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|07/11||Ferry Ship to Bergen, Norway
On the way into Bergen, the ship cruised through miles of fjords. They are just like what you see in the picture books -- steep, green mountains cascading right into the water. An occasional house clinging to the sides peeking out of the trees.
We docked in Bergen and drove off the ferry. The town is very old. It looks very much like a ski town in the Rockies -- both in the splendid scenery and in the touristy development. Very quaint.
The weather was partly cloudy with occasional heavy mist and drizzle. The temperature was warmer than it was in the Shetlands, and the wind was NOT!
We finally found it. We made reservations at the youth hostel that the Odyssey group will be at tomorrow night, then headed for lunch.
Everyone was VERY hungry after last night's ordeal, so we found a place to eat in one of the buildings in the historic dock area. The food was good, basic and expensive. (We were told, and now we've confirmed, that Norway is one of the most expensive places in the world to visit. And it turns out that even though we were hungry, everyone was still too queasy too eat much.
We drove to the our hostel. It was 7 km's away, halfway up the mountain. The Montana Hostel is very clean and new. We moved into our rooms and all took long naps.
The hostel had two suggestions for dinner. Go to town or they could order pizza. We thought a nice pizza, salad and drink would be nice. We checked and found the menu was like the choices Henry Ford gave to the buyers of his first car, "They can have any color they want -- as long as it's black!" The menu choice was ham and cheese -- period. No others toppings, no salads, no drinks. We did not have a hard time deciding to go into town.
The desk person recommended a restaurant back in town. It was a really nice, cozy place.
We noted one thing last night. It was light out until almost midnight. If the sun shines one of these days, I'll be able to tell if we're in the land ofthe midnight sun yet.
Love to all, David and Lisa
Today was misty and rainy all day, and it got colder as the day went on. We delayed getting out this morning waiting for Brit-Simone to see if we had to move out of our rooms or not and waiting for Joan to do her hair. Brit-Simone never got up and Joan decided not to do her hair, but finally, at 11, we saw Karen-Ann. She said we could stay in our rooms, so we were free to leave.
We drove into Bergen, parked, and headed for the Post Office for Joan to mail a sweater. Then we stopped at a several ATM's to get some cash.
Larry's got his new card but never got into his account. He had several problems. First, he had an alpha access code. Since the keypads here have no letters, he couldn't access his account. Then we got the numerical equivalent to the alpha code, but every mini-bank he tried immediately showed that any withdrawal would be a VISA cash withdrawal. He didn't want that. But then, we asked him if he had activated the card yet by calling the number on the sticker on the card. OOPS! He peeled the sticker off and threw it away without looking at it. Oh well. Another challenge for another day.
Lisa and I had to try three mini-banks before we found one that would work on our card. We had the same "cash-withdrawal-from-VISA" problem. We found out that there are NO international banks in Norway and ALL ATM's would give us the same result. Oh well, just another Odyssey challenge.
We walked into the touristy seaport area, did some shopping (window and real), then found a place for lunch. We had a delicious "noodle and chicken" soup at a Chinese restaurant for 98 Kroner (about $12)!! (We've had the same soup --and the same size -- in the S.F. area for $5 or $6.)
After lunch Joan and Larry went to a museum. Lisa and I walked through town. We visited the "Fish Market," a street market that had not only fish but lots of produce, flowers and souvenir stalls.
We strolled through the town square and around town. Although Bergen is the second largest city in Norway at 220,000 inhabitants, the downtown is quite small.
We met at the car at 4 and headed back to the hostel. We had dinner (beef stew -- maybe reindeer), a movie (The Rock with Sean Connery -- an action-comedy), and to bed.
(Did I say that the view of the city and the fjord from the hostel is magnificent?)
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/13||Norway, Bergen to Risnes
Larry, Lisa and I were scheduled to ride today but, first thing this morning, Lisa did not feel well. Dizzy and tired. Almost like a strange relapse of sea sickness. She stayed in bed until about 9:30, then got up and had breakfast. By 10 she was feeling a little better, so we packed up and we jumped in the car with Joan.
