Category Archives: Denmark

Berlin and Beyond

Before I get into this update, I realised that “Tales from the Fjords” lacked one anecdote that we thought was worth a mention.

Whilst wild-camping in Norway is well accepted, it seems some locals felt that our presence with Erik and Mieke in the forest on one occasion, was damaging their calm!  It would seem that while we were sleeping, an industrious local took it upon himself to break out his tractor and drag a heavy log across our exit path.  Of course this provided us with much amusement and made good use of the recovery gear that we have been toting all over the world.  Erik left a nice note and we went on our way.

Recovery Gear getting some use!

Recovery Gear getting some use!

IMG_9545 2So now back to Denmark…….

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Another ferry and we were back in Denmark. With rapidly warming weather it seemed the Danish population, starved for a dose of UV, had descended on the coast like a swarm of midges.

Mind you the noticeable lack of clothing on some of the sun, sea and sand-seeking participants quickly dissolved any thoughts of annoying traffic and too many people.

Meandering south we made our way into Copenhagen.  The following day we were rewarded with a leisurely stroll around the lovely city whilst soaking in it’s atmosphere.  Certainly one of the highlights was Nyhaven – similar in character to the old waterfront of Bergen in Norway.

Nyhaven

Nyhaven

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Gotta Love the Selfish Stick!

Gotta Love the Selfish Stick!

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No prize for guessing what this is!

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Apparently they have priority seating for Astronauts on Copenhagen buses????

Gedser on the southeastern tip of Denmark was our next destination, where we would catch yet another car ferry back to Germany. We made a slight detour for lunch and were fortunate to meet a lovely German couple also partaking in a snack. As it turned out they’d spotted our Patrol earlier in the day and couldn’t resist saying hello now that we’d ended up in the same rest stop. Phillip and Bianca were also heading for the car ferry for the return journey to their home in Berlin. We ended up spending most of the 2 hour crossing in their company enjoying some great conversation.

Issued with an invitation to stay with them for a few days in Berlin we couldn’t believe our luck once again. With plans in motion to meet up the following day we both went our separate ways.

The ideology of staying off the motorways where possible was again reinforced on our run toward the capital. Small villages pepper the former East German countryside and the opportunity to soak up a little of the landscape provided us with a rewarding day of travel and a great campsite. It was here that we spotted an unusual animal, which, to us, looked a little like a mongoose and appeared to be about a meter long from tip to tail. As we found out later it’s known as a Pine Marten and they are relatively common.  Like possums, they apparently invade roof spaces but also have a taste for car brake lines!

Pine Marten

Pine Marten (Courtesy of the internet)

Camping in the German Forest

Camping in the German Forest

We also saw the three little wild pigs!

We also saw the three little wild pigs!

Many of the smaller German villages are well worth the detour; Plou am See was an outstanding example. Canal boats waiting their turn to navigate the lochs in order to continue their onward water born explorations and lovely little shops and restaurants nestled along cobbled streets amongst historic buildings.

Plou am See Canal

Plou am See Canal

Cobbled Streets

Cobbled Streets

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Some a little more run down

Some a little more run down…

IMG_0047It has to be said though, that all villages obviously don’t share the same level of loving care.  There is no shortage of villages with abandoned buildings and terribly run down relics from a time gone by.

After navigating the maze of traffic into Berlin, we arrived at our new friend’s address and were immediately rewarded with a cold glass of Champagne and a marvellous home cooked meal prepared by Bianca.  Phillip has a love of red wine and this proved to be fortunate as Jen and I were finally able to glean some insight into what labels to look for as we keep our camper cellar stocked. (Yes we have a small wine storage area – keeps us liking each other….)

interesting reaction when violet syrup is mixed with champagne - no more purple!

interesting reaction when violet syrup is mixed with champagne – no more purple!

Berlin, as with all cities, has it’s own character.  It’s very flat and quite vast – a mix of modern and contemporary buildings, attractive suburban green areas mixed with some drab, depressing urban landscapes.   To me it didn’t really feel as if it had a centre where you could connect with its pulse. It felt more like a city comprised of a composite of styles and ideas.

Reichstad

Reichstad Building

German Parliament

German Parliament

Train station

Train station in a wealthier area

Near Alexanderplatz

Near Alexanderplatz

Berlin Skyline

Berlin Skyline

But history is the obvious and overwhelming factor in a visit to this metropolis and on this front it definitely has a story to tell.

