What do we really know about Norway? Not much more than what we read in the detectives. We therefore expect to have to solve many complicated murder cases with broad investigations of many suspects. Even before we set foot ashore that picture is correct. We make the crossing to Norway in the entertaining company of Tejo from Sassenheim, who has been working in the criminal investigation department for a very long time. Tejo is a good mix of swagger from South Holland and sobriety from the Achterhoek (where his roots are). However, he is not on his way to Norway to assist with his years of experience in an intriguing international case, but he is on a cycling vacation. He limits his route through Norway to 500 meters and immediately switches to a boat to sail to Denmark.
From the boat, Kristiansand's harbor looks uninviting and the many large jellyfish accentuate that. We decide not to check out the town and begin our route north immediately. Soon we follow the national sykkel route 3. The neatly signposted and constructed separate bike paths become quiet roads and even beautiful gravel paths and cart tracks. The route is surprisingly beautiful, has more altitude meters than we are used to in the Netherlands and has surprisingly few villages, stores, cafes and ATMs. The first (and last) store on the route is in a village about 20 km cycling and the next only after 75 km where we want to camp. With 28 degrees Celsius and plenty of sunshine, we have fortunately left the exceptional heat of the Netherlands behind us.
Halfway through the first Norwegian stage, we find a camping spot with shelters. Caravans and campers cannot come here. This kind of place would be ideal for spending the night. We search the internet but can't find this place on any site, let alone that we can find other similar places. We call in a helpline and ask former colleague Ilse Konings, who now lives in Norway. Unfortunately, the spots don't appear on any site. In some areas there are many and in others there are none.
We enjoy Norway to the full and go to the small town of Evje at 75 km with a supermarket and a campsite. On google maps it says 'very nice camping' under the name Odden camping. However, we are terribly spoiled by the earlier (nature) camping sites in the Netherlands. Odden is packed with many whining small children and around yakking less smaller children. The sanitary building is far away from the tent field (or better tent strip). Furthermore, many permanent sites and caravans and campervans. If Roelie after the walk wants to step under the shower, there appears a coin of 10 crowns is needed to get water. The reception had said nothing about it. We just arrived, we don't have Norwegian coins. We haven't even come across an ATM yet and the cashier of the supermarket wasn't authorized to cash out extra money.
Let's forget about this campground quickly, because what a wonderful bike ride it was today!!!
The route on the second day through the Seta valley remains beautiful but is less varied and mostly on asphalt. Physically, but also mentally we are put to the test. Basically, we stay the whole day in the same valley, cycling along the Otra. The end point of the day is only 30-40 meters higher than the starting point, but the road goes up and down and up and down and up and down, but we tick up to 1000 altimeters. Descents seem more sparse and always too short.
In the village of Rysstad we camp on a beautiful tent field by the water. We like the campground much better: it is small, spacious and not overcrowded. The weather forecast seems to indicate less summery days so we decide to celebrate this day with a so-called picnic bbq.
So far we have followed route number 3 along the Otra. Above the village of Valle we change to route number 2 towards the Telemark region. It starts with a 6.5 km climb of constant +7%. Harry has derailleur problems and cannot use his lightest gears. We expected him to walk, but he courageously manages to get up by bike.
Earlier we noticed that there were few animals. No birds singing from the trees, no snails crossing the road, no frightened deer jumping away or birds of prey hovering on termite. We even see the occasional mosquito less often than we feel bumps. On the climb we finally get a visit from wildlife: a swarm of flies is attracted to our sweat. It reminds us of Australia. Once we reach the top at over 800 meters, a cool breeze makes the flies leave us alone again.
Refuel at a waterfall: bread rolls, bananas and apples are favorite fuel.
Tufts of snow on the mountains in the background.
The steep climb to the plateau is finally dwarfed by the descent: in 5 km we plunge off the plateau at 11% and cycle into the village of Dalen. The bad weather has slowed down and we celebrate with another bbq. When grilling we see rain clouds drifting in. At 10 pm it starts to rain and it continues until 9 am. With a soaking wet tent we leave Dalen in eastern direction and the rain stops.
Tunnel along the lake by Dalen
Despite the rain last night, it has not cooled down and we enjoyed another beautiful warm and sunny afternoon. We camp at Kilen camping. When we check in we see chilled cans of beer and order 2. We knew about it but now it becomes very clear: beer is ridiculously expensive. The 2 beers together cost €17 and they are delicious.
We have some trouble finding the tent field, because there are no tents. This campsite also focuses mainly on permanent seasonal pitches. A little later, presumably German cyclists arrive who quite apathetically but effectively avoid any contact.
The tent field is (again) far from the facilities. A telephone with payment function is required for the shower. This time the receptionist explained that to us and it also works fine with our Dutch phones.
After 250 km of climbing and descending in Norway we find the first a bit of a flat spot near Lunde. It is short but highly appreciated by the leg muscles.
It' s Sunday and we find out that the supermarkets are unfortunaltely closed. We eat a couple of Liga's which have been in our bags since we left home.
Along the shores of interconnected lakes we cycle to the Telemark Canal. At Vrangfoss we have to overcome a difference in height of 23 meters. There are 5 locks in succession to get boats up and down the canal. A little further downstream we must get the bike across the lock but it is not made for loaded bikes. Immediately afterwards follows a short but super steep climb on a path to the village of Ulefoss. Here the gas station is open where they also sell sandwiches and especially fast food.
In Ulefoss, the Telemark Canal ends and we leave cycle route 2. We turn off to the town called Skien. It starts to rain lightly. We have booked an apartment for 2 nights via AirBnb. For days now, heavy and prolonged rain has been predicted for tomorrow: time for a roof over our heads and after 9 days of cycling our legs need some rest and Harry's derailleur needs to be checked out by a mechanic.
Also in Skien only a few stores are open on Sundays and those turn out to be a kind of mini-dependance with a very limited assortment: fresh and frozen pizza. That makes the choice easy. The apartment has an oven. And a hot shower because by now it is raining hard and after a wonderful start of the day the temperature drops to about 16 degrees. We are glued to the big screen TV in the apartment with 3000+ international channels and enjoy watching the finish of the Tour de France.
PS the investigation into the murder of 20 to 25 flies on the 6.5 km ascending road between Valle and Dalen has been closed. The suspects have confessed and expressed no remorse at all.