Overview
Costs
Food
Hotels
Money
Mobile phones
Internet
Weather
Health
VISA
Security
Getting around
Photos

Finland, North Cape, Norwegian coast and interior, Oslo, Odense, Bremen



24.7: Munich -> Travemünde
25.7: On the ferry to Helsinki
26.7: Helsinki -> Rovaniemi
27.7: Rovaniemi -> North Cape
28.7: North Cape
29.7: North Cape -> Alta
30.7: Alta -> Tromsø
31.7: Tromsø
1.8: Tromsø -> Senja -> Skøelva
2.8: Skøelva -> Andøya -> Sortland (Lofoten)
3.8: Sortland -> Nyksund -> Sennesvik
4.8: Vestvågøy
5.8: Lofoten -> Bodø -> Saltstraumen
6.8: Saltstraumen -> Storforshei (Svartisen NP)
7.8: Storforshei -> Svartisen glacier -> Vefsn
8.8: Vefsn -> Farnhem (near Trondheim)
9.8: Trondheim
10.8: Trondheim
11.8: Trondheim -> Kristiansund -> Oceanic road to Ålesund
12.8: Ålesund
13.8: Ålesund -> Trollstigen -> Geirangerfjord -> Nordberg
14.8: Nordberg -> Lom -> Sognefjellet road -> Bøyabreen glacier viewpoint -> Sogndal
15.8: Sogndal -> Borgund -> Stegastein -> Bergen
16.8: Bergen
17.8: Bergen -> Oslo
18.8: Oslo
19.8: Oslo
20.8: Oslo -> Odense
21.8: Odense -> Bremen
22.8: Bremen
23.8: Bremen -> Nürnberg -> Munich


Planning and overall impression

This was quite a long trip. We travelled for one month, driving over 8800 km by car. Originally I was planning to spend more time in Finland, but I could only leave Munich on July 24th and I wanted to show my wife and the kids the midnight sun. At the end of July there is midnight sun in continental Europe only at the North Cape and only until July 31st. So I had to plan the trip in such a way that we would arrive at the North Cape a few days before July 31st at the latest.
In fact we managed to do that. Leaving Munich on Friday July 24th at 1pm, we reached Travemünde shortly before midnight, in time to catch the car ferry to Finland.
Then starting in Helsinki on July 26th in the morning, we reached the North Cape on July 27th in the evening, and saw the midnight sun that night. After that we slowly drove south along the Norwegian coast.
The trip along the fjords took so long that at one point my wife got tired of Norway and just wanted to get back home. I had to explain to her that to do that from where we were at that moment would have taken three days of non-stop driving.
We did the trip by car mainly because of the pandemic situation. It's more easy to isolate yourself if you have your own transportation medium and do not have to rely on public transportation.



Covered distances


Date
km
Munich - Travemünde 24.7.20 861
Helsinki (Vuosaari) - Rovaniemi 26.7.20 805
Rovaniemi - Nordkapp - Kirkeporten Camping 27.7.20 729
Kirkeporten Camping - Honningsvåg -Gjesvær - Kirkeporten Camping 28.7.20 90
Kirkeporten Camping - Museum in Alta - Alta
29.7.20 237
Alta - Tromsø - Kvaløysletta 30.7.20 393
Kvaløysletta - cablecar in Tromsø - Tromsø - Kvaløysletta 31.7.20 30
Kvaløysletta - Brensholmen - Botnhamn - Segla mountain - Ersfjord - Sorreisa 1.8.20 176
Sorreisa - Gryllefjord 2.8.20 85
Andenes - Northern coast of Andøya - Skjelbugen 2.8.20 132
Skjelbugen - Nyksund - Sennesvik 3.8.20 275
Sennesvik - Leknes - Borg - Eggum - Unstad - Haukland - Sennesvik 4.8.20 96
Sennesvik - Nusfjord - Flakstad - Ramberg - Fredvang - Reine - Å i Lofoten - Moskenes 5.8.20 97
Bodø - Saltstraumen 5.8.20 30
Saltstraumen - Storforshei - Svartisvatnet - Storforshei 6.8.20 296
Storforshei - Svartisvatnet - Vefsn 7.8.20 196
Vefsn - Buan Gård 8.8.20 439
Buan Gård - Trondheim - Buan Gård 9.8.20 104
Buan Gård - Trondheim - Buan Gård 10.8.20 104
Buan Gård - Kristiansund - Ålesund (via Atlanterhavseveien) 11.8.20 365
Ålesund - Trollstigen - Geiranger - Nordberg 13.8.20 261
Nordberg - Lom - Bøyabreen - Kaupanger 14.8.20 259
Kaupanger - Borgund - Stegastein - Nesttun 15.8.20 276
Nesttun - Bergen - Nesttun 16.8.20 24
Nesttun - Oslo 17.8.20 452
Oslo - Odense (via Malmö, without using the ferry) 20.8.20 756
Odense - Bremen 21.8.20 424
Bremen - Nürnberg - Munich 23.8.20 812
Total km
8804



Costs

That was the main problem. Scandinavia is expensive, and Norway is especially expensive. Hotels and restaurants were too expensive, so we relied mostly on apartments booked via Airbnb and precooked dishes from the supermarket. We only used hotels and restaurants a few times. Staying in hotels and eating in restaurants would have added at least 5000 Euro to the cost of this trip.



Food

Fish and seafood in Norway probably are quite tasty, but we never tried them due to the high cost (a meal in a Norwegian restaurant starts around 40 Euro/person). We mainly relied on pre-cooked dishes purchased in supermarkets, which are not bad, actually surprisingly good. There is also quite good bread in Norway (I got used to buying a fresh loaf every second day) and good quality fresh fruits.
The pre-cooked dishes were ready in a matter of minutes. All you had to do was to heat them up in a pan (all accomodation we chose had a fully equipped kitchen). We usually bought the food for the day in the evenings before heading to the apartment (on weekends you had to buy food for two days, because on Sundays most supermarkets close).



Accommodation

Plenty of hotels in Norway, but quite expensive. After spending the first couple of nights in a camping bungalow at the North Cape, we concluded that campings were not suitable for us (because of the shared kitchens and toilets). After that we only booked apartments, mostly via Airbnb and sometimes via booking.com. This worked very well and we had multiple bedrooms and own kitchen, toilet facilities and (most of the time also) washing machines for the clothes.



Money  / Exchange rate (August 2020)

1 Euro = 10.6 NOK
1 Euro = 7.4 DKK



Mobile phones and prepaid cards

We relied on EU roaming and didn't buy SIM cards.



Internet access

All places were we stayed offered free WLAN, sometimes fast and sometimes not so fast. Outdoors we used the smartphone to access the Internet.