The famous East German Car for the people - the Trabant

The famous East German Car for the people – the Trabant

From the Brandenburg gate to Checkpoint Charlie along with everything in-between, we hit the pavement and the trains, ending the day feeling quite content with our explorations of Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Original Section of the Berlin Wall

Original Section of the Berlin Wall

East Berlin side of the WallEast Berlin side of the Wall

"The Lipstick" Church all but destroyed during the war and left as a silent monument

“The Lipstick” Church all but destroyed during the war and left as a silent monument

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We were very fortunate to meet such a lovely couple and departed their wonderful hospitality feeling rejuvenated and with a much deeper understanding of Germany, it’s people and it’s history.

Arriving in Dresden we were struck by the graceful architecture of the old city.  You’re constantly met by interesting views along streets and into open spaces and strangely, we seemed to have the roads almost to ourselves! We noticed lots of barriers along the roadside with people beginning to queue along the sidewalk. Something was obviously about to happen!

Somehow we managed pop star parking and exited the Patrol just as the roads were closed and the excitement began.  It turned out that an American Car Club was parading along those same streets that we’d just driven. Standing and watching with some locals we were expecting to see Barack Obama with the level of interest on display from the spectators. A long convoy of vehicles of all shapes and sizes began to drift past in the company of a police escort; some wonderfully restored American classics mixed with some very average streetcars! All in all, I wasn’t overly taken with the spectacle but nonetheless the vibe along the street was outstanding.

Where is Obama?

Where is Obama?

Apparently size matters!!

Apparently size matters!!

Dresden Architecture

Dresden Architecture

Interesting sights everywhere

Interesting sights everywhere

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Dresden had been fairly well razed to the ground during WW2 before being completely rebuilt and it’s interesting to note that many of the buildings were rebuilt using the original materials where possible. With the discolouration and damage to the old sections standing right alongside the replacement pieces it’s quite breathtaking realising the amount of work that has gone into recreating this city.

IMG_0163Of course, its also another somber insight into mans failings. The futility in destroying such beautiful creations only to rebuild them then let time pass by and forget why it happened at all. Once enough time passes and we forget completely we proceed in doing it all again….

Slovakia next for a rendezvous at Terry’s house where the previous year we’d spent a few days. The drive was surprisingly picturesque as we followed the course of the River Elbe across the Czech Republic and passed long stretches of exposed cliffs jutting skyward through the intense green of the forest. Detouring here and there away from the river whilst looking for a campsite you quickly realise that the river is the lifeblood of the area.

Travelling the river Elbe

Travelling the river Elbe

The moment you find yourself a few km’s from the rivers course, you’re met with small villages that really seem to be doing it tough.  Obviously constructed during the Socialist years, we’ve seen identical examples of these buildings all across Eastern Europe and right across Russia. Whenever you choose the road less travelled you’ll be in the company of such structures throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. Broken windows and failing structures that don’t appear to have seen any form of maintenance since the day they were erected, often appearing as if they are long past being condemned and yet for the most part they are still occupied. Potholed and damaged roads are the norm; pretty much completely dilapidated infrastructure.

Dilapidated but still lived in...

Dilapidated but still lived in…

Dilapidated but still worked in…

But the church is always magnificent!

But the church is always magnificent!

Arriving back in Slovakia it was to be a short but very relaxing 2 night stay at Terry’s as the ever mounting Schengen Visa pressure meant that I really needed to exit the zone fairly soon.

Clean linen and clothing on board (it’s the little things that get us excited), we headed toward Hungary.  Crossing over the Danube at Esztergom it was easy to see why the Danube cruise boats stop at this town. With its interesting old city and stunning Basilica overlooking the goings on below from its rocky perch, it was a nice introduction to this country.

Basilica in Esztergom

Basilica in Esztergom

Old town EsztergomOld town Esztergom

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The drive from the border was not one of the most attractive to date with long stretches of pale dusty landscape, the odd swathe of scrubby trees and large acreage under farm management.  It was rather easy to while away the km’s in the air-conditioned comfort listening to the stereo!

Arriving at Camping Haller in central Budapest, we hoped to find a space as I’d had enough of the city traffic. Fortunately they were able to fit us in; obviously we weren’t the only ones that they were just able to fit in as it was absolutely packed.

