After leaving Copenhagen we slept in a service area, and continued down the E45 and then to the A7 into Germany. We stopped at an Aldi in Germany and got over excited by the lower price of food. We even had avocado gasp emoticon
I had arranged to meet with Kal, an old friend from Leeds who’d recently moved to Hamburg, so we got his address details and met him at his apartment. We managed to park the truck right outside, visible from the room we were sleeping in so I was happy! It was great to catch up with Kal, we went out for Vietnamese food which was nice but Kal paid cash and the waitress helped herself to a hefty tip – instead of bringing back the change she popped it straight into her purse! Shaz and Kal were not having any of this haha. The waitress did still end up with a decent tip though, but a voluntary one! We had a couple of beers back at the apartment, sleeping on his comfy couch.
We had planned to leave after getting breakfast with Kal in the morning as he had some friends flying in in the afternoon, but instead pinched some of his cereal and went out sightseeing with Kal. We saw the typical sights of Hamburg including climbing the steps up the St Michaels Church tower (wasn’t keen on the height but if I can handle Preikestolen…) had a coffee at starbucks and had a good walk around the city. It was mainly chucking it down with rain, and having spent the last few years in Dubai, Kal was not impressed and by the time he’d ended up having to buy an umbrella I think he was close to just jumping in a cab heading for the airport! He battled through though and we decided to go with him to meet his friends who had just arrived.
At the Radisson where they were staying, it was still our plan to say hello then make our way back to the truck and push on. But ‘Big Ni Hao’ as she was known bought us all beers and started making plans for a night out. Within about 10 seconds it was clear we were not leaving and Shaz and I were very happy to gatecrash their night out.
We made our way across town heading for the St Pauli area of Hamburg and were surprised to see lots of police presence around, as we approached St Pauli the police presence was unbelievable, what seemed like hundreds of police vans, riot trucks, water cannons and armoured vehicles either lining the streets or driving in huge convoys, lights and sirens blasting! Turns out it is the annual Schanze Riots, I quick google suggested it was a historic protest of right wing vs left wing but in more recent times had turned into something more meaningless and violent. Some video’s showed petrol bombs, burning cars and violent clashes with police! We stopped for food at a pub and then started bar hopping. At one point, we could hear a lot of commotion and went outside, we could see a long line of riot police advancing steadily away down one of the main streets – but didn’t witness any violence.
The beers flowed and we ended up in some crazy bar, blasting German singalong pub music, it was hilarious and we had a great time. Toward the end of the night we were in a dance club that was packed and still having a blast. I think we drank too much beer though, and Shaz and I sloped off about 1:30am getting a taxi back to Kals flat.
Sunday, the morning after, all 3 of us were a little worse for wear. Sharon perhaps more so. Kal and I went out for coffee and let Shaz get another hours rest before bring her back a cappuccino. We headed back out into town as it was supposed to be the main riot day, but aside from some strange people trying to be antisocial, but just looking like douches, it was quiet. Turns out the previous night was the main event and it had been much more subdued than previous years. The weather however was glorious, 21C! We stayed out most of the day, having ice creams, coffees and dinner out. We got back to Kals early evening and he convinced us it was pointless to leave, might as well get a good nights sleep and leave early in the morning as he would be up anyway for work. Kal had an early night and Shaz and I jumped onto the metro into town and had a late dinner.
Monday morning Kal was up early for work, we said our goodbyes and got ourselves ready. Had breakfast at the same café Kal and I had been to the morning before, then hit the road in the truck and headed for Calais.
Cheers Kal it was a blast mate smile emoticon
We did 500k that day and made it almost to Belgium, sleeping in a secluded car park in a really posh area on the outskirts of Breda. We booked the Eurostar. Sad frown emoticon
Tuesday we made it to Calais and we were allowed on to an earlier train. We battled with ourselves trying to understand why we were going back. But we have plans to go to Canada/USA, we want to make changes to the truck and a few other reasons added up to make it sensible to go home. 30 mins later we were back on British soil.
