Travel Blog

Oslo Pass, Holmenkollen Ski and Viking Ship Museum

We urgently need to charge our video camera before going anywhere! We hope to find an electricity socket at the tourist information near the train station and indeed, we are lucky! So we spend an hour here, reading through the various options of what to do in Oslo. Amazingly Oslo has 52 museums and since we already checked out the city on our bicycles yesterday, we are keen to check out some museums today. The big question is: To get the Oslo Pass or not to get the Oslo Pass?! The The 24hr Oslo Pass is 270NOK (57EUR or about $70) per person and will give you free entry to most museums, free parking in the city council car parks and free public transport, including the ferry to the museum island. Looking at it realistically, how many museums can you visit in 24 hours when the opening times are only between 11am and 6pm? We decide we want to visit at least 4 museums, ideally 6!

– Holmenkollen Ski Museum = 110 NOK (This requires a 15min journey with the subway)
– Viking ship Museum – 60 NOK
– Norwegian Folklore Museum – 100 NOK
– FRAM Museum – 80 NOK
– Kon Tiki Museum – 70 NOK
– Maritime Museum – 60 NOK

Should be do-able, shouldn’t it? We decide for the Oslo Pass and jump on the subway number 1 going to Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump. We stamp the Oslo pass at the train station but later realise we did so in the wrong area. Oops. The subway soon becomes a normal train, as we exit the underground train network and now drive up higher and higher, soon overlooking all of Oslo and the fjords.
Of course the rain begins to pour down once we arrive at Holmenkollen but gladly we brought a rain jacket and a frog green rain poncho. Firstly we discover the ski simulator which takes you onto the ski jump and the downhill ski track, pretending to reach more than 100km/h. This is an extra 60NOK per person but we have to give it a try. Now, having done it, I guess it was ok but it’s difficult to really simulate ski jumping!
Now the ski museum: We enter, show our Oslo cards and are permitted in without any problems (even though there is supposed to be a start date and time on the Oslo pass but the space is still blank). So basically the 24hr valid time hasn’t started yet.
The museum exceeds all my expectations! I thought we may see some old skis from the 50ies and a few photos of ski jumping but instead the museum’s story starts with Roald Amundsen’s journey to the south pole. One of his dogs is displayed here, stuffed obviously.

We get to see some of their equipment but mainly of course the skis and sleds. Just around the corner I find a man dressed in reindeer fur holding up his skis – 4000 years ago! This man belongs to the Sami culture. Original skis from 600AD or skis that are beautifully decorated with ornaments from the 1890’s are being displayed. Until about 1890, skiers only used one ski pole for breaking and balance and often the end would have another function. It could have been in the shape of a spear for hunting bears, a shovel or even a drinking cup.
There are stuffed animals like this very large elk and some of the photos are quite amusing; one showing two laughing women in their early 20th century dresses and on skis all covered in snow, another one showing a little 2 year old boy on his skis and with the question: Are Norwegians born with skis on?

Another highlight is the spectacular preview of the documentary film “Being There” made by producer Filip Christensen (Field Productions). It shows an amazing view (mostly from the helicopter) of the worlds best free skiers climbing and skiing down mountains in the fantastic Norwegian landscape. There are no words to describe this footage, you need to see it for yourself. As soon as we are getting wireless internet, we will download the full movie from iTunes. I also love the soundtrack!

From inside the museum you can take an elevator up to the top of the ski jump and get a 360 degree view over Oslo, fjords and forests. Very nice!
Eventually we are coming down to the souvenir store where Logan does not only pic up a Viking T-shirt and some Norway stickers, he also shows his love for Norway by trying on a I-glitterheart-Norway cap, as well as hugging the “little teddy bear” and the pretty troll girl.


Having spent 3 hours at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, we are going back to the train station, finally stamping our Oslo Ticket properly.

Off to the Viking Ship Museum!

We get back to the city centre, pick up our bicycles and ride to the port. From there we catch the free (with the Oslo Pass) ferry to the museum island and walk up the road to the Viking Ship Museum. We only have about an hour until the museum closes.