We drove North through the Fjord country. WHAT BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY!! We skirted around fjord after fjord. The narrow roads sliced through green hills and tall trees. Occasionally we had views, through gaps in the trees, of small clusters of houses clinging to the sides of the fjords.
The weather was also beautiful for riding -- bright sunshine poking through the scattered clouds -- cool, brisk air.
Services were very sparse through most of the day, but we found a real neat little restaurant in Austrheim. It had about six small tables. It was run by a man and his wife with one helper.
We asked about soup. No, but they had hot lunch. Could we have a menu? "No menu. It's a set lunch." They explained it in Norwegian. We passed and had a room temperature Norwegian flat bread that looked and tasted very much like an American pancake. While we were paying, the owner came out with a plate of the hot lunch. He said, "You must try it. It's the typical Norwegian lunch." So we did.
We determined that it was a sheep steak cut from the leg, a nondescript sausage, cooked carrots, pureed turnips, and a baseball size ball made from potatoes and flour -- surprisingly tasty!
We drove on to Risnes, the TK&A destination for tonight. There were no towns along the way. In fact, Risnes was a town in name only. We couldn't find anywhere to stay.
We got to the TK&A campsite, the Idrettsanlegg school. Camping was on the lawn and inside the classrooms on the floor. With Lisa not feeling well we really wanted a bed.
Lisa met the woman from the school who was in charge of hosting the group. After telling her how nice the school was and wonderful it was of them to host us, the conversation led to how poorly Lisa felt and how much she was looking forward to a good night's sleep on a bed and how we had not been able to find anything. Well, the woman picked up her cell phone, made a few calls, and found us a place in a seldom used guesthouse just 1 1/2 Km's away -- and for only 250 Kroners per room per night.
We got into the room about 5. Lisa hit the bed and slept until I awoke her about nine with some dinner I had brought back.
The dinner prepared by the school-moms was both DELICIOUS and ABUNDANT! And that's really good when feeding the likes of the Odyssey group.
After dinner they brought out about eight different types of homemade desserts -- and almost enough of each type for everyone to have a taste of each. I brought both dinner and dessert back for Lisa.
After dessert, the school group had some entertainment. Two young ladies, dressed in native costumes, played native songs on their nine-string fiddles -- an instrument native to Norway. A teacher emceed the show. We learned that he had to talk between tunes because the instruments had to be especially tuned for each song.
We learned from the emcee that the school was part of the Masfjordan commune, a community of about 2,000 people who lived, worked and played together in this area of Norway for the good of all members of the community. He explained there were two kinds of Masfjordens -- those who were born into it and those who opted in. He was one of the latter, having married a native.
After the entertainment, the mayor presented Tim with a town banner, a proclamation welcoming the Odyssey group and wishing us luck, and a gift for Tim. It was a really nice evening. It's too bad Lisa missed it.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/14||Norway, Risnes to Forde
We started this day with a wonderful breakfast at the school. While studying the DRG we saw that there was a ferry at 52 km's that only ran every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. We decided it made sense to drive to the ferry, catch the next one, then ride on the other side.
Good plan? It seemed like it -- but, when we got there at 9, we found the next ferry wasn't expected for almost 2 1/2 hours -- but no one was sure.
While we were waiting, many other riders and many other cars came. At 12:30 the ferry came. Tim asked that the private vehicles wait and let the SAG vehicles go first. Of course we did. But then, the SAG's and the private vehicles took up most of the space -- they could take only 20 bicycles. Unfortunately, the "me first" animal instinct of some of the riders took over and many latecomers pushed their way to the front. Tim announced the next ferry would be about 1:30.
With another hour to wait, Lisa and I decided to go for a ride. We rode out along the fjord. The scenery here (as it's been all day) was just spectacular. After 25 minutes we turned around and headed back. On the way I spotted a ferry headed in our direction. I said to Lisa, "I bet that's our ferry."
She agreed, and we TURNED IT ON. We raced that ferry along the fjord. As we ziggged and zagged around the shoreline of the fjord, the ferry continued on its straight course -- inexorably closing on the dock. Sometimes it seemed like we were gaining on it, sometimes losing, but we kept the pedals cranking.