We worked our way along the south coast, Dover, Brighton, then calling in on friends Lisa and John in Yeovil, then Anna and James in Penzance, before the slog back up north to home, Mold. My mum had waited up to meet us!
7700miles, 62 days, 8 countries. Why aren’t we still out there???
To be continued..
Thurs morning, after free coffee, we crossed the famous Oresund bridge for around £35 and then drove into Copenhagen. It was chucking it down with rain and hail. We were almost tempted to just skip it and drive on, but hung around enough to find the weather eased off and took a walk around Copenhagen. Its lovely, we only put 2 hours on the parking ticket and it wasn’t enough, we ended up racing around the city and getting back to the truck a few minutes late. Probably our favourite city so far though, we think we will have to revisit on a proper city break holiday in the future. We left Copenhagen pretty much in rush hour, and after about 30 mins of queuing we just pulled off the road and made a brew, chilled and read, until the traffic eased and we could continue.
In Oslo our first stop was (surprise!) IKEA. Free coffee and a bit of internetting before heading into the City. We got to Frogner Park and parked in the car park. I popped some coins in to the ticket machine and it jumped from 2 hours to overnight parking! We took a walk through the park, quite busy with runners, cyclists, students and tourists. Lots of weird statues of naked men, women and babies. Many of the female statues had clear ‘wear’ marks on the boobs and bums haha
It was getting dark and rather than hunt around for somewhere to sleep we just stayed in the car park! Was a little noisy in the night with students and revellers but I didn’t think it was too bad.
Next morning (Tues) turns out it was that bad, and Shaz didn’t get much sleep, with the noise and worrying about all the car theft warning signs… I slept like a log which is unusual!
We got moving before the ticket ran out at 9am and headed for the Opera House. Bit of a nightmare to negotiate the city and find parking but we managed to take a walk in, around and on the opera house. Interesting building, made seemingly out of marble but with different textures applied such as polishing, stippling and grooving.
We drove down to a harbour area where huge cruise liners were being painted, sharing the docks with old wooden shops.
We then headed to some museums, Shaz and I walked around the Viking ship museum and then I did the Fram museum on my own, as I’d found the whole Amundsen/Scott/Shackleton stuff pretty interesting. I didn’t have enough time to do the Fram museum properly, it’s pretty big with the buildings built around Fram and the Gjoa boats and multiple floors.
After a drive around we left Olso with the intention of visiting Alex and Linda again in Gothenburg. We were in need of showers and we wanted to be visitors at Alex’s, rather than ‘service users/abusers’ so we found a place off the motorway at the Swedish border that had pay shower blocks.
We pulled up and just as we were getting our shower gear together a Chinese tour bus arrived. They piled off and were very interested in the Landrover, posing with it for photos and chatting to me whilst Shaz tried to carry on getting things ready!
Inside the shop that managed the showers it was heaving with the Chinese tourists and the very odd silver-haired playboy that ran the place knocked the shower price down to 4NOK’s as we were sharing but insisted on taking our keys as insurance against the shower block keys. Did not want to do it but as we were only going to be in the showers for 10-15 mins I thought it would be ok.
10-15 mins later, we emerged from the shower block to find the shop in darkness, closed, tourists gone. Just a couple of migrant workers smoking crumpled/bent cigarettes. Banged on the door, no one there! One of the guys hanging around waived his hand across the road shouting ‘buss, buss!’ and Shaz saw someone who looked liked our Swedish Stringfellow jump on the bus and it left immediately.
What followed was 30 mins of red mist and swearing, that nearly culminated in us going and getting the keys ourselves using the large crowbar we had in the truck (still had shaz’s keys so not locked out thankfully!)
The restaurant next door was open and the guy inside explained that Hefner actually lived above the shop, and would probably be back soon. Eventually a bus turned up and the douchbag got off, apologising profusely claiming he ‘saw his bus home’ (but you live above the shop?) and ran for it and got on before remembering us and getting the next bus back. Very strange. Inside the shop, I saw that at least he hadn’t taken our keys with him so I expressed my displeasure before leaving.
