The rest of the route towards Sweden is short as a crow flies but the geology of Norway does not allow for that route. Every eastward move requires riding north and south as well. So we cycle quite a bit through the country.
The first day starts well: when we leave Skien in the morning, the wind is in our backs as we cycle south. Halfway through the day we cycle xalong the coast first to the east en later to the north and the wind turns with us. The bad news is that Harry's derailleur is not quite right. The smallest gear is unfortunately not usable. The wind helps a little.
We cycle through Stavern and Larvik today and look around to see detective William Wisting and his daughter journalist Line, but they are probably busy with other things.
Camping Granholmen is situated on an island a bit below Sandefjord. We get a very nice spot between a Dutch cycle couple and a couple Dutch motorcyclists. It gets a lot lively on this part of the camping when two Norwegian sisters appear and put up an oversized tent for them and their six hefty kids. We don't mind and because we can, we get another "picnic" bbq to celebrate the return of beautiful weather.
The wind can't always be so favourable to us. The next day we first cycle north via the lovely Tønsberg (photo) to Horten where we take the boat and cycle south from Moss. We have a headwind all day. Actually, the wind blows exactly as it did yesterday. In the morning, the wind blows from the north and in the afternoon from the south.
In Horten we cross the Olsofjord with a ferry. We had planned to go to a DNT camp site near Moss, an overnight stay for trekkers in the forest with a shelter where there may be a pit toilet and wood for camp fires. We still have about three kilometers to go when it turns out that the route through the forest is an incredibly difficult walk over high rocks. We don't want to risk that and so we cycle further south.
The only alternative, which still offers a place for a tent, is camping Larkollen, some 25 km further away. We pay 420 kroner (€42) for this, which is our most expensive night on a camping ever, so we dance the hornpipe to a beautiful sunset, which fortunately was included in the price.
In Frederikstad we look for an electronics store. We lost the cable 'usb C to usb C' with which we can quickly charge power banks. We had a mini version and the cable has probably been sailing back and forth on the ferry between Horten and Moss ever since. That is where we saw it for the last time. The cable is the first item we have lost and we have been on the road for two weeks now. We wonder how long that list will become. At a phone store we find a heavy, expensive and long cord. Not very suitable but much harder to lose.
Before the town of Halden we see industrial high-rise buildings. This arouses our curiosity and we later find out that the second tower is under construction and will be 150 m high, which will make it the highest tower in Norway. The tower is industrial (one block of concrete, no windows) and will be used to test cables for submarines, although we also suspect some show-off by the cable company. The new tower will be located next to an already existing tower of about 130 meters high. To Harry, the towers are a hideous dissonant in the natural surroundings. Roelie finds them an rather impressive piece of architecture.
Just before Halden it's a tough climb to descend to sea level and then immediately on the other side of a river, which flows into the sea in Halden, to climb again back up to 100 meters. Up there on a high rock is a campsite in a sturdy fortress.
We get a nice spot on the campsite. Although 'get' it; we deviate from the designated tent field with (also) campers and find a higher flat spot between the trees and rocks where our tent fits exactly. Like kings on the monkey rock we look down on the campsite. After pitching the tent, we descend to sea level to do some shopping and then climb those 100 meters again. We wanted to know whether the climb was at all cyclable. Now we know how carry some extra weight: a couple of cans of beer, a bag of ice cubes and - yes - a picnic-bbq
At night, Roelie, the queen of the monkey rock, stubs her toe against a rock. At the sanitary building it appears that there is a cut under the toe. The slipper and the foot are bathed in blood. It all seems worse than it is (the beer now is in the blood). A plaster on it and done (although the next day she does walk a bit weird).
T he next day we bring the empty cans, on which there is a 20 eurocent deposit, back to the store downtown. Next cycling along the river we notice that the road goes up surprisingly quick. The cycle route no. 9, which we follow, actually ran across the campsite but we returned to sea level for the supermarket. The river side route and route no. 9 connect at campsite hight. So we climb an extra 100 altimeters in the morning to recycle (and deposit) a few cans. Noble because sustainable, but not very smart. Also because at the connection point there is a supermarket where the cans could have been handed in.
After 30 kilometers of cycling we sit down at the picnic table of a supermarket and are approached by a nice man and invited to have a cup of coffee at his home a little further down the road. We don't feel like cycling very far today and gladly accept Håkon's offer.
At Håkon's home we also meet his wife Johanna, the cat, ice cream for coffee, the tree with ripe but sour cherries, the barn full of wooden floorboards to be sold and his mother, who will soon be leaving the main house for a senior apartment in town. We stick around for a long time and question them about Norway and they question us about our travel experiences and the Netherlands. Grateful for their hospitality, we finally say goodbye and cycle one last bit to the campsite near Ørje.
Camping Sukken near Ørje is something else again: a huge empty terrain, outdated facilities and visibly and audibly (and later palpably) a lot of mosquitoes. We pitch our tent on top of the slope at the edge of the forest. We thought it would be a good spot near a picnic table. More guests arrive after us: a group of motorcyclists come closest to us, still about 100 meters away. Unique about off space on a Norwegian campground in high season.
It will be our last night in Norway. We use a helpline to plan the rest of the route in Sweden. Since recently the app MapOut unfortunately doesn't show the planned route (including the European Divide Trail) anymore. Roelie's parents are asked to add the route into Google maps via the computer. This way we can search for camping spots and stores along the route. It works and we decide to cross the border near Setskog. A slight shortcut from the original plan to cycle north to Charlottenberg. Since Halden we cycle up close to the border to cycle down again in Sweden. We are high enough, we think.
In the final kilometers in Norway, we are treated to the first mentionable wash signs and then the border sign follows and we are in Sweden!
The previously expected detective work in complex murder cases in Norway was limited in our opinion. At the Halden campground was a tent with a Dutch car next to it with no people from mid-afternoon until late at night. We thought we had found our case, but early the next morning, out of the blue, there were people at the spot. Mixed feelings. Maybe we can explore our detective skills in Sweden.
We enjoyed Norway: what a nature! Overwhelming, almost as beautiful as Patagonia and Canada. But we only cycled through the southern part of Norway, perhaps the north/west is even more beautiful. For the rest Norway will stay with us as an expensive country: double of the Dutch prices. Most camp sites did not appeal to us: full off permanent pitches with caravans with idiotic extensions, which brings a different vibe, but we did find some very nice spots.
The country offers so much space, water, hydroelectric power, Christmas trees and clean air. We didn't climb mountains but we were able to note (and conquer) a high number of altimeters. Cycling through Norway is continuous climbing and descending. It is almost never flat. The scenery is beautiful but hardly ever changing. Mostly we cycled along lakes, through forests or along grain fields. Everything is clean and well maintained. There is no trash on the roadsides or around picnic tables. Norway is neat.
Raspberries and blackberries grow by the side of the road and can be picked in abundance (Norwegians themselves buy them in the store: why bother picking). On the other hand, with all this space, we feel that the country is a bit overrun by campers in high season. The number of roads is of course limited, and then it is often "train driving" with campers. As if Norway is an amusement park. We had expected more ortunities for wild camping, because Norway has the "allemannsretten" (the right to spend the night somewhere in nature). However, the land including 99% of the lakes' shores are not suitable for pitching your tent. Once in a while there is a nice flat spot, but each time it is already occupied by one or more campers.
So mixed feelings about cycling through Norway, but we didn't want to miss this!!!