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NORWAY    DIARY  3

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From the northern Norway and Sweden, I now enters the southern part of Norway.
11/8.
The border is just marked by a single little sign on the real narrow road. The landscape is drastic; high mountains, wild rivers and rather unspoiled. My first target is 250 kilometres south, and despite the weather is not the best, I look forward for the tour.

Here are a few tiny timber huts with grass roof as the only buildings. Then a few farms join in, but vanish again, as the road gain height. It leads all the way up to the Höjfjellet. The lower parts have some crippled birch, the higher parts are almost barren rocks.

Here are numerous creeks and small waterfalls, and despite the drizzle, I have to walk a bit around, time and time again. But it is nice to get back to the car and its warmth.
The road descents again, and most trees are small birch, but not long after, the pines take over. The farms are back, with their grass fields and a few sheep.

The road follow the big river in the button of the valley, and sometimes right on the edge. The sun breaks through a few minutes, and everything start to look so great! Then I pass through the town of Steinkjer, and the landscape flattens out.

Now, here are many barley fields, some green, some yellow. The sun is back for real, and here are astonishing beautiful. I can only imagine how höjfjellet would look in sun! I reach the coast and some small harbours, but head on.

Outside Trondheim, I find the little village Hell. I drive in and get a picture of the station, and out again: "To hell and back". It might actually freeze over! And I will not pay more than €30 for a camp-side before that happens. The one I had lined up here, turn out to be way too expensive. Their little goopy cafeteria ask for €14 for vegetarian pizza - and others for that matter. And it is only with onion, cheese and tomatoes. I only see it on the way out, after I have ask for the reception, and found I won't eat here.

The GPS know another camp nearby, and I try. It is real nice, great showers and kitchen, and for €15. OK, I have to sit at the cosy reception to get Wi-FI, but here are warm and good armchairs. Höjfjellet, Middlefjellet, Central Norwegian farmland and HELL!

12/8. I am lured out of the car way to early by some glimpses of sun. It is not really steady, but I have a long drive, and it might gain strength. I follow the river Gaula on Rute 30, and it is a truly beautiful road. It winds it way through a narrow valley, and connects a lot of small wooden houses. If you only drive one road in Norway, make it this one.

Here are a bit of farmland outside Trondheim, but soon, it is only trees, nature and a bit of hay. The mountains get higher and barren on the top. The farms have small huts on short stilts for hay.
I see a lot of strange behaving Norwegians this Sunday: It is men, standing in cold water to their knees, waving a thin stick, to which they have tied a thin string. It might be some religious ceremony?

In Haltdalen, I spot an old Stave church, and behind it, a newer wooden one. Next short stop is at a bend at the Gaula river, where a waterfall thunders.
A bit further down the road, another waterfall and the old Eidet Bru is found. Again, I do a short walk, but it is a bit chill, and here are not that many interesting plants.

The sun get back, and suddenly, everything are motives. The old timber houses, the reindeer, the green hills, and then another old bridge; Bergan Bru from 1841. It crosses a smaller river, and I do a walk along it. It is so beautiful, and I don't bother getting soaked, just to enjoy the nature along it - but I don't get soaked.

Then I reach Røros, which should be a nice old town. Well, at first I see the wooden station and some wooden houses in the edge of town, and they are nice. Then I find a road leading pass some heavy horses up to some real old farm houses.

Around the bend, and I'm in the surprisingly large, old town. Here are almost exclusively wooden houses. Some timber houses, blackened by age is found along them. Here are several long parallel streets with shops, and on the other side of the river, even more old houses are found.

The wooden church is real wide and have two balconies on each side. Organs in both ends and some strange painted blue marble decorations. I get a latte while I wait for the sun to return. I see some more of the middle of town, although it is tempting to do it all again, now with sun on, but I head on without. If you only are going to see one town in Norway, this is the one to see. It is a bit more than 250 kilometres to Lom, and I would like to make it today.

The road now leads into a wilder area with steeper mountains. Here are a few flowering potato fields next to the farms, but else it is mainly hay they grow. I find Gl Brug Tolga; a strange old bridge in stone and wood.
Then there is a ski jump facility, which seems a bit strange this summer day.

I pass another valley with a lot of lush, green grass, then the road head up another mountainside. There are not fare to the snow, but the highest I get accordantly to a farmers sign, is 700 metes. But it might be more, as here are no official signs, and my GPS have stopped showing it.

I get close to the höjfjellet, but only a few moors and crippled birches show it close to the road. I stop to make a single photo of the rather great looking church of Dombås. The town is not really interesting, although most houses are wooden. But most are in more recent design.

