Friday, August 16, 2013

Travel 2013 To Norway

I waved TSK off at 6am.  I felt pretty lucky to have been at the camp ground last night, not sleeping in a lodge with 80 men and 2 women.  I helped them with breakfast then waved good bye, wishing them a good trip and see ya later.

I didn't feel like waiting in Denmark and we'd gotten away without paying for last night's camping so I legged it for the ferry terminal.

I stopped at a few places along the highway to think about whether to have coffee or not but each place wasn't really suitable and before I knew it I was at Hurtsals.  I stopped in at the sea life centre and probably would've gone in had it been open but it wasn't, it was 7:15 am.  I thought about brewing up there but then I just wanted to sleep and so I decided coffee wasn't a good idea until I'd found out how long I had to wait for a ferry.  I could sleep whilst I waited for the ferry.

I figured out which company I was travelling with then headed to the right terminal (eventually).  I took a long drive down to the terminal building, paid my 770Kr then made the long return journey to check in.  I could do what I wanted now but somehow brewing up was too much hassle.  Instead I got the best-tasting machine coffee I've ever had and sat in the Vanu eating snacks, reading Norway tourist brochures and not sleeping.  I even lay down and did an hour of not sleeping.

When the boat arrived it was a catamaran.  There are two crossing times to Norway and I had inadvertently selected the fastest one.  Of course it was also the choppiest one and after the unpleasant experiences of the crossing from the UK (12 hours of sleeping through choppy seas and waking up feeling sick), I knew I would need to pick my location carefully.

Once on board, I realised I couldn't sit in the comfort lounge so I went in search of a seat near the centre in the cheap seats.  I checked my ticket and it  referred only to "free seating".  Unfortunately the "free" cheap seats all seemed to be on the extremities of port and starboard - the centre being reserved for stuff like cafes and shopping.  There were two lines of seats right in the middle of the boat and as I sat in one very near the centre (but just far enough away from the ill-looking child) I realised that these seats had numbers on them.  I don't know, to this moment, if I was allowed to sit in these much coveted central seats.  Many of the locals were clearly perfectly happy to be sitting in the wings and being bumped about in their cheap seats.  Me, I just about held it together (even when the aforementioned child was sick and they brought out the "sick hoover" to clear it up).  No-one asked me to move and so I continued to knit like I did this trip all the time and had every right to be there.

2 hours later I was in a pissy, wet Norway and still dog tired.

I did around 10 laps of the city streets trying in desperation to find the hotel where the Super Brevet finishes so that I could drop off a bag for someone.  It was a tortuous and embarrassing journey in which I read the wrong hotel name in the map three times and broke around 15 traffic laws and left , still without understanding the rules around junctions and traffic lights but let me say that they bear no resemblance whatsoever to either Canada or the UK and none of the locals seem to know how they work either.

I left, to go to the camp ground - slightly reluctantly.  I drove for around 5 miles and doubled back on myself and went under the road I'd just come along to end up in a jetty car park next to a campsite that looked more like a Gypsy community on the edge of Birmingham than anything acceptably Norwegian.  I turned the engine off for around 3 minutes, wiped my face and decided to leave again. 
I set off on the left side of the road - good start.

At least I didn't have to go far to get onto the E18 - a lovely mountain motorway.  The vanu doesn't go that fast so at least here I didn't have to worry about breaking the 20mph speed limit or getting stuck in the middle of a four-way junction.

Again I watched the services sign go by.  I’d only just got going and coffee would have been such a faff.  The tunnels were good, little bits of respite from the rain.  The road went on and on.  25 km seemed to last forever then finally, there it was, the Lillesand exit and signs to two camp grounds.  I chose the main Lillesand campsite as it was the good one described in the guide book.  The office was closed for another 30 minutes so I sat on the deck outside the shop and put my head back into my hands.

No one came to the rescue so I went for a walk.  It's reassuring to stick your feet onto sand when you're in the doldrums and I also checked to make sure that there were some spaces available.  

3pm arrived and I was booked in, happily, by a chatty, handsome 40-something Norwegian.  I booked two nights.  Some time to be me and went into town in search of a decent scale map.

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