The Viking Age lasted from about 800 – 1050AD. During this period the Norseman were the lords of the sea. They were excellent shipwrights and sailors. Their ships were fast, well built and suitable for long sea voyages which enabled them to go on journeys in most of the northern hemisphere. From Scandinavia the Vikings sailed west over the North Sea to the British Isles and then over the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and North America. Some sailed south down the coast of Europe and entered the Mediterranean, while others sailed east down the great rivers of Russia to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
At the beginning of the Viking Age Norway consisted of a number of smaller chiefdoms, but was later gradually united under a single king. Viking society was divided into classes with great economic and social differences between them. The ships exhibited in the museum were built for members of the upper class. The farmers formed the backbone of the society; they were free men with the right to bear arms and to participate in meetings of the “ting”, or assembly. The slaves were the lowest rank in society; they were the property of their owners and had no legal rights. Many of them were foreigners who had been taken prisoner on a raid.
Since the Vikings came from Scandinavia, from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, they had to adopt to a great variation in their landscape, climate and agricultural conditions. In good farming country, crops and animal husbandry were the main means of livelihood, while in other parts people relied more on hunting and fishing which were profitable activities. Furs, bird down, and walrus ivory were highly prized commodities in the rest of Europe. Considerable quantities of iron were also produced in the Norwegian mountain hamlets and found a market both at home and abroad.
The Norsemen plundered churches, monasteries and even whole towns but plunder and conquest weren’t the only reasons why the Vikings took to the seas. Many of them journeyed abroad in order to trade, and others to find new country in which to settle. The Vikings were also merchants, selling their goods in towns and market places, and established trading colonies in Ireland and Russia. Many Norsemen settled down as farmers in the lands they had invaded, such as Iceland or Greenland and they were the first Europeans in North America.
In the Viking age it was customary to bury the dead in boats. In the ships exhibited here at the museum, the dead were placed in a burial chamber which was erected in the stern of the ship. They were buried with a good supply of food and drinks, horses and dogs, and both useful and decorative objects. When the ships were excavated, the graves were found to have been robbed and the jewellery, weapons, gold and silver were no longer there. The objects made of wood and cloth were well preserved, because the ships had been buried in blue clay and covered with stones, clay and turf.

Upon entry our view falls onto the huge and well preserved viking ship: The Oseberg Ship.
The Oseberg ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1904. The ship was built some time between 813-829 AD, but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834AD. The 22 meter long ship was built of oak and the number of oar holes indicate that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men.

The second Viking ship, the Gokstad Ship, was found in a large burial mound on the Gokstad farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1880. It was built around 890AD and later used as a grave ship for a Viking chieftain; the body lay in a grave chamber built of horizontal timber logs. This ship was 24m long with room for 32 oarsmen. It is the largest of the Viking ships on display and also the most robust. While the Oseberg ship was a luxury pleasure craft, the Gokstad was a sturdy and practical vessel, capable of sailing the high seas.

There’s also a third Viking ship in the museum, the Tune Ship. It was found on the Haugen-Hof in Ostfold and excavated in 1867. It was also built around 900AD but due to poor preservation conditions the grave gifts have not survived and the ship has has been severely damaged.

The skills of the Viking shipwrights were based on long and solid experience. They did not use plans or drawings but instead took measurements by eye. The sails were made of woollen cloth and it required almost as much work as the it did to build the ship. The Gokstad ship’s sail measured 110sqm. The origins of Norse ship-building can be traced back all the way to the 4th century BC. These traditions are still alive in Norway today.

In the back wing of the museum we find the grave gifts and other objects such as wooden carts, wooden animal heads, sleds, “camping equipment” and more. Everything made from wood is decorated with wave, animal and plant ornaments.

At the end we also have a quick look at the souvenir shop of course, where they sell books and dvd’s about vikings, but also viking jewellery. Most of it is quite expensive but Logan get’s himself a silver ring with viking ornaments on it for only about 6 Euros.

Museum Day 1 is over, we continue tomorrow!

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Jotunheimen to Oslo – from the mountains to the sea

Having been to Nigardsbreen Glacier, the most northerly point of our Norway tour, we aim for Jotunheimen National Park.

On the way we pick up some very delicious raspberries of a farmer for 30NOK. A rip off unfortunately, as we discover them in the supermarket for 20NOK about 30min later.
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Arriving in Lom, we stop at a Stave Church and the tourist information centre where Logan picks up a 2013 calendar with pictures of Norway.

