Tag Archives: campervan

More coffee, more cake!

Wednesday 11 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

8.30 am

We are already on the road! It is both windy and fine this morning and we are driving along a rather poor single track road through the sizeable villages of Austre Nesland and Vestra Nesland. Before roads, these places must have seemed quite accessible by boat. The road becomes increasingly bumpy as you get to the end. I do wonder how many of the houses we see here are occupied all year round and how many are summer houses only. According to the guidebook, Nesland was quite an important port in Lofoten when boats were the main means of transport.

The plan today is to explore a few of the quieter roads on the Vestågøy island before catching the ferry from Fiskebøl to Melbu, which is at the tip of the Vesterålen islands.

10.50 am
Visiting the sculpture at Eggum, designed by the Swiss sculpture Markus Raetz. “The Head” is beautiful and somehow, at certain angles, turns upside down. Very imaginative. The idea was to display the transitory nature of the sensual experience and how things are not always what you expect. I like it. It is very small and seems somewhat lost in the incredible landscape that surrounds it. But maybe that is the way it should be: we are not masters of this place but merely one species amongst many. The place we hold in the grand scheme of things is small indeed. You only need to look at the landscape and see evidence of the impact of the stone and ice ages to realise that.

“The Head” by Markus Raetz

I am looking out to sea and observe nothing on the horizon. We are creeping closer to the north of Lofoten here but not quite. There are other islets jutting out on both the inner and outer side of Lofoten as we drive further north. We are in Vestågøy municipality now and will head further into Vågan and the Gimsøy Nature reserve.

At the carpark we looked at the circular stone building, up on the hillside. It was used by the Germans during the war to service a listening station. Some of it remains to this day, all broken up and rusted but enough of it intact to see what it is.

All that remains of the early radar device abandoned by the German army during WW2.

1.55 pm
Wow. Hov is a beautiful place where you can go horse riding. It truly does appear idyllic. From the cafe you look out onto a small field where there is a campsite (not good reviews due to the complete lack of decent washing and toilet facilities), but beyond that there is a fabulous white sand beach and sea for as far as the eye can see. Just stunning .

The cafe was in what appeared to be (in appearance and name) a converted barn. (Låvan i Hov). It was beautifully done out, with old tin milk urns used as lampshades, wooden tables and sheep skins on all the chairs. There were large windows looking out to the bay and easy chairs with low tables, where we sat and ate our cake. It definitely had a woman’s touch.

In the field adjacent were a whole bunch of sturdy looking ponies. Clearly horse riding is a thing in the summer. I loved it. I don’t think John was quite as enamoured. He didn’t have any cake as it didn’t really appeal and he only had a little bit of mine to try. I had to eat the lot myself; it was gorgeous! It felt so decadent to sit in such a fabulous setting, drinking coffee (sadly not very hot), eating cake and looking out onto an amazing scene. The sun was shining and we had nowhere we had to rush to. Just perfect. As far as I was concerned, it was worth the £10 we paid for one cake and two coffees.

Coffee in the converted barn
Great view

5.10 pm
We have driven slowly up through Vestågøy and Vågan municipalities towards Svolvær, where we are again camped for the night. On route we went via Eggum and Hovsund, both of which were worth the trip. We found another sculpture at Lyngvær, which was designed by the American artist Dan Graham. It was essentially a mirror in which you can see the landscape reflected. As you approached it, the perspective changed. Sometimes you saw yourself in the panels and sometimes not. It was so simple but very powerful. It doesn’t have a name but has been parochially named “the shower cabinet” and it was easy to see why. The panels were like the heavy glass doors of a walk-in shower. I really liked it and think it is the best one we have seen. Interesting that none of the artists who have contributed are Norwegian, but from all over the world.

“Untitled” by Dan Graham
Fiona contemplating the artwork by Dan Graham

John has gone for a shower with the single 10 NOK coin that we have. Hopefully we will get some change from reception when it opens at 6 pm. We have been on a lot of beaches in the past few days so there is sand everywhere. I have just given the van a really good brush out and wiped down the floor. It smells much fresher. We bought some bleach the other day and I’ve just soaked the two dish cloths, one of which was getting a bit smelly. Not easy to keep things clean when we are in such a confined space. I do think that we could use the space in the van much more effectively. I have had a glimpse into other people’s van as we have been travelling. Many of them have a much better storage system than us, with hooks and shelves all over the place, to be utilised. We have lots of potential to do the same so we need to think about that.

The best cinnamon buns in the world!

