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So here we are again, continuing our trip to Norway with Miss Limping-one. :)
The next day I woke up that my girlfriend was limping on one leg to the coffee maker to make herself a cup of coffee. I asked about her leg. She said that it's still hurting but she didn't want to see a doctor. Although we had (and always have) a travel insurance - for the cases like this - I think my girlfriend just didn't want to abort the whole trip.
We had a quick breakfast, then we packed the car and headed the nearest town, Östersund. I asked her again, is she really sure about not seeing a doctor, but she said that she will be fine. However wanted to go to a pharmacy to buy something which she could use for tying up her ankle. Meanwhile a looked for an ATM and I tried to withdraw some money. The ATM recognized my card nicely, but technically it said that "good try, my friend, but have visit in a bank office". So I did that. I found quickly a Nordea office in town and went to the counter and told my story. The Swedish lady at the desk was very friendly and quickly understood my problem. She wanted to see my bank card. She took it away somewhere. A bit later she came back and said that probably they can withdraw cash if she can access my account from the computer. She checked it for a couple of minutes and I was keeping my fingers crossed. Then she said: "Good news, I can do a withdraw from here, if you have your passport with you." I gave her my passport and while she was copying its informations with a copier, I had to fill a one A4 page long form in English. The officer lady said that normally withdrawing is not that complicated in Sweden, but because I want to do this with a local Finnish bank card, it makes the situation pretty rare. Of course I understood that. I also asked her, can I do this same trick in Norway, in a similar Nordea office too. She said that no. Actually I was lucky that I came by to a Swedish Nordea office. Although Nordea operates in several Nordic countries, this withdrawing trick (with a local bank card) can be done only in the card's issue country (so in my case in Finland) and in Sweden, because the main banking system is operated from Sweden. After that said, I also wanted to withdraw Norwegian krones as well. She said that it won't gonna be a problem. Meanwhile my girlfriend also limped into the bank office. :) Although we were leaving Sweden behind soon, we needed the Swedish kronas because after tripping around in Norway, we needed them for our return trip.
When we got the cash from the bank, we started to head Norway. In less than a couple of hours we got to the Åre mountains. There was always a slight uphill for a very long time. After a certain altitude, the surroundings looked like it would have been autumn, not summer. There were small villages on the way but somehow they looked like a bit deserted. I remember we stopped at coffee shop in a village - still in Sweden - and regardless of the friendly staff, it was totally empty, so were the streets of the village. Still they had everything: cakes, lunch, fresh coffee, everything. Strange.
After a cup of coffee we continued our trip up & up all the time, towards the Norwegian border, which started to be closer and closer. There were no inspection on the border station whatsoever and it was on the top. After leaving the border station behind, downhill begun. I don't remember pushing the gas pedal - not even once - for the next 10 or 15 minutes. The downhill was a lot more steep then the uphill.
Our destination on that day was Trondheim. Actually another camping site outskirts of the city. We found the place easily. After checking in, we moved in to our cabin which was our new home for the next two nights. Comfortable it was, with two rooms (living room with kitchen and a bedroom). It wasn't exactly cheap either, but that's Norway. :) The view from the terrace was stunning. We didn't have private toilet & shower - like usually in camping cabins - so we had to use the shared shower and toilet at the main building of the camping site. The only problem was, that there was a 200 meters walking distance to it. During daytime it's not a big deal, but when you wanna go to the toilet in the middle of the night - or you don't need to go, but you HAVE to go do fulfill your escorting responsibilities, because what if there's a bear/wolf/evil man/dragon/UFO/Darth Vader/The Loch Ness Monster etc. along the way to the toilet - that's another thing. :)
After we packed into the cottage, I called my former classmate and she gave their address. They were living just on the other side of Trondheim. We found the place easily. After nice long talk we had a good barbecue evening at their places. It was realy nice to see again after almost ten years. My former classmate and her husband told us many interesting things about Norway, Norwegian people and the local lifestyle. It was interesting to compare Norwegian, Hungarian and the Finnish way of living on many levels & examples. We had a nice time with them. :)
In the evening hours we drove back to our cabin. It was a beautiful evening and night coming up. It was calm, no wind at all. The sun was still shining a bit, even though it was after midnight. Just like in Finland. During the night I was waken up only once for an escort mission. \0/ Piece of cake.