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We drive over a pass, overlooking Norway’s highest mountains of up to 2469m. There is even plenty of snow up here still and many glaciers make their way down.
Gjende lake is described in the travel book as Norway’s most beautiful lake. Unfortunately we arrive there when the sky is dark grey and rain is just starting to fall. We are very low on diesel and feel a little too nervous to stay, so instead just drive on, hoping to finally find a petrol station.
The mountain scenery is incredible and distracts us from our worries for at least a little while.
Finally in Beitostølen, we discover a petrol station – thankfully!
After filling up diesel, we backtrack a few kilometers and then turn right in a private toll road called Jotunheimsvegen. The entry fee is 80NOK (11€/$13), pretty expensive I think at first but considering that this is privately owned and supposedly the most beautiful mountain road in all of Norway, we are happy to pay.
Along the road we pass a few small huts and houses and many lakes. Some cows block the way and even though we almost hit them with our van, they only move out of the way veeeery slowly.
We make camp here on Jotunheimsvegen for the night. Logan is off fishing again, comes back soaking wet but as (almost) always: without any fish.

Oh we’re not the only ones from Australia! This campervan parked next to us at the Stave Church in Lom. The raging river is also in Lom, while the other three pictures were taken on Jotunheimsvegen:
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In the morning the road takes us to Skåbu and then onto Lillehammer. The scenery changes drastically from a treeless mountain landscape to green fields, forests and blue lakes.
Lillehammer was host to the winter Olympics in 1994, so we are driving up to the well maintained ski jump and athletics track. Logan even does three 800m rounds on the track and I time him. Next time I’ll bring my “cheerleader pompoms”!

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Eventually we drive on to Oslo and the find-a-carpark game starts all over again. We are driving back and forth, doing u-turns, searching, looking.. THERE! What’s this? I can’t read the sign and get out to translate it. Within 5 seconds a bus arrives and angrily beeps the horn at us. I run back to the van and the game continues.
We decide to leave the city centre and drive west. There actually seem to be streets in which no parking tickets are required. Since the sun is still out, we get the bicycles and ride back into town.

Oslo has a beautiful mix of architecture but I mostly prefer the older style buildings:

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Flowers are to be found everywhere throughout the city which I personally enjoy looking at very much. The colourfulness of the city continues along the harbour. A very colourful Indian bus is displayed at the front, along with a young boy playing the drums, a guitarist, fairy tale figures and green elephants (which I think are part of a music festival).

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The port also has a small beach and grassy area to relax or enjoy the day with the children.
I noticed a lot of young women have children here, probably because Norway is said to be the most child friendly country in the world.

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The best surprise of the evening are the swing dancers who probably belong to a dance club. We keep watching them for quite a while and I keep laughing and smiling at this genius dance style. Some people even wear old fashioned clothes.
I really want to join a dance class now!

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More on the fantastic Oslo Museums in the next post!

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Bergen to Jostedalsbreen National Park

After 2 days we are leaving Bergen but not without seeing the stave church (a wooden church built by the Vikings). There are 28 stave churches in the country but this one is going to be our first one. Unfortunately it is not original anymore but has been rebuilt.

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Driving along road 16, we pass the Tvinnefoss, a majestic and very impressive waterfall. It has been raining a lot last night so there is a vast amount of water coming down. At the tourist shop I then find a postcard of the waterfall in winter: completely frozen!!! Absolutely amazing.
We also buy some more lures to be able to go fishing in lakes as well. Before Gudvangen we spend the night at a lake but again Logan doesn’t catch any fish. This lake may actually be too far away from the fjords and only have smaller fish…?

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The next day we are driving through the world’s longest road tunnel. 24.5km of boring blackness? No, when you make it to quarter, half and three quarters of the tunnel, you will see a spectacularly lit up part of the tunnel, reminding me of an ice cave.

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After the tunnel we take a right turn to get to Borgund where one of Norway’s oldest and best preserved stave churches is located. On the way we drive past a former excavation site where Viking combs, jewelry, keys and other objects have been found when building a new road from Bergen to Oslo in 2009.

