We hit the road just after 9.30 with a destination of Oslo however before that we had to contend with the border crossing and how to pay our toll. We were advised by a couple of Swedes to cross the border using the Svinesund bridge instead of the main highway the E6. They said that the crossing was not as busy and we were less likely to be stopped. We needn’t have worried. It was an automatic toll and not a customs person to be seen. We continued on to our home for the next two nights through about 20kms of tunnels and 238 kroner ($38.96) in tolls. We are about 10kms out of Oslo and the drive up the mountain to the Stellplatz was awesome with views back to Oslo and the water below us. We are parked across the road from a small ski field with the local swimming hole on one side and the forest on the other. After lunch we had a hike through the thickly wooded area, past pretty ferns and wild flowers, keeping our eyes open for a stray musk elk on what was a circle course. We ended up at the train station, which was part of the plan to check out timetables and fares for tomorrow. Luckily we asked the train driver what zone we were in as we had worked our fare out to be 144 NKR ($23.57) each when in actual fact it was 64 ($10.47)! The rest of the afternoon was spent working more on our route north and relaxing.
After breakfast we headed to the train station to purchase our two tickets for the inward journey however the machine gave us three tickets which meant we only had to buy one for our return trip. That saved us 32 NKR ($5,23) so a good start to the day. The train trip down the mountain was just beautiful. As it wound its way down we had views over the fjords and into Oslo, passing lovely wooden houses with grass roofs as well as part of the fir forest. Once out of the station, we headed to the Oslo opera house which was designed to resemble a glacier floating in the waters off Oslo. It also afforded us views over the harbour and the cruise ship that was moored. We walked through the main shopping precinct where a lot of the shops had stalls outside in the mall selling some of their stock at reduced prices. We visited the Oslo Cathedral which had a very colourful painted ceiling and then stopped to eat our lunch next to the town hall which is where the Nobel Peace prize is awarded each year. We passed some beautiful buildings on our way to the Royal Palace and gardens where we walked around the gardens before heading back to the train and home.
We were headed to Drammen on the main road out of Oslo heading towards a major tunnel. Almost at the entrance a sign said the tunnel was closed! What to do now? We put on the hazard lights and started looking for an alternate route on our map when a nice Norwegian gentleman pulled over, got out of his car and helped Dave with directions to another road that would take us back onto the Drammen road and eventually to Kongsberg where we stopped for a cuppa and a walk. Just outside of town we left the main road and took the Rv37 to our next destination through some stunning alpine scenery past lakes, small towns and our first glimpse of snow on the peaks in the distance. We arrived at the Tinnelva fjord and have the place to ourselves. Our view is straight up the fjord and we are surrounded by pre alps with small houses on each side of the fjord. We had a short walk around the tiny village before sitting outside for most of the afternoon taking in the view on a sunny day.
We travelled almost the full length of Tinnelva fjord before turning off onto the road that takes you to the carpark for the hike to Gausta, Norway’s most beautiful peak. The drive up to the carpark was an adventure in itself with winding roads past thick beds of snow and flocks of sheep on the road. The hike to the summit is said to take about 3.5 hours but as we rolled into the carpark, so did the clouds which would restrict the view on the climb and at the summit. We decided to hold off on the climb until tomorrow hoping for better weather, however we did walk around a couple of the lower ridges for views over the fjord below us past several waterfalls fed by the melting snow. We spent some of the afternoon watching the view change with the weather before clouds, heavy rain and a total whiteout put a stop to that. Looks like we made the right decision to postpone our hike!
Mt Gausta stands at 1883 metres and on a clear day you can see 1/6 of Norway. It rained for most of the night and when we got up all the bad weather had passed and we had glorious sunshine. On with the trekking boots after breakfast and we headed off at the start of the hike from the carpark at 1100 metres on what turned out to be a 5 hour hike. Although the guide books say it is an easy hike, it is difficult in parts climbing over rocks and with snow still on the ground in places but the view from the summit was well worth the effort. A 360° view over the fjords and mountains ranges all around on what fortunately was a very clear day. The hike down is always easier and we were surprised at how many people were on their way up as we were coming down at 12.30! Given it doesn’t get dark here until after midnight, they have plenty of daylight in which to complete the hike, just hope the weather holds out for them as it changes very quickly.