Weather

Overall we have been extremely lucky with the weather, because Norway is a very rainy country, but we had sunshine and blue skies almost every day. Even in Bergen, perhaps the rainiest city in Europe, we had two straight days of sunshine.
The temperatures were quite comfortable. Even in Northern Norway it was never really cold.



Health / Vaccinations

This was the key thing, given the pandemic situation. The low COVID-19 infection rates played a certain role when selecting Norway as our travel destination. Upon arrival in Scandinavia we were surprised by the fact that nobody was wearing masks anywhere. Coming from Germany we were used to wear masks in indoor places, but in Finland and Norway nobody was wearing them. In fact, due to the extremely low contagion rates these were not necessary.



VISA / Entry requirements

No VISA needed for us. International travellers may need a Schengen or other visa.


Security

No problems in the  countries we visited  (Finland, Norway, Denmark).



Getting around

We travelled by car and used the Finland ferry to get from Germany (Travemünde) to Helsinki. In Norway there are car ferries everywhere to transport cars and people across fjords. They bill you automatically by scanning your licence plate (and you probably can save some money by buying some pass before travelling to Norway).
For lots of roads in Norway there is a toll. You get an invoice by mail after the trip, unless you have registered with them before the trip (AutoPASS system).





24.7: Munich -> Travemünde
We sleep in the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki. 838 Euro for a cabin with four beds, inside with no windows. Expensive in my opinion. A few years ago we took the same ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde, had a cabin with a window and paid only 500 Euro.
Weather: a mix of sunny and clouds, temperatures up to 27°C. Some brief rain for about 15 minutes later in the afternoon.

We leave home at 1pm and initially drive to the school in Haar, where we pick up Alissia who just got her school results for the year. Then we start driving to Travemünde, from where the ferry to Finland departs.

Essentially until after Nürnberg we proceed slowly, running into a number of traffic jams (none too long), caused by the heavy traffic.

Short stop at 4pm for 10 minutes in a motorway parking.

The situation changes drastically when we get on the motorway to Berlin, which is mostly empty.

Initially we cross the hills. Here the motorway is a bit difficult, many curves, steep slopes, surface not always smooth.

Once after the hills we are in the plains and here the motorway is straight and plane, with few curves. We drive faster, with a "cruising speed" of 160 km/h (no speed limits in this section of the motorway).

Between 6:20pm and 7:20pm we stop around Bitterfeld, where we buy some food in an Edeka supermarket and the kids have some fast food in a Burger King.

When we restart driving at 7:20pm, the navigation system shows four more hours of driving. We do these four hours essentially non-stop.

Later on, we forget to refuel the car at a motorway petrol station. We end up in Travemünde with just about 50km of range left, having wasted some time looking for a petrol station. Then in Travemünde we drive to a petrol station which we find with Google Maps.

We are at the ferry check-in quite late, at 11:42pm. The check-in procedure is quite fast. We do not have to get out of the car, just stop at the check-in counter and in 5 minutes everything is done and we have the keys to the room on the ferry. Then we drive with the car to the ferry (8th dock) and get into the room.

The ferry is surprisingly full of people. I had expected fewer tourists because of the coronavirus situation, but it looks like lots of people chose to travel to Finland. The bar is full of people (not wearing the face mask). Elsewhere in the ferry we meet people wearing a mask. We sleep after 1am.




25.7: On the ferry to Helsinki
Second night on the ferry to Helsinki
Weather: blue sky and sunshine on the Baltic sea. Only some thin cloud layer here and there.     

Day spent on the ferry not doing much. You basically can only go to the 11th floor where there is a cafe, a restaurant, a gym, some shop, a sauna. The 12th floor gives access to the deck (the 11th also).

I book an apartment in Senja (Norway).




26.7: Helsinki -> Rovaniemi
First aparthotel Comet, Rovaniemi. 65 Euro for a comfortable apartment, probably around 30m², modern, with kitchen area complete with everything (microwave, water boiler, toaster, fridge, cooking stove. Toliet with shower, king size bed, sofa-bed, LCD-TV, cupboards.
Weather: a mix of sunny blue sky and partially overcast. Sunny blue sky in the evening in Rovaniemi. Daytime temperatures in Finland around 20°C, 15°C in the evening in Rovaniemi.

The ferry reaches the Vuosame harbour in Helsinki at 9:30am, at 10am we are in the car and start driving towards Rovaniemi.

Initially we are on a motorway with a speed limit of 120 km/h, then the motorway ends and it's a long distance roads with either 100 km/h or 80 km/h speed limits. Plenty of speed cameras everywhere.

At 1:25pm we stop at a Subway restaurant at a petrol station along the road in a place half an hour north of Jyväskylä. Surprise, surprise, nobody is wearing masks. Also elsewhere in Finnland we see that nobody is wearing masks. Inspite of this, the total number of active cases in Finland is currently 144, the daily number of cases is just around 20 or so.

We continue driving at 2:15pm, i.e. we have spent 50 minutes in this place having lunch.

Shortly before 4pm we stop at a supermarket in Kärsämäki, further to the north. There we buy some food and drinks, then continue driving.

 There are no traffic jams today and the roads are mostly good. Only between Oulu and Rovaniemi we drive for some time (probably 40-50 minutes) on some quite bad road. Every now and then there is a reindeer along the street.

Finally we reach the aparthotel at 8:15pm. Total of 10 hours 15 minutes to complete 800km on Finnish roads, including stops. This is not too bad and it's not too late to have dinner.

We meet the owner (or caretaker) of the apartment (a Chinese guy from Wuhan) and have dinner at his Chinese restaurant. Then, after 9pm I spend some time exploring Rovaniemi.

From what I can see in the centre of the city there are only modern buildings. Perhaps all old buildings were destroyed in WW II.





27.7: Rovaniemi -> North Cape
Basecamp Northcape, North Cape, Norway. 65 Euro (+170 NOK for sheets and towels) for a small cottage with four beds. The cottage has an area of 3.5m x 3.5m, contains a small table+chairs, fridge and stove. No running water and no toilet (these are shared facilities). Quite peacefuil camping type of place.
Weather: mostly sunny, blue sky with some clouds every now and then. Around 20°C in the evening at the North Cape, sunny, blue sky. We are lucky with the weather.

Checking out at 10:10am, we first drive to the Santa Claus village. Total consumer nonsense, but very, very cute. I guess if you have small kids it must be cool bringing them here at Xmas. Really nicely set up and decorated.

Then we continue driving. The road today will be a mix of decent and very bad roads, with speed limits ranging between 80 and 100 km/h in Finland and up to 90 km/h in Norway.
Very poor road conditions in Norway on the mainland section. Very narrow road, bad surface, plenty of curves and uneven surface. It's difficult to drive at the allowed speed limit of 80km/h. The road becomes much better on the Mageröya island, where the North Cape is.

