Daily Digest – Day 15 to 22 (NORWAY)

Day 15 – 19 June 2018

Odda, Norway

Today’s entry is positively short and sweet – yes you guessed it, rain!! Norway being beautifully lush and green no doubt can be attributed to its rainfall. We woke about 9am 😮 and had oats with Norwegian nutella of course. After that we snuggled in the tent to keep warm.. yep for hours.. In the afternoon we ventured out for a short ride and walk about but eventually retreated to the tent again due to rain. Dinner was simple again (great for me as I prefer my food plain) – repeat of fiske pudding (a traditional Norwegian fish dish) with bread, tomato and of course brocolli of course to get the nutrients in. Tomorrow we plan for an early start as the weather is clearing apparently- woohoo!! We did come in summer after all so hopeful for some sun to come.

Camping with a view

Daily expenses: 151 Krona about 25 AUD.

-E

Day 16 – 20th June 2018

Odda to Sauda, Norway

Transport: 75km average speed 16km/hr (2.4km climbing!!! traversing 2 SUPER COLD mountain passes).

Highs lows and all the in between – Despite the cloudy skies, the lack of rain waking up was a welcome reprieve. We packed up the tent and were ready to roll in less than 20mins. We have got this tent game down tight #tentgamestrong. We then had a quick breaky of hot oats and coffee and got rolling for one of our earliest starts yet…8am. We wanted to get going early as forecast was for a relatively clear morning with showers in the arvo and we knew from the elevation profile the ride would take a while despite only being 75 odd kms. We rolled out of town and started the gradual ascent to the top of mountain pass 1 which skirts the shoulder of Mount Elvershei. Once over the pass you only drop a small amount in elevation into the town of Rockdale. However we did not take the opportunity to stop as the sweat we had built up on the climb quickly turned to ice and we were doing everything possible to drop elevation at a slow speed to try and tow the magic line between life and death. I’m exaggerating here but you get the picture. It was bloody cold.

Beau – it’s cooold VIDEO

We knew we had another mountain pass to ascend and we were glad to start ascending again as this meant we were able to somewhat warm up again. We made it up to the second pass and it was actually really scenic up top with glacier like dams with that super blue almost turquoise water effects . Emm didn’t think so but I think it was more to do with her lifeless feet rather than the scenery.

Emma’s cold feet VIDEO

On the descent down towards Sauda (our destination for the day) it started to lightly rain but as we were dropping elevation all the way to sea level the trade off with warmer temps meant we were able to tolerate the wetness. We had a quick parkup at a tourist spot where you can do tours of these old zinc mines which involved me finishing off the 5th jar of hazelnut spread. For this night we were fortunate to organise accomodation through the couch surfing app with a couple Jan and Anne who are stalwarts of the Sauda township and have deep family roots in this area.

Meet Jan and Anne

After having a few quick (read looooong showers it has been almost a week since our last rinse) we sat down to dinner at 3pm! Yes they do dinner early in Norway and might take a small refreshment in the evening before bed. For dinner our hosts had cooked up some kransky like sausages with boiled potatoes (which you mash after removing the skin) and carrots. I added a healthy dose of chilli flakes much to the astonishment of our Norwegian hosts – ‘how can you taste anything when you drown your food in chill?’ My response ‘eating food without chilli is like experiencing 80% of the flavours’. Maybe in 20 years time we will see Norwegian chilli inspired dishes (you saw it here first!). After the big ride we quickly gobbled up this hearty feed. Anne had to turn in shortly after dinner as she was working night shift so Jan put his tour guide hat on and took us out to show us some of the sights and sound of Sauda. First up was one of the family’s cozy cabins.

