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Holidays 2006 – Norway

 Just Rosemary and Andy again, the children now being 25 and 21. 1 Norwegian Kroner (NK) is about 90 pence.

Tues 1st Aug 2006

left Shaftesbury at 1615, with a booking for the 2359 Norfolk Line sailing from Dover to Dunkirk. Arrived in Dover at 1945, and was put onto the 2000 sailing, with mostly lorries. Clean and spacious ferry, with hardly anyone about. Truckers had their own areas (probably with good value food). Arrived in Dunkirk at 2300 French time, and spent the night in a small car park in the port area.

Wed 2nd Aug

woken early by lorries leaving the 0200 sailing (arriving 0500 French time), so we got an early start. Next time we will carry on to a service area before stopping for the night - most of these had large numbers of lorries and a few motorhomes in, having spent the night there.

Route North: E40 Bruges, N44, N49, N 517, (actually a motorway) Antwerp's Kennedy tunnel (€5) (@ 258 miles), A17, E19 Rotterdam, A20, N11 Leiden, E19 19, A9 Harlem, Alkmaar, N9 Den Helder, A7 over Ijsselmeer (Good wild camping at North going side of the north end of the causeway). Harlingen (interesting town and harbour), Leeuwarden, N31 A7 Groningen, E22 A31 Emden.

At Emden we found a good stellplatz by the harbour. Cost €6 p.n.. A pleasant little maritime town. Miles so far (MSF) 601.

Thurs 3rd Aug

After walking into town to buy some wine, and spending €1 to fill the water tank and empty loo and grey water, we left to head North at about 10.00. We immediately found ourselves going the wrong way on the motorway! Then as we passed Bremen, a stone hit the bottom of the windscreen, and a crack started to spread up towards the top right and corner. Typical! We pulled into a very crowded rest area, and rang our insurance company. They put us in touch with their glass repairer, who then faxed our details to their German counterparts. An hour or so later they rang us. They have our windscreen in Hamburg, but not in Bremen, so we agreed to go to their Hamburg centre for 0800 tomorrow. Whilst we were on the phone, someone came to the door with a live baby parrot he had found, and was it ours? (Because we are Brits, presumably!). We were assured it was safe to drive with a cracked windscreen, even if the crack goes right across the screen, so we headed towards Hamburg, to find somewhere to stop for the night. We thought there was an aire at Winsen, but we had the wrong Winsen. So we headed down to the Elbe, near Hoopte. Here there is an excellent fish restaurant (and fish farm). They agreed we could spend the night in their car park.

We had the menu that meant you could stuff as much fish as you wanted, washed down with beer. And fairly soon, we were stuffed! that came to €39.

Fri 4th Aug

Another fine day, we made an early start to get to Carglass in Hamburg. We were going fine until the last mile. As we passed the St Pauli district we veered off course and down the Reeperbahn, although it might have been an automatic action on my part, and we didn't realise our mistake until we were well lost, . (But it brought back happy memories of runs ashore from HMS Bacchante in 1976!) However, we  reclaimed the situation, and found our way to Carglass by 8.30. Not bad, considering.

We had to deposit the insurance certificate, my passport and my driving licence with them. Why? No idea. They said she would be ready at 1400 - and indeed she was. Meanwhile, we wondered off to look at Hamburg. We were rather disappointed - we hadn't expected another Vienna, but this was rather a mess. True, it was heavily bombed during the war, and there is an interesting area down by the river, with an excellent view of all manner of ships, docks, cranes etc. The dockside area was undergoing a massive facelift, and should be quite attractive in a few years. Then a stroll through St Pauli, a drink in the Reeperbahn (which looks much different in the daylight), and back to collect Tottie at 2 pm, and we were off to Denmark. A7 to Flensburg, (the Danish border), then Kolding, Odense, the enormous bridge (toll £30!) to Sjaelland island. We spent the night on the quay at Holby, quite close to the bridge, in the company of a number of Danish motorhomes. Holby had a festival going on, rather like Shaftesbury's late night shopping, followed by a loud firework display. The whole area was very attractive.

More problems - we seem to have mislaid our Danish Kroner. Even worse, the ATM refused to accept my Nationwide bank card. MSF 999.

Sat 5th Aug.