Tuesday 10 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

We spent a peaceful night, along with a number of other miscreants in a range if mobile homes, camper vans and tents in a place where it says “no camping”. There are Germans, French, Spanish and Italians here. The large group of French young people played volleyball on the beach. We thought they might be rowdy later on but not a bit of it.

The weather looks good this morning but it is due to rain later. So our plan is to have breakfast and then set out for Myrland.

2.50 pm
Bitty day stopping at lots of places. Watching surfers at Unstad. Called into Unstad Arctic Surf for coffee and very expensive cinnamon bun in the cafe. Very nice place. Gorgeous buns! £21! Their tag line is “The world’s best cinnamon buns!” I think they’re right 😁

Definitely the world’s best cinnamon bun!

On the way back southward we called in to a beach we missed near Flakstad. Just stopped to take mist over the mountains and some cormorants. Hoping they would spread their wings but no joy.

The beach at Flakstad is right next door to a carpark and loo we’ve used before. The waves here are pretty good … hard to believe that surfers would find the cold bearable but they seem to think it is worth it.

6.25 pm
We have driven down a small road to Nesland, which feels like it is at the end of the world. We were hoping to camp her overnights get but the place we are parked up (and where we had had dinner) is not the best. We are on a slight slope and even with the wedges under the rear tyres we are still sloping downward. It is a shame but I do agree that it is a bit precarious and we don’t have any kind of view. So it looks like we will move once we have had our coffee and a John has downloaded his photos.

After coffee we moved to a fantastic spot just down the road and having got the van all set up we were treated to the most gorgeous evening sky lighting up the fjord. We were perched on top of a cliff and the view was just tremendous.

What a place to spend the night and what a glorious evening sky we had.

We have driven around much of the Lofotens in the past 4 days. Given the weather, we have probably not spent as much time in some places as we might have. We are wondering if it might make sense to explore somewhere different in my last week. I would be up for that but the big question is where? I have no idea about where we should be going. John thought we would take much longer to drive down to the bottom of the islands; he hasn’t got a plan B in his back pocket. So we are looking at an empty canvas. The danger is that we will waste this time and neither of us want that. So it’s not an easy choice!

Haukelandstranda

Monday 9 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

We’ve had a good overnight stay in a campsite called Brustranda near Valberg. It was quite windy last night so having gone to bed we got up again and put the roof down. We were both lying there waiting for the next slap of canvas.

11.30 am
Just stopped at a viewpoint on the 815 – stunning location and looking across the water to mountains. Beautiful. The sun is shining again today and all the red berries look fab, lots of autumn colours in the ferns and bracken. We just spent a very pleasant hour taking photographs and drone footage. Perfect!

2.30 pm

We’ve had some fun on a long stretch of beach on the road to Utakleiv, which was gorgeous. I did some yoga in front of the lapping sea whilst John filmed it with the drone. Took a while to find my balance and it wasn’t perfect by any stretch. But it felt so exhilarating. How amazing to sit in front of the waves just trying to be in the moment.

Cinnamon buns by the sea!

5.45 pm
It has been a glorious afternoon. We have driven to the end of the road, through a short tunnel to Utakleiv. They are charging 250NOK to camp on the other side so we have come back through the tunnel and are now parked in front of a wonderful white sandy beach called Hauklandstranda (stranda = beach). It is a popular spot with picnic tables and some loos. There are families here with young children. The notice board says No Camping but it looks like a few, like us, are going to chance it. Who’s going to check in a Monday night? It is not clear, to be honest , if the sign even applies out of season. It doesn’t say otherwise, so I am sssuming it does. We are hoping for a good sunset over the water. With the light shining on the coastal mountains. It is idyllic. We had a 6km walk round the peninsula to the other side. Half way along there is a small opening in the rock and someone has built a beautiful table and chairs there, together with a BBQ! Amazing!

BBQ under a rock and free for anyone to use – brilliant!

I suspect today may be the last of the sunny days but let’s hope the forecast changes!

It was magical to walk along, feel the sun on your face and hear the water crashing against the rocks. Invigorating and relaxing at the same time. We almost made it to the other side but headed back after approx 3km.

It’s raining……again!

Sunday 25 August 2019

The rain continues to pour down so I drove from Ersfjord a couple of kms and parked up in a quiet spot by a small pier where a couple of locals were fishing.

Ersfjord in the rain

I stayed there most of the day and did some writing and picture editing.

I returned to Ersfjord for the night.

Ersfjord bay
At least it has a good loo!!
….and a very impressive backdrop.

First Taste of Norway

8 August 2019

This turned out to be a really busy day! It began when I arrived in Karasjok, the Sami capital, and visited their cutural centre. It was fascinating to learn a little bit about their way of life.