We stop at 2pm in Ivalo, where we buy some groceries in a supermarket and a pizza in a bistro for the kids. The pizza is not good (below it's burned). We have some food, then continue driving.

Along the way, several times we run into reindeer which are walking along or even in the road.

At the border to Norway, the border guard stops us and asks where we are going and if we have any alcoholic drinks with us

Later, when we stop at a parking along the way, we are assaulted by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. Small mosquitoes, but very aggressive.

After we do a number of stops along the road before arriving at the camping in Mageröya at 8:19pm local time. I take a rest, because  I'm quite tired, after the third full day of driving.

By the way, some stunning scenery with this evening sun along the coast. Really very photogenic.

After 11:30pm we take the car and drive to the North Cape (13km from the camping site). We arrive there shortly before midnight. 200 NOK fee to get in with the car. Very big parking with lots of cars, camper vans, lots of people. Wonderful, stunning views of the ocean and the midnight sun - hard to describe in words.

It appears that here the sun reaches the lowest point around 00:20. After that the sun starts rising again and it gets brighter.

We're here until almost 1am, then start driving back to the camping. On the way we do a stop for some photos. When we are back, it's brighening up already and it feels like the new day is starting.





28.7: North Cape
Basecamp Northcape.
Weather: again a sunny day with blue sky and only a few clouds every now and then. Top temperatures of 22°C. Due to the strong sun, in the harbour area of Honningvaag it gets really hot at noon.

We get up late and only leave the camping at 12:20pm. Then we drive to Honningsvaag, the main urban centre of Mageröya island where we are now. With a number of stops along the way to take pictures (pretty impressive scenery) we reach Honningsvåg at 1:10pm.

Honningsvåg is a small city centered around a fishing harbour, clean and immaculate. Even more pretty today with this special sunlight. There are a few cafes mainly along the harbour, but otherwise there are almost no restaurants.

We get some Norwegian cash at an ATM, then buy some food in an Extra supermarket. Parking costs around 3 Euro/hour, ridicolously expensive for a small town like this.

We then spend some more time walking around the city. Around 3pm we leave Honningsvåg and drive towards Gjesvär, a small fishing village along the northwestern coast of the Mageröya island.

It takes about half an hour to get there. By the way, on the entire Mageröya island there are no trees, perhaps because of the climate.

Gjesvär is nice and cute with that harbour nested in a fjord and the entire scenery around it. It's not really suitable as a place where to watch the midnight sun, because there is some island in front of the bay obstructing the view.

Around 4:30pm we drive back to the camping in Skarsvåg. I stop in a couple of spots along the way for some photos. In one a swarm of mosquitoes charges me, forcing me to quickly withdraw.

At 5:10pm we are in Skarsvåg, the fishing village adjacent to the Basecamp camping. I have a quick look. There are a couple of restaurant, one focused on fish food. The giant king crab goes for 398 NOK, while a dish with cod costs 249 NOK.

After dinner I walk up the hill behind the camping to see if it is suitable for the midnight sun. It is indeed, and the spot can be reached in about 40 minutes of walking.

After 11pm I get out of the cabin in the camping and start walking up the hill behind the camping. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the right position (the top of the promontory overlooking the bay). Shortly after midnight the sun comes out from behind the north cape. I stay until about 00:20 then walk back to the camping, arriving shortly after 1am.





29.7: North Cape -> Alta
Apartment in Alta booked via Airbnb. 65 Euro for two small rooms and a bathroom. The place is a few km out of Alta. It's rather basic and we have to set up the beds ourselves. In the bathroom if you want to take a shower you have to sit, you can't stand. Quite a few mosquitoes. On the other hand, the host is friendly, we are allowed to use the kitchen, and you can't find anything like this for 65 Euro in Alta.
Weather: another great day of sun and blue sky at the North Cape (Mageröya). I was prepared for cloudy and rainy weather, but like this it almost feels like the Mediterranean (except for the temperatures, which are a few degrees lower). Shortly before Alta it rains, then while we are at the rock carvings museum in Alta, shortly after 5pm it starts raining again, this time quite heavily for about 30-40 minutes. Top temperatures in the 22-24°C range.

In the morning we leave the camping quite late at 11:30am and start driving towards Alta. We make a stop in Repvåg, which is described in the Rough Guide as an interesting place to see. In reality it's a very small fishing village, far less interesting than the fishing villages on Mageröya island.

With some further stops along the way, we reach Alta at 3:30pm. Then we drive to the Alta museum. This is where the rock carvings, some kind of prehistoric art on the rocks, are located. This is a UNESCO world heritage site and the carvings indeed are impressive.

Shortly after 5pm it starts raining and we quickly retreat to the museum building. By the time we arrive there we are already wet. So we wait for a moment in the building, then when the rain finishes (a few minutes later) we get to the car and drive to a supermarket where we buy some food.

After that we drive to the apartment and stay there.




30.7: Alta -> Tromsø
Apartment in Tromsø, NOK 999. This is a small apartment in the basement of a house west of Tromsø. This place has a number of issues: the WLAN isn't working when we are there, the livingroom has no light except for a small table lamp, the washing machine doesn't work (my wife freaks out trying to wash some clothes, until she discovers that the washing machine is defective, because the barrel doesn't rotate). Then the bed for the kids is too narrow for two people (my wife and I have to sleep on the sofa in the livingroom). Hot water for the shower is limited to a 120 litre water boiler (if several people take a shower, there may not be enough water). On the positive side there is a fully furnished kitchen with stove, microwave and fridge. But this place is seriously overpriced for what you get.
Weather: very good weather today. Sunny, blue sky with a few clouds, no rain. Top temperature of 24°C.

The car trip from Alta to Tromsø takes 5 1/2 hours according to Google Maps. In reality, leaving Alta at 11:20am, with several stops along the way, we reach Tromsø at 6:40pm.

There is little traffic on the roads, and the scenery is very, very nice. There are these very steep mountain cliffs everywhere, special colours and light and those deep fjords with the steep mountain slopes falling into them.

The road quality is mixed: there are road sections with good surface and speed limit of 90 km/h, but there are also road sections with poor surface quality and ruts, where it is difficult to keep the car on the road, because due to the ruts the car tends to drift. It's a bit strange that a rich country such as Norway doesn't fix these roads.

This day is dominated by the long car trip from Alta to Tromsø. In fact, besides driving, today we won't do much else.

We arrive in the evening at the Nerstranda Senter shopping mall in Tromsø, hoping to find a food court inside. But there is no food court and the mall in actually quite small. On the other hand the cheapest small meal in the Burger King costs the equivalent of 10 Euro - no point spending so much money for fast food.

The city of Tromsø looks cute, although the historic core is a bit small. We'll have a closer look tomorrow. The tourist office is near the Hurtigruten harbour.




