Friday, August 29, 2014

Roundabout in a mountain

Day three in the Kingdom of the Trolls started sunny. We were slow in packing up as we had met some friendly people the night before that came for a chat. One of them a lovely guy from England travelling through Norway on his first bike. He was on his way back home and had enjoyed every minute of this amazing place. We had a great day ahead of us as well, going further north.

A ferry we had taken here in the past had been replaced by a beautiful bridge. The old ferry buildings were still there but no longer in use. The bridge was followed by a tunnel. Tunnels are common in Norway but never in my lifetime had I seen a tunnel with a full size roundabout built into it…! A full size roundabout inside a mountain! Just look at the video in this post.

We stopped at a supermarket called Kiwi. Everything inside a Kiwi supermarket is green… But they didn't sell any Kiwis. In fact they didn't sell much of anything really and what was there was expensive. Still, it was the only supermarket around… or so we thought. Having just spend n hour trying to find the most simple and basic things, we noticed 4 more supermarkets a little bit further on...

What followed was another great day of riding through impressive landscapes. The weather started to turn, the wind picked up and thick black clouds formed behind us. As we rode higher and higher into the mountains and over high plains, it was getting seriously cold. We had left in the morning wearing nothing but underwear and a t-shirt under our Rukka gear. The insulating liner was in the pannier… Yet they kept us warm. All we had to do was zip on the storm collar to keep the wind from our neck and close the ventilation zips. These jackets and pants are absolutely amazing.

They made us ride in comfort through some seriously cold but spectacular scenery. The only thing still 'living' here are sheep with the thickest coat you've ever seen. Yet we rode through it in t-shirt and underwear… amazing! I've ridden past snowfields in my life but never as comfy as this! The barkbusters Storm works very good in these conditions too as they keep the wind from our hands. Great gear.

Apart from bridges and tunnels, Norway has plenty of ferries too. They have to as the country has countless fjords to cross if you're going north-south or vice-versa. We took one to Dragsvik today. The road to the ferry is one of those single lane affairs with passing options. Just before we were about to ride it a motorhome cam from the opposite direction… seriously damaged. He/she had obviously misjudged something and just about ripped the whole side out of it.

At the ferry we were greeted by a pretty blond Norwegian girl who wanted money, 168 Nok to cross the ferry to Dragsvik. From Dragsvik we took the scenic 13, not recommended for buses, motorhomes or caravans as it's steep and has a lot of sharp switchbacks. We should have stayed in Dragsvik and call it a day, but instead went further north, thinking we could ride over the mountains and leave the clouds behind… We couldn't, they were closing in faster than we could ride the steep and narrow passes! In the end they did catch up and we did get wet, but boy oh boy have we had a great day!

Grass covered roofs are very quiet. We didn't even
hear the rain belting on the roof.
Arriving at a possible campground, the weather had really set in. Being high in the mountains it was cold, wet and pretty miserable. The older man operating the campground warned us about seriously bad weather coming and advised not to camp but take a hytte (Norwegian for cabin). We doubted if we needed it as a Hilleberg tent can take quite a storm, but when he offered it for almost the same as a tent site we knew he was serious about the weather and accepted. With the benefit of hindsight I'm glad we did as the weather turned pretty nasty…

Enjoying the comforts of a Norwegian Hytte. Outside a storm is raging, inside everything is calm, the heater is on and our gear spread out to dry.