The road now leads through some huge hills - or small mountains, overgrown with green grass and trees. Farms are scatted all over the area, way out on the fields. Then it get more rough, with barren rocks, narrow gorges and pines on the steep slopes.

A huge babyblue river follow the road for some time, before I turn off. I find a narrow gravel road, leading into the mountains. Here are old pines with grassing sheep under, Populus and other leaf trees. I do a bit of walking, but the temperature is low, despite the sun. Further more, here are only familiar plants.

I head into Lom, and find the famous Lom Stave Church. It is great looking, a bit like a Viking ship - and about from the same time: 1158-59. The town itself is like Dombås; wooden, but way to new to be interesting. And everything is about tourism here, it seems. I try two campsits, but they can't match the price I found a bit outside town.

I head back, but here are none at all. A sign say; find a spot, I'll be back later in the evening. Fine with me, except I would like some coins for the shower and the code for the Wi-Fi. I failed to find any fresh vegetables, as it is Sunday, but at least, I have cans enough still. A friendly man turns up at ten, and I have everything I need - except 10C extra for comfort. Route 30, Haltdalen, Eidet Bru, Bergan Bru, Røros, Gl Brug Tolga, Lom with Stave Church.

13/8. I'm in for quite a drive today, as I head all the way down to the south coast. 632 kilometres, estimated close to eight hours. Well, and usually 50% more time. However, I have promised my self: No photos of old houses today! I follow Route 51 at first, and it is absolutely astonishing!

A few kilometres after start, it head straight up the mountain - in a lot of bends. At first, it is through pine and other conifers, then it get more rough, and birch is the only tree managing it. Here are many small lakes, and the mirror effect is perfect.

The plan about not taking photos of huts fails completely - and I have 638 photos to prove it. Here are cows and sheep, the latter on the road. It seems like the fences are there to keep the sheep OUT of the fields.
It is a pity I drive south, as I'm going to have the sun in my face all day. Photos are just so much better with the sun in the back.

I reach the highlands, where the granite bedrock is smoothen by the ice, and plants have a hard time grapping ground. Further on, the snow still cover the peaks. The road leads over the high plateau; Valdreslflye, and the pass in 1.389 metres height.

From here, there are a spectacular view to the surrounding mountains. The road remain on the high plateau for a long time, and I get way too many photos of that as well. Amazingly enough, there are no wind at all up here, and all the lakes are prefect mirrors. I also try to capture the greatness of the entire area, but that is not possible in less than 20 square meter prints. There are huts on the photos, but you can't see them.

The road decent, and then I turn into E16. It is lower ground, but the views are just as great. More mirror lakes, now with pine trees around. At a crossroad, a sign is warning about the road is closed in the daytimes. Well, I don't know any other roads around here, and I want to go that way.

It is not really closed, they have just removed the surface of the road - about half a meter down. I wait for ten minutes, and they let me pass. The road start to decent even more, and on the edge, there are some great views to the lowlands.

Then the road leads through conifer forests and a few open meadows with grass. It soon meet the river, and they follow each other further down. Here are more and more houses, and then some factories. At first, timber is the only industry, but soon, other follows.

At noon, I have only driven 220 kilometres, and I realises; I won't make it today, unless I stop admiring the fantastic Norwegian nature. But that is why I'm here, and I keep looking at it. The mountains are real steep here. It might not be Chile or Argentina, but here are so great.

I reach an area with a lot of tunnels. I think I miss-read a sign, but the Lærdal Tunnel is actually 24,51 kilometre long! That is a long time to drive in a narrow two lane tube! Here are three widening, enlightened way more than the rest of the tunnel. The remind me of igloos. Actually. it is the longest car-tunnel in the world.

The next tunnel leads straight out on a huge bridge, crossing a fjord. Then it is straight into another tunnel on the other side. A third have roundabouts within the mountain! It is kind of exciting, but I rather be out in the open, looking at the nature. But t wintertime, it must be neat! Many of the tunnels are toll roads. It is either collected by automatic cameras and god knows how, or by a gismo in the car. Mine from the Danish bridge works. Today, I have spend at least €25, but it is hard to see the price tags on each.

I make it to the coast - although still in the deep fjords. Here are cruise ships, oil-platforms and marinas. Here have been so many waterfalls, but all way out on the other side of the fjords or in the shadow. When one finally is in the sun, and on my side, it is impossible to park, as everyone else came first.

I am still on E16, and the farmland, mirror lakes, fjords and old buildings keep coming. And as something new, lots of fruit plantations. The mountain sides along the fjord are too step for farming, but work fine with fruit trees. And the sea make the winters milder. Newer the less, the mountains on the other side of the fjord have still huge patches of snow left.

