Tuesday, 29 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - I See No Ships

Tuesday 19th August and it’s Ian’s Birthday. He was so tired that he did not see the card that Guzzisue had brought him!

After breakfast I stayed on the campsite chillin’ out while my friends went down into Gerainger. Two cruise ships came into the fiord, the Albatross and the Columbus and their passengers disembarked via little shuttle boats.

My friends decided not to go on the pleasure cruise up the fiord but took the car ferry to Hellesylt instead. On board the ferry they played a tape in English describing the history of the area along with points of interest. At Hellesylt my friends walked to a nearby waterfall to take some photos and then bought some ice cream before getting back on the ferry for the return journey. The same commentary tape played so no one was quite sure if it was correct for the outward or return journey!

Back in Gerainger another cruise ship appeared. Each of the ships announced their arrival with mortar bombs and they moored up all day with their engines running. The problem with this was that there was no wind at all and the valley filled with diesel fumes. I’m not sure if it was something to do with the cruise ships but we are seeing more Brits on holiday.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - Wot - No Trolls

Guzziesue woke early this morning to go and take some photos of the mountains before packing. Once again we departed late but this time it was because we got into conversation with the Maori and her husband. We were warned by the bicycle woman that we had to vacate the hutt by 10 o’clock or pay for another day.

Finally leaving after 11 o’clock we headed for the Trollstiggen. Ian was told about this road by a couple of Norwegian bikers that happened to be in a local bike shop in Nottingham!

The start of the climb did not appear too difficult and about half way up by a waterfall there was a place where Ian could pull over so that Guzziesue could take some photos. It was here when I saw Ian look down and say “Oh F-f**k”, he then looked up and said the same thing. Me thinks he was a little taken aback by the size of the mountain we were riding up but there was no problem as he got us to the summit safely.

At the top there was the inevitable souvenir shop where Ian managed to persuade the girl in the kiosk to let him have a small booklet that told the story of the trolls. He passed this on to his sister back home.

After a little rest it was time to press forward and after a small ferry ride it was onto Gerainger. Gerainger is the place where often in English magazines advertising Norwegian cruises there is someone standing on a ledge overlooking the fiord. We book into the campsite for two nights and then head into town to get some food.

In the town we are surprised to meet up with one of the bikers from the previous day. He is down there on his bike and his wife is in their car…..somewhere. They appear to have lost each other!

Back on the campsite Guzziesue washes our clothes and we decide to go on the fiord cruise tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - Sighting Of Our First Nimbus

I could start each entry with “we got up late and set off after 10 o’clock”, and today was no exception. We had a pleasant ride towards the mountains and stopped at Soggebru Camping, which is 15km before the start of the Trollstigen.

Having dropped our luggage off in a free hut we decided to return to the nearest town, Andalsnes, where Ian was so dehydrated that he drank a litre of coca-cola straight down by having to steady one hand by gripping it with the other!

Whilst Ian was recovering from his dehydration we sat talking to a group of Norwegian bikers. They wondered why we did not speak any Norwegian and we explained that Ian could read and speak a little French and Guzziesue could do the same with German. It was also explained that foreign languages were not taught in our schools until we were 11 years old. Our big question to them was why they all had sports bikes when the national speed limit was 90km/hr. The reply was that when the winter snow had gone they could go like f**k to meet their friends!

Having bid farewell to the bikers we walked a little and came across a strange outfit. This turned out to be a Nimbus, a Danish motorcycle that stopped production in the late 1950s. Unbeknown at the time Nimbus motorcycles would creep up on us again at a later date.

Back at Soggebru 3 other Brits, the first we had seen for about a week, had parked their car and were putting up their tents. We chattered with them for a little but did not have much common ground. As we were returning to our hutt the lady in the next one commented on how good our English was! When we explained that we are English she replied ‘Bloody great. I’m a Maori’, so we spent a long time talking to her and hubby as we watched bats flying around in the sunset.

I had better just mention that Sossebru is a small campsite with only 4 hutts and basic amenities, but to make up for this there is a clean river running at the back of the hutts and a small beach area nearby. An old lady on a bicycle came round in the early evening to collect our rent for the hutt and gave a receipt. We did not see her again until next morning.

Monday, 21 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - Heading South

The land between Saltstrum And Trondheim is very repetitive. Sometimes the railway will be on the left, then the right. Same with trees. It just got very tedious.

On Friday we all overslept having spent more time than we expected at the waterfront the previous evening. These days with so much sunlight sure can play tricks on bears and humans!

As we rode back down south we stopped at a Sami souvenir shop and Guzzisue took a photo of a reindeer. Ian was confused to start with as he could only see this one made out of metal reinforcing bars. This is the person who is doing the driving. HELP!

