Norway - trolls, pine trees and beautiful lakes

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Flag of Norway  , Oslo county,
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boarding the ferry, Donna and I were cautious that Norway would be the most expensive of our countries visited. Cautious of costs, we watched in ore at the speed of the local Norwegians in grabbing seats on the Ferry. In what turned out to be a real life version of musical chairs, the locals quickly snapped up all available seating... and then floor space to set up small sleeping areas. In addition to the hectic dash for floor / seating space, the Norwegians seemed to go mad for duty free shopping. Once the doors were opened, a constant flood of people dashed through filling up their baskets to the brim. We seldom saw one person on board who did not buy something. Left bewildered, Donna and I settled on the floor near an exit and made use of the onboard internet to up date our blogs.

Arriving in Norway at 2am, we made use of the liberal camping laws to find a quiet carpark behind a Plantasjen (a type of IKEA garden centre). Awaking in the morning to find we were next to a golf course with the locals out for an early morning round. Operation, quick exit in play... we scooted out of town.

Driving into Porsgunn and Skien that Sunday morning,  gave us the feeling that we were driving into two ghost towns. The small sleepy towns didn't seem to rise that morning. Having the streets to ourselves we casually drove through on our way up to Vrangfoss to see the Telmark Canal Locks in action. Vrangfoss has 5 gates in succession up a steep hill which are operated manually. It is quite special to see the force of the water and the historical poetic method to open and close the locks. After 90 minutes running up and down the locks, capturing multiple photo’s, our stomachs beckoned some food and we left for the town of Lunde to make lunch and Canoe the river.

In Lunde, we started the 'Oslo club’ (a tradition of jumping into a freezing river to invigorate the soul) and canoed along the river looking for beavers (sadly none found). Free camping that night next to the lock was great, with a fire built and guitar out... we relaxed to the sound of rushing water.

Next morning we packed up and headed to Gaustabbanen, one of Norway’s mountains at 1883 mtrs tall. Free camped again at a scenic spot next to a lake (Oslo club once again in action that morning). Climbing Gaustabenen took the whole day (2.5 hours up, 3 hours playing / relaxing up top, 2 hours down). Wonderful scenery dotted by small patches of snow (yes!!! Even in summer).

On route to Oslo, we stopped in a campsite for a cheeky shower only to be caught by the owner.  Opps.

Oslo we saw some sites (Vigeland Park, National Museum) before catching up for dinner and a few drinks with, Ida and Ann (a few friends Soren meet in Asia – hopefully we can twist their arm to visit us in Australia sometime soon).  Dinner near the new Opera house (designed around the shapes and angle of ice bergs) we then wondered the town for a coffee. Great company.

The next day, we visited the Viking Museum and were amazed to see the size of these ships - even more amazed to discovered that they were all made and measured by the naked eye no plans or drafts.

Heading over the border to Sweden we couldn’t help but think how much we will miss Norway and will be back to explore the northern part of this breath-taking country. 
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