 
31.7: Tromsø
Apartment in Tromsø.
Weather: another great day with a sunny blue sky, top temperatures of 24°C, in the evening more fresh because of the wind. Only a few clouds here and there, no rain. It's amazing that the weather is so good.

Day spent exploring Tromsø. We leave the flat quite late and drive to the Fjellheisen Tromsø cablecar. The ground station is not far from the Ice sea cathedral. The cablecar brings up to 350m asl on Mount Storsteinen. From there there is a great view of Tromsø.

At 1:25pm we start walking down and are back at the car around 2:10pm (slowly walking down, with several stops). The path down consists to a large extent of a stone staircase.

Then we drive to the Ice Sea cathedral. Qiuite interesting architecture with that triangluar shape and the diagonals. 50 NOK entrance fee (kids until 12 are free). Very nice triangular stained glass window behind the altar.

After that we drive into town, leaving the car in the parking of the Nerstranda mall. It's already 3:30pm and we quickly get to the Lutheran cathedral because it closes at 4pm. The interior of this cathedral is nicely set up and decorated. Also here there are nice stained glass windows.

We then spend some more time in the centre of the city. The centre is actually quite small, and Tromsø itself is a quite small city. I walk to the tourist information centre, but when I arrive it's already closed.

The kids and Shirley then do some shopping in the city centre. While I'm eating some bread, a sea gull quickly snaps it and steals it from me. Quite impressive these animals. Also the local pigeons are not afraid of people. Before the bread was stolen I had a pigeon on my shoulder, greedily waiting to get some bread.

After 5pm we take the car and drive to the Arctic Alpine Botanic Garden. This can be reached by car from the city centre in about 10 minutes. I was expecting nothing so special, yet another public garden with some plants, but this botanical garden is really impressive, especially considering we are above the polar circle. So many different plants and flowers. And this garden is open round the clock (even at night) and right now it is still free.

At 6:40pm we are done with this place and get back to the car. We are all a bit tired after so much walking. We drive to a shopping mall where I buy some food and drinks and the kids get some fast food from a Burger King restaurant. Then we drive back to the apartment.




1.8: Tromsø -> Senja -> Skøelva
Apartment booked via airbnb in Skøelva. 65 Euro for a nice apartment in the basement of a house in nice surroundings. Complete with kitchen, bathroom and plenty of other amenities.
Weather: more fresh today (14°C for a good part of the day, then warmer as the sun comes out). In the morning it's cloudy, then when we climb Mt Hesten in the Senja NP we are completely in the clouds. Later in the afternoon and in the evening the clouds disappear and we have sun and blue sky. No rain the whole day.

When we leave the flat at 11am we are unsure if we will get a place on the 12:45pm ferry from Brensholmen to Botnhamn on Senja island. That's because we do not know how big the ferry is and if all cars in the queue in front of us will find a place on the ferry.

Luckily things proceed smoothly: all cars in the queue get on the ferry and the ferry leaves punctually at 12:45pm (cost is 447 NOK). Then it takes 45 minutes to reach Botnhamn. From there we drive to the parking below the Segla mountain.

Shortly after 2pm we start the trek to the Segla mountain. The idea would be to reach the spot from where you can take the impressive photo. What in practice will happen is that once we reach the spot, the Segla mountain is completely covered in clouds. So with some additional effort we just summit Mt Hesten (556m). This wasn't planned, but the summit seamed easily reachable.

By the way, lots of people today are doing the climb and the trail is really steep in some sections. The GPS only shows 450m on the summit, far less than the altitude indicated there.

We are back at the car at 5pm and start the drive along the scenic route along northern coast of Senja. There is some very impressive scenery, with steep cliffs plunging into the sea.

Then around 6pm we discover the impressive Ersfjord beach: a white sand beach in a bay surrounded by steep snow-covered mountains. It's warm and people are swimming in the sea. What a contrast. Who would imagine finding a cozy beach so far in the north.

After some time we continue driving, again seeing some impressive scenery. Around 7:30pm we stop in an Extra supermarket and buy some food. Shortly before 8pm we continue driving towards the apartment in Skøelva, arriving at 8:30pm.




2.8: Skøelva -> Andøya -> Sortland (Lofoten)
Skjellbogen Hyttegrend, Sortland. Cottage with two very small sleeping rooms, a larger living room with table+chairs, sofa which probably doubles as a bed, kitchen with fridge and stove and tools+dishes etc, toilet with shower. For 700 NOK quite reasonable, the only thing is that sheets and towels are not in the room (probably they have to be paid for separately). WLAN in the room doesn't work (the owner says it's not installed yet). The location is somewhere in the middle of nowhere. No problem if you have a car however.
Weather: sunny and spotless blue sky (not a single cloud in the sky). Top temperature of 20°C, some wind along the coast.

We leave the flat at 11am, then drive towards Gryllefjord, where the ferry to Andenes leaves at 3pm. It's Sunday and all shops and supermarkets are closed. With a few stops along the way we reach the ferry harbour of Gryllefjord at 1pm. The last 25 or so km of the road are supposed to be part of the scenic road, but in reality they are not too terribly impressive.

We have now two hours to kill. We arrived early to have a better chance to get a place in the ferry, but in reality all cars and vans today will make it onto the ferry. We could actually have arrived later.

Gryllefjord itself is a very small place and there is nothing to do here.

We have some food in a fast food restaurant (today only this place and a nearby pastry shop are open).

When it's 3pm and they let the cars onto the ferry, the arrival order seems not to play a role anymore. They first let the cars in, then the camper vans. Some cars which arrived much later than us go first.

In any case the ferry leaves on time. The cost of the trip to Andenes is 859 NOK. On board of the ferry there is some sea movement. People with a sensitive stomach might get seasick.

The ticket counter doesn't open for a long time, so long that I end up downloading and installing the Troms Billett app and use that to pay.

At 4:45pm we leave the ferry and start driving along the western coast of Andøya (the scenic road). At a Shell petrol station I refuel the car because the diesel here costs 14 NOK instead of the 15.6 NOK I had seen in all other petrol stations.

Then Shirley spots an open supermarket and we buy some food there. Hadn't we found that supermarket, dinner tonight would have been quite complicated.

Quickly we run into some nice white sand beach with the background of steep cliffs. Impressive scenery. There are similar beaches on the North Sea coast, for instance on the Dutch island of Terschelling, but without the steep cliffs behind them.

Further south the scenic road becomes less scenic. It appears that Andøya is more flat and gentle than Senja, at least the northern part of Senja. The highlight of Andøya is mainly its beaches.

We reach the hotel around 8:15pm.