We both woke early to a beautiful morning, and decided to leave early. Refilling with fuel, we then discovered the unattended fuel dispenser wouldn't accept my Nationwide credit card. Deep Joy! Luckily, it did accept  a GE Money card.

Then on towards Copenhagen, and the fairly new crossing to Sweden, joining Copenhagen with Malmo, and built a year after our last visit. The ferry is still cheaper, and more convenient, saving quite a few miles in Sweden. The crossing is half tunnel, half bridge, and is less interesting than yesterday’s  bridge. It also cost 1 1/2 times as much, around £47. (MSF 1080) There followed a storm North for the Norwegian border. On the way we discovered we could empty the loo and grey water, and top up the fresh water, at one of the rest areas (and perhaps all  of them?). We had hoped to wild camp at Stromstad, in Sweden and close to the border. However, when we got there, moderately late, it was very touristy, with horrible looking campsites and prominent “no camping” signs.. So instead we moved inland, and stopped beside a lake near Have. It looked idyllic, but as the sun began to set the air filled with mozzies. We are pleased to report that all our fly screens are effective! MSF 1384.

Sun 6th Aug

Awaking early again, we got off for an early start, and found the Norwegian border less than 15 minutes away. (at 1392 miles) In fact, we were through it before we knew we were there. We had been wondering whether it would be open on Sunday, but it didn't seem to exist at all, only a small abandoned shed, no markings at all – and this is the EU border!

We found our way back to the E6 via Halden, and made our way to Moss, where there is a ferry to Horten, on the other side of the Oslo fjord. The trip takes 30 minutes, and cost about £30, but saves quite a long hike up to Oslo, and back down the other side. MSF 1449.

 Whilst waiting, and observing an old style classic American car coming off the ferry, we noted that we had seen a large number of these vehicles, often in convoy, in both Sweden and Norway. They all seemed to be in mint condition, obviously well loved. From Horten, we slogged down the E18 "motorway" - mostly no better than the A30 at home, in fact mostly worse. Speed limits varied between 50 & 90 Km/h, but mostly 80. There were very few places where overtaking was even remotely possible.

Eventually  we reached Kragera, right on the coast, reaching the campsite in time for a late lunch. The bit from the E18 was particularly hairy! Our 1st campsite his holiday, so not too bad, but it is expensive, £20 p.n. without electricity, and £25 with. Weather today has been glorious. An afternoon stroll, which included a walk up the hill into the woods, where we came across lots of large wood ants. We discovered they could clamber onto our sandals, then administer very painful bites to our feet, often getting under he straps to bite. Luckily, there was no one to see us beat  a hasty retreat, skipping and stamping to keep the blighters off!

Then back to catch up on the washing. Amazingly, by 21.15 it had mostly dried. MSF 1524.

Mon 7th Aug

Rosemary's 56th birthday. We had obtained a tourist brochure for the area, which included a small map which suggested there was a path into the town, about 5 Km away. This did entail braving the killer ants again, but forewarned is forearmed. I wore my boots, and we both sprayed Deet on our socks. This time we passed through unscathed.

However, we did discover that the small scale map was nowhere near detailed enough to navigate through woods. Even worse, we discovered the bed symbol on the map obscured not paths, but a deep and wide sea inlet, so we had to make our way back to the road after all.

Kragero is a pleasant little town, mostly given over to boats of all  shapes and sizes. Best of all were all the little boats, coming into a tiny inner harbour to go shopping. Mostly these were expertly driven by ladies of all ages. I was particularly impressed by a blonde of about 20, in a long dress, bring her boat alongside, casually step ashore, quickly  tie up, and wander off with  her handbag to go shopping.

We did some shopping of our own, in a small supermarket, including 800 grams of prawns, which came to £11. Then we had to carry all these provisions back along a hot dusty road to the campsite, about 6 Km.

After a prawn supper Rosemary opened her cards and present. The children and I gave her some gold earrings for when she has her ears pierced. Then we rang Charlotte and Bobby for a quick chat and update.

