Day 6 – 10 June 2018
Uddevalla to Tanumshede, Sweden
Transport: Bicycle 74.4km average speed: 24.6km/hr
Highs, Lows and all the in between: After the high of finding a #sweetAF campground by the lake last night we were greeted with a rude awakening that I like to label ‘the cook box syndrome’. What is this you may ask?? Well when you set up a tent in a open field then there is nothing to shelter you from the sun when it rises. Being summer in Sweden the sun rises at around 3am so this results in the tent and occupants slowly heating up over the next few hours. The result…the occupants eventually wake up from the onset of dehydration and high body temperature.
So at 7am we packed up our gear as fast as possible to allow us to get into shade and cool down for breakfast. We decided to ride the short distance back into the town Herrestad and had breakfast at the local supermarket where the AC and free wifi was aplenty. Once we had sufficiently rehydrated we made our way towards Strömstad (our original goal destination for the day). On the way we ended up stopping in Munkedal for a early lunchtime feed. We had almost ridden past the town before Emm made a last minute call to swing into town for a unnecessary but welcome brew stop. I was so glad we did as when we rolled in we found this magic spot by the river where we not only had a coffee but also decided to have lunch then proceeded to justify the need for a small arvo snooze 😴. If you ever are in this region, I would highly recommend turning off the highway into this small town. It is very quaint and the riverside parkup is worth every zzzz.
Once we had enough (ie it started to sprinkle rain) we kicked on. We rode towards Tanumshede where we got dinner supplies and decided to call it as it was getting late and we didn’t want to have a repeat of the previous night. So we rolled out of town looking for a nice nook where we could pitch the tent for the night. That nook happened to be on a farm in a rocky wooded area above a farmer’s property (out of sight and not on cultivated land etc…). We set up under a tree (lesson learnt from this am!!!) and proceeded to make dinner (gnocchi pasta with eggs weird but delicious 🤤). About half way through it started coming down so Emm jumped straight in the tent claiming set up was still required whilst I finished up dinner. Dinner was a quick affair that night as the rain set in and I quickly packed it in after finishing my meal.
Quick note On Camping: In Sweden and Norway it is law that you are entitled to camp on someone’s property provided it is not cultivated land or their garden for 1 night. This makes these countries a dream for hikers/bike packers!
Daily spend: $30AUD approx
Day 7 – 11 June 2018
Tanumshede, Sweden to Skjeberg Norway
Transport: Bicycle 63.9km average speed: 20.6km/hr
Highs/Lows and all the in between: I woke this morning the moderate pounding of rain of the tent fly. I hadn’t got up throughout the night so was in dire need of relieving myself but didn’t like the idea of getting wet. Luckily there was a spell where the rain died off so we made the most of it and quickly made breakfast and packed up the gear so that our stuff was mostly dry and stowed safely away. When camping you want to try and keep your stuff (especially sleep gear) as dry as possible and when you pack it away any moisture already in it gets stowed away as well.
Overall we both felt pretty refreshed and started making our way to our first border crossing.
We would be making the crossing into Norway at a place called Svinesund. As we neared Svinesund it really started belting down rain so we decided to call an early lunch at a roadside supermarket at Svinesund. It’s worth noting that Svinesund is not actually a town (as far as I could tell) but rather a place where the Swedes have erected a few big grocery stores and gas stations. The reason is apparently that the price differential between food in Norway and Sweden is so great that many Norwegian’s often cross the border to do their weekly shopping. Apparently people as far as Oslo (over 120km away) have been known to travel to the border crossing for this reason 😳. Anyway the supermarket was a great reprieve from the elements so we had lunch and a second lunch (Cheez Cruncherz – basically spicy twistys 😋). Like all supermarkets we used their free wifi and were stoked to see that a fellow Couchsurfer Viktoria had accepted our request to stay that night. So once the rain cleared we promptly made our way to her place located near Skjeberg just over the border. Viktoria treated us like we were old friends and welcomed us into her beautiful home overlooking the water that constitutes part of the North Sea. We had dinner together and exchanged tales of travel and life experience and overall it was a great way to cap off the day. Viktoria had to leave for night shift work just after dinner so we did a few admin tasks (bike maintenance etc) then promptly passed out. On reflection despite the rain we honestly had a great day out riding and it was it was a great introduction to Norway meeting and staying with Viktoria.
Daily Spend: $40AUD approx
Day 8 – 12 June 2018
Skjeberg to Oslo, Norway
Transport: Bicycle 124.7km average speed 20.6km/hour
Highs: A relaxing breakfast with Viktoria who came back from her vet night shift. We made porridge and had it with cranberries and apple sauce (seems apple sauce is pretty common to add here). Amazing view from her quaint hut and good gory chats about animal trauma surgeries and her recent ACL reconstruction. Providing rehab tips all the while of course haha (obviously still have work on the mind…).
The ride to Oslo was amazing. All on quiet roads and dedicated bike paths and the descent down into Oslo provided panaromaic views of the harbour and castle which were amazing. Oslo is up there as one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited (being set in a Fyord might have something to do with this 🤔)
We meet Cato from warmshowers.org and stayed in his central Oslo apartment. Great meal and he is just the nicest guy ever. He may possibly think we are insane as we peppered him with questions all things Norwegian and travel. This guy is a wealth of knowledge and we took advantage of that.
Following words by -B (on Emms behalf 😉) – since I have known Emm I have always encouraged her to try reading books for pleasure. In all attempts I have failed dismally – however maybe it was the method employed. Emm enjoys visual/audio entertainment and preparing for this trip I convinced her to subscribe to Audible which is a audio app used to download and listen to audiobooks (highly recommend – totally worth the $16 odd monthly subscription which includes 1 free book per month). So far it has been great seeing Emm getting immersed in Chris Froome’s book – ‘The Climb’. This book is pretty interesting and I haven’t even read it yet (Emm is great at telling stories)!!
