A Travellerspoint blog

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1. A blot on the landscape.....

1st of catch-up

rain 12 °C

My last day in Trondheim was spent as planned on Lexi's play date. We walked the dogs for over an hour and Lexi was of course in her element, another Labrador who loved searching out food in the park before running around madly. We were then invited back for a cup of tea (!) and went into one of the beautiful converted warehouses on stilts over the water that I had been admiring (and photographing) for the previous 2 days.

I then started the next leg of our trip and ended up in the most amazingly, jaw dropping carbuncle of a town in the midst of the stunning Norwegian coast line! The town planners should be hung drawn and quartered. They have disgracefully naff apartment blocks literally metres behind traditional wooden houses,  a 1960's tower block blotting the landscape right by the sea and concrete structures that should be used as anchors! Well it certainly is a stark contrast to the beauty of the rest of the country and at least shows that the Norwegians can get it wrong too.  

Accommodation is proving harder to find than I thought, with not a single 'hytter' or 'rom' sign for the last 20 miles, so ended up in a fantastic room in a motel (my first ever....) complete with mezzanine, huge wet room and leather sofas, but....it was in the middle of an industrial estate. When this town got it wrong, they got it really wrong. 

For Friday's drive the sun was definitely winning over the rain and so I gave Lexi a short walk before we left so we could make the most of the weather for the coastal drive, which didn't disappoint. Even the 1 hour wait for a ferry was an adventure, with Lexi and I leaving the other drivers sitting in their cars while we went for a little hike. The ferry had left without us (I didn't take it personally but assume it was full)  and we could easily see it's progress across the water and so could gauge the time we had on our hands. We went over the hill and down onto a beach on the far side, dramatic slices of rock gradually disappearing into the sea, which was of course an open invitation for Lexi to run into the water.

This ferry crossing was just the kind that are simply part of the road network and was at the tip of a penninsula and the 'port' so tiny and remote that there was just one small dinghy moored there. The ferry itself was a beast of a thing and it must have been an enormous task to turn it round and manoeuvre back onto the dock, luckily all I had to do was drive my Landy on.  The further north I'm getting, the more my English registered Landy and I stand out. I'm getting longer and more inquisitive looks and today the ticket collector on the ferry actually asked if I was alone....well with the passenger seat and footwell clearly full and no back seats just a huge dog cage complete with dog, I'm not sure where he was expecting a companion to emerge from....the cool box maybe......

Posted by Val G 12:19 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

2. Quirky 1: Chain hotels Nil

semi-overcast 9 °C

When planning this current part of my trip, I kind of imagined staying in tiny fishing villages in B&B type accommodation in locals homes, but the reality wasn't to be and for tonight I had even enquired at a hotel but the price came back at £110 for me and £25 for Lexi which I wasn't up for unless the alternative was sleeping in the car. I had come across a 'camping' that had cabins but with no e-mail or Internet page I thought I would just have to risk turning up. Then while I was talking to the owner at my accommodation this morning, she offered to call up for me, she did and all arranged.

Well, tonight I drove into the most quirky site yet, to be instantly welcomed by a cheerful Norwegian lady who spoke not a word of English. We managed to establish the basics, money, keys, then Lexi and I went to settle in.

Hansel and Gretel eat your heart out, this is something straight from a fairy tale, from the balcony with carved overhangs, the curtains at the windows and the woven rugs on the floor. In the grounds there is a child's play house that is a perfect scaled down version of the cabins, a summer house with 2 chairs, cups, saucers and a radio, another octagonal one with a fire pit and chimney in the middle,  rugs and furs on the benches to put over your legs, meanwhile around the site are spectacular 6 foot wooden carvings of various characters from Norwegian mythology. Now I wouldn't have experienced anything other than another bland hotel room had I chosen the luxury of the hotel chain.  

Tomorrow I have to get a seperate ferry to the very tiny island I'm staying on, and the owner warned me to keep Lexi on a lead as I may come across elk.......so maybe I'm nearer my wish for local colour than I thought. 

Posted by Val G 12:21 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

3. The Back of Beyond......

rain 10 °C

Well I wanted character....I wanted locals...and today I had both in bundles.  

Another long day of travelling, 83 miles took SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS, great if it's great weather or you've to a good book to read, but not if you've got a dog with you, with a suspicious injury that the car journey could be exacerbating :-(

At one of the many ferry stops I established the time for the next ferry and went for a walk along the coast. There was an old man who commented on Lexi, we got talking  ( I will always be surprised by the level of English across all ages) and it turned out he had been in Lofoten for a fishing competition and won two 3rd prizes and invited us into his cabin to see the photos.  I was over the moon as it was a true old fisherman's boat house/cabin, over the water that you see all over Norway. The inland end was all fitted out for living, there was a half staircase to a sleeping area that he used to use when he was actively fishing and through a door was his boathouse area complete with winch to pull his boat up into the cabin in winter, amazing.

