Monday 12th June- Son, Norway
Woke up early and checked for webbed feet – not yet but if the wet conditions last too much longer, nothing would surprise us.
Filled up with fuel and then headed for the Norwegian border. We were a bit apprehensive about whether our extra alcohol stock would be confiscated. We were pleasantly surprised to see no barriers and no customs check in point at all – was just like driving down the highway so Ziggy smiled, my best friend smiled and I smiled as we headed for new adventures in a new country with a new language, customs, currency, road rules etc.
We are so taking for granted how lush and green and how beautiful the countryside is. Everywhere we have been is just amazing. All the spring wild flowers in purples, pink and white are all along the banks of the highway.
We passed over many high bridges and looked down to rivers dotted with stately country homes. Can only imagine these homes are owned by the wealthy as they ramble on and on with stables and beautiful chestnut horses roaming in the paddocks.
We left the highway for Son which is a small town halfway between the border and Oslo and stopped in a car park high above the town overlooking once again some magnificent waterways. This carpark provided 24 hour free parking. We saw one of the cruise boats we had seen leaving the harbour in Stromstad – now heading back to Sweden.
The sun came out for the first time in weeks- don’t think we saw the sun in Sweden at all. Time to soak up the sunshine during lunch and then take a long walk to town for supplies and some Norwegian kroner (NOK) and then around the beautiful harbour front.
Only 10 minutes walk down the hill into Son. A very narrow street ( no way Ziggy could fit). Centred around a marina, only a few shops, a museum, a Kiwi supermarket a mini bank and restaurants and some houses high on the hill around a really pretty little town.
Discovered so much on the walk. Thought this town was small but there are so many unbelievable houses tucked away up on the hills taking advantage of the magnificent view. We also passed through some exquisite spa resorts on the waters edge. Felt a bit like a “grotty Yachty” amongst these people who obviously are paying premium Norwegian prices for this luxury. Security didn’t chase us away so we enjoyed our little time with the rich and famous before heading back to our own little nest on wheels.
On returning to Ziggy we were amazed to see a Europark parking infringement ($100AUD) notice on the windscreen. We checked the parking notice at the entrance to the carpark and translated it again using Google translate and took a photo of it as well. There was nothing on the notice to indicate what we had done wrong. We phoned the number for Europark on the infringement notice and was told we had to phone between 10am and 2pm the next day to lodge a complaint. Not very helpful at all – she told us that we could stay there as there would be no further fines for the next 24 hours. She gave us no reason for the ticket.
A little more than annoyed at the situation because earlier while we were having lunch , a Europark car had driven into the carpark and out again and didn’t bother to speak to us or indicate there might be a problem – not very tourist friendly at all.
We settled down and tried to enjoy a fabulous wine and delightful chicken curry.
Went to bed at midnight but not before pulling the shades and to shut out the daylight. Woke up at 2.30am and it was still daylight so expect that we have reached the end of dark nights and heading towards 24 hour daylight.
Tuesday 13th June – Kongsberg – Norway
Drafted an email objecting to the infringement notice to send to the local town Kommune (community office) ready to send when we were next in a wifi area and hope they can help us with some answers. The signage there was not adequate with information, particularly for foreign travellers and the Europark driver should at least have explained any issue to us earlier when he was in the carpark.
Headed for Oslo this morning with the intention of staying for a couple of days. We passed through some major toll roads on the way to Oslo. We were armed with a credit card but discovered these were automatic toll roads which means you can’t stop at a booth and pay,. Not sure how we are going to pay but as soon as we get some internet we will find out – seems like they send invoices for the tolls to our email address???.
We headed to the marina which seemed to be the closest to the centre of Oslo. We again passed through some toll roads but not really sure how many. Can’t ever remember seeing so many boats at a marina and such a huge place. Literally hundreds of boats, probably a couple of thousand, and when we got to the motorhome section, there would have been over 250-300 spaces for motorhomes. At $50 a night, someone is making a lot of money.
We had tried to connect to the Internet at the marina (included in the $50 fee) only to find it didn’t work most of the time. Went to see the harbour master about how to organise payment and to get some info on how to get to town and the Internet. He didn’t have any info, said we needed at least two buses to get there and went into great detail on how unsafe it was in central Oslo and to be very careful particularly with pick pockets (those nasty people from the East)
Long story short, we decided to give Oslo Marina a miss and headed out of the marina.
We headed up the hill in Oslo to the ski jump at Holmenkommen. Spent quite some time there. Spectacular views of Oslo was a bonus. Tourist buses and a full carpark showed how popular this spot is. Completed in 2010, this is the first ski jump made out of steel and has inbuilt wind protection – it is a very impressive structure. You can also experience the ski jump through a simulator and for the more adventurous, you can take a ride down a zip line from the top. (Didn’t take this option).
After lunch at the top, we headed out of Oslo and travelled west to where we really want to be – the Norwegian fiords and wilderness.
Arrived in Kongsberg late afternoon and parked beside the River Numedalslagen which has 3 waterfalls in the town itself. We stayed at the Skiing and Mining Museum, in the centre of town. The river splits this town in half and forms into rapids right at the bridge in town and beside this museum. Quite a spectacle and a mighty roar.
It was 4pm and the museum was still open until 5pm. We asked permission to stay the night and then spent an hour looking through this amazing old building showcasing the history of mining in the area and also the history of ski equipment from its beginning.
Wednesday 14th June – Kviteseid, Norway
Left mid morning after a very quiet and restful night. We were able to connect into the museum wifi as guests so took advantage of this to catch up on emails and research.
Headed towards the Telemarkenkanalen (the fairytale waterway) to see some of the lock systems in action. First stop was at the beautiful little town of Ulefoss which offered a magic picnic spot on the waterway. We have not found many spots that provide a park and picnic area so took advantage of this and sat in the sunshine admiring the view. Today was one of the warmest we have had so far so through experience now, you have to stop and enjoy it while you can because there is a 90% chance you won’t see it tomorrow.
We passed over some of the prettiest countryside seen so far with waterways, bridges, mountains and forests everywhere. Just as we imagined it would be and the words “the fairytale waterway” is a perfect description of it.
Next we went to Vrangfoss locks and parks, the largest and most impressive flight of locks on the canal. The five lock chambers raise or lower boats over a height differential of 23 metres. We were lucky enough to arrive as one of the waterway tourist boats was lowered down the five stepped locks.
Very manual system where two young ladies (one on each side of the lock) used ratchets to open and close the large wooden gates allowing water in and out of the lock one level at a time. Then ran down to the next level to begin again and then finally once the boat was out of the lock, rushed to their car and drove down to the next lock further down the line. Very fit young ladies.
Time to bed down for the day (no such thing to bed down for the night as there is no night).
Our Campsite is Garverigeden. Right on the waterway at the little township of Kviteseid. Was just like looking into a mirror, the waterway reflected the hills and quaint Norwegian houses and the ducks and swans swam happily by us. The mirror only disturbed by the little ripples of the small sea creatures moving about below. We have two other mobile homes here. This camp can take up to 10 mobile homes and we are surprised there are only two others camped here with us in such a beautiful place.
It has been difficult to find these places as so many towns have now excluded motorhomes from parking on the waterfronts. There are many privately owned camp areas that charge exorbitant fees and are grotty and run down so expect these have put pressure on the local Kommunes to prevent free parking.
Sat outside in our chairs and enjoyed the tranquility (and a drink) until late in the evening. This place is designated as a free camp ground so there is no problem with taking chairs and tables outside.