Camping Haller

Camping Haller

With close access to the city and very hot weather, we decided to spend the cool of the early evening taking in the sights. Very picturesque and easy pedestrian exploration made for an enjoyable visit.  The relaxed locals and lovely green open spaces give the whole place a relaxed and friendly feel.

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Hungarian Parliament Building by day

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Time passed easily as we enjoyed the city’s change in character as the sun slid below the horizon and it morphed from daytime to night and everything seemed to come alive.

Hungarian Parliament Buildings

Hungarian Parliament Buildings by night

Whilst at the campground, we met a couple that had shipped their Toyota Prado from South Africa. They’d been exploring Southern Europe and were now heading toward Nord Capp before turning around and making the long run south via the West Africa route back to their home near Durban. It was nice chatting to some like-minded travellers, as it had been quite a while since we’d met anyone on a similar journey as ourselves. Their website is cape2nordkapp.blogspot.com if you feel like checking out what they are up to. It’s in Dutch though, just to make it a challenge for us English speakers!!

IMG_0347 IMG_0345A late morning departure and with more hot weather soaking a flat and uninteresting landscape, it once again made it easy to get up a few km’s.  By 4pm we had driven into Oradea and out of the Schengen Zone and negotiated our first border crossing for a long time to find ourselves in Romania.

Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey coming soon.

Justin and Jen.

 

 

 

 

 

Tales from the Fjords

Watching Denmark slip away as the ferry departed for Norway, you could have been forgiven for mistakenly thinking you were off the South West coast of Western Australia – long stretches of beach sand with low scrubby vegetation sporting all the same greyish salt drenched colours.

Departing Hirtshals, Denmark

Departing Hirtshals, Denmark

Arriving in Kristiansand in Norway, however, was an entirely different matter. It was pretty obvious straight up that the topography had changed dramatically. Rough granite fingers slipping into the sea and rapidly disappearing beneath the inky dark waters was an indicator of the grandeur to come.

Arriving Kristiansand, Norway 3.5 hours later

Arriving Kristiansand, Norway 3.5 hours later

Norway is unique in so many ways and it’s very expensive! But you’re aware of that and prepared for it before you arrive. The savvy shopper can exit the supermarket with a reasonably priced hoard of treats but fill your basket willy-nilly and I guarantee you’ll need a Valium at the checkout when you do the conversion! (Erik)

On the bright side however you’re able to free camp all over the country, although some effort may be required to find a suitable location at times. Fuel is also reasonably priced compared to the UK but dearer than the rest of the EU.

River Camping

River Camping

One of our free campsites - waterfall included!!!

One of our free campsites – waterfall included!!!

In short if you have your own car and accommodation in the form of a motorhome, along with cooking facilities, Norway can be very affordable. If you fly in and pay for a hire car along with accommodation and all of your meals, be them purchased from a street café or restaurant, then make sure your VISA card is ready for a hard workout! After a fish market serve of fish and chips at $AUD28 each and small coffees at  $AUD7 each, you will find you’re eating less!! Not to mention cans of beer at the supermarket costing an average of $AUD5 each!!

Coffee Menu

Coffee Menu (Divide By 6 for $AUD)

For me however this country is unique in the fact that it delivers the moment you hit the ground, you don’t have to drive any distance at all and you’re in the thick of it.

Off the ferry and you’re into dense green forest before meeting your first fjord.

10 mins from the ferry!

10 mins from the ferry!

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First waterfall sightings!

Powerful waterfalls

Powerful waterfalls

Traditional Architecture

Traditional Architecture

The grandeur of these amazing waterways is difficult to describe in a manner that could even remotely convey their beauty. The panorama before you is so vast and expansive with mountains shooting skywards in excess of a 1000mtrs then changing to lush green forest from the stark white of snow laden ridges on each side of a narrow dark fjord as it snakes it’s way toward the ocean!! You can only marvel at the immensity of it all.

Awesome Scenery

Awesome Scenery

The picture is so grand and overwhelming that it appears to shrink away, becoming like a post card in some ways! I guess it’s the only way that you’re brain can take in such a vast kaleidoscope of scenery.