3.8: Sortland -> Nyksund -> Sennesvik
Apartment in Sennesvik (booked over Airbnb). 91 Euro for an apartment with a bedroom, large livingroom with sofa, large LCD TV, table with chairs, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with washing machine and shower. Parking for the car and WLAN.
Weather: sunny with blue sky in the morning, after 3pm increasingly cloudy. In the evening fewer clouds. No rain, some wind, top temperature of 20°C.

In the morning I spend some time discussing the itinerary, then book the ferry from Moskenes to Bodø and accomodation in Saltstraumen near Bodø. As a result we leave the apartment later than usually at 11:30am.

We drive to Nyksund, a fishermen village on the northern end of Langøya, the island where we are right now. The owner of the place we are leaving now recommended this village yesterday.

Getting there takes about 40-50 minutes of driving. On the way, in Myre (a larger city on this island) we buy some food in an Extra supermarket. With some stops along the way we arrive in Nyksund at 1:10pm (by the way, the last 11km are a very narrow and not paved coastal road - too narrow for two cars, when you meet another car you have to use one of the spots where the road is wider).

Nyksund is kind of nice and idyllic. Rocky coast and stone beach. Small village with a few houses. Not much to do here, but still lots of cars of tourists are parked here.

We spend about one hour and a half in this place, then shortly before 3pm start driving towards Sennesvik.

There are two routes to Sennesvik: one which is shorter and uses the ferry Melbu-Fiskebøl, and another one which is longer and involves driving on the large Hinnøya island. We take the one without the ferry, because I don't want to depend on a ferry which might be full, forcing us to wait for the next ferry in 1:20 hours (and by the way, ferries in Norway are not cheap).

It turns out that the route is actually quite impressive: initially the scenery is coastal with beaches, lots of sun, but after that it gets alpine, with wide and deep glacial valleys and snow fields on the mountain flanks. Water is almost everywhere. What look like lakes in reality are deep fjords with seawater. This combination of landscape features is unique and in Europe only available in Norway.

With another stop in Svolvaer around 7pm for some shopping in a supermarket, we finally reach the apartment in Sennesvik at 8:20pm. Then we spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to get into the apartment, because nobody is there. In the end we find a code for the key box in a message sent by the host using Airbnb.




4.8: Vestvågøy
Apartment in Sennesvik
Weather: mostly overcast the whole day, with very few spots of blue sky. Some light rain in the morning and over the rest of the day. Quite fresh - top temperature of 14°C. Very windy in some of the places we visit.

Day spent exploring the island of Vestvågøy, where we currently are.

In the morning the weather is bad and it rains, so we only leave the apartment after 1pm. We drive to Leknes, where we buy some drinks and snacks in an Extra supermarket. Then we drive to the Viking musseum in Borg.

The museum consists of an open air part and an indoor part and is a life museum of the life of the Vikings. It acually is a bit mediocre, because there is little information about the life of the vikings and the historical background, i.e. who were these people, where did they live, why did they start their raids etc.

I was hoping to give my kids a deeper insight into the vikings, but this museum is not the right place for that. On the positive side, you can do a boat ride on a replica of a viking ship and you can practice shooting arrows with a bow and throwing axes against a wooden wall. The entry ticket is quite expensive (200 NOK for an adult).

At 4pm we are done with the museum and drive to Eggum, a village on the northern coast of Vestvågøy island. It takes about 15 minutes to get there. The village itself is not terribly impressive, but the background of the steep mountains right behind Eggum is. Then, there is a road which continues for a while along the coast after Eggum.

From Eggum we drive to Unstad, which is again on the northern coast and which has a sandy beach, although not as nice as the other beaches on Vestvågøy island. Unstad seems to be a centre for surfing.

After Unstand, we drive to the beaches of Haukland and Vik, both on the northern coast of Vestvågøy. These are two nice beaches about 500m from each other. If it was a sunny day, with higher temperatures and less wind, it would be nice to spend a few hours or longer here.

At 6:30pm we drive back to Leknes. There we buy some food for dinner and then drive back to the apartment.




5.8: Lofoten -> Bodø -> Saltstraumen
Camp Saltstraumen-Elvegård, Saltstraumen. 1000 NOK, which later become 1400 NOK for accomodation for us. We originally had booked a caravan with attached bathroom. Upon check-in the guy says we need sheets and towels, 145 NOK per person, total of 580 NOK for the four of us. When I complain about the absurdity of this, a discussion starts. In the end the guy only charges 400 NOK, so the place ends up costing 1400 NOK. Then it turns out that the attached bathroom only has 20 litres of hot water, so for a shower we have to come to the office. Suddenly these 1400 NOK start sounding like very poor value and I regret having booked this place. In the end the guy, probably seeing my unhappy face, "upgrades" us to a room with four beds in a adjacent house which today happens to be empty. He also mentions that he rents out this whole house to groups of people for 3000 NOK per night. The house has a kitchen and a toilet in the ground floor. By the way, the WLAN connection in the house is poor.
Weather: overcast and rainy in the morning, 14°C. The weather improves when we reach Nusfjord at 12pm (the sun comes out), then is again overcast, then again sunny. After 3pm it is consistently sunny, with a mostly blue sky and the temperatures climb to 17°C.

We check out at 11am and initially drive to Nusfjord. On the way I stop in a spot with a particularly scenic view (impressive valley with huge, steep cliff in the background). We finally are in Nusfjord at 12pm.

Nusfjord is a beautiful little fishermen village, with real old houses, nested in a picturesque bay. There is a free parking area, but then entering into the historic core of the village costs 100 NOK per person (the Rough Guide of 2014 mentions 50 NOK, sp they must have doubled their prices over the past 7 years). It's a very touristy and "characteristic" place, a cute & perfect spot to visit. Right now with the sun this place really shines. In addition, the road leading to this place passes through very scenic areas.

Shortly before 1pm we leave for the next place, Flakstad, a small village on the northern coast with a sandy beach. When we arrive there at 1:10pm the sky is overcast again and it is windy. We only stay for a few minutes, then drive to the next place, Ramberg.

Ramberg is impressive. it is on a huge, circular bay and has a very big white sand beach. The sea water is turquoise and crystal clear. The sun is shining again, which makes the beach look even better. This town is more developed than the other ones, perhaps because of this beach (I'm guessing this place is heavily focused on tourists).

We then drive to Fredvang, which is easily reachable because there is a bridge over the fjord. Fredvang is less impressive, meaning that there is no special thing in this place. There is a beach which can be reached by hiking over the coastal ridge to the west side.

Shortly before 3pm we are in Reine, another fishermen village on the southeastern coast of this island. Here there a lots of visitors and because of that, initially we can't find a parking. Finally we find a parking (50 NOK fee for cars if you park between 3pm and 6pm, a bit steep if you only stay half an hour or so).

