Our crossing to Kristiansand was smooth and took just over 3 hours. The Colorline fast ferries are large vessels and a cut above your average cross channel fries. The terminal in Kristiansand spilled us into the into town in the middle of the afternoon and we were soon on our way north. The next week was going to be all about travel as we wanted to get to the Nordkapp first and then meander back south taking in sights and detours on the way.
It was another cooking hot afternoon when we dropped off the main road to find a small camp site by the lake at place called Hisoy. The sun was so hot that Sue and Fred had to sit in the van with the blinds down to avoid it and it hardly cooled down all night. Like most Norwegian campsites it was a mixture of caravans, campervans, motorhome and cabins but on this site someone was staying in a full on Kenworth long nose semi tractor.
Fred woke us about 06:00 on Thursday so we were soon up, dressed, breakfasted and on the road. Some of the road from Kristiansand to Oslo is now motorway but there was one section under construction and boy do the Norwegian road builders know how to deal with rocks. Sadly Norway has fallen in love with road pricing and every so often there is a gantry across the road that collects your registration number. We found just a few of these before so at least we have an account but there is no escape for foreign tourists as their agency will collect the tolls.
We came off the motorway before Oslo to take a scenic route to Lillehamer. It was picturesque but not a very good road and busy so for the second half of the journey we opted for the main E6 road (that would take us to a 100km short of the Nordkapp) that was equally busy and still pleasant enough. On the way into Lillehamer we looked up local campsites and found one by the lake. Fred managed to get a swim in the lake and bark at the ducks so he was happy. That evening we started to notice the lengthening days as sunset was getting later and the light it left over the lake was stunning.
For Friday our plan was to make it past Trondheim to a camp site we stayed at last time but first a trip to the supermarket for fresh provisions. By the time we were on the road it was already busy and for much of the way it was a frustratingly slow Norwegian cautions speed limit dawdle. We crossed over the vast wilderness at Oppdal where the road summit is over 2000 feet eventually reaching Trondheim in the Friday rush hour. Finally we got to the campsite at Steinkjer and the same pitch we had last time overlooking the lake where we could watch the Merganzer ducks among others dividing for food.
We made an early start on Saturday and this time the road was quiet. We were aiming for Mo i Rana but in the end made it way past there. The road passes through a mixture of geography and terrain but whatever there are a lot of pine trees. Like the rest of the journey there were several tunnels and todays longest of 8.6km is going to take some beating. Sue was on the look out for Elk and was rewarded with one this morning a bit off the side of the road. Long before Mo i Rana and beyond there were significant roadworks where the road is being widened and realigned. We saw the beginnings o this last time so it is going to be a long term project. That afternoon we crossed the Arctic Circle and continued to Nordnes campsite for the night. The van is taking the journey well in its stride and passed the 2000 mile mark just a few short of the Arctic Circle. By now the weather was much cooler, about 16C during the day and 10C at night.
We were away sharp on Sunday morning and again the roads were very quiet. This afternoon, 7 days after leaving home, we passed 2000 miles. Our aim was to get a little way past Narvik before stopping. We had an easy journey through some very big scenery stopping on one occasion to admire it and finding we were close by the WWII concentration camp. Just before that we had both seen an Elk on the road margin before it scuttled off into the woods. We ate lunch on small ferry just before Narvik and were looking forward to stopping for the night. Well this had to be the longest stretch of road with no campsites and we were contemplating a wild stop. Fortunately though we found a pleasant site next to a wildlife reserve that apparently has abundant bird life – except of course when we visit although we did see a red squirrel on the drive which fortunately Fred did not.
Driving through Norway is often slow and always torturous. Distances as the crow flies are great but by road they are twice as far. I am sure Fred, being a Spaniel, understands this. They can be tedious at times but rarely boring. It is easy to become blasé about the stupendous scenery that is seemingly endless. One could take a million photos but never capture the essence of bowling along through this fabulous place.