Well at least to the Nordkapp which is the most northerly point in Europe.
Two years ago we drove up the west coast of Norway as far as the Arctic Circle before turning for home through Sweden. Ever since then we have regretted not going further north in Norway even though we would not have had time to get to the Nordkapp. So now here we are on that journey for 5 weeks. Our plan is to get to the there reasonably swiftly although without busting a gut especially driving through Norway.
We set out on Sunday 29 July to catch the shuttle to Calais. For several days before Eurotunnel had been having tremendous problems caused by the heat wave and high traffic levels at the start of the school holidays. It seems that the air conditioning in their ageing rolling stock could not cope with the heat and the hot vehicles so that carriages were being taken out of service causing delays of many hours. However by Sunday things looked better so when we arrived everything was apparently running normally – that is only 30 minutes late. Waiting in the camper van park for our slot to be called we were one of many VW campers – at a guess about 1/3 of the vans there were VW of all ages. Oh and we had the first rain for weeks – but of course we were off on our travels.
Hitting the road north from Calais the Sunday traffic was busy and it was still raining. After about half an hour we crossed the Belgian border and it started to warm up. The autoroute through Belgium was extremely busy slowing to a crawl on several occasions. Our intention was always to get through Antwerp and into Netherlands before stopping for the night. Antwerp didn’t disappoint and we queued all the way up to and beyond the Kennedy tunnel even on a Sunday.
Once in the Netherlands we came off the motorway at Ousterhout to find a campsite. The surrounding area seemed to be a leisure park with a lot to choose from but in reality most were holiday camps or static vans. We stopped at one that was ASCI listed but as the lady totted up the extras it came to €40 for nothing special so we made our excuses and left. With a bit of snooping we soon found a site. A few miles away, it was bit old and tired but it was fine for the night and substantially cheaper at €13.50 and no formalities.
It was a hot night and we all had difficulty sleeping. We struggled to get Fred to stay in his bed but a bit of forceful persuasion eventually did the trick and we all got some sleep until about 06:00 when he decided it was time to jump on the bed and wake us.
On Monday 30th our plan was to reach the Danish border, about 400 miles away but the autobahn gods had other ideas. It was 30C and more for most of the day so we were running fast with the air condition blasting. Our first big problem came approaching roadworks joining the A1 near Osnabruk. We both saw the sat nav direct us off to the right but as we moved over I noticed the road signage was different and by the time we looked back at the sat nav we were committed. Annoyed and frustrated we drove about 7 miles to the next junction with queuing traffic on the opposite side that we were going to have to come back through. We had lost about half an hour.
Back on the move we stopped briefly for lunch with an eye on making the border by 17:00. Our plan ran it to trouble when we hit the back of a queue caused by a recent accident in the roadworks ahead. In all we sat there for about 2 hours with an outside temperature that maxed at 36C – it wasn’t fun. Once they cleared the accident and the traffic was on the move again we dove through many miles of 2 lane restrictions with more queues around Bremen and on to Hamburg. Hamburg was another nightmare, it was rush hour and we crawled through the Elbe Tunnels and into 30 or 40 kilometres of roadworks where the A7 going north is being widened.
By now we had given up on making Denmark and so dropped off the motorway to find a nearby camp site. What we found was a holiday camp site around a small lake. They even had a beach with loads of activities for kids. The touring pitches were a free for all which despite our having driven around the lanes off the autobahn was right next to it. Whatever the facilities were superb so we ended up clean and refreshed. It was another very hot and stuffy night.
We were up early the next morning, 31 July, courtesy of Fred and on the road where even at 09:00 it was 28C. After the previous day our drive was spectacularly uneventful and we made Hirtshals by 14:45. At the camp site by the beach our details came up on their system and we pitched just a few places away from where we had before. After a walk around town we had planned to sit out for the evening but the inevitable happened, the wind got up, the sky clouded, there were claps of thunder and the heavens opened so that was that until later when the sun set with a gorgeous orange turning to red glow.
Wednesday 1st of August and we were off to Norway. We killed time with a walk around the extensive German fortifications for the big guns that were there to protect the straight. And then before checking in top the tank up with cheap Danish diesel and a trip to the supermarket for a few essentials. Finally after 865 miles arriving at the ferry terminal for our 12:15 sailing to Kristiansand.
Journey to the Top of the World : 2 >>>