Tues 8th Aug

Left Kragero mid morning, heading for Risor, another "white town" (so-called because most of the buildings are of white painted wood.) Risor is also given over to boats and boaty people. After a few hours here (and purchase of a large brass "6" for our front door), we headed off to find the campsite at Sandnes (Camping Sorlandet). Another large and expensive (£19) site on by the sea. Our neighbours were a young Dutch family, who had been touring Europe since March. They recommended a ferry from Langesund (Norway) to Hirtshals (Denmark) as being quite cheap- could be useful. This would bypass Sweden entirely, and also the expensive Danish crossings, and saving 24 hours travelling. Another neighbour is taking her pet rabbit for a walk on a long lead, just like a dog.

MSF 1569.

Wed 9th Aug

Left the site before our Dutch neighbours were awake, and headed west along the E18. First stop Arendal, where parked on the quayside. Another pleasant town of old white painted houses.  We also discovered that we could park overnight in some of their car parks. Useful info, but it was too early to stop. After lunch on the quay, we headed off for Grimstad, where planned to stay at the camp site. However, we decided against that, and to move on to the lighthouse at Lindesnes.  On the way we passed 2 "toll plazas". Each was 20 NK. The first was manned, and fine. At the 2nd, outside Kristiansund, it was only automatic, and wouldn't take 20 Kr coins, which was all we had. As a queue built up behind us, I got out to examine the machine. Finding a button marked "help", I pressed it. A nice lady answered, and spoke English. I explained my problem, and she said "You can go", and the light changed to green. I guess she had a TV monitor showing a queue forming, and for less than £2, it wasn't worth the  bother.

Lindesnes is the southern most part of Norway, the "South Cape". We arrived about 1730, finding a large car park with several German motorhomes already there (and 1 Austrian). Entrance to the lighthouse complex was 40 NK each, but it was really excellent, enhance by a dramatically low sun (it was then 1800).The area was obviously heavily fortified by the Germans during the war, and these remain in remarkable condition, but unremarked by the authorities - no notices about them at all, although they are an integral part of the history and the architecture. This was  first of several Norwegian and Danish lighthouses we visited.

As we bedded down for the night, we were left with 5 German, 1 Austrian and 1 Brit, and 1 German caravan, in a beautiful setting.

Thurs 10th Aug

Woke to a lovely morning (although it clouded over later), and a fine view of the lighthouse. We followed a path to a point with a fine view of the lighthouse from the south - rather a scramble, then continued our journey westward. This took us to Farsund for lunch, then on to another lighthouse at Lista Fyr. Then a very hairy road, the 465, to Kvinesdal, where we joined the E39 to Flekkefjord.

Flekkefjord is a lovely wooden town, with an octagonal wooden church. We parked up by the quay, with 2 other motorhomes (1 Norwegian, who had plugged into the quay shore supply, and 1 German.), and in time for an evening meal. We were later joined on the quay by another German and an Italian.

Fri 11th Aug

Paid 20 NK for 2 hours parking (from 0800), and had another stroll around the streets. This really is a nice town. Then back on the road, the 44 to Jossingfjord, where the Altmark incident took place in 1940, (HMS Cossack breached Norwegian neutrality to rescue several hundred British seamen from the German tanker, Altmark.) Sognestrand (like a Cornish fishing village) and Egersund. Finally the 502 to Eigeroy. Here we found a motorhome stop, with a fabulous view over the fjord, costing 50 NK. From here we walked several miles to the nearby lighthouse, the Eigeroy Fyr. On the way back we bought some tomatoes from a fridge beside the road, cost 15 NK, and the taste was delicious - just like tomatoes used to taste like!

Arriving back at the site, we found the young German family who were our neighbours at Flekkefjord had parked beside us. They continued fishing for their supper in the fjord – everyone seems to be doing it here. This family had never fished before, but returned with a basketful of fish.

Today's drive has been the most spectacular so far.

Sat 12th Aug

Another walk from the site, this time to a headland overlooking the lighthouse. We seemed to have disturbed a number of gulls, and for a while we felt we were part of Hitchcock's "The Birds".

We returned to the site to find that the best pitch of all had been vacated, so we decided to stay another night to chill out,  absorbing the scenery and the tranquillity. On a nearby area of grass some Norwegian, English and German scouts had set up a camp.  And more action, a bride, groom, best man and photographer turned up to take pictures on and against the rocks. I kept my camera handy , ready for the shot of a lifetime

when the groom accidentally drops his bride into the sea, but unfortunately, he didn't

Sun 13th Aug

There beingno more brides, time to move on, following the Atlantic highway to Stavanger, via another lighthouse, Obrestad Fyr. The scenery has now become flat, and there are sand dunes replacing the rocks.