Postcard Style

Postcard Style

We spent 3 weeks in Norway and managed a free camp every night, generally next to a waterfall or on the banks of a Fjord or some other stunning location. We did however have 1 very average camp along the side of a main road; we weren’t alone however as 2 others shared the roadside bay with us! But it was still on a Fjord!!!

Desperation Camp

Desperation Camp

Days spent driving high up over snow covered mountain passes void of trees and loaded with snow at times up to 7m high along the roadside only to descend back below the freeze into another valley containing pristine waterways and spectacular scenery.

A bit of Snow!!!

A bit of Snow!!!

More Snow

More Snow

and some more....

and some more….

Waterfalls descending hundreds of feet from reservoirs of snowmelt litter the mountains.  Often there are so many of these natural beauties that it is all but impossible to count how many you may see in a 5-minute period.

Voringfossen Waterfalls

Voringfossen Waterfalls

These don't even have names!!

These don’t even have names!!

and yet another waterfall!!!

and yet another waterfall!!!

The Norwegians have a talent for engineering and conquering nature with rough-hewn tunnels through amazing mountain ranges in order to facilitate free movement between small villages that would otherwise be totally isolated from each other.

Tunnels

TunnelsTunnels...Tunnels…

and more tunnels...

and more tunnels…

We’ve driven the longest land tunnel in the world at some 24.5km in length. Thinking of the 1500mtrs of solid granite above you as you pass through it’s belly makes you hope for a continuation of stable geology which Norway is obviously blessed with.  They have even constructed roundabouts in some of the tunnels and Y junctions in others just to prove they can, Amazing!

Laerdals Tunnel

Laerdals Tunnel

There are however a lot of tourists! Should you target the obvious scenic routes, then you need to be prepared to share with a plethora of others.  I don’t tend to enjoy spending time amongst hoards of tourists but a necessary evil it is for us; after all we are also tourists wanting to enjoy the spectacle of such natural beauty so it’s a little rich to expect an individual experience!

Tourists everywhere!!

Tourists everywhere!!

I do however love watching different nationalities behave in different ways when in groups or on a time limit. I just love it when someone walks in front of me wearing a mask and Darth Vader style sun bonnet just as I’m taking an obvious photo!  The glazed look in their eyes as they hold their selfie stick(also known as a selfish stick! haha) and record themselves for prosperity does get the better of me after a while!

Darth Vader?

Darth Vader?

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???? The Picture says it really!

Timing has a lot to do with how your experience plays out at many of the promoted sights, if your fortunate enough to slip in between tour coach visits then it’s a far more relaxing experience.

Arriving in Geiranger, we managed a camp just out of town. It was a disused quarry and not overly attractive but in a great location. Quite often we can find a campsite within an area already inundated with motorhomes as there is generally a free campsite that is only accessible to either 4×4 or high clearance vehicles almost as if it’s been prepared and left vacant just for us!

Geiranger RV Park

Geiranger RV Park

Our Geiranger Camp

Our Geiranger Camp

That's our quarry spot at the base of the hill right on the Geiranger Fjord

That’s our quarry spot at the base of the hill right on the Geiranger Fjord

The following morning we were greeted with the spectacle of 2 cruise liners moored within the harbour disembarking somewhere in the order of 3000 visitors, at a guess, into the tiny hamlet. Tour coaches and souvenir shops moving into melt down phase as they make hay whilst the sun shines so to speak! A great boost to the local economy no doubt!

Cruise Ships in Port

Cruise Ships in Port

 

Geiranger Fjord

Geiranger Fjord (you can still spot our camp!)

The more we see of this country the less we are bothered with planning.  It doesn’t seem to matter in which direction you point yourself – it’s unbelievable.

Mountain Scenery

Mountain Scenery

Pretty Buildings at 3AM

Pretty Buildings at 3AM

Old Church in Hov

Old Church in Hov

Viking Boats

Viking Boats

View from Camp

View from Camp

Gorges

Gorges

Sailing Ships

Sailing Ships

Rivers

Rivers

Snow Camps

Snow Camps

Forest Camps

Forest Camps

Old Timber Church in Lom

Old Timber Church in Lom

Carving on Church

Carving on Church

Midnight Sunsets

Midnight Sunsets

But No Moose!!! :((

But No Moose!!! :((

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Clear Water

Amazing Roads

Amazing Roads

We try and frequent the smaller roads as much as feasibly possible.  The scenery isn’t limited to the tourist drives but travelling the minor roads makes it yours, alone.

