Norway - Part 2 And Jexit - A Hard Decision
Jul 4, 2016
|Dear blog readers (I think there are 6 of you)!! You may probably already know that we have decided to return to the UK due to my knee injury which has been plaguing me for most of the trip. A very hard decision to make and one not taken lightly, but in the end we think it is the right thing to do. If we carried on, I could incur further irreparable long term damage. Enough said on that, suffice to say we should be back home on Monday 4th July. Yes of course we are gutted, but there will be plenty of other times. We are calling it Jexit!!
On a positive note, the highlight of the trip, and certainly of Norway was our 2 hour climb to Pulpit rock (Preikestolen). This giant slab of rock protrudes out over the the Lysefjorden. The photos may look as if we were brave to attempt this, but its only scary if you sit on the edge or lie down and look over, some people, mostly youngsters did this. We didn’t although I did stand close to the edge to take some photos. The most challenging bit for us was to scramble up the rocks behind to take some photos looking down.
As you can also see from the photos, the whole of Norway decided to do it that day as well, well not quite the whole of Norway, but it felt like it. This was always going to be the highlight for John whilst we were in Norway and I am so pleased that we at least managed this. This of course may well of been the final straw for my knee but I did wear a knee brace and we did go very slowly and in all honesty I wasn’t in any pain at the time.
We continued onwards and had a lovely drive through some beautiful countryside with Fjords alongside us for most of the way. We also passed some incredible waterfalls, one in particular practically came across the main road. About 4 miles from our destination we were stopped by a workman who pulled us over. They were building a new road ahead and had blown up the rocks to make way. We had to wait for about 45 minutes whilst the area was made safe to drive. Apparently they did this several times a day. So we finally got to our campsite at a small town called Lofthus. We had magnificent views of the Fjord below and snow capped mountains. The following day we drove to a parking area and cycled over a large bridge (£60 to cross with the van as we found out the following day) and then along a narrow road which ran alongside the Fjord. The views of the bridge and the Fjord were quite spectacular. We had to cycle about 800 metres through a tunnel which had no lights, just reflectors at the side of the road. Apart from a back light that I had on my bike, we didn’t have any lights either but John did have a torch and he went in front. It was very weird and quite scary.
The following day was rainy and so we continued up north to our next destination Bergen. It took us most of the day to get there and we stopped along the way to Steindsdalfossen falls, where John went to take some photos. He was able to walk around the back of the falls to take some good shots. Once we got to our campsite, we sat the rain out for the remainder of the day with a plan to visit the city the following day when we knew the weather would be better.
It was the following morning with my knee giving me some pain that we discussed giving up and going home. Once the decision was made we then worked out a plan to get back and estimated how long it would take. We wanted to give Sharon and Simon plenty of notice and we calculate 10 days would get us back without too much driving each day.
We left late morning and firstly drove to Bergen ferry port to see if we could get a ferry to Denmark, we had already been advised they were full for the next few days but were told if we turned up we might be lucky. We weren’t. We also realised we had left the campsite without paying!! so we had to return which cost us extra to cross the toll road again. Our journey was very different, both of us sat in silence reflecting on the decision and what could have been. Ironically my knee started to feel a lot better and I couldn’t help wondering if we had been too premature in deciding to return.
We decided to head back to Kristiansand where we could easily pick up a ferry to Denmark. This meant catching two ferries to get there. The first part of the journey was new territory and the scenery was beautiful and by now the sun was shining. We found a small campsite at a place called Loga by a lake which was a very pleasant overnight stop. It took 3 hours to get to Kristiansand travelling on familiar roads and commenting on the fact that on the way through it was raining just as it was now.
We caught a 4.30pm ferry to Hirtshals in Denmark and arrived at 7.45pm. Back in the land of neat lawns and gardens and the constant sound of a lawn mower somewhere in the distance.
We then had a 40 minute drive to our campsite near Grenen, Denmark’s most northern point. We thought we might as well see some more of the country as we had plenty of time to get home. Interestingly the Danes are keen to talk about Brexit, they seem very nervous now but not as nervous as us!!
The following day we drove to Grenen, opposite direction to the way home but we wanted to take a look at where the Baltic Sea meets the North Sea. From the car park is a 2km walk which I decided would not be good for me, so we took a bus which is towed by a tractor. There is a sandy spit at the end which changes shape with the wind direction and waves, a bit like the one on the island of Brac in Croatia but not as big. The light here is unique and the whole area is popular with artists. We had huge dark clouds hovering over us so we didn’t hang around for too long.
We continued south and camped at a very nice spot in a small village called Hjarbaek with a good view of the lake. We decided to stay for 2 nights get a break from driving. The weather has been a bit hit and miss but we were due for some sunshine again. We managed a walk down to the small harbour where they had a collection of Sjaegts (Danish fishing boats) they are smart wooden boats and are replicas of the type of boats they used to fish in over a hundred years ago. Each boat had a little sign and photo which explained its history and dimensions. We learnt that each Tuesday evening during the summer at 7pm these boats took part in a Regatta (it was Tuesday, so we were in luck). We had a chat with a lovely old boy who was taking part in the race later and he told us he had been doing it with his friends for many years. We planned to go and watch from a viewing point in the campsite. We continued walking around the village admiring the well kept cottages with their neat gardens and thatches. We never made it to the church as I needed to rest my knee. As planned, we had our supper on the campsite bench and chairs facing the lake and watched the Regatta. Later in the evening we went back and watched the sun set, the photos are quite stunning. All in all a nice day and our last day in Denmark.
We then made good headway covering nearly 700 miles in 3 days. We drove through familiar roads in Denmark, Germany, Holland and our final stop, Belgium before driving to Dunkirk. In Holland we stopped at a large camping shop called Obelink, its like camping version of Ikea. As we had covered most of our journey, with John doing all the driving, we had a day off again in Belgium. We enjoyed the brief sunshine with a short cycle from our campsite to De Panne and took advantage of having UK TV again, we watched the Wales v Belgium football game and some Wimbledon tennis.
We spent 2 nights in De Panne and the second day, with the weather a bit brighter, we cycled into the seaside town. Although very busy, it was a pleasant town with a smart precinct of shops and a large promenade. We cycled along the promenade avoiding the children on hired tricycles and families on hired double bikes with seating for 6-8, at times they seemed out of control so we had to have our wits about us. After having a beer in one of the many seafront bars and discussing the football with the waiter, we cycled back.
Our final day before heading to the ferry, we spent a few hours parked up at Oye Plage and enjoyed some afternoon sunshine with a short walk along the beach.
And so finally we made it home around 12.30am on 4th July, just over 7 weeks away this time. We are very disappointed to have to return and are thankful that we did have some great times and we know there will be plenty more of them to come. Thank you for reading the blog and sticking with it, I hope you enjoyed an insight into our latest adventure, short lived that it was.
Our total mileage for this trip 4,143