I now head into Route 13, but continues along the coastline - or fjords. The old houses have sledge roofs, and the stones are more than half a meter each way. Here start to be a few towns, but none really big.
I pass one giant fall, but have to give up parking anyway nearby. The next is Langfoss, and I manages to park, but getting a good picture is another case. The light is coming from the wrong side, and I give up.

I turn into E134, and some of the real impressive disappears. I figure I have seen enough for one day, and the target I have been aiming for all day, is just the start of a scenic coastal route. I am convinced, I will enjoy it way more in the morning. I start looking for a campsite. There have been so many all day, but now, they seems to be a bit scares.

The first one charges €25, and it don't even look fancy. The next must be cheap, but I fail to find someone who can tell me the price. One can't be found, but the drive out along the little coastal road is great. The road jumps from one island to the next by tall but narrow bridges. On one of the larger islands, there are what look like moor with juniper, heather and alike.

When I misses one hour in reaching my target - and start on the scenic route, I find a campsite. It is a working farm, and a but rough. Here are a couple of Dutch in tent, and later; two Danes turns out at one of the two huts. Swallows, cows and a distant sheep is the only sounds.

I found a Coop earlier, and stocked some fresh vegetables and eggs, and start deleting photos while I eat. A lot of them have "ghosts" on from the reflections in the car windows. A second bad thing about heading towards the sun. This is lowland, but it still turn a bit chill at ten. Route 51, Vandreslflye, E16 and Route 13.

14/8. Despite the late night, I get up early, and I'm ready to leave the camp, when the cows are let out to grass. It is only 80 kilometres to the first sight, but I had not expected a ferry. I wait six minutes, and drive on board. It leave instantly, despite here are quite some cars. But all drive on board at the same time, and people are use to it.

While I stand on the deck, trying to get a photo against the light, I see the Common Bottlenose Dolphin; Tursiops truncatus - unless it is The Harbour Porpoise; Phocoena phocoena. They are between the ferry and the harbour, and I only manages to get some surprisingly sharp pictures of, where they just were. Anyway; a great experience.

20 minutes on the sea, I'm on the other side of the fjord, but I have a hard time telling what is islands and what is mainland. Fjords cut into the mainland, islands are connected by not only bridges, but also tunnels. They lead down for some time, then levels out and then a ascent to the surface.

Each island are different. One have big white and smooth boulders with grass around, one is covered in moor, one is farmland with green grass and one is covered in almost black boulders. I get in to the mainland at one point, and find the beginning of the scenic Route 44. Actually, the entire way here have been scenic.

It is named Nordsjøvegen, and runs along the southern coast of Norway. It is close enough, in some stretches, to view the sea. The first part is almost exclusively farmland. A lot of lush green grass for hay, but also some yellow barley and wheat fields, of which many have been harvested by now. 

If it wasn't for the occasional barren bedrock, it could be Denmark. I fail to see how this should be so scenic? Then the bedrock take over the scene, partly covered in heather and juniper. That make it scenic! And mirror lakes, small barren mountains and tiny wooden huts - now I get it.

I have the sun in my face, and don't get to take many (good) photos, but it is a great drive. Then I head inland to find a special bridge. Before long, I see another old granite bridge, and head into a bus stop - as parking always causes problems on these narrow roads.

As I jump out of the car, a police officer jumps out on the bus stop on the other side, and eagerly pull another car in. I decide to skip this bridge for now... As  comfort, another one, just alike turns out a bit further up the road. It is the lovely Sokkatjønn Bru from 1842. But is could be 1642. Hard to tell.

Eventually, I get to the one I aimed for; Terland Klopp. It is the longest bridge of its kind; Stenhellebru, with its 60 metres. Where most bridges have arches, this is just large flat stones on top of 22 pillars. Despite it look so ancient, is was actually build in 1855, and that does explain how it remains so pristine. I spend some time jumping around the boulders in the river to get the right angle, while I wait for a bit of sun.

I should head back to Route 44, but I don't really feel like going back to the eager police officer. I find a shortcut over some mountains. A real narrow road, offering some astonishing views. High lakes, vertical peat mosses, waterlily-covered ponds, sheep that have gone awol, and run in a strange way - rather jumping. I have never seen that before, and it almost make me want to scare sheep another time.

I get out on Route 44 again, and now it is mostly barren rocks. The road leads around the deep and narrow Jøssingfjord. As so many other places in Norway, there are some WWII-thing. But besides from that, there are also Norway's largest natural shelter; Helleren. It is actually just a giant boulder with open room under. Two small huts are build here - shelters in a shelter?

