The land of “whoa!”
Let's get started!
And so we did!
Nervous, but also eager to get going after saying goodbye for a long while back home, this area, if you can call it that, was the setting for the first part of our journey. We had been told that Norway was beautiful, and that we should dedicate a lot of time to see it. This was an understatement…
We are now 14 days in, and we have only just begun to fathom just how vast, beautiful, majestic, overwhelming and absolutely gorgeous Norway is!
We started out actually a bit north of Arendal, where we found a very nice spot by a lake to park Molly. Not bad at all for a first night. Good weather and a decent temperature in the water.
Next day we drove to Arendal, found out just how steep the roads of Norway can be, parked Molly a bit up the hill from the centre of the city and then took our bikes for a ride around Arendal.
It is a really nice city by the sea, but there was also a lot of tourists. The girls found a playground and so we took our first break. Meanwhile Jakob tried to find a place to buy a sim card with a Norwegian Phone number – mostly to get some cheaper GB prices for using the Internet. This was easy to find and buy, but none of the stores selling it knew how to activate it, when you are a foreigner. He succeeded though, and now we have a wee bit cheaper internet.
Cheap would be a wrong word to use about… well, just about anything in Norway. It is expensive here. More on that…
After finding Molly again and watching a Norwegian girl driving her BMW over a kerb to get stuck – the emergency road assistance guy was an absolute champ with his truck – we found the parking lot next to the MTB trail Tungvekteren (the Heave Weight). Parked Molly and made dinner. Ready for riding some bikes the next day!
The trail is not for kids (well, not for our girls – maybe some crazy, superhuman Norwegian kids), so Katrine entertained the girls, while Jakob rode the trail, and then we switched. More about the trail here.
Later on that day we moved Molly to a bit nicer spot just next to a lake, and it was still right next to the trail, so Jakob took one more lap the next day. Three nights in and we had already stayed some really nice places. Here at this spot we could swim in the lake, bike, run, take the kids to another idyllic spot by another lake and so on… Norway was treating us well.
Next destination was Evje, and we left Arendal in the Evening, so the girls could sleep, while we were driving. This has been the winning formula since. We are not “wasting” the day with transportation – instead this is done in the evening. Not all of it but the longer hauls.
It was a longer ride, and when we arrived in Evje, we had found a spot on park4night that just was not good enough. So, we found another spot, drove a billion kilometres out a gravel road and found our spot taken. So, we drove a billion kilometres minus three back and found heaven just on the riverbanks. It was just perfect, and we had just passed it half an hour ago. We stayed next to some friendly Danes, who actually came from the same town as us. They were heading back home the next day and were really jealous on our plans for the next year.
Visited Evje the next day to figure out what to do. Got caught in a trap and bought an entrance to an “amusement park”. It was really expensive, but it looked like it had some water slides, a nice beach and other stuff. It had a waterslide and a nice beach, but the weather was on/off, and the water was really cold.
Luckily, we had also bought the entrance combined with a ticket for climbing trees – highroping. Jakob went with the girls, and they had a blast! They spent two hours climbing trees and using the zip line, and the good thing about places like this is that it is so secure that even Lærke could go on her own.
Ate dinner at the parking lot and took off hoping to camp at “our” spot again. It was taken.
So, we drove a billion kilometres out the gravel road again – the other spot was not exactly fully occupied, we could fit in, but Mr. and Mrs. “I-am-140-years-old-and-cannot-share-this-spot-with-anyone” made sure to tell us in a polite way (I am being sarcastic) that this was their spot.
We drove on and later on that evening thanked Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy for leading us right to perfect spot on the beach of a lake. This was so far the best spot of the trip! Alright, we almost destroyed Molly’s clutch, because we went down the wrong entrance, but eventually we got her in the right position and… well, just have a look…
Stayed for two nights here, because it was so nice! But there was no fresh water or supermarket within miles, so we kind of needed to get moving, as we were running out of everything. Fresh water and food are kind of essential to uphold some sort of living.
We did not want to leave, but we did and drove towards Stavanger, where we wanted to hike to the very famous and very touristy Preikestolen.
On the way to Preikestolen we wanted to ride a trail that looked ok for the girls to ride, so Jakob had found a spot on the side of a lake, which we were aiming for. It was a long ride, so we planned to drive, take a break near another lake, where we could also visit a grocery store, empty the grey water tank, empty the toilet, take Sofie to the doctor to get stitched after cutting herself with her scout knife trying to carve her name into a stick and fill Molly with fresh water (Sofie survived by the way and only needed 1 stitch, which she had without getting any anaesthetics). I would like to say that she took it like a champ, but actually there was a lot of crying and screaming involved, so this particular city was probably glad, that we left again.
Back on the roads after the visit to the doctor and all the other stuff, and now we were heading for the lake, which we found late in the evening, parked under some power lines (is that dangerous or unhealthy?) and woke up to a beautiful lake and some hills in the background.
