Saturday 25th August
So our plan for this week has been to wander our way down the coast of Northern Norway, experiencing the magic that has been advertised.
Unfortunately this has been spoilt somewhat by the crappy weather, we havnt seen the sun until this afternoon and we are now in Trondheim and approx 900km south. And just when we think it may be looking up its started raining here as well.
Anyway the wet week that was, leaving our pet Reindeer on Monday morning we made our way south winding our way around massive Fjords to the coastal peninsular of Thomso. This town has the port that is essentially the base port for the Arctic region servicing specifically for exploration and science.
We are well used to tunnels now, Norways ones are very different, they go uphill, they go downhill, they always have corners in them but the one at Tromso is a surprise, the city center effectively straddles quite a large hill and the city planners in their wisdom have reduced the “slidey icey road risk” but putting a tunnel through the hill, but wait not a single tunnel in a straight line but a whole tunnel complex including 4 roundabouts linking the town together.
A couple of architectural standouts here are the Cathedral and the Polar Museum which are designed as fallen over Icebergs. Did the wander around on Tuesday morning in freezing rain including the polar museum. Quite focused on the Impact that plastic waste is having on the polar region with what they are believing to be another “plastic Island” developing along with quite a continuing reduction in the icecap, more so on the North American side than the eastern European.
With parking running out at 2,30 we retraced our tracks back to Storfjord before turning south again and heading to a lovely spot at Bjerkvik at the start of the Lofoten Route. Stopping here gave us the opportunity to do a weather check for the rest of the week before heading out onto the Islands. We have had a spell of sunshine for about an hour so hopes are high.
Unfortunately before leaving Tromso we have had to replace the leisure battery in Miss Stella, it finally gave up the ghost last night with a “fully charged battery” dying with about 1/2hrs use of 1 inside light, we can survive in the dark and the fridge is gas etc so not the end of the world but a charged battery is needed to run the ignition on the water heater and the fan on the “inside gas heater” yes we have had to use this again lately. This battery has been terminal from the start of the trip when we accidently ran on 230volts with the polarity of the van around the wrong way, so it is an expected cost, its just a bugger it happened in Norway and not somewhere cheap like Germany.
The following morning the weather is worse if that is possible with absolutely crap visibility, so a big decision to continue on the mainland and head down Highway 17 instead, So another long day driving to Bodo however the amazing scenery made it worth while. I think we saw just about every part of the Kaikoura Coast, the Lewis Pass and Milford Sound in one trip only 10times bigger both in height and intensity.
After a night in Bodo we setout on the Helgeland Coastal Route, a 650 Km long trip down through the islands off this coast interlinked by about 6 ferry crossings ranging between 10 mins to 1 hour long.
Not long out of Bodo however is the Saltstraumen Maelstrom, this is the worlds strongest tidal current and is caused by 400 million cubic metres of water flowing through the 3km long and 150m wide strait at a speed of up to 20 knots.
Absolutely incredible to see the power of tidal water like this and the crazy whirlpools and currents it creates, amazing fishing evidently.
Another couple of hours on and 1 ferry crossing the amazing Engenbreen Glacier appeared across the lake we were driving around. This is Norways second largest glacier and covers an incredible 370 sq kms. Once again the effects of glacial retreat are very evident, most of the tourist photos show the glacial face at the waters edge however in realaity it is probably 150mtres back up the hill.
The rest of the day filled with more amazing scenery between rain showers, tunnels and ferry crossings, not huge km posted today and the day ended up on the side of the road with incredible views out to the islands surrounding Trumna.
It is now Saturday and we are sick of this bloody weather. We are going to chase sunshine today so after the next ferry crossing from Nesna to Lenang we leave the coast and head inland to the E6, the main north/south road through Norway with our aim being to reach Steinkjer tonight or sunshine which ever comes first.
More amazing scenery today following rivers down through the center of Norway with Hydro power coming out your ears.
Massive new bridges and tunnels continue being built
However we are fast finding out the true cost of travelling Norway, the shear size for a start eats Diesel, then the ferries cost and the roads are tolled as well, no apparent system behind this just everynow and then you pass a piece of road or a tunnel that is tolled. Total cost to date ( Saturday night) in Tolls and Ferries for the past 2 days is close to 600NZ dollars. 18 tunnels yesterday and 12 today, longest 11km, and they are still building them.
Norway is an incredibly wealthy country with huge income from mining, oil and gas. Talking around wages are very hill but the cost of living is as well (Diesel = around $3.10/l).
This afternoon has seen the landscape change, the valleys have widened and farms have gotten bigger and bigger, by the number of milk tankers we have seen obviously a lot of dairy farms around. Difference to NZ is that there are no cows to be seen they are all inside barns with cut and carry feed, (and this is summer). We have seen quite a lot of small mobs of sheep and in the more mountainous regions earlier on they essentially roam free, quite regularly see ewes with lambs at foot just sitting on the side of the road.
By late this afternoon we are back into arable country with crops waiting to be harvested, heading straight past Steinkjar and on towards Trondheim more and more both arable and pig/beef sheds and dairy farms. It is now fine in this part of the world and an amazingly warm 15 degrees outside, and they are combining cereals. ( not that fast mind you and the uneven piles of straw show clearly its pretty marginal conditions).
So we have reached Trondheim tonight and parked up with lots of other MOHO’s in the city Stellplatz, on power so everything is getting charged up.