Birds, Boats and Borders

Community Highlights Road Trips Birds, Boats and Borders

Ok so I've done it again! I sit down to do the blog in a pretty stunning setting, only to realise I've got another fortnight to catch up on! Scandinavia is tough to keep up with!

This blog is being written just south of Nordkapp itself, at a lovely waterside location where I have water to my left and right, with reindeer meandering their way through from time to time. It's an incredible place, but more on that later.

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I suspect this is going to be another long post, and potentially a bit gushing too - Norway has totally blown me away. The scenery, the nature, just the overall feeling is something pretty special. I doubt I'll do it justice with my words or photos, but I'll give it a bash!

The last post then saw us on our last day in Sweden, at Abisko National Park. We'd planned I think to move on that day (Sunday 30th June) but with a lovely clear day in prospect we decided to stay and did another long walk - sort of heading for a lake, although with the distance being an unknown quantity, and not having prepared ourselves ever so well, we ended up doing about 9miles in all. Never finding the lake, but some stunning views nonetheless.

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We also got lucky with the midnight sun again - slightly obscured by the mountains, but still a lovely sight and something I don't think I'll ever get used to, or forget.

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Monday morning and 1st July - you'd think the weather might have made a note and switched summer on, but no we were back to low cloud, drizzle and cold too. We'd been told by our new mates Motoroamers who'd done the road to Norway the previous (sunny) day, it was a fabulous drive - fair to say we'll have to imagine that one as we saw very little! It was odd though how the smooth, rolling hills gave way to something more boulder strewn and stark as we crossed the border - they still have an active border here, as Norway isn't in the EU - mainly for trucks though as no one seemed interested in us thankfully.

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Our first stop in Norway was into Narvik to get some LPG - northern Sweden slightly lacks in supply, but Norway is much more in tune with it - more expensive than most of Europe, but we use so little, it doesn't matter too much (€5.57 for 6L which is enough for about a month). On leaving Narvik we fell foul of a toll road (costing us €11) - it seems it only opened in December, and although our Sat Nav did know it was there, it didn't seem to know it was a toll road. Interestingly the road gave us no notice of the fee so we didn't have a chance to take the 20minute (free) detour. Lesson learnt though. Our overnight stop was a free Aire at Evenskjer, aside the sea inlet.

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Next morning and thankfully the weather was somewhat improved - we could see the tops of some of the surrounding mountains. We had a decent forecast for the next few days so we decided to head across to the Lofoten chain of islands - the northern end though known as Vesteralen. Our initial plan was to head towards the most northerly town of Andenes where you can do boat trips to see Whales and Puffins. The journey was lovey, although we did have a mild panic when the Sat Nav came up with a boat ahead, or a 90km detour! We were fairly committed by that point so decided to jump on the ferry - there are so many water crossings around Norway, that the boats act more like road bridges, you don't book, just turn up, pay your money and roll on the next available one. This one was only 20mins or so and around €10 so not too bad. It also doubles as an experience in its own right, seeing some lovely views along the way.

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Once onto the island and a pit stop for lunch, we headed right to the top at Andenes - the weather had been on our side most of the way, but as we got towards the tip we headed into a rain shower - far from ideal, and somewhat tainted our view of Andenes. The parking area was less then inspiring, so we headed onto Park4Night and found an alternative just slightly south at Bleik. By the time we got there, the view was far from bleak/Bleik! We had a nice layby pull in which although roadside, had the most amazing view into the ocean. A quick bit of reading also confirmed that the rock just off shore was home to some 85,000 puffins as well as up to 80 sea eagles. A short time later, and we were booked onto the following day's puffin safari, crossing our fingers and toes for the sunny weather to hold.

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The evening cleared beautifully and we experienced the best midnight sun to date - being so far north the sun didn't even try and get anywhere near the horizon, just dipping a bit around midnight before coming back up just a few minutes later - amazing.

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Wednesday morning and another beautiful clear one. We spent the morning getting a few jobs done making the most of the solar to charge the various electrical bits with the inverter and caught up with the hand washing (Norway also lacks in launderettes). After lunch we headed down to the boat departure ready for our 3pm trip on "Laura". The captain was, as you'd expect, a bit of a sea dog, with stories for everyone, and in every language you can imagine! He told us how the puffins use the island for breeding this time of year, but spend 8 months of the year out at sea. The ride out was a bit rockier than I'd been hoping (and it was a very small boat), but if you want to see these things, you have to be brave! Anyway, after about 10minutes, we looked up & into the sea and we were literally surrounded by puffins - every bit as beautiful as I imagined. Looking further up you could see the huge (and I do mean huge) shape of the sea eagles (while tailed) looking for their lunch. It was an awesome sight. At this point, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

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Back on dry land (phew) and after warming back up we drove a short distance to a lovely beachside spot Jase had spotted while on the boat. The attitude to motorhomes, caravans and tents is the same here in Norway - effectively anywhere is fair game as long as it's not signed as prohibited or within 150m of someone's property.