Lows: None. Another glamorous day being unemployed.
#BeausBowl: Cato’s Mexican omelette see @Beaus_Bowl Instagram page for a full review.Simply delicious
Daily Spend: $60AUD approx
Day 9 – 13 June 2018
Transport: our legs. This was apparently a rest day. We complained a lot (well mostly me lol) and later in the afternoon we ended up jumping on our bikes to purchase train tickets which we discovered is WAY quicker. We legit don’t know how people don’t holiday without bikes 😂.
Highs: Despite complaining of walking, Oslo is such a beautiful city to see. I think it actually reminded me a lot of Sydney Harbour… if Sydney had about 1/10th the population. The old fortress walls were so high and the Opera House was pretty rad as well. Beau was mesmerized by the Gold doors on the Parliament building of course. Later in the afternoon we went to buy our train tickets for the following day. I sat outside the station whilst Beau went inside to purchase the tickets. This was a people watching session on steroids sitting outside Oslo Central Station for 20 minutes and I loved it. Checked out the fashion, rated Norwegian obesity rates (not too high by any rate – maybe because food is so much more expensive), noted number of blondes (lucky Beau was not around for this!), saw numerous dogs but sadly no cats so no #emmascatempire today. On return we met with Cato for dinner and we cooked up red pesto chicken and ate Norwegian ice cream (delicious!)
Lows: the price of the train tickets for tomorrow to the Fjords coming in at $120AUD per person!!! (that was the cheap early fare as well). We hope it is worth it as bad weather is coming in.. But we always knew this part of the trip would come in at a cost given we are entering Norway’s most beautiful region.
#BeausBowl: we haven’t ventured too far other than what presents at the grocery store. Norwegian diet seems to be multicultural, so a similar mix of cusines that we have experienced. Even Norwegian local Cato and others we have met suggest eating out is very expensive in Norway so save it for cheaper countries. Anyway #EmmasEats rates this Norwegian ice cream 😉.
Daily Spend: $300AUD approx (train tickets were $240AUD for 2 people which includes $20 each per bike)
Nutella jar or equivalent running count: 3 (almost half jar per day 🤤)
Day 10 – 14 June 2018
Oslo to Hallingskeid, Norway
Transport: Small bicycle ride to station approx 5km, train from 6.25am to 11.25am.
Highs, lows and the in between: early start for the train which we originally were taking to Finse but we were advised otherwise due to snow making the ride from Finse towards Flam impassable by bicycles (this was close to a #beaustitchup of epic proportions lol). The conductor advised we get off at the next station in Hallingskeid as they heard there was a hut we could lodge in not far from the station and were reasonably confident we would be able to ride to Flam on that side of the mountain. Hallingskeid is at a lower elevation than Finse so the snow cover was expected to be minimal. We had less than 1min to make our decision and decided to risk going on to the next station unsure now if we would have somewhere to sleep indoors for the night – something we planned for due to the gale force wind/rain combo expected overnight. Lucky for us it all panned out and the hut in Hallingskeid run by the DNT organisation was unlocked despite being an un-manned hut. We quickly took refuge for the night and settled in to weather the storm.
The below 4 short videos summarize our pretty fun hut day in the middle of nowhere in beautiful Norway 😂😂😂.
Hot Tip from E: Google translate is powerful. We are alone in this hut with a lot of Norwegian books. Hover your phone over the book and we can read them. Woohoo, winning!!
Note on Huts or Hyatts as they are known in Norweigian: the DNT is an organisation which runs over 150 huts throughout Norway from fully catered breaky/lunch/dinner huts to non staffed but ration stocked huts to simple non-staffed non-rationed huts. These are quite inexpensive by Norweigian standards (bunk at Finse was about $30AUD which Inc. mattress- just bring your own sleeping bag).
-E (edited by B)
Day 11 – 15 June 2018
Transport: None! About 5000 steps due to rainaggedon see below.
Highs Lows and the ill effects of cabin fever: today we awoke to the pounding sound of rain hammering the Hyatt we were lodging in for the night. We had obviously slept deep as it was well past 8am when we woke. We got up and then proceeded to have pancakes for breakfast! Yes folk you read that right. We had some premix handy and with a electric oven and full complement of kitchen utensils Emm set about working her charm. A popular spread to have with pancakes in Norway is called Bacon Ost which to me tastes like ham – just in a spread format. Overall I really rated it and definitely appreciate a savoury pancake every now and again.
After breaky we then proceeded to lull about the cabin all morning hoping to get a clear patch to go out and scope the damage from the storm and poss try riding out towards Flam. However, the rain did not clear all day so I spent my time decoding Norweigian texts discussing the Rallarvegen trail using the google translate feature discussed in yesterday’s entry. Emm proceeded to continue reading (listening) to her Chris Froome audiobook and after a few hours of this we both started feeling the ill effects of cabin fever setting in – Emm passing in and out of consciousness and me going over our plan for escape should the weather clear for the 100th time.
Eventually in the afternoon the clouds did clear on a few occasions which allowed us to get outside and break the cycle.
As it was late arvo we decided we would stay another night in the Hyatt and depart early the following morning. For dinner we tried a local fish with vegetables in a can with some rice. This hearty meal was surprisingly good and one we are likely to repeat on our travels.
We turned in early hoping for an early and hopefully dry start for the ride into Flam tomorrow morning. Otherwise we will continue to gaze out the window 😮