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Borgund Stave Church:

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Eventually we turn around, taking the historic route, and cross one of the many arms of the Sognefjord with the ferry, to get to Jostedalsbreen National Park, the place with the largest glacier on the European mainland.
One of the many glacier tongues is the Nigardsbreen glacier. The last part of the road is actually a toll road, we pay 30NOK and get there just in time before sunset. Unfortunately the sun is only still reaching the mountain peaks, not the glacier anymore but we still get to see the fascinating shades of blue in the ice. A raging current is coming out underneath the glacier, forming a lake.
The glacier was measured to move up to 1.5m downward per day, therefore it is not the safest place to be in. We take some footage and enjoy a few minutes of looking into the icy blue colours of the giant before we have to leave.

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Bergen and Hardangerfjord

After finally having caught the ferry, road 7 to Bergen leads us along the Hardangerfjord, with 180km Norway’s second longest fjord which is not only popular for its sheer beauty but also for the many fruit trees along the shores. We drive past many pretty villages before eventually arriving in Bergen.

Hardangerfjord

We spend the night at a car park near the port as parking is free from 8pm. In the morning we desperately look for a free car park around town but it seems that you have to pay everywhere. Suddenly we come across a car park in a street called Klosteret 6-17, very close to the centre. We can’t seem to find any signs nor a parking meter so just freely park up. We hear someone say that the car park may be for residents only but shouldn’t there be a sign then? We give this one a try anyway as there are also other cars, including one other mobile home, parked up with foreign number plates. (So far we have been standing here for 2 days and haven’t received a parking ticket – touch wood)

When leaving to explore the city, we realise how much our waste water pipe is actually leaking. Since we are parked on an angle, water is running down over the car park and into a gutter. Logan tries to fix it but instead a much larger volume of water bursts out before he can attach it back on. Oops, I guess we need to buy some sealant.

Parking in Bergen

In Bergen our first destination is the Floibanen (www.Floibanen.com) which takes us up a hill from which we get to see all of Bergen city including the surrounding fjords. The price one way up per person is 40NOK (4,50EUR or $6,50).


We choose to walk back down, a good decision as we come across a real troll forest!

Troll Forest Bergen

Back down in the city, we walk along the hanseatic Brygge which is part of the UNESCO world heritage sites. We are sitting down for lunch and a drink at one of the beer garden-type restaurants outside and enjoy the sunny summer weather overlooking the port.

Nearby are the Bergenhus Fortress, the Mariakirke (church), shops, fish markets and also tourist market stalls. Eventually we get to the city centre and to the lake Lille Lungegardsvannet and this beautiful flower pavilion. Some students seem to have their graduation today and we keep seeing themed groups of young people running around in the streets, cheering and dancing everywhere.

Bergen

 

 

I also finally register my Telenor SIM card, only to find out afterwards that Telenor has changed prices and I’m strongly being recommended not to use internet with this sim card, as it is too expensive. What a waste of money, don’t buy Telenor! I stick with my German Vodafone sim and the 2EUR for 25MB packages per day for the rest of our trip.

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Trolltunga, Norway

Another popular hike is the one to the Trolltunga or troll’s tongue north east of Odda.
As this hike is supposed to take 8-10 hours return and we have already done 3 walks together (one of them to Kjeragbolten took 5-6 hours and I was totally shattered after that one!) I decided to let Logan go to Trolltunga by himself. This way I wouldn’t hold him up and he could go his speed.
I meanwhile washed all the clothes again we had in the washing machine in town yesterday and didn’t get clean (oh what fun). So while I’m busy boiling up water, soaking clothes, washing, scrubbing, soaking, hanging out clothes and start all over again, Logan is racing up and down the mountains between Folgefonna and Hardangervidda National Park.

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About 4 hours later I hear a voice behind me: “Ah washing clothes, are you?!” LOGAN?!?!? I was surprised but I wasn’t. I thought he might take about 6 hours, with 4 he surprised even me a bit! So here you see why I can’t keep up with him!!!
He said the Germans who left before him, came his way half an hour after he reached the Trolltunga! So they were WAY behind.
There’s a free toilet and warm shower provided at the car park which we make use of before leaving and driving on to Eidfjord.
Actually going to Eidfjord wasn’t exactly the plan. We are planning on catching the ferry from a place called Brimnes, before Eidfjord but we didn’t have any cash on us and had no idea whether the ferry accepts credit cards. Just in case we keep on driving to get cash out in the next town which happens to be an absolutely beautiful little haven called Eidfjord! A large cruise ship, the AIDA, has docked here and after getting out some cash, we decide to stay the night here – right at the Hardangerfjord, in a no mobile home zone! Well seriously, the sign is so tiny that we see it much later when we had already hung out all the clothes in the sun to dry. We didn’t move anymore and fortunately no-one seemed to bother.