IMG_9587Whilst camped in the town of Kinsarvik, we spotted a Toyota Camry with Chinese number plates!  The occupants approached us with iPhone ready and Google translate loaded! They were looking for the car ferry loading area and, with the use of hand signals and our world map, we gleaned that they had driven north out of China in the trusty Camry and across Russia before entering Norway in the far north east, now heading onward south through Europe to the Mediterranean and back to China!

Chinese Overlanders

Chinese Overlanders

We’d just met our first Chinese overlanders!

We were really impressed!  A doona and some pillows on the back seat and a couple of suitcases in the boot seemed to be all these people had with them. I would like to have had a longer discussion with them but the language barrier along with imminent arrival of the car ferry wrapped up our interlude rather quickly. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of them, just their car!

After seeing our journey on our map they indicated that we should come to China. For a foreign car to enter China you need a registered guide with you in you car and our first quote from a Chinese company providing this service was $AUD10,000 for 30 days + the guides expenses! You can shop it out or travel with other vehicles, which can reduce the fee dramatically, but it was outside our budget.

These Chinese overlanders, however, were unaware of this hurdle to international travellers and beyond language constraints to explain to them! It would seem that they have free unobstructed movement! Hmmm… not really sure why it’s all China’s way on this issue??? Hopefully the situation will become more equitable in the future and maybe we can put China on the list.

The city of Bergen was on our agenda and we arrived to find it just as stunning as we’d hoped, managing to street park only 100mtrs from the old Hanseatic Wharf which is the real highlight.

Old Hanseatic Wharf

Old Hanseatic Wharf

Bergen Harbour

 

Famous Bergen Fish Market

Famous Bergen Fish Market

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Bergen Streetview

Bergen Streetview

Incredible timber buildings resisting gravity and age by leaning on each other, small alleyways here and there beckoning you to explore them and little café’s and shops made wandering around rather relaxing. Harbour towns always seem to have a certain appeal….

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Bergen

Bergen

Since hitting the ground way back in Vladivostok we’ve not travelled with anyone else at any stage.  We have met like-minded travellers sporadically along the way but ours has been a solo effort.

Visiting Horses

Visiting Horses

IMG_9500For a few days in Norway however, we were keen to travel in convoy with Erik and Mieke from Adventure Trucks.  We’d been keeping in touch, as they were making their way north from the Netherlands via Kristiansand for a few weeks holiday.

Having travelled half way around the world it would seem that we have met 2 like-minded souls – Dutch versions of ourselves! We really had an awesome time with them, not to mention following another vehicle for a few days and not having to navigate, which provided us with a really nice break. After some very late nights, which are easily confused with days, as it doesn’t even get remotely dark at this time of year, we went our own ways – they to the south and our journey continued to the east. Hopefully we will meet up again and share some more travel experiences in the future.

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Erik and Mieke arriving in Vestnes!

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Awesome Mercedes 4×4 Camper!

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Still Daylight!!!

Still Daylight!!! No Flash Photography Here!!

Bockwurst sausages at 1AM

Bockwurst sausages at 1AM

Seriously we took this photo at 2AM - No Flash!!!

Seriously we took this photo at 2:12AM – No Flash!!!

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Twins!

Inside their camper

Inside their camper, Awesome fit out!

Famous Atlantic Highway

Famous Atlantic Highway

The best view of the Atlantic Highway but I can't take credit for it. It was in a tourist brochure and you have to be in a helicopter to see it!

The best view of the Atlantic Highway but I can’t take credit for it. It was in a tourist brochure and you have to be in a helicopter to see it!

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

Heading east toward Sweden and suddenly the mountains vanish, just like that! It really flattens out and more substantial farming becomes present. The weather is improving and I’ve even managed shorts, well only because my jeans were in the wash but I’ll claim it!

We pushed on and arrived in Stockholm in a couple of days, wow! A lovely City nestled amongst an archipelago of some 30,000 islands. Unfortunately we had to break our run of bush camps and campfire cooking and settled in for a couple of nights in a campground, nothing like noisy children and stereo’s to remind us why we like to camp on our own!

