Aaargh! Back on the road. Not up to date with blog posts and photos! Stress!
We are back on the road. Cold start in the UK hanging round outside of London waiting for our Russian visas whilst all the cold snow stuff was going on. We got the visas! Crossed into France and we will be making our way south into Spain, Morocco before coming back into Europe and heading eastwards, to Russia!
There will now be a flurry of albums/posts uploaded to bring us up to date. Shaz and I have just had a chat and agreed that A. we need to slow down and give ourselves time to do the photo/facebook/blog updates and B, get over it and make time to do the blog updates as what are we moaning about not having enough time?? Knobs...
Updatio fawr iawn ...
I might have mentioned before that we want to ship our truck to Canada. Canada does not like wood to be imported, as it can contain pests. So we've rebuilt the back of the truck, removing all pine/timber and replacing it only with engineered plywoods - which are accepted as pest-proof by the Canadian food standards agency.
I also replaced the electrics box. The other box was ok, but it was quite deep, and meant we couldn't fit the doors on the top cupboards as they caught the things installed in the front of the box. Also, all the toggle switch proved to be a bit of a head and eye risk, sticking out both Shaz and I both caught ourselves on the big metal switches. So the new box is thinner, and all switches are push button and flush as possible. It also means I can fit the doors, if we want them.
In the pics below are how it looks now - its not 100% finished. And its messy as I hate clearing up after myself until I know its all done (or ever, really haha). I've added some detail and a pic of me 'standing' and sitting, to help out a guy on Instagram who's wondering how much room there is inside.
Measurements of note are:
Height added by the high top (vs standard defender roof) 300mm
Bed length 1980mm
Bed width 1460 (at narrowest point)
Height from bed/seat to ceiling 1000mm
Height from ceiling to the top of the side panel (that has the sliding windows in it) ~450mm
Me - I am 5' 9" tall!
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.
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!