Guess what’s for dinner? Rissoles (in German: Klöpse – very important to know!) with vegetables and mushroom sauce.

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In the morning we couldn’t help ourselves but drive a little further in the “wrong” direction to have a look at this popular waterfall, the Voringfoss. On the way we discover a nature centre where we think we could possibly pick up some more info on the Hardangervidda, a mountain plateau which is now a protected national park. The whole plateau is above the tree line and due to it’s year-round alpine climate, arctic animals such as the polar fox or reindeer can be found here; further south than anywhere else in Europe.
Since it is very rare to see reindeer, bears, wolves or foxes, we choose to buy tickets to the centre which include a fabulous movie shown on a wide screen (actually 5 screens). Geography, flora and fauna are shown from the perspective of a helicopter flight and while watching, we sometimes get dizzy when the helicopter turns or flies through small gorges etc. The video alone is worth the entrance fee of 120 NOK (about 16€/$20). After the video we have a look at the very informative exhibition as well.

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This is what we see when we exit the exhibition, do you see this too???

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YES! It’s a goat on top of a roof! In Norway there are many houses with natural grasses growing on top of roofs. This one is being utilized as a goat’s pasture at the same time!

Then we drive on to Vøringfoss from where we have an impressive view over the country side and a 182m deep gorge in which the waterfall drops into.

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There’s also a tourist shop nearby offering all these Norwegian things again, for example these postcards:

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More on the Hardangerfjord and Bergen in the next post!

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Buerbreen Glacier, Norway

We heard and read about Odda, the gateway to two national parks, Folgefonna and Hardangervidda, and to various hikes like Buerbreen Glacier or Trolltunga.
The national parks are home to the largest wild reindeer population in Europe, to a few brown bears, polar foxes, red foxes wolverines and wolves.

To get to Odda, we are driving along road 13, having to catch the ferry again to cross the fjord between Hjelmeland and Nesvik. This one is only about 12€ / $14 as it’s really just a 10min crossing.
We keep going all the way to Odda along the popular tourist road 13 with its beautiful lakes, mountains and waterfalls.

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A tourist shop has cleverly opened up next to the spectacular views of this waterfall and of course we have to have a look. Warm woolen socks, troll figures, Viking accessories, stickers, cups, books etc all showing either the Norwegian flag, trolls, elks or ..of course.. vikings. We’d love to buy a few things but $30 for a pair of socks or $25 for a little troll figure? Not really.. Maybe we find a cheaper tourist shop in Bergen or Oslo.

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Arriving in Odda, we park up at the fjord, next to a camper service area and even toilets. They are located in the bus waiting area, as well as electricity sockets – all for free.

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As its Sunday, no shops are open, so we just go for a walk through town before getting ready for bed.

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In the morning we collect some reading material from the tourist information and ask for a Telenor shop to see if I could finally get my sim card activated, but again no luck. Odda has no shopping centre, just 3 supermarkets.

Then we head off to the Buerbreen Glacier just a few km south west of Odda. The walk is supposed to take between 2.5 to 3 hours return.

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Again this is quite a challenging hike where we need to climb up bolders and rock faces by holding on to ropes or chains. Almost the entire hike leads along the rapid river coming from the glacier above. The higher we ascend, the better views we get.

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At the end of the hike the way is cut off by the river and unless you have climbing gear with you to hook yourself onto a wire cable, it’s impossible to cross the rapids and get to the glacier. We have also read many warnings about going into the glacier as it is very dangerous and should only be done with an experiencend guide and proper equipment.
We take a couple of photos at the end of the hike before descending quickly as the river brings down icy cyclone-like winds. On the way down we find a lovely spot near the river to have lunch, before returning to the car park. An absolute chaos of cars and campervans awaits us at the bottom. There are so many vehicles up here and the street is only wide enough for one car, that now no-one is moving anymore. Some want to leave, some want to get in and nothing’s happening. It takes about 20minutes until we finally get out and drive back to Odda. Here we get some mince for Spaghetti Bolognese tonight, do our washing and charge the video camera.
Unfortunately the washing machine st the tourist information didn’t wash out the mud of our clothes, nor the smoky smell of the camp fire the other night. Looks like I’ll have to hand-wash everything again tomorrow!