At Stavanger we looked for somewhere to park, and where could stay overnight. By the quayside we found a car park with a number of motorhomes already parked, and thought "this the place". However, we discovered we did not understand the parking system at all, and neither had the other motorhomes - some were in the process of getting parking tickets. A very nice lady parking warden explained the system, and it wasn't free on Sunday, just cheaper, and staying overnight was no problem if we parked between the lines, and  bought a sufficiently long ticket.  The parking meter was impressive, too. It took a credit card as well as cash, and you could specify exactly (to the minute) how long you wanted. If you later didn't need the time you had paid for, you could re-enter your card, and deduct the minutes no longer required, which would be credited to your account. The UK could usefully copy this!

So we parked neatly, backing on to a low wall dividing car park and skate board park, and just long enough for us not to need 2 tickets. Then off into Stavanger. I was last here in 1975, on HMS Bacchante. I have to say, it looks nothing like I remember. A very pleasant city (town, really), but we were both rather disappointed. Lots of old buildings, but often hidden or overshadowed by modern and inappropriate architecture.

Our plan had been to stay overnight in the car park, then move to the campsite the following day when car parking prices became extortionate. However, by 8 pm we decided we had seen all of Stavanger that we wanted to see. Although all the shops had been closed, we hadn't seen any that we felt we must go back to.

Meanwhile, back at the car park, skateboarding was in full swing, and very noisy. All the other motorhomes had deserted us, and we were all alone. We contemplated moving on anyway, but decided to stay, and rain soon quietened the skateboarders.

MSF 1900

Mon 14th Aug

The Tourist Information Office opens at 9 am, our parking ticket expired at 9.20 (and given the alacrity with which the wardens gave out tickets we were keen not to get one of our own). At the TIO we booked a ferry ticket from Langesund in Norway to Hirtshalls in Denmark, cost 820 NK, about £74.  This will save that amount in bridges and tunnels in Denmark,  plus a day's drive through Sweden. We would have used it coming up if we had known about it earlier. Then back to the car park by 09.20.

So far this trip we have not used any electricity at all, mainly because campsites here charge so much  for it. Instead we have used gas for everything. Shortly before leaving England we installed refillable cylinders, that use vehicle LPG. Both 11 Kg bottles were full when we left, and we are still using the first cylinder. However, as Stavanger was the last place we could get gas before heading into the hinterland, we found one of the few garages that stock LPG, and filled up with 13.6 litres, at a cost of 75 NK, approx. £6.75 - not bad for  12 days camping, covering fridge and cooking.

Next - Pulpit Rock, a famous Norwegian attraction about 35 miles from Stavanger, requiring a short but expensive ferry crossing. We wild camped nearby, beside the Idsel fjord, where we were joined by Swiss and Austrian motorhomes. Tomorrow, the assault on Pulpit Rock. MSF 1950

 Tues 15th Aug

An early start, so we could breakfast at the Pulpit Rock car park, and get going before a) it got too hot and b) it got too crowded. Car Park cost 80 NK. The blurb says it is a 2 hour walk from the car park, and this is how long it took. It is quite a scramble in places, and rises  1000 feet. The rock is fairly small, with a hair raising sheer drop of 1600 feet into the fjord. People were sitting with their legs dangling over the edge - I couldn't even watch that, never mind do it myself! So after half an hour so there, we headed back down - another 2 hours walk - it is no quicker because the scramble down is more tricky than the scramble up. There were lots of visitors still climbing up, which meant having to wait for them to clear choke points. Many were huffing and puffing, and we didn't think they would make the rock. We were quite proud of beingable to do the climb in the time suggested – 2 hours, given Rosemary’s previous ill health, and that everybody else was much younger than us. Also, the sun went in, so we had the best of the weather by going early.

After a late lunch in the car park, we managed to scrape Tottie's skirt on a rock while negotiating the exit. Not too bad, though.