Reine is wildly cute, cute little red fishermen huts along the coast ("rorbuer"), everything nicely done and set up for tourists. Tourist prices - a souvenir magnet which we usually get for 1 Euro here costs the equivalent of 5 Euro).

We spend one hour in Reine, then take the car and drive to Å i Lofoten. This is another cute fishermen village. The special thing about this place is that there is the stockfish museum (which we skip, as the kids are not interested).

We explore this place a bit, then shortly before 5pm take the car and drive towards Moskenes. Along the way we stop in a supermarket and buy some food.

The reason to go to Moskenes is to catch the ferry to Bodø. This is a car ferry and leaves at 6pm. On board of the ferry we have coverage with the LTE network for almost the entire duration of the trip (3 1/2 hours).

We arrive in Bodø around 10pm and reach the camping in Saltstraumen around 10:40pm.




6.8: Saltstraumen -> Storforshei (Svartisen NP)
Krokstrand AS, Storforshei. 1200 NOK for a large cottage with two bedrooms, a fully furnished kitchen, a livingroom (but without TV), bathroom with shower. Very clean, nice and newly built. Located next to a small river in the middle of nowhere (the nearest supermarket is 30 minutes by car away). No WLAN in the cottage (the signal is too weak).
Weather: early morning it's sunny blue sky, but after 10am it's overcast and rains almost the entire day (very light non-stop rain). Top temperatures around 16°C.

We leave the camping at 11:30am, then initially drive to a supermarket for some food and drinks. Then I refuel the car at the adjacent gas pump. Only 12.20 NOK for a litre of diesel. Everywhere else the price for diesel was 15 NOK/litre, but here it is so much cheaper.

I was thinking of seeing the maelstrom water vortex in the fjord, but the time is not suitable (it starts after 1pm) and it's raining. So we just leave for the Saltfjellet-Svartisen national park.

The road is for a large section (before we hit the E6 national road) quite bad. Poor surface, very narrow.

At some point we cross the Polar Arctic circle. This happens on a plateau at 680 m of altitude. At this point there is a hotel.

We reach the hotel in Storforshei before 3pm and check in. Shirley and the kids decide to stay in the cottage, while I will continue to the Svartisvattnet lake, from where the ferry to the glacier leaves.

I'll reach Svartisvattnet by 4pm. The problem is that it is still raining and the visibility is bad. In addition, the last boat to the glacier has left already (these boats leave at 10am, 12pm and 2pm). The boat (adult: 250 NOK, child: 100 NOK - very expensive considering the short distance) crosses the lake and after that it's a one hour (3km) walk to the place where you can see the glacier.

While there I meet a family of Germans who have been travelling since July 10th in Norway. Some discussion about out trips across Norway.

Around 4:45pm I leave this place and drive to a supermarket close to Mo i Rana, where I buy some food for dinner. I'm back in Storforshei by 6:30pm.





7.8: Storforshei -> Svartisen glacier -> Vefsn
House in the mountains near Mosjoen (in Vefsn), 87 Euro. Complete house with two bedrooms and additional sleeping opportunity on the roof for two people. Fully furnished kitchen. bathroom with shower and washing machine. No WLAN (Internet) in the house. The house is in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt track, near a farm. Idyllic and peaceful place. Lots of mosquitoes.
Weather: in the morning it's still raining and overcast until about 10am. After that the sun comes out and the sky is essentially blue except for a few clouds. Top temperature of 22°C.

In the morning we leave the Krokstrand place at 10:30am and drive to Svartisvattnet, the starting point of the ferry to the Svartisen glacier. Expensive boat tocket (250 NOK per person). We will take the 12pm boat. Return boats today leave at 12:40pm, 2:40pm, 3:30pm and 5pm.

The boat leaves at 12pm with only about a dozen paying customers. The 4-5 km trip on the Svartisvattnet lake takes about 20 minutes. We then start walking.

From the jetty it's 3km of an easy walk, mostly on granite rocks, until you reach the Svartisen glacier. Not sure why this glacier is called "black ice" (= svart is), because the ice is very white (and a bit blueish).

Along the path you pass by a huge waterfall (not very high, but carrying a lot of water).

There are perhaps not more than 20-30 people today at the glacier. The weather is perfect: the right temperature, sunshine, little wind. Only close to the glacier there is some strong, cold wind.

With lots of stops for photos we reach the glacier at 1:22pm. The view is impressive - this glacier and the surrounding panorama of rocks are really beautiful.

I try to walk from the viewpoint to the actual glacier, and I almost manage to reach the glacier, but the walk is not that easy. To a certain extent you have to climb on rocks. Some sections are quite steep. In addition there are tricky sections with wet, smooth rock surfaces and parts where you have to walk on small stones on a slope.

At 2:10pm I walk back to Shirley, because she wanted to get the 3:30pm boat to return (the 5pm one being too late).

Around 2:30pm we start walking back to the jetty and to go down we only need 45 minutes (with stops).

It's almost 4pm when we are back at the car. We drive to an Extra supermarket near Mo i Rana and buy some food and drinks.

After shopping it's already 5:10pm. We start driving to the house in Vefsn. With a couple stops along the way, we reach the place at almost 7pm.

There we move into the house and meet Ingrid, the owner or caretaker of this place. Ingrid is a very friendly lady and spends some time explaining the place and the surroundings. She mentions that molteberries (yellow forest berries) grow near this place.

In the evening, after dinner we will wallk in the forest near the house searching for molteberries (we find the plants, but only find three berries).

Then we book accomodation in Trondheim, our next place. Actually we don't book accomodation in Trondheim, because that is too expensive. We book it in Fannrem, which is 40 minutes by car from Trondheim.




8.8: Vefsn -> Farnhem (near Trondheim)
Half of a wooden house in Buan Gård, a small place 52km from Trondheim. The house is in the middle of the nature, adjacent to a farm with animals. It's complete, meaning that there are (small) sleeping rooms, a living room, a fully furnished kitchen (stove, fridge+freezer, oven, microwave, dishwasher etc), bathroom with shower + washing machine + dryer. WLAN is included, but the signal is poor. We actually were thinking of staying in Trondheim, but hotels in Trondheim are just to absurdly expensive, so we booked a place via Airbnb.
Weather: in the morning sunny with clouds. Later the temperature climbs to 25°C. Gradual cloud buildup, then between 4pm and 5pm is rains and the temperatures drop to 16°C. In the evening it's dry again.

We leave the forest house in Vefsn at 11:05am and start driving towards Trondheim. In total we'll be driving over six hours today. The road is initially a dirt track, until we hit the E6. From that on it's a good road, with speed limits up to 90 km/h. Around Trondheim we are on a motorway with a 100km/h speed limit for a few km.

