Posts Tagged With: electricity

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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L’Aquila and Campo Imperatore

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First thing in the morning Logan tries to get us out of these grass mounts and mud. It doesn’t work. I suggest to have breakfast first and think about how we want to try it best before anything worse happens. While eating we discuss how we can possibly get traction under the tires and manoeuvre the van out of these two mounts. We then collect gravel and flat stones to put before and behind the tires. It takes about 3 goes of changing stones around we finally make it over the mount and are out. If we hadn’t lost our pipe before, we surely would have then. Only seconds later the wheels spin again. It is too muddy! I then navigate Logan backwards past the mounts and back onto the sealed road. Phew! (Video footage will follow on YouTube!!)
Let’s just get out of here; I need a change of scenery to get my mind off the mishappenings from last night.

Logan picked out a hike up Corno Grande, starting from Campo Imperatore. It is the highest glacier in Southern Europe, ideal walking times between July and September. (We have April!) While I like hiking, Logan keeps picking out these challenges and I don’t really know if I like the idea of hiking up a snow covered glacier in this nasty weather. We definitely want electricity for tonight and choose a campsite near Campo Imperatore.

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Upon arrival we have to realise thatit is closed. So is the gondola to the Campo Imperatore and even the hotels look deserted. We drive to L’Aquila, the “capital” of Abruzzo in search for a camping spot. I found two on google. The first one turns out to be a car dealer, selling mobile homes, and the second one simply doesn’t exist. The search is not made easy by all the barricades throughout the entire city. Soon we realise, L’Aquila has been victim to a strong earthquake in 2009 and has been destroyed badly. Scaffold is holding

up and supporting entire buildings. People are working everywhere. Not having found a place to stay, we decide to go back to Fonte Cerreto, near Campo Imperatore, to be able to start our hike early tomorrow morning. We park up on a round car park in front of the hotels and keep looking around for a possibility to get electricity.
We honestly tried to find a campsite and were willing to pay for electricity and I’m now quite scared of having to freeze again tonight. Across the street is this hot dog van parked up and he’s plugged into a socket… Hm… We keep watching it for a couple of hours and once it gets dark, we park right behind him and sneakily steal power for the next 8 hours, being able to run our heater and watch a movie tonight. Let’s just not tell anyone. 😉 Oh, and I could finally iron the wax off the kitchen bench and put a flower sticker over the burnt area from last night. Out of sight, out of mind! Now we just to find a welder soon, to re-attach our waste water pipe!

View from our camp spot:

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Hunting for electricity:                                                Sticker over the burnt kitchen bench. Fixed – for now!

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Country side town, Colmurano

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The white blinds are glowing from the sun shining against them. I open the one on my side and see blue skies and tall green grass. I’m feeling lazy today, no actually I feel like I would just love to enjoy the day, the view, the sun! We are having breakfast and grab the bikes to cruise up into town, as we need a few supplies. I realise that even though we drove through town twice yesterday, I can’t remember anything at all. Did we see any shops?
We are simply stunned by the views from the top of the village and stop for a few photos and some video footage at the stone wall that is built around the town centre. Four small alley ways lead around the stone built houses and there is a tall clock tower at the highest point of the town. Logan discovers a small shop in one of the stone houses, the door is open and we gather that it must be a fruit and vegetable shop. Four bananas, two apples, tomato sauce with olives and tuna and even a scrubbing brush for the dishes land in our bag.
A few meters down the street we go past a hardware store and Logan wants to go and buy a plunger as he blocked up our delicate kitchen drain (it actually is a hose) with two noodles. He thought pushing the pasta in will make them go through and now we can’t do the dishes anymore. 6Euros. Thinking about our tight budget I convince Logan to try differently at first. I’m hoping that a bit of the toilet chemicals we got will help dissolve the pasta.
We keep on looking for another grocery store but can’t seem to find one… “Wait! Logan, this is a shop too!” Italians haven’t really got it with advertising I guess. I only realised “house number 48” was a shop because a man just walked out the door and I saw food when riding by. Funny. We also grab some spaghetti and a packet of cookies, which I empty only 10 minutes later. Oops.
While I sit down and read my book “Inside of a dog” by Alexandra Horowitz, Logan goes for a 70min run. In the afternoon I boil up some water to “shower” ourselves and then to wash our (95% Logan’s) dirty clothes. Yupp, I’m feeling quite neo-hippie or whatever you’d like to call this lifestyle.

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Free camping and free electricity!

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Day 9 (by Francy)

I wake up freezing and frustrated! My head is cold and my nose feels like a piece of ice. We had 2 degrees last night and weren’t able to heat. I just want to leave this place, turn on the car heating and drive as far south as possible.
Indeed we are packing up rather quickly and start driving south along the beach.