Many of the residents of Sauda (and I am told this occurs throughout Norway) choose to build cabin retreats typically on their own property. Cabins range in size and complexity but are typically constructed from wood With many featuring these moss type living roofs systems. As far as I am aware this is a unique building methodology only employed in Norway and when I first saw this I was in disbelief (coming from Aus I’m thinking bush fire hazard right here) until I actually saw one up close and personal. Although it sounds weird it really compliments the surrounding landscape (green, lush, wet) and looks SPECTACULAR. Jan and Anne’s hut had me wanting to grab my book and curl up on the couch inside sipping a coffee with the wood fired heater cranking.

However, the tour had only just begun and next on the agenda Jan had us partaking in a very Norwegian tradition…fishing. So we jumped in the car and cruised down to the Fyord just on the edge of town. The location chosen was an exit port for the local hydro power station and the turbulence of the water left me having doubts if we would catch anything but mosquitoes (interestingly the total annual hydro electricity generated throughout Norway is equivalent to about 98% of their annual use). I was thus super surprised when less than 10 mins later both myself and Emm were reeling in a Lyr fish each. Yan pulled in another within the next few minutes which had me casting aside all previous doubts. It was then #FISHON (one for Kev) for the next half hour and collectively we hauled in a total of 6 fish (me 3, Emm 2 and Yan 1 but who’s counting).

Day 17 – 21st June 2018
Sauda, Norway

Transport – walking today about 6km with hike up to family mountain hut.

Highs lows and all the in between – this morning we woke up after a DEEEEEEEP sleep. We got cracking (literally) and made poached eggs, bacon, ghouda cheese and tomato on fresh bread. I was schooled in the art of slicing cheese correctly by our host Yan as apparently I’m a bit of a butcher when it comes to prep!

I want it noted though that I had a butter knife whilst Yan had a special cheese sliced as depicted but I guess the saying goes ‘it’s not the tool it’s the tradesman‘ so I guess I still have a bit to learn on cheese grating.

We sat down to breaky with Yan and shortly after I got cracking on bike maintenance whilst Emm got her cat game on.

Emma gotta catch ’em all VIDEO

It was a good thing I had some time to check over the bikes as we had both had almost cooked our front brakes. I had not changed these brakes before I left but I reckon the combination of rain, grit and descents with touring weight over the last few weeks has accelerated the death of the old pads. I changed these out with fresh pads I had packed (note to self – now need to buy some backups!!) and finished up the bikes. Yan was heading into town around this time so we hopped a lift and did some grocery shopping. Yan also took us to the local Svandalsfossen waterfall which is a short <5min hike from the 520 road nearby. This is a pretty impressive waterfall and we only saw it when it was ‘drying up’. Apparently every so often when it rains heavy or the snowmelt is heavy the waterfall is so immense that the spray blowout forces the 520 road closure.

We then rolled back home and had a lunch of lamb kebabs (obtained at 50% off – look for these for sale bins in Norway they are essential if you want to eat meat!) with sprøstekt (note ø pronounced oeeeer sproeeeerrrstek) cheese broccoli and bread. Sprøstekt is a deep fried sliced onion side which is a good accompaniment to any meat. This meals was pretty good by my standards and the Sprøstekt was a revelation. Def adding this to my chilli bag for the rest of our time in Norway (although who doesn’t love deep fried veges). Post lunch we packed up some gear and refreshments for the hike up to the family’s mountain cabin locked at the top of the ridge overlooking Sauda. Note 95% of our gear haul was alcohol related. We were taking ‘the old Sauda road’ up to the hut which was a horse track first used to traverse from Sauda to the next valley (towards Røldal).

This road just so happens to cross the family property and their hut lies at the top of the ridge line just before you start to descend into the Sauda valley. It is about an hour hike (prob half hour if they didn’t have to keep stopping for the ‘slow bikers’). When we got to the hut we were blown away…it was more like a 5 Star lodge retreat. It is 95% complete but when it is finished it will have a sauna (yes you read that right!), a composting separate toilet and 2 bedrooms with a full kitchen.