Finally we topped the last hill. We could see the ferry out in the water. It seemed to be ahead of us. We raced hard and fast -- we didn't want to miss THIS ferry. We flashed around the last turn. There was the dock. IT WAS STILL FULL OF BIKES and NO FERRY! We had won the race! :-) (-:
Getting off the ferry, we rode for miles and miles along the other side of the fjord. MORE beautiful and spectacular scenery. In some areas, the trees clung to the steep mountainsides all the way down into the water. In other areas, the steepness of the mountains won. The naked rock -- often with a few waterfalls -- cascaded right down to the water.
The highways we are riding are interesting. Of course they're all two-lane. But in the mountains, they often narrow down to 15-16 feet of pavement. Occasionally, they narrow down to 10-12 feet of pavement -- and they're still 2-way! (They do occasionally provide a short bubble of pavement about 6 extra feet wide and 15 feet long for cars to pull into to let the trucks and busses pass.) Sometimes it's pretty hectic on a bicycle when two cars are racing to pass each other, all on the same piece of pavement.
Larry and Joan picked us up about 6. We got into the Gjestehus Og Campground in Forde about 7. Went right to dinner.
At dinner we discovered that Lillian (a deaf rider formerly from England) was shaking, she was so cold. (It was raining and about 10C or 50F outside.) She didn't want to spend the night in a tent. We suggested she check at the office of the campground.
When we returned from dinner, we found that they had agreed to let her sleep under the stairs in the hall. (We would have offered her to share our room, but it was a very small room with bun beds. Not even enough floor space for a sleeping bag.) We asked if she had a place to shower. She said yes, in the campground showers two buildings over. Knowing how cold she was, we invited her to shower in our room right down the hall. When she came out she really appreciated being WARM.
We finally got to bed around 11.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/15||Norway, Forde to Sogndal
Today was Larry's and Joan's riding day so we were set to drive. I found a pamphlet about a waterfall route in the area. One of the spectacular falls was just 8 KM's up the road so we decided to ride up to the falls, visit them, and ride back.
When Joan came out, she decided the weather was too threatening and she didn't want to ride. So she read while Lisa and I rode to the Huldefossen Falls.
As we rode up, sheep greeted us in the meadow below the falls. The falls were spectacular -- wide, full, rushing, white-water. One of the drops is 90 meters, followed by galloping cataracts racing down the water course.
We walked to the base of the falls. Ben and Sadie were sitting on the rocks. photographer Al was taking photos. We took a few pictures, enjoyed the roar and the spray of the falls, and headed back.
We agreed to give Rita (from Florida) a ride today for as far as possible. We loaded all three bikes on the car and headed down the road. Joan thought she might ride from checkpoint. We thought we would cross on the ferry and then ride.
Little did we know what was coming for us this day . . . .
We drove along a magnificent route. We saw mountains and meadows, waterfalls and rivers, fjords and beautiful, reflecting mountain lakes, and lots of flowers. The scenery is consistently beautiful -- not occasionally scenic, but CONSISTENTLY beautiful. Norway is probably the most beautiful country overall that we have seen so far.
We stopped to see Larry who was riding. As we started up, we smelled antifreeze. We stopped, looked, and sure enough, antifreeze was dripping from under the engine. We were in the middle of nowhere, and the temperature gauge was not moving, so we decided we should keep going until we got somewhere.
Suddenly the temperature gauge jumped to the top. We were still in the middle of nowhere. We stopped and emptied our water bottles in the radiator. The temp gauge went down. We continued slowly down the 10 KM at 8% hill using no gas. We got down the steep hill onto a flatter hill. I stepped on the gas. The motor died -- totally -- completely -- dead.
It still looked like the middle of nowhere. The road was typically narrow. I decided to try to coast to a wider place where we could pull off the road.
No steering. No brakes.
We made it to a bus stop. I muscelled the steering wheel and pulled off. I stood on the brakes to stop. We were off the road, in a bus pullout, and, coincidentally, at the end of a driveway to a house -- the only house in sight in any direction.
What a lovely setting! The house stood on a hill overlooking a big, beautiful lake. Across the lake were two waterfalls coming down from the snowpack at the top of the mountains surrounding the lake. The mountains and the waterfalls reflected in the lake.
