On the way to North Cape

View of the Bindalsfjord

After we took you with us to the beautiful Atlantic Road in the last Norway blog post, today we’re heading further north by motorcycle with the North Cape as our destination.

But first we stay a few nights in Trondheim. Norway is big and has only a few cities, so we enjoy staying in a hotel again and getting to see a bit of culture.

Picturesque Trondheim

Trondheim is a pretty little town. The biggest attraction is probably the old warehouses along the canal. They stand on long wooden stilts that rise out of the water. On closer inspection, many of these wooden beams are already quite rotten. But it is also obvious that many of the houses have already been restored, they house apartments, galleries and cafes. Especially in the evening sun they form an impressive mixture of tradition and modernity. Very worth seeing.

Traditional warehouses in Trondheim
Traditional warehouses in Trondheim

Nidaros Cathedral is also worth a detour. An ancient building with a patina-green copper roof, surrounded by an almost equally old cemetery. The cathedral is especially known for its organ concerts, but the facade is also interesting. We could have stood in front of it for hours looking at the stone figures and gargoyles. On the front of the cathedral are just over fifty stone statues depicting stories from the Old Testament. However, we could not figure out why two of them are decorated with wreaths.

Particularly well known and presented in all travel guides as a “must see” is the “Gamle bybroen“, the old city bridge, which connects the central peninsula with the district Bakklandet. During our stay in Trondheim, the bridge was unfortunately scaffolded due to renovation. Nevertheless, we were able to walk across it and take a look at Bakklandet. Cobblestone streets, many small wooden houses, cafes and galleries make the district exciting for visitors. Many benches, especially along the canal, invite you to linger and enjoy.

I would not like to withhold from you a particularly bizarre facility of Trondheim: the Sykkelheis in Bakklandet. This is a bicycle lift that pushes cyclists up the initially steep incline to the fortress. You simply place your right foot on the lift, it then pushes from the bottom as the bike makes its way up. Unfortunately, the lift was out of service when we were there. At least we were able to look at the bottom station. A nice idea to motivate Trondheimers to use bikes – and free of charge.

Sykkelheis. The Trondheim bicycle lift.
Sykkelheis. The Trondheim bicycle lift.

When I look back at Norwegian cities, two adjectives always come to mind: impressive. And expensive. Impressive in the good way: not creating something impressive with a lot of money, but bringing the traditional into the modern with a lot of attention to detail. And expensive, because the price level in Norway is simply much higher than we are used to. And of course, staying in a hotel means that we don’t have access to a kitchen, so we eat out quite often. A simple pizza is quite expensive at 18 euros. If you want to read more on the topic of “Overnight stays on trips“, I recommend our article „Where do I sleep when I travel around the world“.

Moose flashing by

We leave Trondheim and move further north, towards the North Cape. The following night we stay on the Holmset Campingplatz. This is a prime example of how tent travelers are not pushed into the last corner, but – on the contrary – get their own area. The whole campground is large, beautiful, clean and located slightly above the river. You can rent cabins or park your camper somewhere. Only with the tent you are allowed on the meadow directly down by the river Öysterelva. There is electricity, hammocks and small huts with heat lamps directly at the water. We haven’t seen such a lovingly equipped campground in a long time. And we also immediately get a tip where we might be lucky to see moose.

And so we leave at dusk with the motorcycles and look for moose. We drive in the indicated direction, turn off after exactly 6 kilometers on a side road and begin to keep a lookout. Nix, no moose. Nowhere. At some point we suspect our noisy motorcycles are scaring the animals away, so we stop and set off on foot. Sure enough, around a bend, a young moose charges onto the trail, looks at us in horror, and is gone just as quickly as it came. It felt like it was only a second. We got just such a huge fright, although we were looking for it.

This is actually our only encounter with a moose in over six weeks of Scandinavia. As often as we walk on small forest paths in the evening, we have not seen any moose again. Only reindeer, but that’s another story.

Rainbow near Vik
Rainbow near Vik

Our daily routine with cappuccino and sea view

One advantage of our lifestyle is spending our days the way we want to. We almost never set the alarm clock, drive manageably long distances (rarely more than 250 kilometers per day), and take breaks when and where we please. And the warm weather we’ve had in Norway so far makes it easy. The Norwegians are good at tourism and have created a variety of benches and picnic areas. Many picnic areas are located in scenic spots: next to bridges overlooking the river or the sea, by lakes or in picturesque towns. And there are always benches, tables, trash cans and clean restroom stalls. Since we are traveling in 2020, the first Corona year, there are also few people on the road and we always find a free spot.