The road leads into some narrow and steep gorges, and hairpins are narrow around here! The lakes must be deep, as the mountains on their sides are vertical.

Rather unimpressed, I head on towards Kristiansand. I had thought about seeing the botanical garden, but the absent of greenhouses and my stress, make it less attractive, and I skip it. I pass Kristiansand on the 220 kilometre drive towards Risør, and see their airport from the road. I drive on E39, and after the other roads, it is not impressive.

I stop at a gas station to get a new indicator bulb. The first one died while it rained, due to the lack of glass - lost in a mountainside in Albania. The bulb is orange, and none have noticed the lack of cover. I find the right bulb, and bring it to the cashier. She first read the hand-written price as 20 kroner (€3) - and I think that is a bit cheap, then she correct it to 206 kroner, and I loos interest. I find another one, without the whitish layer outside the orange, and get it for 65 kroner. I cover it with a plastic bag, and hope for the best - and sunshine.

I reach Risør, unaware it is was what I'm aims for, and I think; It might be a walk worth. Well, I park at the central square, and do a single loop around the pedestrian street, the church and a few other streets. It is pretty, but it kind of lack the charm. Here seems to be no real old houses, and all are so freshly painted.

I head on by a line of tunnels and bridges. Again, one suspension bridge leads right into a mountain side. One tunnel have several turn-offs within it. As I get closer to Stavanger, the mountains are covered in green conifers but yellow leaf trees. Especially the beech and oak seems to be totally dead. It turns out this area of Norway have been hit by drought just like Denmark, which experiences the driest summer in at least 187 years.

A sign show off to "Knuden" and I give it a try. It turns out to be a granite bridge from 1922. I'm glad it was just next to the road. Here are a lot of looped-squares-signs, but only with the name of the sight. It would have been nice with a pictogram and a distance too! I don't feel like driving 50 kilometres to get to a school- and church museum. Or a boulder with names of fallen soldiers.

At five, I start looking for a reasonable priced camp. I can get to the town of Staveren today, but I can also wait. The first one are fairly cheap for the tent. But add for the car - and one person - and the shower. I don't bother asking for the Wi-Fi. The next is below half, and nice on top of that. Real quiet, next to a lake - as most  camps,  and they have a beagle poppy. Nordsjøvegen, Sokkatjønn Bru, Terland Klopp, Jøssingfjord and Risør.

15/8. The GPS take half a day off, and I get to turn the wrong way down E18. It is a bit confusing a eastern bound road head west! Further more, there are signs for both Risør AND Kristainstad, although I should be between them. Eventually, I get the right way, and head for Staveren. It is well over a hour in pine forests, rocks and mirror lakes.

The tax office have been sending me another hate email -  the ones you can't reply on. At nine, I pull over, and give them a phone call. I sit in line for 20 minutes at €0,85 a minute. Half a hour later, I know it can't be solved by phone either. I have to get home to do it, and I will get a fine way higher than the amount, for not doing it in time. Not the best way to start the day.

The highway have been extended outside Staveren, and a sign say the turn-off is closed. That give me a detour of 30 kilometres on one of these roads the Brobizz (road-toll gismo) sounds like an alarm clock. Eventually, I get in to the town of Staveren, and should I describe it with one word, "disappointing" will be it.

It does have quite some wooden houses, but they are all so well maintained, and I doubt any are a hundred years old. It is too neat and clean - almost sterile. I do a short drive around, as I can't talk my self into feeding the parking meter €5. I do make some photos, but only to document; here is nothing to photo.

I park outside the centre - same price - but remain in the car and program the GPS, while I eat lunch; Biscuits. Then it is a 450 kilometre drive to next sight; another wooden town. However, this one is in Sweden and on route - kind of - to Uppsala.

I try to drive the same way back as I came, but now, one section is closed within the town, and I get to drive thought another old town; Larvik. It actually have more charm, despite the houses are covered in plaster. After some fumbling around, I follow the E18 pass Oslo, and then it turns into a puzzle of small roads before I get to the border. It is mainly farmland with a lot of forest mixed in, and quite alike what I have see so much of recently.
Later in the evening, the computer crashes after I transferred the photos from the camera, and I have not been able to recover all. The slideshow of
Staveren and Larvik turned out small!

Norway have been a great experience. It holds so much unspoiled nature and pretty farmland, and their wooden huts are so charming. It is real expensive, but should I win the big one in Lotto one day, I would like to return. I have driven 3304 kilometres in total, taken 3037 photos in total and spend €460. Diesel and road tolls the two biggest posts, followed by campsites. Food would have been huge expense, but I had stocked quite some previous.
From here, I head through central Sweden and then south.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3