We drove 3 miles or so looking for a spot to wild camp, then booked in at a small camp site at Fisker. Rather cheaper than earlier sites, 130 NK per night, and also more pleasant. MSF 1997

Wed 16th Aug

Very heavy rain during the night, that woke us several times.(It was coming in the roof vents.) As a consequence we were late rising. We pondered staying another night,

but decided against. Instead, we retraced our steps a few miles to Ardal, to look at a medieval church, painted with naive art, drew some cash from a hole in the wall, then headed north again on the 13 (inc a 137 NK ferry). A 10 mile detour to Jelsa to look at another church. This one was built around an old stave church, which was then demolished. The 13 continues inland along some spectacular roads, and through at least 10 tunnels, a few of which were over 1I Km. Old Norwegian tunnels are quite scary places - dark and jagged sides, no lighting. Very few markings or reflectors, which makes you believe your headlights have stopped working. Eventually we wild camped in an old road that had been superseded by a tunnel at Nesflaten.

And Charlotte rang to say the clutch on the Renault had gone. A few phone calls later and she was back home,  a new clutch cable having been fitted by Green Flag, only £10. MSF 2091

Thurs 17th Aug

Awoke to a beautiful morning. Continued travelling North on the 13, to Odda. Here we turned off up a very narrow road to Buar. At the car park there were several motorhomes, and a coach, so we were fortunate not to meet any of them on the way up. From Buar there is a strenuous scramble up to the Folgfonn glacier.  Rosemary gave up at a wobbly wire bridge over a torrent. This was probably just as well, because the track got even hairier, involving use of ropes in a few places. I got within a couple of hundred yards of the ice, but didn't like the look of the gravel covered track that sloped down towards the heavy torrent of glacier meltwater. This took us to 4 pm.

The 13 continued through Odda, which is billed as Norway's ugliest town, although it seemed OK to us, and quite interesting. Eventually we reached Kinsarvik, a pleasant but rather touristy little town. Here we booked in at Bravoll Camping, by far the smallest, cheapest and nicest of 3 campsites in the town, and on the edge of the Hardanger fjord. We camped about 12 feet from the fjord, with a lovely view.

At one end of the town about 10 motorhomes were wild camping. These were Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and French, and well packed in together. Not our cup of tea. MSF 2216

Fri 18th Aug

A glorious day. Caught (as pedestrians) an early ferry to Utne, about 30 minutes away, to visit Hardanger Folk Museum. This was started in 1911, and has a collection of old Norwegian houses, and other artifacts.

Sat 19th Aug

Left the campsite, and drove up to the car park - the base for a walk up to some waterfalls. To read the blurb you'd think it was a casual stroll - being Norway, it wasn't!

Then on to Eidfjord, about 30 miles away, to Kjaertveit Camping. Small, unpretentious, no gimmicks, cheap (110 NK), right on the fjord edge with a view down the fjord - just what we like! We were offered fish "as a present" by 2 Germans who'd caught a stack. We declined the offer of 3, but did take a large "Tosh". (Whatever that is). In return I gave then a couple of bottles of English ale. Perhaps it was slightly unfortunate the beer was called "Spitfire", given they were German.

Right beside the site is the ocean terminal, capable of taking liners of 300 ft, 60,000 tons right alongside. That seems amazing. The next ship is not due until Tuesday. Queen Mary II has visited, but presumably anchored off in the fjord.

Sun 20th Aug

Heavy rain during the night, and at about 5.30 I had to close windows and vents. Consequently we slept longer than we had intended.

From Eidfjord we continued along the A7. This has turned out to be one of the best roads so far. Even the long climb onto Hardangervidda, the high plateau, mostly over 1000 meters, was simple, rarely requiring 2nd gear. There were some long spiral tunnels, and we stopped off to look at the Voringsfossen, a spectacular waterfall. At Geilo we turned onto the A40, and that was equally as good as the A7. At Imingen we turned off onto an unclassified road that climbed back onto the plateau. We did this with some trepidation, but not doing so would mean an extra 120 Km or so. In the event, the road was wide, the surface good and the climb easy - better than many of the main roads we've been on in Norway. As we descended from the plateau we found an excellent place to wild camp, beside a mountain river tumbling over rocks. (Bearing in mind our Bulgarian disaster, we made sure we were unlikely to flood, and had an escape route if it did!) Parts of the river were especially good for building dams - which I did. MSF 2283

Mon 21st Aug

Carried on to join the 364 at Austbygda, then up the 37 past Rjukan to visit the Heavy Water Museum at Vemor. (Actually, "Norsk Industriarbeidermuseum") which celebrates the sabotage by Norwegian commandos of the heavy water (deuterium oxide) plant, required by Germany for its atomic bomb research.