We always knew that the scenery in Norway is some of the best in the world and today confirmed it tenfold. After leaving our spot at Mt Gausta we hit the Rv37 again travelling for 70 odd kilometres winding our way through snow capped hills, valleys and fjords stopping for the odd sheep herd that decided the warmth of the road surface was where they were going to sleep! We left the Rv37 to join the Rv38, the Rv45 and then the Rv9 through a huge gorge drive with more fjords, snow capped mountains and waterfalls along the way, another of the many spectacular drives we have travelled so far. At one point the view from the road at 100s of metres high above the fjord below gave us a breathtaking view not only of the fjord but of the whole valley. There are many dumping and filling stations along the way, all free which makes wild-camping extremely easy. We are now parked beside the Otra fjord at the Honnevje badeplass just near Valle. Our view today is of a sheer rock face to our left, water (of course) at the base of the rock face and in front of us forests and snow spotted mountains to our right. We had a small walk around the badeplass (swimming area) where there is a little waterfall before settling in for the afternoon.
The view this morning over the water was beautiful with a mirror image of the trees and surrounding mountains reflected on the still water and the sound of the waterfall rushing down the valley. We had our breakfast outside at one of the picnic tables still pinching ourselves at how lucky we are to be having this adventure. On our drive today still travelling the Rv9, we didn’t know where to look first, with the mountains and fjords as our companions. To say the scenery was stunning is an understatement and we would highly recommend this section of road from Honnevje to the Reiårsfossen waterfall to anyone coming to Norway. The waterfall was quite a sight also, thundering down the mountainside from about 100 metres above us.
We left the Rv9 to eventually travel on the Rv460 with scenery quite different from earlier on. We still had mountains and fjords however both were smaller. Passing these we hit rural Norway with lots of farms and a variety of livestock. Our stop today is about 23km from the southern most point in Norway and we have the North Sea as our outlook for the afternoon. We had a small walk around the bay before coming back to admire the view. Today is Midsummer (summer solstice) throughout Scandinavia which has been celebrated for hundreds if not thousands of years. The little town we are in have a huge bonfire built ready to light tonight. The residents gathered at the hall next door at 6 for a picnic then at 8 they lit the bonfire. It took a while to catch as it rained a bit in the afternoon, but once it took it was huge and the heat from it was tremendous. We watched the kids play a game where two planks of wood are laid on the ground with foot straps for 7, they then had to try and walk in it. Was very funny to watch. We stayed watching until the bonfire collapsed and headed home where we could see it from where we were parked. Very entertaining and how lucky were we to be parked right next door!
24th June – 26th June
Another fantastic day driving. First up we did a detour of 23k to the Lindesnes lighthouse at the southern most point in Norway. There has been a lighthouse here since 1655 and the one currently standing was built in 1915 (although I’m sure it has been upgraded since then!). While the weather was raining, we still walked up to it and climbed the stairs in it for a look out to sea. From there we travelled on the Rv44, supposedly one of Norway’s most scenic southern drives and it was. Rugged perpendicular cliffs, waterfalls, forests and fjords as you would expect but very different from what we have previously seen. We drove through a lot of tunnels on roads that wound their way through mountains of barren boulder dotted landscapes which was alien-like in places and well worth the drive. At our park for the night we again have views out to the North Sea and if we drove in a straight line across the water, we would hit Scotland eventually.
We continued on the Rv44 through slightly different scenery to yesterday although still thoroughly enjoyable to see. We managed to avoid the tolls eventually arriving at Lauvvik where we were to catch our first Norwegian ferry to Oanes across the Lysefjord. The journey only took 10 minutes costing 245 NOK ($38.95) which by Norwegian standards for our size Motorhome we thought wasn’t bad. 600 metres up the road from the ferry terminal is our home for the night parked right on the edge of the fjord which is a vivid aquamarine colour. We had a small walk up to a restaurant and spent the afternoon just sitting and again admiring the view towards Pulpit rock on one side (to be tackled tomorrow weather permitting) and the little town of Lysebotn on the opposite bank.
The rain started during the night and didn’t let up until after lunch so we had to postpone our hike to Pulpit rock. We drove further on around fjords to the small town of Jørpeland where we found a laundry, shower and toilet on the marina, so for $10 we got the laundry done and we were also able to charge the iPads and camera battery! We had a short drive to the carpark of pulpit rock to see if there were any wildcamping opportunities however all of the car parks were either pay ones or blocked off so we came back to Jørpeland and parked on the other side of where the laundry is with a view over the fjord. Only a short drive in the morning hopefully, fingers crossed for clear dry weather.
Clear weather, NO! So our hike to pulpit rock has been delayed again. It rained off and on all night and is still raining. We popped into the tourist office who have told us the weather tomorrow will be the best for the next few days so we are going to hang around hoping they are right. The rest of the day was spent back at the marina reading.