Not sure why Norwegians are so obsessed with speed limits and fine people so much for exceeding these speed limits. There are road sections where one could safely drive faster than 80 km/h, but still there is this speed limit of 80km/h.

Around 2pm we stop in a Rema 1000 supermarket along the way. There we buy some drinks and food and refuel the car.

Then at 5:40pm we stop at the Hell train station near Trondheim for some pictures.

Around 6:30pm we reach the City Syd mall south of Trondheiim. We buy food and drinks and then drive ot the house where we will be staying the next three nights.




9.8: Trondheim
Wooden house in Buan Gård. This morning the girls play with the goats who live on the farm. It seems that after about 10-11pm they switch off the Internet for some reason.
Weather: overcast in the morning. The sky gradually opens up during the day and after 5pm it's mostly blue. Top temperature of 17°C.

Day spent visiting Trondheim (45-50 minutes to drive from Buan Gård to the fortress; we park for free at the fortress). The highlights are the Kristiansen fortress and especially the Nidaros cathedral (120 NOK entry ticket). The Nidaros cathedral is perfectly preserved and very nicely built.

Trondheim contains a handful of old buildings, but a historic, medieval core is not visible. I guess if there was one it has been destroyed, because most of the buildings in Trondheim are relatively new or max. 100-200 years old. In any case Trondheim is a nice, clean city, with its own special look and architecture.

We are in town until 6:30pm, then drive back to the apartment.





10.8: Trondheim
Wooden house in Buan Gård
Weather: sunny, blue sky with barely a cloud for the whole day. Top temperatures around 20°C. No rain, very little wind.

We leave the apartment and drive towards Trondheim. Along the way we stop to refuel the car. At about 12:50pm we are at the Liamvatnet lake, a small lake west of Trondheim with nice forest around it and a trail. We do once the trail around the lake. On a meadow people are getting tanned and there is even a small beach with sand. We find blueberries and raspberries in the forest.

Around 1:30pm we walk back to the car and drive to the Sverresborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum, sort of an open air museum with a display of old Norwegian houses (ticket: 180 NOK). There is an indoor exhibition of old Norwegian things in the building, then outside there are (not sure if real or replicas) old Norwegian houses from the 19th century or so, from rural and city environments. Kind of interesting, but less intereesting than similar open air museums in Bucharest or Stockholm for instance.

After one hour and a half in this place, at 3:15pm we drive into town and park the car in the parking of the Torg mall (which at 30 NOK/hour is cheaper than parking on the street with the easypark app (40 NOK/hour).

The Torg mall is very nice internally. Not very big, but nicely set up and decorated. It's a stylish place, designed to make visitors feel comfortable. Prices for everything are high.

While Shirley and the kids have a buffet meal (229 NOK for an adult, 110 NOK for a child) in the Thai restaurant in the mall, I use the time to walk around the city centre and take some pictures.

At 5:30pm we take the car to the Solsiden mall near the waterfront. Again another beautifully set up mall along the waterfront, with shops, cafes, restaurants etc. Hard to describe in words. They have basically blended old harbour buildings with modern elements, using this kind of Norwegian design.

At 6:30pm we walk back to the car and drive towards Buan Gård. On the way we stop in an Extra supermarket and buy some food and drinks.





11.8: Trondheim -> Kristiansund -> Oceanic road to Ålesund
Apartment of Kjetil (Airbnb) in Ålesund. 108 Euro per night for a few rooms (two bedrooms, toilet with shower, common room). Good fast WLAN. 4km out of Ålesund. The big problem of this place is that there is no kitchen (and no washing machine, never mind). There is just a microwave oven on a table, a water boiler, some dishes + wooden cutlery and a small fridge. Otherwise the host is friendly and helpful.
Weather: a mix of sunny/blue sky and overcast sky. No rain. Top temperatures around 18°C.

We leave Trondheim at 11:10am and start driving towards Kristiansund. We are there after a ferry crossing (where we can't pay - they tell us somebody will send us the bill to Germany) by 2:30pm. We spend some time there, then leave for the oceanic panoramic road to Molde.

This is quite nice, but perhaps a bit overrated, at least for us. We have seen enough of these coastal roads with bridges in the Lofoten islands.

We then proceed to the Askevågen viewpoint, which is recommended in the Lonely Planet guidebook. This is actually nothing so special, just a glass platform with a view over the islands. When we arrive some people are there fishing.

So we drive to Ålesund where we arrive after another ferry crossing (Molde-Vestnes) and a stop in a supermarket at 9:10pm.





12.8: Ålesund
Apartment of Kjetil in Ålesund.
Weather: perfect weather: no wind, not cold, not too warm, sunny blue sky the whole day, almost no cloud in the sky.

After 11am we leave the apartment and walk up the mountain trail behind the house until we reach the main trail. Then we walk on that until we reach a number of viewpoints. The last viewpoint, the Kniven viewpoint, offers a great view of Ålesund.

Ålesund itself is a beautiful city with cute buidlings, on the water, with canals. A bit like Venice, just more pretty. Everything in the city centre is neat, there is water everywhere, small bays, channels, elegant buildings. On a sunny day with a blue sky like this it really shines.

We spend some time exploring Ålesund, then walk back to the apartment.

In the evening I'm back in town for some blue hour photography.





13.8: Ålesund -> Trollstigen -> Geirangerfjord -> Nordberg
Wooden cottage in Furuly camping in Nordberg. 84 Euro for a wooden cottage with two small bedrooms, a toliet + shower (small 30 litres hot water container), living room with kitchen area (fridge, stove, microwave, kitchen utensils). Small vacuum tube TV in the livingroom. Booked with Airbnb.
Weather: rain, overcast and poor visibility early morning in Ålesund. When we check out, luckily it has stopped raining, but it will start raining again later. When we reach Trollstigen it rains and the sky is overcast. By the time we leave, it has stopped raining. In Geiranger the sky is overcast, but it rains only a little bit. Dalsnibba is fully covered with clouds (zero visibility) according to the webcam and has 0°C. The whole day the temperatures range between 16°C and 18°C. In the evening in Nordberg the sun shines again and there are only a few clouds in the sky.

Today we drive 284 km (total of 5 hours of driving). In practice, including all the stops we make, we are on the way for over eight hours (between 11am and 7:20pm).

Leaving the apartment in Ålesund around 11am in the morning, we drive to Trollstigen. The last few km of the road before the viewpoint are cool - narrow and steep winding road in a scary scenery, which is made even more dramatic by the clouds and the bad weather. On a sunny day this place would lose a bit of its drama.

Shortly before 2pm we continue driving towards Geiranger. The road now is a bit less dramatic, but the scenery is still cool (black rocks, alpine/arctic vegetation, waterfalls, streams, snow patches).

Brief stop in Validal to buy some food in a Spar supermarket. Short car ferry from Linge to Eidsdal at 3:30pm.