Then to a picnic area overlooking lake Tinnsjo for the night. MSF 2347

Tues 22nd Aug

Back into Rjukan, to take the cablecar up to the plateau for some walking. The cablecar was built by Norsk Hydro in 1928 so its employees could get up to see some sunshine during the long winter - the deep valley meant no sun reached the town (defined as "the factory bridge") between mid September and mid March. We had  a very pleasant walk, 9 or 10 miles. As we returned, on the top of a bare hill, there was a clap of thunder not far away. Feeling very exposed (like a lightning conductor!) we stepped out strongly, and got back to the cable car as the rain began to fall. The scenery there reminded us very much of Scotland.

Thence along the A37 to Austbo. All this road is blighted by ski paraphernalia and developments - all ugly. In fact, it occurs to us that every ski development we have come across anywhere in Europe has been ugly. Norwegians also have "hyttes" springing up all over the place. One or two huts look nice, but a whole hillside covered in these private dachas, with their own private parking spaces, really wreck the scenery.

At Austbo we turned down an unclassified road, and quickly found a suitable spot for the night, at a small car park for a long distance walk. MSF 2387

Wed 23rd Aug

We have solved the mystery of the duff water level reader - Norwegian water is too pure! (It works by measuring the resistance between 2 probes in the tank. Pure water is almost an insulator.) We put 2 teaspoons of salt in the fresh water tank, and the reading jumped from 0 to 40%.

Today, a meander down some tiny roads (sometimes too tiny) to Lund, where we wild camped by the Telemark Canal.  Just above Dalen is a stave church, built 1250 or so. Unfortunately, workmen were replacing all the shingles, and it was covered in scaffolding, and closed.  The  descent into Dalen is by way of a 3 1/2 Km series of hairpin bends. Despite creeping down in 2nd gear, the front brakes were red hot (not literally), and emitted clouds of smoke for 5 minutes. Here we filled up with fresh water at a marina. Near Vradal we took a tiny road that followed the Telemark Canal. This was single track only, and at several points we had to wait while various bits of road building and tree cutting plant cleared the road. We were particularly impressed with a device that stripped the branches off a large pine tree, and cut it into 30 foot lengths, in about 15 seconds.

We stopped for the night on a patch of grass beside the canal. After a while the heavens opened, and we are hoping it won't be too wet to get off tomorrow - we have a ferry to catch. MSF 2471

Thurs 24th Aug

Getting off was no problem. However, the mozzie bite I picked up on the back of my hand at Dalen has started to turn nasty. The area is swollen, painful, and my arm aches - this could be interesting! (Fortunately Hep Sulph saved the day again.)

We dropped into Skein to do some shopping. This initially looked attractive, but didn’t bear closer scrutiny. Then on to Langestrund to catch the 1800 ferry - except when we got there we were told it was 1900, and we had hours to spare. So we parked on the tiny quayside, and wandered round a rather attractive and authentic (non touristy) little town, with a rather photogenic lighthouse.

The ferry, Pride of Telemark, was once the P&O Pride of Provence. (We might have already sailed on her.) There was a huge number of motorhomes waiting to board, mostly German. The port has facilities only for single level boarding, so to get to the required deck required spiralling round the ship and up a ramp, then round again to face for'd. Exit required everybody going round the loop again, then a 3 point turn to get to the ramp down. When we arrived we were just asked our names. No one checked our passports, and a sole customs officer just wandered around chatting.

The trip was boring, as all ferry trips are, and duty free prices higher than duty paid prices in the UK. Unusually, they also had freezers of meat for sale, cheese, and other groceries of use to Norwegians. I tried to change Norwegian Kroner to Danish Kroner, but they only handle Norwegian cash. This is surprising. Channel ferries handle sterling and Euros, and a combination of each.