Here is a mix of photos of the rock piles along the river, the lovely long-haired cows/bulls and also of Logan’s undies hanging out of the van to dry and his freshly shaved face! He hasn’t shaved in over a year I think, he always only trims his facial hair, so I keep giggling every time I see him now.
He he he he

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Preikestolen, Norway

After the long and difficult trek to the Kjerag Bolten, we have had two lay days to recover and regain strength for our next adventure: The Preikestolen!

During those two days we have been enjoying beautiful views at the Lysefjord and tried some more fishing. Since I’m never lucky fishing, Logan of course caught four(!) Mackerels during the first 30 minutes, when I wasn’t there yet. The next hour of fishing with me present is unsuccessful – I’m not surprised anymore. Instead we catch a jellyfish and I upset some kind of marten when reeling in the fishing line and accidentally smacking him with the bait. Oops. He’s hissing at us a few times and then tries to charge us up the rock but then disappears.

Four Mackerels should really be enough for the two of us anyway, so we get the fire going and prepare the fish to be cooked.

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Oh and we are not professionals in preparing fish, so we just cut it apart and take out the bones once it’s cooked. That works well enough for us.

On the second lay day we stop in Forsand to go shopping for some basic groceries before driving on to Preikestolen.
Our plan is to camp nearby so we can start the walk early in the morning. Unfortunately there seem to be so many tourists coming here, that wild camping is not allowed nearby, so we have to drive back to the main road and stay there.

Hiking to Preikestolen

Even though the weather forecast has been predicting sun, we wake up to a thick layer of grey clouds.

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That’s demotivating as obviously you need to have good weather for the best views from the Preikestolen or “Preacher’s stool”. We don’t want to waste any more time though and make our way back up to the car park: 100NOK. Wow! This is not even the main car park near the restaurant, since that one is full, they opened another car park another couple of km down the road. To still ask for 100NOK is a bit much. We turn around and park up a little further down the road and get the bicycles out – cheeky I know.
We ride down to the restaurant and main car park and lock up our bicycles here.

There is a sign describing the walk, the length, difficulty and what you shouldn’t wear: sandals or high heels. When proper shoes are recommended in Norway, you better follow that guideline as they mean it! (I still saw a couple with sandals and even a woman with pumps!! She must have broken her foot soon after that or I would be very surprised!)
The trek immediately starts off with a rocky path, turning into boulders and holding on to trees or rocks with hands is necessary in parts. We cross several streams, grasslands and steep walls on the way.

While the trek to Preikestolen is still a lot easier than the one to Kjerag Bolten, it’s not an afternoon stroll and takes about 2 hours up and a little less back down. (This is if you don’t stop too many times)
I’m surprised to see a lot of children on this track, partly climbing themselves and partly sitting in a backpack on daddy’s back. A lot of people also take their dogs and it amazes me how they manage the steep climbs and balancing on boulders.

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After about two hours of hiking the skies have turned into a crystal blue and we finally arrive at the Preikestolen – I haven’t seen so many tourists in one spot in a while! Wow! Logan and I look at each other with big eyes and have the same thought: would the Preikestolen break off under the weight of all these tourists?? There’s already a large crack through it, especially visible from above.

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We first try to take in the incredible views over the fjord and at the Preikestolen before actually making our way through the people chaos on the platform. We get a few shots and have lunch, sitting on the edge, overlooking the Lysefjord.

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Then we climb up even higher, so we can see the Preikestolen and the Lysefjord from above. It’s such an amazing view!

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Then it’s time to make our way back. 1.5 hours of walking downhill and jumping from rock to rock are ahead of us before finally reaching the car park. I brought shampoo and fresh clothes and clean myself in the bathrooms while Logan is getting the Globetrotter van to pick me up. He then also has a clean and we make our way north. At the Preikestolen bus stop we see a young couple holding their thumbs out. “Where do you guys need to go?” I ask. “To Tau. Our ferry leaves from there!” she says. Turns out there hasn’t been any buses coming in a while and they were already a bit late. We give them a lift to Tau and then make our way towards Hjelmeland, spending the night at a nice spot on the side of the road. There are stone tables and chairs here, so we enjoy beautiful views over the valley while having dinner and then playing a game of chess.