We still avoid the “autostrada”, or highway, as we enjoy driving through smaller and bigger towns. Unfortunately the region “Le Marche” doesn’t quite fulfil our expectations. As we drive through beach towns such as Rimini, Pesaro, Fano and Senigallia, we are not impressed at all. Much of Le Marche’s coast is lined with rather depressing high-rise hotels and apartment buildings, partly old and dirty. The beach is wide but has a rather brownish colour and especially in Rimini is made unsightly by hundreds of, what seem to be, change rooms! Yes, on the beach! Because of these hundreds of colourful box-shaped change rooms, you can hardly even see the beach from the esplanade. The train line also runs along the beach in pretty much all of Le Marche, giving it an industrial kind of look. The buildings being run down, the unattractive beach and the industrial suburbs make us change our mind and we decide to head inland towards the mountains.

I give it another try and seek out a free campsite supposedly with electricity, toilets, water and grey water disposal drains. The road inland leads us through the kind of Italy we hoped for: green hills, fields, pretty farm houses and small medieval hill towns with clock towers, fortresses and massive stone walls. In the distance we see the 20 snow-capped peaks in the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini. The change of scenery works like magic on us.

After an hour and many wrong turns, we reach the small and pretty town of Culmorano. The campsite is supposed to be near the sporting fields at the outskirts of the town. We drive through town slowly and at the end we find the sporting fields and a small car park. No electricity, no toilets, no water. I’m disappointed and scared I’ll have to freeze again tonight. Not even a waste water drain?! ‘This is strange’, I think, when Logan says: “There were some kind of sporting fields in the beginning of town too.” My hopes are raised and I beg for it to be the place described in my Board Atlas.
Driving past a basketball field and a playground, we suddenly see a sign “Campervans this way”. Secretly hidden we find a small car park surrounded by bush, trees and high grass. An amazing view over the rolling hills and another small town lies in front of us. After an intense search around the toilet house, we find an electricity socket and after connecting the lead, we are super excited about the green switch at the fridge and a warm blow out of the heater. Free electricity?!? Really??? I thought we’d need to pay at least 50cents a night but it actually is free! A look at the toilets keeps the excitement limited but since this will obviously be our home for a few nights, I grab the cleaning liquid and start scrubbing down one of the toilets. After the dirty part is done, I’m feeling pretty good about our new “home”. How lucky are we tonight, to stay in such a beautiful and solitary spot for free and we can even heat our van! We spend the evening with researching the area in Lonely Planet’s Italy guidebook and find quite a few things to do, such as Europe’s largest cave and hiking around Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini where there are even supposed to be wolfs, bears and wild cats!

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The Veneto, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 (by Francy)

Oh hey, while people still work on the bathrooms we are at least allowed to use the toilets and showers today. What first stands out to me again, is the loosy goosy way labourers work in Italy. Cement is splashed all over the shower walls and it just doesn’t look done properly. The toilets are also built too closely to the door that you can only sit down with your body straight up and the flush is the coming out like a fountain! The water is splashing all over the toilet bowl and onto the floor. I find that somewhat disgusting and amusing at the same time. Welcome to Italy, or should I say Mediterranean countries, as similar things have happened to me before in France and Spain as well.

We empty our grey water again, fill up clean water and this time also empty the toilet box. “Eww!” You would think. That’s what we expected too but it’s not actually smelly or disgusting at all. All that comes out is blue “water” and you wouldn’t even see it, if I wasn’t so curious to bend down and look in the waste shute. It’s all blue from a chemical we put into the toilet that breaks down whatever goes into it; even toilet paper. While I get rid of all the rubbish Logan walks to reception to pay.

“14 Euros please!” “Excuse meee???” Yesterday he said 10 Euros! Now why is it 14? The guy at reception says: “I made a mistake yesterday, it’s not 10, it’s 14.” When Logan tells me that I’m furious. I guess it doesn’t help much to be angry now and I remind myself of the fact that we got away with washing a few clothes in the washing machine without paying.

We drive on towards Venice but don’t want to go there just yet. The weather isn’t quite perfect and we rather want a full day in Venice, so we just drive around to see if we can find a free parking spot for the night and have a look how we get into Venice.

After having lunch next to a small river, we drive on to Venice. A long bridge leads over to the islands. We find a car park on the island of Tronchetto: 21 Euros for 12 hours and an extra 16 Euros on top every 12 hours. We decide to drive back to that same spot at the river and come back in the morning to then have a max. of 12 hours in Venice.

The drive back was another interesting one with one Italian man suddenly swerving onto our lane, racing towards us and turning into his driveway only seconds before he would have hit us. Another person overtakes us where there is a double line indicating, “overtaking not allowed”. Road rules are just a suggestion in Italy!

The landscape has changed a lot since Slovenia. There are fields as far as the eye can see and big brick houses in the middle of them with a few bushes around. Long driveways lead to those houses that often look abandoned and in ruins.

We try and approach a few of these deserted houses however discovered that they were not abandoned but still in ruins with roofs, windows or walls missing.

We are trying the fishing thing again; and again without success. It must be the wrong bait, as so far we are only using little colourful rubber bait and they probably don’t help much in murky water. Once it gets dark we start to get a little worried that police might see us and give us a nice big fine. It’s Easter weekend so it’s more likely they check for illegal campers. We hear a group of people walking out of a nearby church, going in a circle and chanting before heading back in. We’re looking forward to see Venice tomorrow…

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