We walked down the driveway to the house to see if we could use the phone. To make a long story short, we met a Norwegian family who all but adopted us.
The family included Eirna Mulelid Vetlefjord and Peder who own the house. Eirna's brother Petter Mulelid and his wife Grete, and her other brother Ansger were all visiting from Bergen. Grete spoke very good Englsh, Ansger and Peder spoke some English, Petter and Eirna spoke only a tiny bit of English.
Our first need was to call Peugeot to get the car fixed. It took us two hours to reach their 24 hour service number. During that time, Eirna offered us coffee and two kinds of coffee cake (home-made, of course).
With Grete's continuous help, we finally got thru to Peugeot. They agreed to send a tow truck to take the the car to a Peugeot dealer and a taxi to take us to get a rental car.
As soon as we got off the phone, Eirna and Grete invited us to stay for dinner. Of course, we declined. Of course they insisted -- and they won.
We had a wonderful dinner with Norwegian salmon,a variety of barbequed meat (including goat), home grown potatoes, vegetables and strawberries, and wine. All delicious!
Finally, at 6:30, we got a call from the towing company driver. He was going to bring us a substitute car and take the Peugeot. He needed directions. He would be here in about 2 hours. We sat and visited with Grete, Petter, Ansgar, Peder and Eirna.
We noticed they were constantly taking pictures of us. Sitting, eating, moving bikes, standing here and there. We were wondering why. They showed us photos and clippings from the local newspaper and from the Bergen newspaper. We figured that they thought of us as celebrities!
What great hospitality they gave us! What an experience!! We wouldn't trade it for anything!
The tow truck arrived about 9. The driver had brought a Toyota station wagon for us to use. He took the dead Peugeot. His directions were to take the Peugeot to his garage tonight, they take it to the Peugeot dealer on Forde on Monday. He thought he would know a prognosis for the car by noon, Monday.
We loaded up the Toyota. We said our thank-yous and goodbyes to our new Norwegian friends, gave them each a bottle of wine (we happened to have in the car), and left. They all gathered on their front porch to see us off. As we drove down the driveway, they were all there, waving. We decided to get an Odyssey poster, sign it and send it to them as a long-term thank-you gift.
After a long wait at the ferry, our drive to Sogndal took us on an absolutely beautiful route along the Sognefjorden fjord. We finally arrived at our lodging in Sogndal at midnight. Our key was waiting.
Another incredible day on our odyssey!
Love to all, David and Lisa
This morning, I called Peugeot to let them know our phone number and plans for the day. Initially, they wanted us to stay here until Monday to get the prognosis on the car replacement. After much discussion with Reni at Peugeot Assistance (explaining our R&B is paid for so long as we are with our group and staying over will cost extra and will they pay the extra cost), he told us his supervisor said they would not pay for us to stay over. We should use the replacement car we have and continue our trip so we don't incur any more costs. Then we should call them back tomorrow night at 7 from our new destination.
Ever since we got up this morning the sun was shining brightly -- the first time this has happened in Norway. We decided to ride back along the fjord to the ferry and then back again before we continued along the route. The ride was about 40 KM's each way. There were new and beautiful vistas on every turn. We passed several waterfalls -- two of which dropped directly behind the highway, then flowed under the highway to the fjord. The fjord, by the way, at about 200 KM's long and up to one KM deep, it is the longest and deepest in Norway.
We got back in time to do laundry, have dinner, watch a bit of the Tour de France, then go to bed.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/17||Stuck in Sogndal, Norway
At 9:30, on the way out of town, we stopped, as a courtesy to the tow truck operator, to sign a tow slip. He asked us to talk to Viking, the Peugeot Assistance representative in Norway, about the rental of the replacement car. That call led to a series of calls, discussions and arguments about whether we can move on with our group with the replacement car and, if not, who pays for our cost of being off route.
Total frustration! Viking cannot do anything. They are simply facilitators of direction from Peugeot Assistance.
Peugeot Assistance could care less about our problems. We talked to several different representatives, all of whom needed to hear our story again, none of whom could switch us to the previous representative, the last of whom hung up on Lisa.