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Kjerag Bolten, Norway

After Logan’s 40k(!) run yesterday, we are off on the big Kjerag Bolten adventure (pronunciation: Sherag). The Bolten is a boulder trapped inbetween two rock walls; it is suspended over 1000m above the Lysefjord.
To get to the Bolten, you start the walk from a restaurant up the serpentine road from Lysebotn.
Whether you get there with your own car, book a bus from the camp site in Lysebotn or hope for a hitch hike from the cars on the ferry.
We got here via the long southern road along the fjord. For photos please see previous blog post.

The parking fee for the day is 100NOK which is over 10€ or $16. You can pay in the restaurant. There are toilets and showers provided but at the end of the walk I have to find out that the showers (which are an extra 10NOK) don’t even work. I’m very disappointed about that looking at the overpriced parking fee that is “supposed to help maintain the car park and facilities”.

The walk is rated “very difficult”. After a few meters we have to make our way up a steep and sometimes slippery mountain. There is a chain fixated to the ground so hikers can hold on for safety. I like treks like these with a bit of a challenge. Red T-markers sprayed on rocks lead the way but there is no actual track. The views are fantastic from the first mountain. The end of the fjord, the town of Lysebotn and the mountains are visible from here.

(Bottem left photo)

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After the first mountain the T-markers lead us into a valley (upper left photo) where we need to cross a creek via a wooden bridge. There is so much mud around, it doesn’t take long until I step in a puddle (to Logan’s delight) and have a wet foot. Oops.
Proper trekking shoes would do a better job in this kind of terrain.

To be honest, I was hoping that there was only one mountain to climb but standing on top, we could see there was a second mountain behind the green valley.
Again the chains are helping the steep and treacherous way up but I’m getting exhausted and slow down Logan (who really should be more exhausted than me after his long run yesterday). He get’s a bit impatient with me, trying to hurry me because he thinks we may not make the ferry in the evening. But hey, I’m not THAT slow!
So on top of the next mountain, I realise there is a valley with a river and ANOTHER even much bigger mountain! It’s still so far away that the people climbing up, look like an ant colony to me. I’m uncertain about my abilities, especially because I can’t keep up with Logan anymore. He’s always about 50-100m infront of me, impatiently tapping his foot from time to time until I get closer again.
So down again, crossing the river aaaand up again! The monster mountain! Step by step, with aching legs, I’m climbing meter by meter
until we finally reach the top. It’s gotta be the end! We must be at the Kjerag Bolten finally. And then I see ant-sized people again! Oh no!!! It’s not a mountain this time, just a long way to walk over a rocky surface with crevasses and even some meter thick snow in parts. Tourist-made rock piles are decorating the landscape and a sign post is pointing the way to Kjerag Bolten.

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From the sign post it’s only a stone’s throw to the Bolten but the way down is precarious! A thin line of hard-packed snow leads through a crevasse towards the platform and the Kjerag Bolten. Right and left are big bolders below and falling or sliding off the thin snow track, wouldn’t be pretty. Walking very slowly over the very slippery snow, we make the crossing and get a first sight of the Kjerag Bolten. I immediately get an adrenaline rush thinking about going on the rock, as anyone here does, for a spectacular photo.
Logan is first and coming back, he re-assures me, it’s not all that bad. There actually is a line up of about 5 people before its my turn. A young women gets dizzy and goes right down on her knees, leaning backwards onto another bolder. A young man reached for her hand to pull her back on the main platform. Right infront of me is a dad with his maybe 5 year old daughter who is slightly freaked out. I can’t blame her, I’m scared too! Looking down the 1000m chasm didn’t help much either.
Now it’s my turn. “don’t look down and keep smiling for the video camera” I keep telling myself. I can feel my legs shake from the strainiousness of climbing for three hours and now the adrenaline adds to it. Logan seems
to keep filming for aaaaages. Finally he is done and I try to communicate to him to also quickly take a photo. He makes hand signs: “with what?” Then it seems
come to him that I gave him my phone.
“Click”!

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..Ok back to safety!!!
Wow that was exciting. We unpack our lunch and enjoy the view while eating.
Logan again asks for the time and I can proudly say: we made it in 2 hours and 30minutes. 3 hours is what it is supposed to take! I’m NOT slow Logan. 😉
A few more photos and we are making our way back over all three mountains which takes approximately the same time or a bit less. My legs start to get weaker and I slip a few times, adding some more mud to my shoes and pants.