After a good look around, I stayed for a coffee and a delicious cake before moving on northward.

I began to get used to seeing reindeer on the road and avoiding them (they have absolutely no raod sense and think nothing of standing in fron of your vehicle even though you drive right up to them.

I then found, quite by chance, the site of the Skoganvarre Field Hospital from World War Two, that has been left just as it was for anyone to look around. As an English person I never learned about the devastation that was caused in Northern Finland and Norway during the war, but it was extensive and cost thousands of lives. After crossing a very rickety suspension bridge over a wide river I looked around the remains of what was obviously an extensive facility that was hidden in the forest.

Quite late in the evening I found the Silfar Canyon in Porsanger and took a couple of images as the setting sun lit up the canyon walls.

Silfar Canyon

That just gave me time to find a wildcamp site on the shores of a small fjord nearby. And so to bed. An interesting day.

A look around Rovaniemi

6 August 2019

I had booked for two nights into the campsite here at Rovaniemi because I needed a rest from driving so I made my way on foot into the town to have a look around.

It’s a small town with all the amenities you would expect, including supermarkets, fast food stores, pubs, clubs shops and all the other attractions we expect to see. It has a friendly feel about it and the architecture looks like it has a very much Soviet Russian influence, which is not surprising as it’s quite close to Russia. Most businesses seem to be emphasising the “Arctic” in whatever they’re selling, either that or Santa Claus.

A few pictures might illustrate the place better.

I enjoyed looking round the town and bought a little souvenier to hang on the tree at Christmas. I then made my way back for an early night, much more driving to do tomorrow!

Rovaniemi, the home of Santa Claus

Monday 5 August 2019

Today I made my way to Rovaniemi that I knew was a fairly large town but what I didn’t know was that this was the home town of Santa Claus! That’s what the tourist brochure said anyway and who am I to doubt it.

I checked in to the large campsite on the opposite side of the River Kemijoki and found it to be a very pleasant place to stay with ample clean facilities and I good spot with a view across the river towards the town.

In the evening the sun went down and lit up the old road/rail bridge with a really magical light – perhaps Santa does live here after all!

After a good shower I settled down for the night.

Wild Brown Bears

Saturday 3 August 2019

This was to be one of the highlights of the whole road trip. I arrived at the Wild Brown Bear Lodge early and excited. The staff are a really friendly bunch and the facilities there are very good. Here are a few photos to illustrate.

After a detailed briefing in the small, well equipped Briefing Room, I was taken to the hide with about 8 others, most of whom were staying for 3 or 4 nights in the Lodge. We had been given a packed lunch and fruit juice to keep us going through the night and I’d brought some of my own food too.

I had a hide to myself (No.1) and I sorted the place out to the way I wanted it, so that I was ready should the bears appear. I had views on three sides and by 6.30pm I was sorted and settled. 

Just after 7.0pm the bears began to appear and were quite close to my hide. I was surprised by how quiet they were and how fast they moved. One side of my hide looked across a small pond towards a group of rocks and during the evening it became apparent that this group of rocks were part of the bears natural pathway. 

Between 7.0pm – 10.30pm I saw a number of bears and photographed them. It was thrilling to see them relatively close up. A light brown and a dark brown one stayed in the area for over an hour. I saw a total of 7 different animals. 

After about 10.30pm I had no further sightings and it began to get too dark to photograph so I went to sleep about midnight. Woke up at 4.0am but see anything until 6.10am when I caught some video of a light brown bear. Great stuff!

What a night! 

…..and I’m off!

Monday 22 July 2019

Day 1

I finished packing, said goodbye to my long suffering wife, Fiona, and filled up with fuel. I made the hour long journey to Hull and boarded the “Pride of Rotterdam” Parked on Deck 7 and made my way to my cabin on Deck 10. On time we departed at 2005hrs and that’s when I discovered my first big mistake in that I had forgotten to bring from the van the camera, toiletries bag, spare top and phone charger. Doh!

A ticket to adventure!

It was a beautiful warm evening and the perfect sunset as I left the Port of Hull and the UK for quite some time.

Such a lovely evening

I had a small adequate cabin and looked like it would give me a decent night’s sleep, ready in the morning for a long drive to Germany.

I went to the central area of the ship and had one pint in the bar. Looked in on the “entertainment” (not great) and decided to turn in at about 10.0pm.

I got settled in the quite comfortable lower bunk bed and noticed bad vibrations coming from the engine causing a constant tapping from the cabin wall by the upper bunk.

I couldn’t get to sleep at all and finally got up, put the upper bunk down and slept up top. Result! End of annoying tapping.