We were now too late to arrive at Alex’s at a decent time so we let him know and agreed to meet in the morning. Slept in a quiet carpark in a small town about 20k’s outside Gothenburg.
Weds morning we headed down into Partille where Alex’s place is, to a mall to get some breakfast to take to Alex’s. Ended up with some filthy pastries... Took them over to Alex’s to find they’d been trying to avoid eating too many carbs. Oops! You can always start again tomorrow… Linda and the kids weren’t there and we were sad to have missed them but it was good to catch up with Alex again and chat about our trip over coffee and cake.
At Alex’s we’d been laughing about how paranoid we were about security, in a part of the world where up north people feel safe enough not to lock their doors. After saying our goodbyes we went back to the mall to stock up on some food. Pulled into the overflow car park to find some poor chap standing next to a car with a pile of broken glass and blankets. Spoke to him and he had just got back to his car to find it broken into and his laptop amongst other things stolen. Paranoia reinstated, we drove to the busier main car park and parked in front of the entrance!
Back on the road again we headed for Malmo and ultimately towards the Oresund bridge back to Denmark. Of course we ended up stopping at an Ikea, and ended up sleeping in the car park there!
After Stavanger and Sverd I Fjell (Sunday) we got up and whilst stretching my legs outside I noticed some grease had been sprayed across one of the rear wheels. Jacked up to check and found the drive member bolts were loose! The gasket was mashed so I stripped it down and put a new gasket on. Checked all the other wheels for good measure and nipped them all up a little tighter to be sure :-S
Hit the road to bright sun, and heavy snow, simultaneously. Weird!
I contacted Ragnar, from the facebook group Landrover Camping Norway and we arranged to meet in his hometown Risor, which was on our way. We met up in a large carpark on the edge of Risor and we took a walk in to town with Ragnar and his huge Rottweiler! It was a lovely sunny day, and Risor was beautiful with its harbour and white houses. They pretty much all have to be white according to town law, to keep the appearance. It was really quiet too, which was soon to change as according to Ragnar the town gets packed with tourists and even the Norway’s prime minister has a holiday home here!
After a stroll around town Ragnar suggested we take a look at the fort up on the hills. We followed Ragnar out of town and saw another grey landrover on the way! Ragnars friend’s truck. He was nowhere to be seen so I parked next to it for a cheeky photo. It must have been an older series truck with some mods as it was still on leaf-spring suspension. Cool though! We continued up to the fort, a place that was originally home to Norwegian Marines, but was taken over by the Nazi’s in World War 2. Now it’s an area to walk and cycle and enjoy the country side, a really nice setup with toilet cabins and public barbeque, and up the hill most of the trenches and bunkers still accessible.
Ragnar knew of a few great places for us to camp but as we wanted to get a few more k’s in towards Oslo he took us for a coffee on the way out of town and pointed us in the direction of cheap diesel! After a free refill we said our goodbye’s and headed north on the E18. Thanks Ragnar, it was a pleasure meeting you and we really appreciate you taking the time to show us around.
Shortly after leaving Risor in the evening sun, it started snowing! Within about 5 minutes there was an inch of slush on the roads and lorries passing on the other carriageway blasted our windscreen with waves of it! It did ease off though and turned to rain.
We took a detour off the main route and headed for a medieval wooden church, we got about 100k’s into the drive before it started to get dark and we stopped in quiet layby/carpark for a fishing area.
Next morning (Monday 25th) we got up and continued towards the church. Fuel is cheapest on a Sunday evening/Monday morning but its not an exact science. Cheapest we saw was 9.5NOK a litre, which is about 80p! Most we’ve paid is 13NOK (£1.10) but mostly we’ve paying between 10-11.5 NOK) so its been a lot cheaper than we expected for the most expensive country ever.
We made it to the Heddal Skavkyrke and it was raining and the church covered in scaffolding! (why is there always scaffolding wherever you go?!) After taking a look around we made our way for the E134 and headed for Oslo.