The next day we had a breakfast in the cottage and then took the bus to the city center of Trondheim. My girlfriend's ankle started to get better, so she was strong enough to walk around a bit in the old town. We even checked out the fortress of Trondheim. It was a bit windy on that day, so we didn't stay there very long.
The old town of Trondheim.
We wanted to have an indoor programme, so we went for a tour in the medieval cathedral of Trondheim. First I thought, what's the big deal with a cathedral? Why there has to be a guide, it's just a bigger church. Well, I was right, but also very much wrong. A cathedral is truly like a bigger church, but after seeing its more common, public, interior parts, the local guide also showed us not so common parts of it, by taking us through secret medieval underground passages to the other side of the cathedral. Then we also walked through dark passages which were inside the thick, medieval walls and finally he took us up, to the top of the cathedral where we could see an absolutely stunning view over Trondheim. I never though that I could enjoy a guided tour of a cathedral that much!
After the tour it was already afternoon, so we had a quick lunch in Trondheim and headed back to the camping with next possible bus. The rest of the afternoon we spent just casually sitting outside on the cabin's terrace. Having a couple of beers, watching the sea and the beautiful fjords. Then later we made some dinner. Also the night was calm. Again, luckily I was requested only to one toilet escorting opration during the night. Have to admit, I started to get used to waking up randomly and walking 400 meters just like that.
The next day the plan was that we drive along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean - on the famous Atlantic Road - to the village of Bud, close to a town of Molde. The weather was nice. Shiny and warm. I knew that Norway has road tolls for several roads and I also read before the trip that there is two possibilities for paying the toll:
1) You pay a single ticket in a Shell gas station every time or
2) You just drive, let the automatic control system do the job for you, and eventually you'll get the bill in your mail.
At first I found the ticket system clearer. In the previous day I already did buy successfully a ticket for a tunnel, so I thought, I can do the same now as well. We reached a section of a road which was clearly signed that it is a toll road. So I pulled over at the next possible Shell gas station. After queuing for some time, I told to the lady at the counter what I want. She wanted to explain me something but despite of several attempts, she couldn't speak well enough English to make me understand what she wanted to explain. There started to be a queue behind of me. I felt that I was in a pinned down situation a bit, until a (perhaps Norwegian) truck driver asked me in English what did I want. I told him that I wanted to pay the toll road. He said that this is not the gas station where I can do that, although this IS a Shell gas station. The right place is always the LAST Shell gas station BEFORE the payable road starts. So I already crossed the line. But no worries, the automatic camera took the picture of me when I entered into the payable section, so I don't have to buy a ticket now. He continued, that although it is not of his business, but why I wanna keep buying tickets, when the automatic camera anyway snaps a picture everytime when I enter and exit a toll road section. I said, I'm not sure, is it working for a foreign plate car. He asked me, where I'm coming from. When I told him than our car has Finnish plate, he said that the automatic system works for over 100 foreign plates (including all European plates), so I don't need to do anything, but drive. They'll send the bill on post to me. Some bridges and tunnels I have to pay onsite, but every other place where there's a camera, "just drive". Alright... I thanked him and the lady - although she couldn't help me much - I went back to the car and so we drove. We drove all around payable Norwegian roads, never stopped to buy a ticket and... this was six years ago and I'm still waiting for the bill. :D
On that day, along our way to the village of Bud, I noticed four surprising things regarding driving in Norway:
1. The highest speed limit in Norway (which means highways & speedways) is 90km/h, even in summer. Which is pretty strict I think, even lower than in Finland.
