of old funky buildings and modern shopping or office blocks. Not many places to park a truck 2.5m tall though. Found the ‘Bastard Bar’ but it was closed, so went to the Hunsk Bar above it instead. English customers inside playing chess, with missing chess pieces replaced with beer bottle caps haha. Sharon had heard about a car ferry to Harstad, thinking it might be a nice break from driving and a sort of ‘Tight Overlanders Fjord Cruise’ so we went to check it out. Great idea, except that in the winter they only run that ferry at 1:30am… We supposed it might be good to see the northern lights from, but, good luck photographing it on a moving ship! Sacked that idea off and went for an expensive and admittedly undeserved burger! Walked back to the campsite and watched some Walking Dead.
Thursday 31st March was an admin day, photo and video uploading, facebook updates. It takes a long time!
Friday 1st April we woke to glorious sun. We even got the chairs out and had breakfast outside! I checked the fluids and wheel bearings etc and found some play in the driver’s front – but it was on the swivel pin not the bearing. Removed a shim and the play was gone. Hope I did the right thing! Also adjusted the fuelling as we’ve been giving off a bit of black smoke. Seems better but lost a tiny bit of ‘go’. No smoke no poke as they say. Shaz moved the cupboard contents around in the back as some gear ended up being inaccessible when the bed was set up. So the food and ‘stuff’ cupboards swapped around. Much better. Ended up with even more room for food which made Shaz’s day.
Headed off down the E8 with our next destination being the Lofoten Islands. The roads sucked on the way though, the landrover is really susceptible to camber in the road, if the road drops to the right, the truck likes to go right.. On the way out of Tromso the road had sudden camber drops where the edge of the road was subsiding, and drastic camber changes mid corner which made keeping it in our lane a good game!