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Stockholm

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Nordisk Museum

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Old Town Stockholm - Tourist Central

Old Town Stockholm – Tourist Central

Justin the Viking

Justin the Viking

A little quieter

A little quieter…

There is a lot to see and do in this City, the old town is lovely with it’s cobbled streets and relaxed atmosphere and island location, but the must do is the Vasa Museum! A complete 17th Century war ship is the highlight, and it’s absolutely amazing! For me I’d have to say it’s the best Museum piece I’ve ever seen and it will be very hard to beat.

The "Vasa" built in 1628

The “Vasa” built in 1628

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With a myriad of back roads plotted into the sat-nav, we left Stockholm heading roughly for Copenhagen. The centre of Sweden is a camper’s paradise. Norway is by far the more stunning, but Sweden offers much more in the way of accessible forested areas due to its flatness, so if your vehicle based it’s relatively easy to find a suitable location.

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European Adder/Viper near camp

European Adder/Viper near camp

Much of Sweden is peppered with lakes from large to small. We spent 2 nights in a relaxing campsite on the banks of the massive fresh water Lake Vattern with the other side of the lake just a shimmer on the horizon. Boats and yachts were enjoying a dose of watersports for the weather has suddenly turned it on. As one Swedish girl remarked to Jen, summer has arrived like a bomb! An unusually long lasting spell of cold temperatures has certainly come to an abrupt end.

Our idyllic Lake Vattern Campsite

Our idyllic Lake Vattern Campsite

So we’ve been soaking up some sunshine whilst catching up on some maintenance on both the Patrol and ourselves.  And just for a laugh one evening we had ABBA playing on the iPod as we watched the moonrise!

Throughout both countries we’ve encountered amazingly well kept and picturesque villages.  In Norway, earth and grass is commonly used as a roofing material as it apparently provides excellent insulation and it gives a unique feel to the buildings there.

Hairy Hoose!!

Hairy Hoose!!

We’ve also encountered a few towns that are obviously suffering from a lack of maintenance and people for that matter, with broken windows and graffiti along with failing concrete infrastructure. There is just as large a contrast between socio-economic groups in these wealthy Scandinavian countries as anywhere else on planet Earth.  I suppose one of the most notable differences between the two countries, leaving out the topography for a moment is the friendliness of the people!

Not quite up with the Dutch, the Swedish were nearly always willing to engage. Sometimes just curious regarding our vehicle and travels or fortunately for us quite willing to help when we find ourselves totally confused in the supermarket or trying to buy fuel from a card only machine with no English.

The Norwegians on the other hand, well I’m not sure what they are like. Except for 2 bikers from Alesund who were really friendly, hardly anyone would engage with us! Quite unusual, maybe not unfriendly, but definitely standoffish!

 

Copenhagen and the run south next, until then!

 

 

 

Hollands Best Bloemstylist!

Arrival back in Europe

Arrival back in Europe

The overnight ferry slipped in past Hoek van Holland and we were back on European soil! How time flies!  It only seemed like yesterday that we’d departed. Heading north we observed amazing house after amazing house north of Den Haag, no shortage of money in that area. We had settled on Edam as our destination and spent a couple of nights in the area. If cheese is your thing, this part of Holland is the grail. Not to mention a gorgeous town to stroll about!

Cheese Shops

Cheese Shops

Canals

Canals

Clogs

Clogs

The historic fishing village of Volendam is only a few Kms away but 200 tour buses in the car park along with quantities of tourists following little coloured umbrellas around in numbers equaling that of a full blown colony of fire ants, took the edge off the charm a little.  Further along, Marken Island is advertised as where you can observe clogs being made in the traditional method! Hmmm, a fully automated modern CNC wood lathe wasn’t quite what I had in mind! Both places interesting but Edam took the prize! IMG_8610 2 Nonetheless, we enjoyed our visit, although I’d have to say much of it was spent people watching, rather than soaking up the locations! Amsterdam.  Well, if you’ve been then you know what it’s all about. A fascinating mix of old buildings slowly and steadily sinking into the soil, angled windows and twisted facades, it really is a one of a kind. A city criss-crossed with Canals  and of course the coffee shops!

Iconic Amsterdam

Iconic Amsterdam

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So many Bicycles!!!

So many Bicycles!!!Clog BikeClog Bike

Smoke bellowing out of any small crack or window in plumes reminiscent of ground zero during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. Seriously there were a couple of moments when I thought I was in a Cheech and Chong movie – people walking around with their chosen variety of plant rolled into something reminiscent of a cone of kitchen towel!  They were all smiling and the odd one looked rather dazed so maybe they have the right idea, hmmm? IMG_8661 2 IMG_8669 2 IMG_8691 2

What happens when you lose a bet!!

