Jul 4, 2010

The opening stages of the Scandinavian odyssey

Getting there

While Triin was busy poolpartying in a plastic pool in the back yard of a squat in Maastricht, Alice and her "pregnant camel", being evacuated from the train station (because someone had put a knife into someone else), kept bumping into naked men on the Paris Gay Pride. While Triin was walking around Europe in search for the perfect saddle, which she finally found in Dortmund along with a very pleasant couchsurfing experience, Alice was busy dying of boredom in Flensburg, thinking bitter thoughts about the coming night and the prospect of us sleeping on the streets. But no - Fritz and Harald came to the rescue, picked her up off the street and thus both of us ended up spending a night on a soft couch, preluded by a 3 a.m. guitar concert. What a wonderful world...

An introductory 114km cycle through a hilly Denmark on an endless straight road ended in the beautiful Vejle, cooking pasta with peanut butter on the stairs of our host, and continued under a hot shower, followed by hot chocolate, purring cats and a warm bed. The 38 euros spent on the train ticket until Hjorring the next day were 38 euros very well spent - we had seen quite enough of the straight road. Another 15km of introductory cycling took us to the port of Hirtshals and after almost missing the boat due to waiting in the wrong place and taking stupid photos, we rolled over the sea, shivering in the wind to watch the most magical moonrise ever seen, and stepped onto Norwegian ground at 00:00 on the 1st of July. We never planned to be that precise.

The beginning

Norway surprised us with a perfect camping spot just 5km away from the port. We had dinner at 2 a.m., while watching the colourful sunrise. For the second dinner of the first day, we invited ourselves to the backyard of a kindergarten in Lyngdal. The second day started really early, with the wake-up call at 6:30, because we wanted to get out of there before any confused children stumbled across our tent. Only half an hour later we wrestled with my back tyre to replace yet another crappy inner tube. After another 30 minutes we were sitting in the Pitstop between two tunnels, trying to figure out how to avoid the banned tunnel, not make a 30km detour and not wait 6 hours for the only bus of the day. Less than an hour later, a nice German couple were stuffing our luggage in the toilet of their motorhome... It was oh so satisfiying looking at the insides of Norway in the seven consecutive tunnels through the car windows, instead of sweating with fear, trying to bike through them and listening to small cars making the sound of an advancing airplane on the runway, and balancing on the verge of a heart attack when a lorry is coming from behind.

The second day brought some extremely beautiful scenery, keeping our jaws neatly open and constantly near the ground, while pedalling uphill sometimes for an hour at a time. The freckly dude from Northern Ireland, who we met just in the morning of the first day, gave us the best advice ever: I never saw a mountain I could't push my bike up. We eventually had to admit defeat and push, but when biking just a moment earlier, we earned the encouraging cheers from all the oncoming cars. Then, dashing downhill at 62km/h the wind efficiently dried up the sweat. It is so much more pleasant snuggling into the sleeping bag with dry - if not entirely clean - skin.

We love the Norwegians too. They seem to be so happy and content. I have a theory, that it is because they have free toilets, free internet and free coffee almost everywhere! Sometimes, even free accommodation. For example, when we arrived to Egersund, the moment we put our feet on the ground, this man was running towards us, forcing his home and car keys into our hands, so that we could sleep at his place. We refused though and had a hard time escaping him, as the poor guy sprinted after us, out of breath, in his desperate attempt to get rid of his keys. We slept next to some stalls instead and used their toilets. We would have asked, but there was noone around but horses.

The third day was easy and fast. However, the heavens opened on us in the morning, rendering me all shivery and cold. But that I fixed with hot cappuccino and a big lunch on a roofed table on Time square. The locals were amused and many of them seemed to think we were selling something. No. Not even ourselves. We got a bit lost and more than a bit frustrated in the industrial outskirts of Stavanger, trying to follow the numerous, but conflicting bike road signs, but finally found our way to our couch in the middle of the ecological gardens, lots of nature and lively (and tasty) chickens. I had to scrub my legs 3 times to get them almost clean. I liked washing off half the tan, but the lines are impressive nevertheless.

Day 4 is a rest day; our bottoms are going nowhere near any saddles.

Total distance cycled in Norway so far: 267km.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey :)
Victor here. J'essaie de comprendre un peu ce qu'il y a écrit sur cette page mais c'est plein de caractères barbares ...

Ton/votre blog est super ! c'est cool de pouvoir suivre vos tribulations, et la façon dont tu les narres rend juste trop bien :)

Continuez please :)