Needless to say after about 5 mins Emm and myself were quickly readjusting our life goals to incorporate acquiring a suitable property where we could build our own hut retreat.

Hut chilling VIDEO

We spent the afternoon and night sucking on ‘slippery nipples’ (hey this is a legitimate drink I’ll have you know) and Italian wines.

Yan and Anne then prepared a typical Norwegian style roast dinner of various meats, corn and of course potato. I did my thing and added the secret ingredient (chilli) and also seasoned with some of my new found fave sprøstekt. The feed was simply delicious and nothing was left!

We then retired back to the couch and mainly discussed all things Norwegian (ie Emm and myself firing questions left right and centre at our hosts about their nation and traditions – if you know us you will prob not be surprised at this type of adult). Did you know for example that most Norwegians can Asian squat! I always thought and was told by academics and the like that Caucasian have shorter Achilles’ tendons which does not allow them to truly squat like an Asian. Does this mean that The Vikings and various Asian countries share the same bloodlines. I’m gonna say this must be the case which means I’m 50% Viking!! #booyeah.

A very general point I want to note at this point in time is that so far from my experience travelling through Sweden and Norway I definitely get a sense of well established tradition and culture in these countries compared to Australia (I like to think of it as a adolescent verses an adult – bad cliche but rings true). A good example that comes to mind is that Norway has a law whereby the first born son/daughter had first right of claim forany farm hold property. There are provisions whereby the owner of a recently acquired farm property must live in the property and ‘work the land’ and this leads to generations of the same family owning and working a piece of land – as is the case for Yan and Anne. This is but one example and overall I am only starting to comprehend the shear depth of culture and tradition that has resulted from the rich history of Europe. This all sounds very philosophical and all that but I’m noting this more as a reminder to myself to do some vocational study on the history and evolution of the European nations as I find it pretty fascinating. Meeting people like Yan and Anne has really fuelled the fire 🔥 with respect to this and I want to say thanks for giving me the time of day to share with Emm and me your culture, family and traditions. The rest of the night passed into oblivion and we were calling last drinks at 1230. Not bad for a couple of old timers like us 😜.

Items worth counting on this epic…(may have to make this a separate post in future)
# Nutella or equivalent jar count: 6
# Brake pads cooked: 2
# Sporks broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1

-B
-edited by E

Day 18 – 22 June 2018

Sauda to Hjelmeland, Norway

Transport: Bikes, 90km, 21km/hour average speed (1 fjord crossing via ferry about a 10 min journey)

Highs: Perfect sleep and waking up in Jan and Anne’s hut – coffee, 6 min 30 sec eggs, bread and ham of course (typical Norwegian breakky and delicious at that). It was an enjoyable 30 min walk from Jan and Anne’s secluded mountain hut to the main house. Said goodbye to the 4 kittens and mother ‘pouse’ – they were so cute and playful and then we rode away- somewhat sad as we loved our two night stay with this awesome family. Ride was very pleasant and Norway is just ridiculously scenic. The west coast is just so amazing with the fjords and waterfalls.

Major high alert: riding along I noticed literally 10000000s of wild strawberries lining the side of the roads. Now they are about a quarter of the size of a typical strawberries but come with punchy flavour. Like seriously sweet and delicious. We pick close to a full punnet worth in under 10 minutes. These will go well with hazelnut spread and hopefully some will last until tomorrow breakky (unlikely for me which anyone who knows me well will know I can’t resist food like this!!)

Lows: Nothing today. Very minor low was that is took about 40 mins to find a good spot to camp. Ended up tucked away in the bushes in a field.

#BeausBowl: Dinner is always delicious even though sometimes it’s camp style food. This one was 2 tins of tuna mixed in with pasta tomato sauce and fresh pasta. Of course with brocolli lol- we gotta get those nutrients in. Dinner ended up after 11pm – funny how when it is light for so long..really changes your schedule. Bed about 12.30pm.