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Exhausted we arrive back at the car park and I check whether the showers are working but as already mentioned they aren’t! So we have to make do with the sink and warm water tab in the disabled toilet.

Back down in Lysebotn, we are lining up for the tourist ferry to Forsand. The ferry is 640NOK = about 88€/$105 one way for two people and car/mobile home.
The trip takes 2 hours and we get to see the steep rock cliffs of the fjord, a seal baking in the sun, the Kjerag Bolten from below (see in photo), several waterfalls and hear stories about the locals here at the fjord.

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Arriving in Forsand, we find a perfect little spot to camp right at the fjord. Tomorrow we’ll try our luck fishing again!

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Lysebotn and Lysefjord

While trying to figure out the best plan of how to visit the Preikestolen and Kjerag, we come to the conclusion that it may be the best idea to drive to the ferry terminal and ask for prices there. We want to work out the cheapest way.

Option one would be to take the ferry from Lauvvik to Lysebotn and back the same day without the car. We were also wondering if there is a bus going from the ferry in Lysebotn to the Kjerag walking track.
Option two is to take the car but on the way back get off the ferry earlier to drive on northward.
Option three is to drive all the way from Lauvvik to Lysebotn. It is a long, curvy and steep road but said to be very impressive. Then take the ferry back to Forsand to drive on to Preikestolen.

The 30min trip per passenger (no car) from Lauvvik to Lysebotn is 220 NOK one way. So we’d end up with a price of 880 return for the both of us.
So option 3 turns out to be the cheapest as we only need a ticket back from Lysebotn to Forsand which is 420 NOK for the Campervan up to 6m, including the driver and 220 extra for the additional person. That turns out to be about 86€ / Au$100.

So we make our way eastward along the bendy road and are rewarded with some terrific landscape! We even still find snow up here!

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Having reached the highest point and soon the restaurant from which the walking trek starts, we follow the very steep serpentine road down to Lysebotn. The weather forecast is rain and clouds for the next to days, so we’ll just spend our time down in Lysebotn, trying to catch some fish and kick back before the 6 hour walk to Kjerag.
The Lysefjord is beautiful and numerous waterfalls are running down right and left, into the fjord.

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Stavanger and Eikelivatnet lake, Norway

Arriving in Stavanger, we find ourselves a car park and go for a walk through the city. Surrounded by Norwegian style houses, we find a large lake with a fountain right in the city centre. Nearby we discover a Gothic church and on the other side a wedding.

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We then follow our way down towards the water. There is a market with stalls selling Norwegian style pullovers, warm winter shoes, flags and much more. Pubs with music and outdoor seating areas are located along the port.
I then discover a sign saying “Old Town” pointing left.

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That sounds interesting I think and we follow it up some steps and past some houses. All of a sudden we find ourselves in a lovely old suburb of cute white wooden houses, decorated with flowers everywhere. The cobblestone street leads us past the “Can museum” and two girls selling waffles out their kitchen windows. What a lovely idea to earn some pocket money, so we decide to buy some. So do the tourists who watched us buying them in the first place.

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When returning to our mobile home, I pay for the parking ticket and we drive through the open boom gate, wenn all of a sudden we hear a loud noise of plastic dropping. “What the?!?!??” Jumping out of the van, we discover the boom gate lying on the floor. Now what? Run? Laugh? Call someone? First I check if there are any scratches to be seen on our Camper but the gate was only made from a light plastic. I quickly manage to take a shot, before we then just leave. No time for drama, we want to go fishing.

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And with fishing, another drama unfolds once again! The new fishing line we bought, seems to be too thick for my fishing rod and keeps tangling up badly. Logan then let’s me use his fishing rod for a little while and soon after I loose the rather expensive fish bait to the sea grass at the bottom. His fishing line is thinner and tears when I try to pull the bait out. How frustrating. Logan isn’t happy either, but hey, he lost two yesterday already! I give up for today and leave the fishing to Logan. After another hour or so, he throws out the line, gets somehow tangled and the bait goes flying into the lake! Another one gone. Disappointed we pack our stuff together and retreat to the campervan.
Thanks for the fish Norway.

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