Lærke and Katrine took their bikes around the lake the following day – a nice 4km ride. Pretty easy and a good experience for both.
Jakob then went to try the MTB trail, tried to get a lot of nice GoPro footage, took a gnarly rockgarden a couple of times before trying to link it with some other singetrail/bikepark’ish stuff to get just the right shot, and what always happens, when you have something dialled? You relax, get unfocused and crash – hard…! Norwegian rockgardens is not the best place to crash – especially not doing an OTB (over the bar). But Jakob, being the gymnast, he always tries to deny that he is, does a ¾ somersault, lands as comfortable as you can in a rockgarden (only a sore wrist) and then hears the bike – not a nice sound. Some pretty bad and deep scratches which has not been checked yet. But it could be quite bad – and potentially cost a new rear triangle. Damn you GoPro! What only makes is worse, is that when arriving back to Molly, he could say: “At least I got the crash on the GoPro” – only to realize that it was shooting Timelapse… So, all in all – a really bad afternoon on the bike…
Being angry does not help anything, so Jakob got over it (but is actually getting a bit angry with himself while writing this), and we then drove towards Preikestolen on a very rainy Wednesday. We knew that it was going to rain for the whole day, so the girls made a home cinema in Molly – with entrance tickets and everything – and we just relaxed a lot that day. Drove to a big Outlet store, where we avoided buying too much and actually just ended up with a warm jacket for Lærke.
Then we drove on towards a completely neutral park4night spot for the next night. It was just a parking lot on the side of the road, but we could empty tanks and toilet and fill up with clean water. And then it was close to the next day’s adventure.
Preikestolen is a very famous spot in Norway, where you can hike about 4km up to a plateau 600 meters above the Lysefjord. The spectacular thing here is that from this plateau, it is 600 meters of vertical drop down to the fjord. It is just an edge and then – down.
Being afraid of heights, Katrine slept bad that night, and the rest of us also got a bit too little sleep, but we got up at 5.45 a.m. and drove the 8km to the parking lot at the start of the hike to Preikestolen. We were out early and started the hike at about 6.50 a.m., which was very good. We were almost alone and reached the 25×25 meter plateau approx. 2½ hours later. Katrine made it (holding the hands of male Danish stranger), and we were all really proud!
It is strange to see, how 350.000 tourists a year are just allowed to walk 1 meter from the edge of cliff, where a fall means more than a bruised ankle. We took some photos, got someone to take some photos of us, and Katrine actually got a bit more comfortable up there.
Jakob took off to climb a bit higher and get some shots of the actual plateau from above.
Then we went just a bit down and walked over to another side of the area, where we had a view over Preikestolen and all the ants marching up there – again glad that we started early.
Because we spent a lot of time up there, there was a lot more traffic going down, but it was alright, and we even stopped for a swim in a (cold) lake.
The bags were stuffed with snacks, and we ate a lot of them, but it worked, and the mood was good all the way. The girls were really strong and just hiked on and on. It looked easy for them. When we started to get nearer to the parking lot again, Lærke announced that she was only at 5% power left, and it fell rapidly. But after reaching 0% and standing like a statue, we could luckily get her going again by giving her some of our energy through our magic fingers by touching her belly button.
We did it! Hiking approx. 9km in tough Norwegian terrain. Facing our fears (mostly Katrine) – and actually just having a really good time doing it. Of course, we ended up finding a sweet park4night spot across the fjord, where we ate dinner looking over on Preikestolen. This is Norway!
Next day we found a small beach, chilled, tried to catch some fish (have not succeeded yet) and then took off for a 3, 5 hour drive further north – heading towards new Norwegian adventures!
Molly works perfectly! We are really happy that we upgraded from old Molly. This morning we saw a Mercedes Marco Polo and agreed that we probably could have made it work, but this is just so much easier!
We have packed the right things! We are using most of the stuff, we have brought – we have maybe brought a bit too much clothing.
It is expensive, but we manage to live on a budget. Baking bread in the Omnistove and not buying too much expensive food e.g. meat and various vegetables. We are actually cooking frozen vegetables, which are cheaper.
The roads are an experience on their own – especially in the evenings! There is just a magnificent view around each corner, and we really enjoy these evening drives, where the girls are asleep in their seats behind us.
The kids are fighting – but not more than expected… They enjoy each other’s company. They play a lot and are creative together – and they are starting to see, how they actually are able to do something on their own – without us having to start something up each time. (Katrine is getting a bit frustrated hearing “MOM” two or three times pr. minute…)
We are not riding our bikes enough! But the terrain here is really difficult to ride bikes in. There are not many trails, and they are mostly hiking trails with a lot of steps and big rocks. But we will see some more trails in the North/Eastern part of Norway.
There is berries everywhere! You almost always have a lunchpack on the side of you – just stick your hand into a bush and voila, you have fresh raspberries or blueberries…