Eventually we took our fourth and final ferry of the day and the short crossing to the tiny island that was to be our next home.  I'd already decided that we would stay 2 nights instead of just the 1, Lexi is starting to hesitate before jumping in the car, she has a problem with a front leg or paw that I'm not convinced is physical or at the very least is surmountable when she's enjoying herself, and the ferries are driving me mad. 

The island has only one, single track, unmade road that goes around 2/3 of the island and the instructions I was given where 'keep going til you get to the blue bench' and it was that simple. I pulled into a farmyard and approached a man in his workshop who didn't understand me, but led me to his wife, who in turn took me to the most delightful cottage. It's incredibly old and part of the original farmhouse, the bed is in a recess with thick lace pulled back with a ribbon screening it from the room, the bathroom is up a large stone step from the living area and the whole place is furnished with things from the family, but in a cosy not eerie way. 

As there is no kitchen she showed me up to the kitchen of her summer cafe and when I saw all the homemade products lining the shelves remembered she has an organic herb garden as well and the floral scent that hit me when I walked in was beautiful.  She had left me some (homemade) soup and later on when it was heating up I had a look round and the source of the scent was revealed as rows of flowers hanging to dry, baskets with the flower heads and others with just the stems, then there were the rows of jars of what I take to be honey, preserves and oils......  I felt honoured to be trusted to have such free access to these rooms but then there is no key for my cottage and it reminded me of my life in France, when the only people who locked their houses were the newcomers..... There's something else that reminds me of living in France, the mice! They've been sitting on the ceiling above us nibbling away at goodness knows what, one at each side of the room, it was quite comical with Lexi sitting up at one end of the room looking to the ceiling and me by my chair, likewise looking skywards, oh well, I'll have to find some Sinatra to lull them to sleep before I go to bed.....

Posted by Val G 12:24 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Wow, I've blooming done it, I'm here.....

sunny 8 °C

I've driven from Hertfordshire....to the Arctic Circle.....

Now this is becoming habit forming, but twice in one day I've had a silly grin stuck to my face. The first was when I saw the sign on the photo attached, then followed 2 further hours driving,  4 hours killing time in Bodo and 4 hours on a ferry, then the next silly grin, and this one is still on my face even after 2 hours....I'm here...I'm in the Lofoten islands....in one of the oldest rorbuer (fisherman's cottage) on the islands, the western most tip of the islands....did I mention that's in the Artcic Circle and that I drove here? Whoops, old age gets to us all, but I am so blooming chuffed with myself, it's not often I get to have such a hair brained idea and actually carry it through to the end. Even in the dark the silhouettes of the mountains are breathtaking against the darkening sky, my cabin is on stilts over the water, the bridges arch between the islands and lights are twinkling all along the shoreline, boy I'm looking forward to seeing this all for real in the morning.

My fantastic Landy (thank you Karen) is as filthy as all true Landrovers should be, and it's all downhill from here to the equator.....whaaaat, just an idea ..... 

Posted by Val G 13:39 Archived in Norway Comments (1)

Room service.....

sunny 8 °C

Sitting on the terrace of a bakery coffee shop in the main square of Svolvaer. The sun is hot on my face, Lexi is flaked out next to me and I'm just getting some ideas together for the next few days here with Barnaby.

This country and the accommodation continue to amaze me and today's cabin is no exception. To find it I walked along old wooden walkways and round curves in the rock, my cabin tucked away at the end, completely on its own, cliff behind it and interrupted views from every window out to the sea, tiny islands and huge mountains as the backdrop, spectacular.  The noise could be a problem, the lapping of the waves against the legs and rocks that the cabin sits on may lull me to sleep in the middle of the day, I know, one heck of a problem.....  I've almost got used to seeing these amazing structures, if not sleeping in them, but Barnaby is about to get off a plane having left the home counties this morning, so I'm looking forward to seeing his reaction.

I lost track weeks ago of how many times 'wow' has slipped from my lips and today as I turned the corner to my cabin it happened again and tonight I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the windows to go for a shower, the view changes as you watch, literally, with the sun setting, shadows cast on the mountains, yachts sailing past, islands appearing as the tide goes out, it's spell binding.  

Then just when I thought it couldn't get any better there was a tap at the door, it was breakfast being delivered, ham, cheese, a fresh loaf, milk and juice, jam and fresh ground coffee.

Unfortunately life is not all grand, after Barnaby leaves I have to face the long drive down through Sweden and have even considered motorail to give both Lexi and I a break, but the nearest is Finland which defeats the object, so I'm just going to have to judge the drives and rest days carefully so I don't have a doggy rebellion on my hands. Now if I had a co-pilot.... :-)

Posted by Val G 08:55 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

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