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We had a lovely peaceful evening by the sea, spotting a couple of eagles coming back inland to rest.

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Thursday 4th July and a return to cloudier conditions - we couldn't even see puffin rock this morning! We'd enjoyed our couple of days on the island, but having seen what we wanted to, and with many of the journeys being out and back and involving a lot more boats and tolls, we'd decided to head back to the mainland.

Our last island stop was a great fjord at Risoyhamn where Jase was able to have a fish (drew a blank here but did see an otter).

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The next morning we had a great view of a Hurtigruten boat - this one was on it's way south to Bergen.

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After a leisurely start we headed back towards the ferry crossing and back to the mainland - thankfully another very smooth crossing.

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We then did a fairly short drive towards Borkennes to another free Aire, again by the water. Jase spent some time fishing and caught a small cod (too small to dispatch though).

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We also pulled on our brave pants and headed into our first Norwegian supermarket - the van is very well stocked with dried & tinned goods, but we needed a few fresh bits - blimey that was an easy £15 to spend! If that's the Norway standard, I can't see why we'd want a Norway + Brexit agreement!

Saturday morning and another cloudy morning. We had a busy morning doing a few jobs - new wiperblades for the van (another Biltema visit!) plus fuel fill - interestingly the fuel prices here vary by the hour with the cheapest usually being Thursday and Monday! The prices can be steep, but so far we've paid from €1.30 a litre right up to €1.50 a litre - and this was at the same place!

Today's drive took us through the hills, complete with so many waterfalls - another benefit of wetter weather!

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Our end point was Sorreisa, another layby spot. This one was alongside a very quiet road and a gap between the mainland and the island of Senja. The Park4Night comment noted something about seeing dolphins - surely not - would I be able to fulfil a dream of seeing dolphins not just from dry land, but actually from the van?? We'd got there around mid afternoon and scanned the water for most of the day. At about 10.40pm we finally got our first glimpse of a fin - just spine tingling.

Sunday and a welcome return to sunshine. After our dolphin spot the day before there was no way we'd be moving too quickly! We spent the morning getting jobs done, and then the afternoon was spent watching for the dolphins while Jase had a fish - catching a couple this time. We were rewarded with quite a few sighting in the end. With it being such a lovely day we decided to have our Cava and pizza that we'd been planning for mid summer - it was a few weeks late, but well worth the wait!

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Monday 8th July and time to leave our lovely dolphin spot. Having done a bit of research we'd read about the island of Senja which was reputed to be quieter than the Lofoten Islands (Norway had surprised us so far by being far busier than anywhere we'd been in Sweden). The bridge across was free, so we thought we'd give it a go. The journey was amazing with snowy peaks and crystal clear blue waters.

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We stopped for a van service and spotted another Hurtigruten ship in a lovely spot.

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Our destination was a Park4Night layby in Senjahopen to the north of the island. We were not disappointed - we parked up and gazed at the view into the fjord. Exactly what you expect from Norway, but at the same time, spellbinding. Later in the day Jase worked out how to get waterside and we headed down for a fish. A truly magical day was made even more so by spotting a couple of dolphin fins - looked like possibly an adult with a younger one judging by the size of the fins.

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Tuesday morning and again sunny and warm too. We decided to stay put for the day and enjoy the place. We had an explore walk down towards the village, although there wasn't much there in the end. Back onto the rocks and Jase had an epic afternoon's fish catching 6 small cod & whiting - individually a bit small for the pot, but great to see. We also saw the dolphin a couple of times too.

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Wednesday and time to move on. The plan was to have a bit of a drive around the island and see what else it had to offer. Our first stop was at Tungeneset which has the most amazing slab rock formations running down to the beach.

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We then headed onto Bergsbotn view point which captures the view down across the fjord.

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Further on we'd stopped to walk up to a waterfall next to what appeared to be a hidden tunnel into the rock.