Daily expenses: food? Maybe $20aud Ferry crossing 35 krona pp – not too bad!!

-E

Day 19 – 23rd June 2018
Hjelmeland to Tau, Norway

Transport – 66.2km average speed 21.3km/hr

Highs lows and all the in between – we woke up in our wilderness camp spot (ie in a forested area on the edge of some farmers plot – note this is completely legal in Norway and there is even a law allowing it)

We had a quick breaky of oats, honey and the wild strawberries we had picked along the highway yesterday! These added tons of flavour and on my second bowl I just ran them instead of honey! Seriously soooo sweet! Afterwards we rolled into town and parked up at the local church to do our morning rituals…hike of course. The towns most popular hike a short 1-2hr hike up the local Hjelmen peak (around 150m elevation gain).

This was a nice reprieve from the bike and at the top we had a parkup involving pre-made pancakes (would not get these again) and blueberries that Emm had found on the trail! (I still am blown away we can easily find berries whilst hiking/biking).

Blueberry chat VIDEO

We then rolled outta town and made our way towards Tau. About 11km out we found a sweet parkup on a cycle road (old road) which bypassed a 4km tunnel road.

How good are tunnel bypasses!! VIDEO

We had coffee there and then decided that we would just camp there – getting supplies in Tau and riding back to this camp spot. We decided to camp at this location as the ride into Tau was flat and easy (so coming back wasn’t a problem) and we have found that when you pass a good camp spot close to your destination you should never pass it up unless there is a good reason…I guess there was a good reason to press on but I’ll get onto that later.

So we rolled into Tau and shopped the discount food items at 2 different stores (Kiwi and Coop). Hey don’t judge, Norway is exy and we are trying to streeeeetch this holiday. Plus it gives us a kick if and when we can save some dosh. We bought a fair bit of food (Amongst it all, 6 bananas made the cut!) as we had to budget for all meals on Sunday owing to the fact no shops are open on Sunday’s in Norway. We then headed back to our dream camp spot, only to find it had been pre-booked by a big family…a family of those tiny, annoying as hell flies which bite! These little buggers are like ants and when one gets on your case it’s not too long until the swarm has been notified and are zeroing in on your lovely warm ass. Needless to say we got dinner going (tomato based pasta with broccoli and hard boiled eggs mixed in – me adding some chilli and sprøstekt) but were quickly gobbling it down so we could retreat to our camp shelter and evade the bugs. It was a pity we had to call it at that but that’s camping and we have been warned about the mosquitoes and flies in The Scandinavian countries before we left. It shows that you have to carefully pick your camp spot but around the fyords you are definitely limited in choice (especially if you are trying to do it free) so best to at least have a fully sealed tent (ie I would not try a bivy at all here unless there was a face mask). It is worth noting that deet does have a moderate effect of warding of the flies but is not 100%. As they say in showbiz…’that’s all folks’.

Items worth counting on this epic…
No change to prior post

-B
-edited by E

Day 20 – 24th June 2018
Tau to Høle, Norway

Transport – 50km
with a hike up Norway’s most famous hike the Priekestolen (Pulpit Rock).

Highs lows and all the in between – we woke up this morning hoping that the bug situation from last night had abated due to the warmer morning weather. Unfortunately this was not the case and those tiny little ducks (euphemism here!) were still about in force. We decided to pack up and have breaky in the go rather than try and cook up and sit through another onslaught like we had done with dinner the night prior. The ride to Priekestolen (our main objective of the day) went over a small ridge line mountain pass gaining about 250m elevation. This was enough to get us both pretty warm and keen for a feed after the descent on the other side. We found a sweet sea fronting table in the Jørpeland town and had eggs, Norwegian brown cheese and tomato on bread. This Norwegian brown cheese is a real goer and really adds so much flavour to any dish.

