Bike paradise for families?
2ND HALF OF NORWAY - STILL GREAT!
Mid-Norway (well, actually it is geographically not even close to being the middle of Norway, but if we just call the Trondhjem area the North of Norway, and then forget about everything north of that (yes, yes, I know about that lovely place called Lofoten), then our second round of Norway was in the middle part of this scenic country) – WHAT A HEADLINE!!!?
Following the total happiness of driving around the most fantastic landscapes described in the post about the South Western part of Norway, we had high expectations for what to come. But then again; how could anything beat Preikestolen?
Røldal, Odda and Kinsarvik
Well, definitely not the first spot in Røldal… We arrived too late and found a weird spot to sleep, but it was ok. Then we went to see the famous church in Røldal (Røldal Stave Church), and it was really pretty but also closed, and the rain was pouring down! So, we headed on towards Odda, which we had been told was a real outdoor city!
On the way we stopped to see a really lovely waterfall – also in the pouring rain – and then we arrived in Odda. But we had no plans, and we did not know where to sleep. We tried a small parking lot, but it did not quite work out, so in pure frustration Katrine said: “Let’s just go to that stupid glacier then!” (There was a small sign saying: “glacier – that way”).
We did and wow, that was a good choice. We got a bit nervous driving up there, because there was absolutely no chance of turning Molly around on the narrow road, and we did not know, where we would end. But we ended up at this gorgeous farm, were you could pay a very little amount of money to get through a gate, and then you could just pick a spot. We found a lovely spot, pissed of a German couple, who thought we parked too close to them, invited them on pancakes, they turned them down, and we moved on with our lives… But the spot was spot on (;-)), the view was amazing, and it was freezing cold! After all, we stayed just underneath a glacier.
The girls took a swim in a glacier pool (I also tested it, and I am utterly impressed with those two little Vikings!).
Next day we thought that we might as well do the hike to the Folgefonna glacier, since we were already here, and it looked like the thing, people did here… Encouraged by the success on Preikestolen, with a bag full of goodies and a sales speech that promised snow and ice we started the hike towards the glacier.
It was really good! The views are amazing, and the route is fun! A lot of climbing and jumping dangerous things such as freezing cold rivers and stuff. So, we had a blast! Until we reached the top and found out that the snow was un-reachable. Both kids exploded and the mood was not good!
We got it turned around with a little help from our dear friend Mr. goodie bag and the promise of finding snow somewhere else in Norway.
All in all, this was really a wonderful experience! Go, check it out!
Next day we drove to Kinsarvik and had decided to visit a proper campsite, since we were starting to smell weird, so we needed to do some laundry. We found a really nice place, and the weather was perfect – as in t-shirt, bikini, swimsuits perfect! So, we took a little walk and also celebrated one of the teddy bear’s birthday. Always have an excuse ready to bake a cake.
The day after it was time to treat the girls, since they had been doing really well with all the hiking and living on a budget thing. In Kinsarvik they have this amusement park called Mikkelparken, and it was the perfect find for our girls. Their age of 5 and 7 fitted perfectly to this park, the weather was perfect and all in all we just had a great day of fun and bathing. Highly recommended! (And we usually do not like these kind of places).
Now it was time for Katrine to take a walk, so the next day she took on Dronningestolen (Queen Sonja’s panoramic hiking trail). It was hard but also rewarding with amazing sceneries (and some tired legs a couple of days afterwards. The days in Kinsarvik ended with a very scenic park4night spot!
Once again, we arrived at a place, where we did not know anything about it. We had heard some things about the area being great for outdoor activities, but that was it. We found a campsite (lack of other good spots), and it was really close to the water.
The weather was still great, so we immediately jumped in the water and then went to explore the city, which really had an “outdoor” vibe to it. In the forest behind the campsite we found a billion blue- and raspberries, so we had some nice breakfast meals 😉
Our beloved mountainbikes had not seen too much activity, so both Katrine and Jakob took a ride on one of the local trails, which was really good. Once again, not a lot of hints about where to go but it was a good ascent and a really fun trail going downhill.
At the campsite we actually spoke to some other people than just each other 😉 This was really nice and also needed. A German guy offering a spot in his garden and a meal, if we ever came by. And a Norwegian guy who was really interested in our plans and furthermore had the coolest little motorized bike, which both Sofie and Lærke tried. We talk to people when we can, but we are actually a little bit surprised that a lot of vanlifers are a bit closed. We thought that this would be some sort of community, where everyone spoke with each other and gave some nice hints, but actually we see and experience a lot of competition about getting the perfect spot before someone else and then ignoring anyone, who comes close by in order to appear intimidating – neighbours are not welcome! 😉
We ended the stay in Voss with a trip to some natural pools, which we never would have found without a little guidance from one of Katrine’s former soccerfriend. It was an amazing spot to chill, relax, get wet and enjoy the summer.
We were told by some of Jakob’s former students that the Aurland Pass should be something quite spectacular, and we are all for spectacular things, so of course we headed in that direction. We just came from sun, swimming and sunbathing, and now we were driving up, up and more up. But both the climb there and the plateau itself is, indeed, something spectacular. AND WE FOUND SNOW!!!! Actually, we parked Molly just a few meters away from the snow, so, although it was getting late, the girls went out to play in the snow, and we finished off with hot chocolate and whipped cream. There was no wind at all, which was a really good thing, as we were really exposed up there.
