Roger didn’t want another long holiday, with a lot of driving, in the campervan, so my close friend Felicity Lawson came with me instead. We were away for three and a half weeks. This was my seventh time in Norway, but Felicity’s first.
Unfortunately, there are no longer any direct ferries from England to Norway, which meant a long four day journey with two ferry crossings and driving through Holland, Germany and Denmark, before we set foot in Norway – and the same coming back! But at least we were able to stay with Hans Martin and Sabine both ways as they live near Hamburg just two miles off the motorway.
We drove 3,500 miles in total, less than half of which was actually in Norway. We drove as far north as Trondheim where we stayed with our old friends, Kåre and Gunnvor Sekkesæter. They also took us to their hytte (cabin) in Trollheimen for three days. We had a lovely day trip (northern green route) with them and other friends Kjell Ivar, Eldbjørg and Bjørg. We spent two nights near Bergen so that we could go on the famous “Norway in a Nutshell” day tour travelling on trains, coach and boat (southern green route).
The early summer weather was mixed – some lovely hot, sunny days and some rainy days with gales. We ‘camped wild’ three nights, driving north through central Norway and returning south along the west coast.
Hans Martin and Sabine took us for a walk when we arrived and, the next day, to the Hamburg Sunday Fish Market (which now sells much more than just fish) where we had breakfast before setting off to drive 330 miles north through Germany and Denmark to Hirtshals.
After a night on a campsite in Hirtshals, we finally went on a ferry to Norway – on the fourth day since leaving home!
It was a wonderful experience from this point onwards – such a contrast to the monotonous drive through the lowlands of northern Europe. There was a new surprise or treat waiting for us round every corner – and with so few straight roads, there were thousands of corners to negotiate! No wonder there is a national speed limit of 50mph.
Here are some glimpses of Norway – it was all so beautiful that it has been hard to choose so few photos out of the hundreds we took!
And then we arrived in Trondheim, with its fjord, river and canal, surrounded by hills with wonderful views. We stayed with Kåre and Gunnvor in their apartment overlooking the town and Trondheimfjord.
Although Trondheim feels so far north, it is only about a third of the way up Norway! We had first stayed with Kåre and Gunnvor and their four children in 1984, when all our children were aged between 8 and 16. They also have a hytte (cabin) in Trollheimen (south of Trondheim) which they always take us to.
Trondheim is the third largest city in Norway and is situated on Trondheimfjord. It was founded in 997 by the first King Olav and was the capital of Norway for centuries. Most of its wooden houses were destroyed by fire in 1681. Kåre and Gunnvor showed so much of the city in two days.
We visited Nidaros Cathedral on Saturday and went to Mass on Sunday. Since the Reformation, it has been an Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was built over the grave of of the King and Saint, Olav II, who was responsible for the spread of Christianity in Norway in the 11th Century. Every king since then has been crowned in Nidaros. For centuries, it was a place of pilgrimage, the main route starting in Oslo, 400 miles away. In 1997, the Pilgrims’ Way was reinstated to celebrate Trondheim’s millennium and is now recognised internationally. We often crossed the Pilegrimsleden on our travels.
Gunnvor and Kåre took us to their lovely hytte in the mountains, surrounded by meadows full of flowers and small birch trees, for a few days. We had a lovely walk, listening to cuckoos and willow warblers. We saw a Ural Owl flying low around the hytte. It never got dark!
We all met up with Kjell Ivar, Eldbjørg and Bjørg who took us on a long sightseeing tour in the county of Møre og Romsdal, with stunning views of mountains and fjords, lakes and rivers, snow and waterfalls, old wooden houses and barns. We passed through the towns of Sunndalsøra, Ålesund, Dombås and Oppdal.
Felicity and I left our friends and started our journey back to the south……
Sadly, we missed the best of the wonderful views of the Atlanterhavsveien (Atlantic Road, joining many little islands to coastal communities south of Kristiansund) because of low clouds and rain as we made our way over spectacular bridges and causeways to Runde Island south of Ålesund. There were some glimpses of sunshine when the strong winds cleared the clouds briefly. We had hoped to walk up to the top of the cliffs to see the seabird colonies (including thousands of puffins) for which Runde is famous, but it wasn’t safe because the wind was dangerously strong. It even felt as though it would blow the campervan over in the night! But we did see the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen.
The weather was very stormy as we continued southwards although when the sun broke through the black clouds, there were spectacular views.
We were thrilled to “stumble” across the Stone Age rock carvings (made 6,000 years ago) at the renowned site of Ausevik between Florø and Stavang.
We stayed near Bergen for two nights so that we could go on the spectacular “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. We took a local bus and tram into Bergen to join the tour, which involved:
- train from Bergen (sea level) to Voss
- coach down a steep, scary road (Stalheim – 370m high) with so many hairpin bends to Gudvangen, back at sea level
- boat down Nærøyfjord and up Aurlandsfjord to Flåm
- special train from Flåm (sea level) up to Myrdal in the mountains (865m high and maximum incline of 55%)
- train from Myrdal back to Bergen
Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord are extensions of Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord which reaches a staggering 130 miles inland from the sea and is 1,300m (>4,000ft) at its deepest!
We continued south, across Hardangerfjord, taking a slight diversion to visit another Stave church at Røldal.
It rained on and off all day, especially as we drove up over the mountains between Håra and Sauda along a very narrow road with many hairpin bends. We passed a long articulated lorry with great difficulty and wondered how he would ever get round the tight bends. I collected some snow at the top which I brought back (in the little freezer) for Amelia who added blackcurrant juice to it – she asked me when I was going back to Norway to get her some more!
We got the ferry from Kristiansand back to Denmark on a lovely evening, 21st June. We watched the sun set over the sea on the solstice.
It took us another four days travelling back through Denmark, Germany and Holland to get home! We stayed again in Grosshansdorf with Hans Martin and Sabine, who took us for a walk and to another market.
We arrived back in Harwich, which was surprisingly attractive, especially with a wonderful sunset.
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