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Jase had mentioned his Norwegian friend talking about all sorts of hidden tunnels around Norway, some of which were used during the war. Just as we were heading back to the van, a car came out of the hidden tunnel, and an army officer got out - we thought maybe we'd overstepped the mark, but no he wanted to know where we were from, and what we thought of the island. He then went on to give us a tip to use the old road to grab a great view down into Gryllesfjord. The funniest bit though was when Jase said "I'd love to know what's hidden in that tunnel, but I know you won't tell me" to which the chap said "I'm glad you understand" and said no more!

We rolled away from there and headed for his tip - the views were fantastic across both sides of the island, and complete with a cairn at the top where we placed a stone.

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Our overnight stop was at the top end of Gryllesfjord where I had my very first fishing lesson - didn't catch anything other than the bottom and some seaweed, but it was good to have a go!

On leaving the spot the next morning, we caught a glimpse of a lovely golden eagle.

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Thursday 11th July and time to leave the island and start making headway to Nordkap. The drive was spectacular across the island, with so many snowy peaks - I know I've mentioned the weather a number of times, and yes it has been cold, but the bonus of that is the snowy tops remaining - the mountains aren't that high here, many are well below 1,000m but yet you feel so mountainous.

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Our overnight spot was at Samuelsberg, again alongside the sea but too windy for any dolphins or fishing tonight.

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Friday morning and a cloudier start. Not wanting to rush away, Jase headed out for a fish and caught another small whiting. After a warm up, the sun started to burn off the cloud and the day was improving massively. We rolled away around midday and headed north, initially planning to get about 3hrs covered towards Nordkapp. However, the weather was so good, and the drive so awe-inspiring that we carried on, all the way to Norkapp! Arriving at just around 11pm - we'd had stops for lunch, tea and cake and dinner along the way.

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The views had been incredible - it felt like a one-stop geography field trip seeing every kind of landscape possible - the start was spiky alps, followed by rockier hills, canyons, lunar, boulders then moody plains and scrub. We'd almost not done this trip thinking that the Nordkapp itself would be a bit novelty and expensive to boot - but it's way more about the journey than the arrival point. It was simply breath-taking.

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Nordkapp itself is on an island with a 6.8km tunnel under the sea to get across - it goes to over 200m deep with 9% decent and climb back out. We also saw so many reindeer I lost count - including a lovely herd with baby ones too.

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The trip had been crystal clear the whole way, until the last 2km to the cape! We pulled up just before the toll booths (where they will fleece you for £27 per person plus £10 for the van for a 24hr visit) and I jumped out to grab the photo - it was bitter and totally fogged out!

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We turned round and headed back to a car park we'd spotted 7km down the road. By the time we calmed down after the day I think it was gone 2am when we finally turned in.

Saturday morning and the weather was cold and cloudy but without the low cloud from the night before. We knew there was a 9km one way walk we could do which would reach a little bit further north (71 11 22) so we put our boots on and headed off with as many layers as we could carry and a picnic. The going was fairly rocky and boggy in places, with a landscape that feels quite desolate. There are no trees here, just grass, moss and a few very hardy flowers. No flies or bugs, just a few gulls and plenty of reindeer. We saw more reindeer than people walking, and we enjoyed our lunch watching the reindeer enjoying theirs. It was truly a magical place to be.

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Back at the van, and with a solid 9.5mile walk under our belts we were both a bit tired out (113 floors climbed too). We warmed back up with a drive to Gjesvaer where we stayed last night. Its a small harbour village with (importantly) excellent 4G for all the sport on at the mo!

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And so to today, I've had reindeer grazing in front of me, Jase is out fishing for a bit, and I've got the cricket on. With F1 and the tour for later we've got a good day ahead.

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From here it's south all the way! We are undecided which way to head at the moment, we may pick up a bit of Finland perhaps, and then Sweden (we'll need food by then!) and maybe towards Fjordland and Trondheim where we hope things will be warmer.

Sweden was amazing, Norway has totally blown us away. I never thought we'd see a fraction of the landscapes and nature we've seen each day. It's such an easy place to be in a camper too - yes it's expensive, there is no two ways about that, but we've now done 5 weeks without a campsite - easily too. That has meant we've experienced probably 90% of our top ten stays for the whole trip, but equally has kept us well under budget for our time in Scandinavia so far.

One bizarre thing we have learnt on the money side is that a sliced bakery loaf costs £2 (20NOK) more than an unsliced bakery one - but you can save the 20NOK and still get a sliced loaf by using the self serve in store slicing machine - weird!

So there we are, all caught up again - I really will try and make this weekly, but no promises!

Until next time, stay safe all
J&J x

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This featured blog entry was written by One streetaway from the blog #Jexit 2018.
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By One streetaway

Posted Sun, Jul 14, 2019 | Norway | Comments