After that, we called Peugeot-Sodexa direct. We talked to Monar. She was very understanding and sympathetic -- but she had no authority to solve the problem. We talked to her supervisor, Mrs. Bazatoux, at length. She, too, was understanding and sympathetic -- but could not figure out how to cut through the complexity of the problem. We ended up talking to Mr. Lambart, Rental Manager. He is head of the whole Lease/Rental program for Peugeot. He also understood our plight and our frustration. He, finally, personally authorized us to keep the rental vehicle, go along on our trip, and he would arrange for us to deal directly with a Peugeot Assistance representative. I told him that wouldn't work. They keep blowing us off and won't let us talk to the same person twice. He said he would get something resolved and to call him back tomorrow at 3.
Finally, at 4:30, we continued on to follow our Odyssey route. We spent the night at a vacation campground just outside of Gol. We had a fully equipped, two bedroom cabin with a loft -- and a sauna. We didn't get to use the sauna, though. We arrived too late to get it going.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/18||Norway, Gol to Oslo
A partly cloudy sky greeted us this morning. We are off-route head...ed directly to Oslo today. We all want to ride, so I suggested we should do n overlapping-series ride. Lisa and I will leave the cabin and ride on the road toward Oslo. Larry and Joan will drive the car out about 60 km's, park it in a visible place, then ride on down the road toward Oslo. When we get to the car, we will load our bike and drive down the road to pick up Larry and Joan at the end of their 60 km ride. That way we both get to ride, and we move 120 km's closer to Oslo, thus having a shorter drive later.
Good-plan? We thought so. But . . . .
When we were about 50 KM's down the road, riding in a light sprinkle, here come Larry and Joan in the car with their bikes loaded on the rack. "What's happening?" we asked.
They had unloaded their bikes and got all ready to ride when they talked to a tourist who told them it was storming for the next 100 KM's toward Oslo. They didn't want to ride in the rain so they aborted their plan and came for us. We told them it didn't rain very hard on us so they opted to ride back toward where we came from for an hour, then turn around and come back. We waited there for them.
That set us back 60 KM's from our original plan -- about an hour on our travel to Oslo. And as luck would have it, when we finally got back on the road to Oslo, it was bright, sunny and beautiful all the way to the outskirts. At the edge of the city, we went from sunny and clear to black clouds and a torrential downpour.
We got to the Anker Hotel about 6. Our first order of business was to get the paperwork done for our trip into Russia from Helsinki.
Today I received an email from CSDA. The program in Phoenix is rolling along. I need to go there and meet with the airport director and FAA rep. Lisa and I looked at our itinerary for a good time. It looks like leaving from Copenhagen will work. I emailed that info to CSDA. We'll see if they can get all the other schedules coordinated.
Love to all, David and Lisa
Today was our day to visit Oslo. It was overcast this morning but not raining. We opted to do our usual walking tour to see the sights. We planned our stops at breakfast, then came back and checked our e-mail for any messages about Phoenix.
We did get word. The meeting planned for late July has been put off until late August or September. We'll have to check our itinerary to see when is a good week to take off then.
We started our adventure today with a trip on the "tram" or streetcar. We rode it to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. It is Oslo's largest park. It was designed by artist Gustave Vigeland and houses some 200 sculptures in granite, bronze and wrought iron that he created to "celebrate life." The sculptures illustrate all aspects of human relations and emotions. One series illustrates the Cycle of Life, from birth to death. We spent several hours walking around the park and pondering the sculptures. They were wonderful! Some very whimsical.
Then we hopped a bus to go to the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum and the Norwegian Folkmuseum with the Stave Church -- but we missed our stop. We didn't realize it until we were clear across town. The bus driver thought the best way to get back was to stay on his bus.
Unfortunately, that set us back about an hour and we were nearing the time that I had to call Mr. Lambart at Peugeot about our car. So, on the bus ride back, we stopped at our hotel and made the call.
Good news! Mr. Lambart says he understands that the car is in Oslo being repaired and it should be ready tomorrow. The dealer will call us when it's ready, then deliver it to us at our hotel. :-)
After that good news, we took another tram to Old Kristiania, a historic, 17th century section of town. We saw several buildings from the mid-1600's (interesting), the artists' cafe Celcius (Bohemian-looking and expensive), and several 19th century buildings.