Once again we stopped off at the Artic Circle Visitor Centre for light refreshment and also to post our cards. We then carried on down the E6 to Mosjøen where we stayed for the evening. The two most memorable things about this place is that all the shops were closing by 5 o’clock and the stench from the aluminium works when they started smelting.

The campsite did a good continental style buffet breakfast next morning with us all having our fill. On the road again we travelled back through Hell, onto Trondheim and stopped just north of Oppdal for the evening.

We stayed in a Troll House style camping hut which was very small and very hot due to having grass growing on the roof for winter. Having decided to walk down into Oppdal for something to eat we were told that it was only 2 – 3 kilometres down the road. Some peoples distances can seen a little wayward sometimes and this was no exception as it was at least double that! It did at least give us some exercise.

At 8 o’ clock the temperature was 20°C and the tv weather forecast said it was going to be warm again tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - Walkabout At Saltstraumen

Having spent five days of constant travelling it is nice to be able to leave the motorcycle alone for a day. So while I was enjoying a little peace Ian and Guzzisue took a walk to the waterside to watch the current and take some photos and then onto a road bridge to take some more photos of the current from above.

The Norwegians had just recently built an exhibition centre at Saltstraumen complete with a working model of the tidal pattern of the waters. There was also a film show in English explaining the history of the area. My friends were the only two people in this showing.

After looking around the centre Ian and Guzziesue went back onto the bridge and back to the waterside before before walking up the road to a small local museum of life.

Once inside my friends spent some time talking to the owner, who in the long winter months made quilts. She insisted on bringing out some of her finished pieces for Guzziesue to have a look at. Little did we know at the time but when we would return home Guzziesue would sign up for the City & Guilds Embroidery & Textile course at a local college. Guzziesue’s latest works can be found on her blog – Travel, Fibre And Thread.

The curator’s husband was the person who made the working model in the exhibition centre!

Although she was reluctant to go into too much detail she also told us about her father who used to go fishing for whales and also that we were experiencing the best summer for at least four years. We also learnt about her sister who lived down in Oslo that would insist on ringing her up every year to say when they were having their first drinks on the veranda. The normal reply would be to tell her to p**s off as there would still be several inches of snow at Saltstraumen.

Having spent some time in the museum my friends once again went to have a look at the ever changing waters before going to the campsite supermarket, where once inside they noticed lots of half empty bottles of drinks for sale. We assume these were for people to add their own homemade alcohol to.

Back outside Ian decided to open one of the freezers round the back of the campsite reception. This was full of fish that we can only assume had been caught from the whirlpool by people from off the site. Why he didn’t bring one back for me I do not know.

After tea we went for another walk back to the water’s edge where two German motorcyclists trying to fish without much success, although other anglers were having better luck. They had intended to go right up to Nordcap but decided that it was too far. We can agree with this because I think we were still 400 miles away from there and tomorrow we head back south.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - To The Artic Circle & Beyond

We knew that we were getting close to the Artic Circle as we started to see more traffic. There were many German motorcyclists and several times today we met up with a coach full of Japanese tourists who every time we met insisted on holding their hands outstretched and twisting their right hands.

Towards the Artic Circle it is easy to spot the speed traps as the policemen with radar guns sit by the roadside, and just because we had gone past one did not mean there was not another half a mile up the road! If you are heading that way you have been warned! I counted five police with radar guns in the last 10-15 miles.

The Artic Circle is the furthest point south where the sun can be seen at midnight. The Norwegians have built a very good visitor center on the N6, which is the way we headed north. The necessary postcards were bought and filled in at a later date before being posted here on the way back south, where they had a special post mark put on.

Having had a warm up and a bite to eat we had a little walkabout around the area. In the distance we could see that a train had stopped, probably for passengers to get out and take their Artic Circle photos. Around the area there are wooden markers as in Guzziesue’s photo that indicate the furthest reaches of the Midnight Sun.

Back onto the bike to stop my friends from being eaten alive by all the flies, (fur 1, flesh 0. Hee hee), I spot a turn off for Saltstraumen, which we take. This road soon turns into a dirt track, so not wanting to off road the bike with two passengers and all the luggage for maybe 45 miles Ian turns around and carries on the main road.

We eventually come across a turning for Bodo on a tarmac road which we take and then turn left for Saltstraumen. When we arrive we get a spacious but basic cabin and relax after one day at sea and four days on the road. Somehow Ian feels like this is an anticlimax. It could be that all the riding has taken a bit out of him. It has been very hot and he has not been taking enough fluid. It cooled down a lot that night and it felt as though it could snow.

Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - Beyond Hell

We awake on Tuesday morning and watch a red squirrel playing amonst the trees while we have our breakfast.