What happens when you lose a bet!!

As the clock ticked into the late afternoon the windows were filled with the ladies of the night, beckoning you forward should you make eye contact with the lure of their scantily clad bodies and no doubt skillful emptying of your wallet! Wandering around this metropolis really is something I suggest you submit yourself too at some stage if you’ve not already.

Ahhh - Tulips!

Ahhh – Tulips!

I can’t think of another country that is so law abiding, clean to the point of being fastidiously so, with lovely little towns filled with neat well kept homes and gardens! And yet has an alter ego that is so polar opposite! That is how Amsterdam feels compared to what we’ve seen of the remainder of the Netherlands! I guess any people with a native tongue that calls a shopping trolley a winklewagen and has a TV show called “Holland’s Best Bloemstylist” sporting very well groomed men competing in the art of flower arranging has to have a sense of humor and a flair for the unusual, that’s the Dutch. Another visit with Jen’s family in Veghel and we managed a full repack of the Patrol and camper. We also picked up our new Froli bed system from Eric at Adventure Trucks and installed it. Basically turns a foam mattress into an innerspring version without the weight – love the Germans for design! And yes it’s sensational – they will be in every camper we either build or own from now on!

Installing the Froli bed system

Installing the Froli bed system

Now that we are back in Europe and I’m eating into my 3 month Schengen visa again, we were keen to hit the road for Norway.  After a lovely few days with Jen’s family, we spent our last night with Eric and Mieke from the above mentioned Adventure Trucks as they’d kindly invited us to dinner.  We were keen to spend some time with them and peruse maps of Norway and other destinations as they’ve travelled extensively and are very much like minded!

Back at Adventure Trucks!

Back at Adventure Trucks!

They shipped an 80 series Land Cruiser from the Netherlands to Oz in 2004 for the big lap over 7 months and having looked at their route and photo’s, there is no doubt they’ve seen more of Oz than a lot of locals! They are also heading toward the land of the Viking in June and we hope to catch up with them again somewhere.  We had a great night and a 3am finish will tip you off to how our evening went! Recycling bins need to be larger in the Netherlands! Hahaha! With a tip from Eric we headed northeast toward Germany and made for a campsite where you could apparently have a campfire and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered! Camped in a small pocket of forest and indeed with a campfire, we were able to relax back into life on the road.

Forest camp with campfire!!!

Forest camp with campfire!!!

Look closely.....

Look closely…..

Surprise!!

Surprise!!

Into Germany and a night was spent in Bremen.  We were surprised by just how lovely this town is. A majestic central square with magnificent old buildings supporting an old town on the surrounds full of small lanes with cobbled streets. It’s always nice when you’re not expecting to be surprised.

Beautiful Bremen

Beautiful Bremen

Full of surprises!!

Full of surprises!!

Nair does work!!

Nair does work!!Old Town BremenOld Town Bremen

IMG_8777We decided to avoid Hamburg and head north to Bremerhaven, I’d heard the old harbour was worth a visit and we were fairly sure there was a German U boat there. The harbour was definitely worth the visit, sporting many examples of old time sailing vessels along with numerous other maritime marvels. But for me the real attraction was indeed the only surviving U boat of it’s type, a complete vessel unlike one in the UK that has been cut and made into a form of theme park! For us it was an interesting visit, obviously a symbol of tyranny and dark times but also of technological advancement.

Bremerhaven

Bremerhaven

German U Boat

German U Boat

IMG_8797IMG_8801 Onward Ho, another ferry across to Gluckstadt and we made a fairly straight run through Denmark to Hirtshals in order to catch the ferry to Kristiansand, Norway and what we hope will be the jewel in the crown of the Scandanavian countries.

Another Ferry!

Another Ferry!

Not often you see a tank speed limit....

Not often you see a tank speed limit….

Pretty Danish Town

Pretty Danish Town

Lovely Cobbled Streets

Lovely Cobbled Streets

 

Men at Sea Memorial

Men at Sea Memorial – Esbjerg, Denmark

More friendly Dutchies...

More friendly Dutchies…

Tales from the fjords to follow!