During these breaks we almost always have a snack with us. We buy in the supermarket: Bread, Brunost (Norwegian caramel cheese) for Daniela, caviar cream for Wolfgang. In addition tomatoes, apples, grapes or whatever we just liked in the supermarket. Norway is expensive, but rather good ingredients for the snack than somewhere expensive pizza or burger.

What has turned out to be a really good idea is to use a coffee flat rate. In Norwegian, this is called “kaffeeavtale” and is offered by several gas station chains: It works like this: We buy a cup from the Circle K chain for about 25 euros, it gets a sticker (for 2020) and a green band – and now we can fill up on delicious cappuccino all year round at all Circle K gas stations. We do this several times a day (in part because we share a cup), so we quickly reached “break even” (the point at which the initial investment pays off). A single cappuccino would cost just under four euros. We see a lot of people with banded cups and suspect that the campaign pays off for the service stations primarily because it binds customers to exactly the service station where they have their flat rate.

Besides, Circle K always has benches in front of the door and delicious Daim buns on offer.

Lunch break by the fjord
Lunch break by the fjord

The incredible hospitality of the Norwegians

It is getting cold and the weather forecast announces a few days of continuous rain, so we decide to rent a permanent accommodation for a few days. With airbnb.com we quickly find what we are looking for. A small cottage with sea view on a somewhat remote peninsula. Just the right thing for a few days retreat. And the following days show how right the decision was: We have eight degrees and rain. We spend the days reading, updating websites and walking in the twilight. We have not yet given up the idea of watching moose.

And one morning we wake up and it’s really cold. Inside, too. We have a power failure, and since we only heat via the air conditioning, we freeze. At first we don’t find that bad at all: hot coffee for breakfast warms up for now, later we curl up on the sofa with our sleeping bags and read. We expect the Norwegians to repair the damage quickly. But after a few chilly hours we start to get nervous. Just then there is a knock at the door: our landlord, who lives next door, stops by to bring us up to date. When he sees us with all the blankets, he disappears right away and brings us a huge bag of firewood. He fills the stove, lights the wood and soon the fire is blazing. We get comfortably warm. We are told that the Norwegians can’t find the fault with the power supply, but are setting up emergency generators so that the region should soon be supplied again. And indeed, the light goes on again in the late afternoon. But we continue to heat a bit with the fireplace, simply because it is nice.

Our landlord not only provided us with firewood, but also brought a bottle of red wine as “compensation”. Of course, this would not have been necessary, but we already enjoy the luxury. And when we report that we want to see moose, but have had no luck so far, he puts a car in front of our door with the key in it. In case we want to go to see moose and don’t want to get on the motorcycles in the rain.

We are delighted. What a hospitality. You just have to love Norway.

Rain in Sömna
Rain in Sömna

Ferries to the bone

We continue in a northerly direction. We largely follow the coastal road Fv17. In Norway, the speed limit on country roads is 80 km/h, which we largely keep. We adapt to the slow pace of the locals, cruise around the curves and enjoy the fact that we have a view of the water most of the time. Either on the North Sea or on various fjords. Once again, it becomes clear that time makes travel more relaxed. So far in Norway we didn’t need to know the departure times of the ferries in advance: we just arrived, maybe waited a bit and drove on. But it is clear to us that it will be different further north and later in the season.

We usually like the ferry crossings. With the smaller ferries, we often have a beautiful view of the water and enjoy this perspective very much. With the larger ferries, however, we often stand behind the closed bow and look all the time at white painted metal. Rather boring, if you are not lucky enough to be directed to the upper level by the usher. There the ride is neither fun, down below it is rather annoying and time consuming. Some days we have three crossings, which is the price of using the coastal road.

Speaking of price, sometimes we don’t even know what the ferry costs exactly, because recently many ferries in Norway were switched to a new payment system: license plates are recorded and the bill comes by mail to Germany at some point.

On the ferry
On the ferry

Finally, an observation that we are just allowed to make regularly: in Norway there is little crime, and Norwegians assume that everyone behaves correctly: in parking lots, no one cares whether we really bought a ticket. Luggage on bicycles is practically never locked. The store on the ferry presents its goods openly and asks for card payment at the end, without anyone checking. A good reason not to disappoint this trust and find Norway even more awesome.

Self-service store on the ferry
Self-service store on the ferry

So, enough for today. Be curious how it continues on the way towards Lofoten and North Cape.

And if you haven’t had enough for today, browse our picture gallery Norway.

And in case anyone missed any part of our Norway series, here are all the links again:

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