2. If you wanna keep going on the highway, you have to be on the left lane, because the right lane turns off - not always, but every now and then. And you'll never know when. The only problem with this, is that when you keep left on a highway, there definitely gonna be always somebody behind you, who's cursing you, why don't you drive on the right lane if you're slower. That happened to me. While I changed politely to the right lane to go a couple of local cars, the right lane (again!) just turned off from the highway, so we were going off as well. :) I think this system need a bit of reconsidering.
3. When a double lane road turns to a single lane road (in one direction), there's no priority or instruction whatsoever that which lane continues. There's a kind of a "just deal among yourselves" sign. I saw that same sign in several different parts of Sweden too. That can be confusing and I also saw some locals having some disagreement in these situation. What comes to me, of course I was the guest star over there, so I never started to provoke. I tried to be as polite as possible.
4. Although Norway has plenty of oil, the quality of the countryside roads are not that good. As a matter of fact, some of roads are in bad condition. Almost like Hungarian roads - and they are famous about their poor quality. :)
The view was all the time just stunning, really. The beautiful mountains, fjords were so amazing, especially on that nice, sunny day. Because it was June, the snow was still melting on the top of the mountains and got down in great water springs. Some of the serpentines went through of these springs and in the beginning I wasn't really expecting going through of them with 70km/h just after a bend. So I had a few "oh shit, oh f*ck!" reactions... :)
Driving on the Atlantic Road.
After taking also small ferry trip, we reached a town called Kristiansund at lunch time, so we stopped there for lunch. After lunch we checked our GPS again, which said that the next part will be very easy, just drive to the harbor of Kristiansund and take another ferry to Bremsnes. OK... So we did that. We drove to the harbor. Again, I started to have a bad feeling about the case, because there were no stands open or cars waiting for anykind of a ferry. There were several ships docked, but it just didn't feel right. We started to walk over the place and found a sign: "Travelers to Bremsnes, please use the Atlantic Tunnel". And that's it. Great, so where's the tunnel? How do we get there? There were no map or instruction or a single kindergarten drawing where we could possible find this Atlantic Tunnel. Obviously, it wasn't in the harbor, that we saw. We tried to seek help from our GPS, but of course that crazy fellow didn't have the slightest clue about the whole tunnel. We tried to move around a bit (drove out from the harbor), maybe it finds some alternative route for us, but no. It was all the time taking us back to the harbor. So after a while, I got fed up and I did what I always do, when I get fed up with navigators: I just started to drive. Don't care where, I'm pissed of and I just drive. Then, like many times in these situations also now: after turning on some street, suddenly there it was: the Atlantic Tunnel. We payed ourselves in and we were good go. \0/
It was one of my greatest tunnel experiences. The tunnel was about six kilometers long and in the depth of 400 meters. It literally went under the ocean. Like all the Norwegian tunnels, it was also very narrow, even for car. Not talking about a truck. Until this day, I still don't get, how da hell those trucks could fit in that tunnel and passing by, they were so close to each other. On our way down & up our ears got totally blocked. The speed limit was all the time 50km/h, but when going down I really had to break hard to even maintain less than 80km/h speed.
After getting back on the surface, we were on the neighbor island, close to Bremsnes. From there we continued our way on the beautiful Atlantic Road. The view began to change between stunning and breathtaking. Sometimes we had to stop for watching it, admiring it and taking a pic. Sometimes I just drove as slow as I could (when there was nobody behind me). The road was technically a continuous bridge from island to island, sometimes going in the height of dozens of meters.
We reached shortly the camping site in Bud. Our cabin was only a hundred meters away from the sea, surrounded us by great green mountains, a beautiful blue sky above and a very romantic sunset on the west, where our little terrace and kitchen window was looking to. It couldn't be more perfect. It was a really beautiful ending for that day and we were happy. Because we knew that we are going to stay another two days there, among those landscapes. But in the same time we also felt already that it is going to be a way too short time, because in two days we surely can't get enough that place.