So eventually we were off the ferry, and suddenly found ourselves out of the port area, and in the EU, at 1 a.m. and without any passport checks at all.

Where to sleep? We assumed there would be a car park in the port area, but we were out before you could say "Jack Robinson". In the darkness we rather lost our way, but did find a lorry parked up in a village, and snuck in beside him for the remainder of the night. MSF 2535

Fri 25th Aug

There is a faster motorway south, but we ambled down the North Sea coast, via Thisted, Struer (good wild camping here, and a lighthouse), to Ribe. The days started off gloriously, but by Ribe the rain was torrential. The terrain at the top of the country was interesting, with islands and inlets, but the south comprised long straight and mostly featureless roads (but I guess the weather didn't help). On the way we stopped at a couple of caravan accessory shops - it's always interesting to see what other people have got. Neither would take a non Danish credit card, but would take Euros and Norwegian Kroner.

We went to Ribe because we understood there to be an aire de camping car, for an overnight stay. In the event, we found it quite unwelcoming. A convoy of Italian motorhomes was also circling, looking for an overnight stay, and a number of others. So we (without the Italians) headed out towards the lighthouse at Mande. At Vester Vedstead we pulled into the car park of the "Mandobuss" (www.mandoebussen.dk ), which we took to be trips to the lighthouse. We were all alone until 2030, when a noisy convoy of Germans arrived - the German army on manoeuvres, again. And as we went to bed, a Dutch van parked behind us. MSF 2756

Sat 26th Aug

A beautiful morning, and we head south. Long before we reached the German border we were in heavy rain. Denmark is all very pleasant - everything is neat and tidy, and in its proper place. However, we do find it boring, especially away from the coast. Long straight roads with not a lot to look at.

We pulled in to Hamburg, to try to find a supermarket to stock up on wine, but we found only Aldi and Lidl. Neither could handle our credit cards, although we did buy a stack of cheap Rjoca. Later, at a lunch stop, we met 2 Brits, Roger & Mary, also in a Rapido, and shared notes.

We were aiming for Leer, near the Dutch border, which was listed as having some Stellplatz. On the run into the town we encountered another supermarket, Famila, so a chance to buy yet more wine. It is still pouring hard - must be a UK bank holiday weekend. The Stellplatz was a car park by the swimming pool, nothing special, and no facilities, but adequate. MSF 2851 (Not sure about this figure)

Sun 27th Aug

As we passed Weener, not far away from Leer, we dropped in to see the stellplatz there. This was excellent, right beside the marina, but with lots of vans there, unsurprisingly. We must make a point of coming here again.

As we approached Amsterdam on a motorway a thunderstorm broke right overhead – truly spectacular, but visibility dropped to almost zero, and roads were awash. Along with almost everybody else we pulled into a rest area (but unlike everyone else, we could make a cup of tea and relax.) The storm  passed after an hour or so, but lightning had  taken out the petrol pumps and tills, so we couldn’t buy the delicious Dutch honey waffles we could see inside.

Thence on via Groningham, east of Iselmeer, Hilversum, Utrecht, Breda, Antwerp, to Bruges. Belgian roads are as bad as they’ve ever been – marginally better than Romania’s! Although we’ve been to Bruges many times, we managed to get completely lost. We were on the point of giving up when we found it. Along with appalling roads, they also have atrocious road signs. And who was there when we got there? Roger and Mary last seen in Germany, time to swap all the notes we forgot last time.

The last time we were here, we stayed in a hotel in the centre, as we struggled back from Bulgaria without our motorhome.

Mon 28th Aug

Shopped again at Cora, Dunkirk, then went for the 1030 ferry. It is very noticeable that French prices have increased, and now German supermarkets are substantially better value. Passports were checked 3 times, in contrast to entering and leaving Norway. Then we found the ferry sailed at 1000, and we had been given the wrong times - so we were only just in time.

Home again at about 4 pm

Overall miles: 3393

592 litres (130 gallons) of diesel used, average mpg 27.86

We used 30.5 litres of LPG, which I think is 15.5 Kg, at a total cost of about £14. I'm pretty pleased with this - this powered the fridge whilst not actually on the road, cooking for 28 days, and a shower every night, and we used no electric hook-up at all. 



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www.pippins.me.uk                                              Page Last updated:  29 December 2007