From there we walked down to the port area. That, also, is a very nice area. Lots of sculptures, lots of restaurants and sidewalk cafes with a wide range of prices, several three-masted ships, and two new replica Viking ships. Of course there were many ferries, cruise ships and private boats, too.
We saw many bicycles in town and the port area. I don't know if I've mentioned before that Norway is very bicycle friendly. Many, many of the streets and highways have separate, paved bicycle-pedestrian lanes. Many places have a wide paved area that is about 6-feet of bicycle lane and 14-feet of two-way vehicle lane, separated with a physical barrier. We have seen many, many both bicycle tourists and city riders.
We ended the day watching the highlights of the Tour de France. We understand that we rode on a few of the roads used for the Tour. Whether we rode on the specific country roads that are seen on TV or not, the roads you see are typical of those we rode in much of France.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/20||Norway, Oslo to Halden
Today we got our leased Peugeot back.
First thing this morning Lisa talked to Lauren. It was good to talk to her -- both for Lisa and for Lauren.
Then, after breakfast, we took the tram to the ferry, then the ferry across the bay, to see the Norsk Folkmuseum, the Viking Ship Museum and the Kon Tiki Museum (if we have enough time.)
We made it to the Folkmuseum. It is a reconstructed Norse village with houses, stores and other buildings dating from the 1800's. It's rather touristy, with people dressed in period costumes -- sorta like Knott's Berry Farm or Williamsburg. But fun anyway.
It got late on us so we called the hotel to find out if the car was scheduled to be delivered soon. I talked to Joan. She said it was due at 1 o'clock so we should hurry back.
The car was there and it had a new engine. We loaded up and headed out to catch the group in Halden.
On the way we went through a looooong tunnel. It reminded me that bicycles cannot ride in tunnels in Norway. So what do they do? They build roads or bike paths around the tunnels -- sometimes a looooong way around the tunnels.
Dinner and camping is at the Fredriksten Castle in Halden.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/21||Halden, Norway to Lysekil, Sweden
We hopped on our bike and rode today. Another beautiful route. (We are again reminded that one of TK&A's strong points is finding beautiful routes.) We had tiny spots of sunshine mixed with light rain most of the morning.
We rode to the Swedish border where we heard from Joan that she had no luck finding a place to stay for tonight. We decided to load the bike on and go help Joan find a place. Larry wanted to ride so he didn't come with us.
We stopped in the Info center at Grebbestad to see if they could find something for us. They were able to book rooms in Dingle, but that's 30 km's from Lysekil and had bathrooms down the hall. Joan wasn't happy with that, so we went on with her in the car to help find something else. We stopped and told Larry. He said fine. Let him know. He wants to ride.
We drove on down the highway, stopping in every town all the way to Lysekil, looking for someplace else to stay. Nothing.
We stopped in camp to see if Larry got in yet so Joan would not have to drive back later to pick him up. Not there.
We started back up the highway, following the route backwards, looking for Larry. We found him about 8 km's back. He reluctantly aborted his ride and got in the car. We all agreed that the place in Dingle would be fine and that we would not drive back to Lysekil tonight but would have dinner in Dingle.
We found the place and checked in. It was a school that was off for the summer. The rooms were dorm rooms with sink in the room, toilet down the hall, and showers in the basement. But the real closer was the price -- only 120 Kronen per person. That compares quite favorably with the other room we found for 950 Kronen per room.
After checking in, we had about an hour and a half before dinner, so Lisa and I went for a bike ride through the farmlands around the school. We took about an hour and had a beautiful, 30 km ride.
We showered and we all went to town for dinner. It turned out we didn't have much choice for dinner. The only food server in town was a pizza place run by two Kurdish men.
That was a good choice though. We met, and had dinner with, a young couple who were just returning from a mountain hiking vacation in Northern Norway.
He is from Finland and is a marine biologist. An interesting note we learned from him about Finland. Kids in Finland have two choices of national language to choose from -- Finnish or Swedish. Then, starting on 4th grade, they all learn English.
She is from Sweden and is a preschool teacher. We had a wonderful visit together.
Another observation. There are lots of blue eyed, blond haired people in Norway and Sweden.
Love to all, David and Lisa
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