We then climbed up the start of the hike which was a good way to knock out about half the total elevation gain of the hike I reckon. The hike itself was pretty busy but the path was wide enough to allow passing in most places so we didn’t feel to agitated that we had found our way back onto the tourist highway. Overall the hike out to Pulpit Rock was good (nothing groundbreaking) but the view when you ascend the last little climb is worth the crowds and the 4 odd hour return hike. I think the only way to convey this is via pics see below.

Pulpit Rock baby!! VIDEO

We had a small snack at the top involving hazelnut spread with banana on fresh bread (why bother with anything else) and then cruised the 3.5km back to our bikes.
The rest of the day was pretty much making our way on towards the eastern coast to ride part of the Eurovelo 12 – the North Sea Cycle Route (one of a network of routes cross crossing Europe dedicated to cycle tourers – Epic!). We caught the ferry over to Lauuvik and decided we would stop wherever we found a good parkup as we had supplies ready for dinner (we had obtained these yesterday as shops are shut on Sunday in Norway – something to note if you are traveling through). It was pretty much roll off the ferry and less than 5 mins later we had found this sweet waterfront spot on a service road adjacent to highway 13…score!

I am happy to report that at the time of writing this post (currently 10pm I am sitting out the front of the tent and both Emm and me have had a civilised dinner (read bug free!) and a assortment of deserts (all containing some form of choc! – my current favourite is digestives with a healthy smearing of hazelnut spread!). Hopefully we have a sound sleep and if the forecasters have it right (fingers and toes crossed and anything else to give us some luck) we will have a week of sunshine to sea us through our final few days in Norway. Plan is to ride to Kristiansand and then get ferry to Gothenburg (via Denmark).

Items worth counting on this epic…
Nutella or equivalent jar count: 6
Brake pads cooked: 2
# fuel bottles: 2litres of meth, 250g gas
# Sporks broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1

-B
-edited by E

Day 21 – 25th June 2018

Høle to near Hauge, Norway

Transport: Touring bikes 108km average speed 21km/hour. We were fortunate to have a tailwind for a chunk of the back end of the ride- this deserves a big wahoo. We felt we really deserved a tail wind as we are owed one from a day we had in Sweden a fortnight ago when the wind slapped our cheeks hard all day. Today we had sections of what we call ‘glass pedalling’ or ‘air pedalling’ -pretty self explanatory really but we, particularly me, loved it!!!

Today’s highlights video

Highs: Today was bloody great all round but it can be broken down into 4 main points:

1. No bugs. On the waterfront camping location with no bugs and I made pancakes (yes we are camping but carry this stuff with us because sooo worth it.). I was excited about no bugs, Beau’s focus was on pancake eating lol #thesimplethings

No bugs and pancakes yewww VIDEO

2. The sun. So far all our time in Norway has been with some pretty thick cloud cover. Today we were treated with hours and hours of sun. Bliss!! #thesimplethings

3. The tail wind. Described above. Amazeballs. #cyclisttalk

4. Less elevation. As unbelievable as the Fjords were (seriously scenic stuff) they came as a price of serious climbing. With heavy panniers mixed in I may have whinged… just a little. Today we still climbed 1200m (double Watson’s bay loop for the Sydney siders), yet there was not a peep from me. This point combined with point 3 = #whyiride.

Anyhow we had a slow start of internet time, pancakes and Skyped my parents who are back from a holidays. We met nice dogs and pedaled down the west coast. The scenery became more coastal and rocky terrain- still splendid.

#BeausBowl: Today on the menu was pancakes, lunch mackerel tomato sandwiches, dinner egg brocolli and tomato pasta. So delicious with the addition of brown cheese. Emma ate too much chocolate whoops/#ridetoeat and Beau had a lot of biscuits coated with hazelnut spread #eattoride.