Next day started out with building a snowman, and because of our previous successful experiences with hiking we thought, we might as well do another one. Catastrophe hit because of our arrogance, and we were about to learn that you have to prepare for a hike – especially if you do not know the hike.
We took off a 11.30, because… Well, because we did not think about the midday sun and heat. Did we start out with a meal? No. Did we bring plenty of snacks? No. Did Katrine wear sandals? Yes. Were we prepared for intense climbing on rowdy, rocky, sandy and thereby slippery trails? No. The parents were not ready, and then it becomes really difficult to sell the experience to two small girls, who was having a really hard day in the office. It was tough, hard, stupid and embarrassing, but somehow, we made it to the top of Mt. Prest. But we definitely learned a lot.
The drive afterwards started quiet, but after a little while we saw a lake with ice covering most of it, and of course we decided to take a dip – this loosened up the mood again 😉
Having pushed Molly’s brakes to the limit going down from Aurland, we arrived in Sogndal – or the city of right next to Sogndal, Karpanger. Dinner was waiting, and so we found a spot at the harbour, ate, jumped in the water and Jakob went for a walk to find a spot to sleep. Only found one spot but it was a private area. So, the search started on park4night, and we headed out on a steep mountain road only to find… Absolutely nothing. So, we drove a gazillion km in the other direction only to drive past three possible spots, because they were all occupied… It was getting late, Katrine was getting frustrated, and Jakob was getting tired. But we continued out of the endless road, but ended up at a spot, which could potentially be private, but we took the chance. Next day we woke up to a crazy view over a fjord and a place to hang out without being disturbed by other annoying freecampers 😉 We stayed for the most of the day, baked bread, swam in the fjord, did a little run, did some pilates and just enjoyed life.
Later we met with Jakob’s old student from Vejle, Morten or Staff, at the same harbour from the day before.
He took Katrine out for a MTB ride, while Jakob made dinner and entertained the kids – which was not a problem, since Staff had brought his dog! The girls love dogs!!!
We stayed back at Staff’s house – or in front of it – and chilled with him and Nanna, another student from Vejle, for the next couple of days. It was so extremely cozy. The girls played with the dog, we rode some mountainbike, we did the laundry and just chilled. Nanna and Staff are studying Outdoor life in Sogndal, if you can call backcountry skiing for “studying” 😉
We had been told that this place should be good for mountainbiking, and Katrine had been in contact with a Danish guy, Kasper, who is trying to promote the sport even more up there. He works for the municipality but also run his own company called Bike Beitostølen. He, and his girlfriend Marie, does guided tours, technique training and educates new instructors, so they know something about mountainbiking.
We ended up staying in their yard, since Jakob was going on a search for new trails with Kasper, so we parked Molly there, and suddenly the girls ended up in the house with Marie and the son, Walter. A little bit unexpected and also a little bit akward but it ended up being a really nice experience! Walter loved some company – as did the girls – and they furthermore went horseback riding. So, when Kasper and Jakob got home from an unsuccessful ride, the girls had already planned that we should stay for the evening, eat pizza and sleep in Molly in their yard. We actually stayed for one more night, and we got to ride some proper mountainbike all four of us! More about that here:
It was inspiring to meet two people, who really have decided to make a huge change in their lives and are trying to pursue some of their dreams. They were dead honest about things as well. It had not been easy. They had argued, and they had also been ready to move back to Denmark several times. But they were really nice and welcoming, and we had a great time in Beitostølen and are just thankful that we got to see a little bit “more”, than if we had just parked at a park4night spot and then rode the trails.
A short break in Lillehammer with skijumping (not us) and swimming in an indoor pool (us), and then we moved on towards Trysil. Kasper from Beitostølen had said that if we liked Beitostølen, we would love Trysil. He was right! This was something else! We stayed five days in Trysil and could probably have stayed for five more. It was the best MTB experience of our trip so far, and in fact, we think it is going to be really hard to beat the mountainbike experience of Trysil. Everyone just had a blast.
Jakob’s stepbrother lives in Oslo with his wife and son, and of course we wanted to see them, while we were in Norway. So, the last weekend in Norway we spent at their house. Relaxing, talking, playing, going for a walk and actually riding our bikes at the local pumptrack.
It was the perfect way to end the perfect first country of our European trip!
Norway surprised us! We had heard a lot about it, but everything was just amazing! It was easy to find a spot to sleep and easy to empty and fill up Molly with water and so on. It is freecamping heaven!
The scenery in this country is unbelievable, and we are definitely coming back!
We were lucky with the weather, and of course this has an impact on our experience. We did not do too much mountainbiking on the west coast, but the hiking here was superb instead. And then we found two spots at the end of our trip, which completely made it up for the lack of good trails at the start of it.
What did we learn?
Molly is easy to live in – especially in a country as Norway.
The girls are becoming even closer friends.
We love riding mountainbikes but can also settle with something else.
We love speaking to somebody else once and awhile 😉
We are so ready to see some other countries, but they really have something to live up to.