Onwards we travel to the north going round the outskirts of Trondheim, where it was 24°C! There was a charge for vechiles to get into Trondheim – an early congestion levy I assume, but it did not affect us on the Guzzi.

We are all in the position now that if we are told to go to Hell we can honestly say we have been there and back! Hell is a small town just a few kilometers north of Trondheim. The photo is taken coming back south with us approaching the mouth of Hell Tunnel. I have been told that there is a whisky distillery in Hell but I cannot confirm this, likewise I have heard that at the railway station you can get your passport stamped. Both of these Ian was told about on our return home.

Today we rode through the first rain of our holiday which was refreshing and cooled down my fur.

As we passed into the Nordland Region I thought we were on the East Coast of England as there is a large arch that would not look out of place at Skegness.

We stayed at a campsite in the middle of nowhere in another hutte. This one had a separate bedroom and a television in the lounge area. The evening was spent watching an American documentry with Norwegian subtitles. Weird.

Monday, 14 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - North Bound

There is always something exciting about being in a new place. Waking up with just a few scraps of food left over from the previous night for breakfast as the panniers are repacked and we ready ourselves for todays adventure.

We board the 9.00 ferry from Vangsnes to Hella and then travel up to Gaupne, where Gussiesue spies a roadsign that leads to a glacier and because all of us have never seen one before we decide to go and take a look. As we travel up the road the temperature falls and we ride alongside the glacieral river. We eventually reach a visiters centre where my friends have a quick warm up inside. The joys of having fur!

The end of the glacier is some distance ahead with a footpath leading up to it, however due to the time we have to admire it from a distance. One to remember for the future perhaps?

Winding our way back down to the main road the temperature once again starts to rise, where again we push on northbound.

Once again we start to climbup into some mountains to a height of 1200 metres above sea level and into snow that was six feet deep in places of the road. There were amazing views and plenty of wonderful hairpin bends for Ian to throw the bike into.

Stopping at Lom to fill up my friends were gobsmacked to find that we had only used 11 litres to cover 139 miles, which equates to 58 miles to the gallon! The moto guzzi had never done this before, but then with a national speed limit of 90 km/h we were not really speeding.

From Lom we headed on to Dombas where we stayed for the evening. A meal was eaten at a Kaferteria. These are subsidised government run restaurants that have exactly the same menu all over. Nothing great but the meals filled a hole. Outside the restaurant Guzziesue took the photo of the two Nortons at the top of this entry.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - The Wheels Roll

Guzzisue told me that she was woken at 5.30 by the sound of waves crashing against the side of the ferry. By 6.00 both of my friends were walking around the deck while I was still on guard duty.

We docked in Stravenger at 8.00 in order to let some of the passengers off into an overcast morning before continuing up the coast passing many small islands. I cannot describe them as once again I returned to a closed car deck with no one to talk to getting impatient, I want my adventure to start!!!

Yippee,we’re off the ferry. We managed to be last out through customs but not to worry as then Ian could adjust to riding on the wrong side of the road without too many other vehicles behind him and we tailed someone for a few junctions and roundabouts so he could get used to the new experience.

We came north expecting the weather to be cool, but boy was it hot leaving Bergen.

Departing Bergen we first reached Voss and then over an amazing pass that beats Applecross hands down to Vangsnes where we stayed for the evening. The bike was packed with a tent and all camping equipment but we decided to hire a camping hutte for the night. This came complete with electricity, a small cooker, some utensils and a nearby water tap. Luxury and roll on tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

1997 Land Of The Midnight Sun - The Beginning

My good friends Ian and Guzzisue bought their Moto Guzzi in 1995 following a motorcycle accident in the previous year. For two years they toured Scotland and by 1997 were getting itchy feet and wanted to travel further afield. Guzzisue had already done some mileage abroad while Ian had not crossed the waters since the late 1970's with his school, so where to go?

Ian does not like the heat too much and Guzzisue had been down to the south of France and Yugoslavia in the past, which meant that north was looking good. Ian had been into the worlds second largest whirlpool on a boat trip in Scotland the year before while rallying therefore a natural progression would be to go and see the largest. A little delving and the largest whirlpool is to be found at Saltstraumen, Norway, about 100 miles into the Artic Circle. Norway here we come! I say we because I persuaded my rescurers to let me come along for the adventure.

The ferry was booked leaving from Newcastle on August 9th and arriving at Bergen the following afternoon. We arrived in Newcastle with plenty of time to spare in wonderful sunshine, in fact too much sunshine and nowhere to shelter. We all eventually boarded the ferry and while Ian and Guzzisue had a cabin I was left looking after the bike.