Daily Spend: Spork 33 krona and food around $25 aud. Pretty proud of our spend so far. Food accomo transport and entertainment has been sitting around $25pp per day. Lucky we are going well as #unemployedlife

– E

Day 22 – 26th June 2018

Near Hauge to Vigeland, Norway

Transport – Bikes 126.8km average speed 18km/hr (very slow at the end due to bugging out 🙁 see below)

Highs lows and all the in between – this morning we woke up at our picturesque mountain campsite that was about 10+km North West from Hauge along the North Sea Cycle Route. It was a super loooooooong start this morning as post breaky we decided to listen to Emms Chris Froome audiobook whilst laying on a nearby rock. I think I may have passed out for a bit because the next thing I remember was waking up with some drool on my cheek with the sun beating down and working it’s slow methodical dehydration magic on me.

Magic camping spot VIDEO

We then got into gear and packed up and cruised the mostly down hill stretch to Hauge. We were pretty good for food so pressed on and rode to Flekkefjord which sounded easy on paper – max elevation 300m etc etc. However, with loaded panniers and an overall elevation gain of over 1000m over less than 40km combined with a serious lack of water I was starting to worry. The climbs were amazing though and again I was left without little doubt as to why this route was listed as part of the longer Eurovelo 12 North Sea Cycle Route.

Riding with the locals VIDEO

North Sea friends VIDEO

Luckily in one of the valleys we found a joker grocer and were able to rehydrate and get down some calories (banana hazelnut spread…#SoSOP). We then pressed onto Flekkefjord (only 50 odd kms so far!) and stopped for a well deserved lunch at the local Coop down by the water. We had a mixed lunch of Norwegian brown cheese, tinned mackerel/tomato and Sprøstekt/chilli sambos with a pot of yogurt and muslie as desert 😋. We prob overdid the stay and weren’t departing until well past 430pm. Now the days are long here but if I had known the ride we were up for we would have only parked up briefly. From Flekkefjord the ride headed towards Feda where again we stopped for some H2O (it was a stinker!) and were fortunate we did so as a local cyclist stopped to advise us the recommended route unnecessarily traversed a nearby mountain pass and a much nicer flatter ride through the fyord along the 465 could be achieved on the bicycle. We took his advice thankful for the reduction in kms and climbing altitude and were soon steaming through Liknes and towards Lyngdal (our original planned port of call for the evening). I should say Emm was steaming along as I blew up spectacularly and had to get Emm’s tow assistance all the way to Lyngdal.

It’s Boxed Beau BB VIDEO

It was getting on 9pm when we eventually arrived and we thought we had scored the ultimate fyord side parkup Lenesfyorden just off highway 43. Ohhh how we were wrong. I guess it can take multiple lessons before something really gets drilled in but suffice it to say it was not long until we were joined by our old friends – the midgies. They came in droves and we thought we could outsmart them this time with a dedicated mossie net we had packed but these things are designed for mosquitoes which are reliably large compared to the flies and soon we had the a swarm of dinner hosts in our ‘protected cooking space’. There was no option rather than packing up quick (and I mean drop everything and run quick) and pushing on to find a more suitable campsite.

The tiny bugs get through this net too O.M.G.

We rolled through Vineland which fortunately had a truck stop with a picnic area for truckies which was bug free (the lack of nearby vegetation and water was enough to mitigate the swarms – good tip for any would be travellers). It was 1030pm at this stage so we decided to make the most of the bug free environment and had dinner here – a no nonsense affair of pasta, tomato sauce and eggs. After dinner we made the decision to find a camp spot, any camp spot whereby we could set up quick in case the bugs returned. We found one near Skarpesvingen river where there were a few midgies and literally passed out as soon as we hit the sack. This was a pretty epic day and went from a super high to a super low, but that touring and life. At end of day it wasn’t that bad – I’m just hoping the bug situation improves the further South we travel.

Items worth counting on this epic…
Nutella or equivalent jar count: 8
Brake pads cooked: 2
# fuel bottles: 2litres of meth, 250g gas
# Sporks broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1

-B
-edited by E

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