The Geirangerfjord would be impressive if we had better visibility and sun (steep, tall mountain walls falling straight into the sea).

At 4:20pm we are in Geiranger. Very touristic place with hotels, shops, ferry terminal. Today there are not that many tourists, but I can imagine that in normal times this small city probably is very crowded.

We skip Dalsnibba (no point driving up to 1500m, paying 200 NOK, if the visibility is 0) and drive directly to Nordberg, where our accomodation is. On the way we cross a mountain range. At the highest point we are at 1040m of altitude. Immediately below the mountain pass there is a hut and a lake. The environment looks similar to the Alps above 3000m, but here it's just 1000m of altitude.

Then it's one more stop in a supermarket in Nordberg, where we buy our dinner (precooked dishes, which you only have to heat in a pot, pan or microwave oven).

When we reach the point indicated by the Airbnb app in Google Maps, we are in the middle of nowhere in a farm. Quick check with Google Maps for "Furuly camping" and we find the camping (it's 20km away from the point indicated by the Airbnb app). Seems like the Airbnb app has the wrong coordinates. At 7:20pm we are in the Furuly camping.





14.8: Nordberg -> Lom -> Sognefjellet road -> Bøyabreen glacier viewpoint -> Sogndal
Apartment between Sogndal and Kaupanger, booked via Airbnb. 110 Euro for a big apartment with three bedrooms, two toilets (one with shower) and a combined kitchen / livingroom with table, chairs and sofa. The kitchen is fully equipped with everything, including fridge+freezer, dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave. Everything spotlessly clean and quite high level. Most luxury place we've been so far in Norway. The apartment is in the basement of a villa with a beautiful and carefully set up garden.
Weather: beautiful sunny day, blue sky with a few clouds, no wind, top temperatures of 22°C. No rain.

We leave the camping at 11am and drive to Lom, where we have a look at the local stave church (ticket: 90 NOK). Very nice wooden building, interesting interior. Quite a few visitors today, i.e. you can see this place is a touristic highlight.

After that we get back to the car and start driving towards Sogndal using the Sognefjellet road. This is supposed to be a scenic road and in fact it really is. Hard to describe in words, but the scenery along this road is very photogenic. The road climbs up to about 1450m of altitude (well above the tree line). At its highest level you are surrounded by glaciers, snow patches, rocks, lakes, rivers and meadows.

Brief stop at 12:35pm at Sagasøylen, a pillar with motives from Norwegian sagas carved on it.

Along the central part of the road, at an altitude of 1200m and above, we basically stop every few km, to take pictures of the scenery (countless spots with car parkings and marked viewpoints).

After the interesting area is over, the road descends rapidly from 1400m to sea level with a series of steep serpentines and narrow curves. I use too much the brakes with the results that the wheel rims get quite hot (you can smell burnt rubber, probably of the tyres).

Picturesque scenery once down (Eidsvatnet lake with reflections of Skjolden village).

We continue driving and after a few more stops we are at the Bøyabreen glacier viewpoint at 5:10pm. The road between Sogndal and Bøyabreen by the way is good (smooth surface, wide enough, wide curves; two long tunnels of 1.6 and 6.5 km).

In Bøyabreen you can park at a first parking or drive a bit further to the second parking. From there it's a short trail to a lake at the bottom of the glacier. Impressive view of the steep mountain walls and the glacier on top. The Bøyabreen viewpoint is at 150m of altitude.

After the glacier we drive back to Sogndal. There we buy some food and drinks, then drive to the apartment. At the apartment there is a young guy (perhaps the son of the owner) waiting for us. He shows us the accomodation for tonight.





15.8: Sogndal -> Borgund -> Stegastein -> Bergen
Room in the Midttun Motell & Camping. 960 NOK for a room with a small kitchen corner with a stove, fridge and some kitchen utensils. Attached toilet with shower. Free WLAN, reasonably fast. If I compare this place with the apartments where we have stayed until now it's not exactly great value (actually it sucks a bit). You can use the washing machine for the clothes, but have to pay 40 NOK.
Weather: nice sunny day with a blue sky and no clouds. Top temperatures of 23-24°C, no rain.

We check out at 11am and drive towards Borgund. On the way we take the 11:40am ferry from Mannheller to Fodnes. With a few stops along the way (petrol station and two scenic spots) we reach the Borgund stave church at 12:45pm.

The parking is about 200m from the church. 100 NOK fee to enter the church (actually without the ticket they won't even let you enter the outer compound).

After the church we have a look at the nearby Kongevegn, some 18th century road across the mountains with curves and old stones.

It's almost 2pm when we start driving to the Stegastein viewpoint. The road passes through the Lærdal tunnel, which is 24.5 km long. Inside the tunnel there are three caverns which are illuminated with blue and green light and with parking areas. Quite scenic.

The tunnel ends close to Aurlandsvangen. We stop there and buy some food and drinks in a supermarket. After that we take the road to the Stegastein viewpoint. This is a bad mountain road, which in some places has only one lane. You have to be careful and stop in the larger sections to let the traffic from the opposite direction drive through (or they stop and let you drive through).

At 3:30pm we are at the Stegastein viewpoint. This is at 650m of altitude and gives a cool view over the Aurland fjord. Some people fly drones to shoot cool pictures.

Then it's the same road down to Aurlandsvangen (convoy of cars behind me, while I slowly navigate down to the sea level). Once down there we drive towards Bergen.

The road is now much better, especially the last 70-80km before Bergen. There is even a short stretch of motorway, with however the ridicolous speed limit of 80km/h. Very hard to understand why they don't allow at least 120-130 km/h.

At 7:30pm we are in the centre of Bergen, close to the waterfront. Brief stroll along the waterfront. Pretty cool environment on this Saturday evening. There are lots of people, lots of life, nice background. Then we drive to the hotel, arriving there at 8:20pm.






16.8: Bergen
Midttun Motell. This morning I notice that the shower is very good - plenty of water.
Weather: perfect weather, sunny, spotless blue sky, no wind, top temperature of 23°C (in the sun it feels hotter). In the evening after 9pm the sky gets overcast. No rain.

In the morning we leave the hotel after 11am and drive to the Mount Floyen viewpoint (323m asl) near Bergen. That is we try to drive, because the road ends 1.6 km from this viewpoint at about 180m of altitude.

We park the car and walk over a good easy trail to the viewpoint. Along the way we meet a lot of people. Seems that the whole of Bergen this morning is either climbing up to Mt Floyen or down from Mt Floyen to Bergen.

At 12:15pm we are at the viewpoint. This is a huge thing: there is a very big viewing platform, a big cafe restaurant, several other buidlings and other stuff. I'm guessing that there must be a paved road leading to this place, because otherwise all these businesses operating here couldn't be serviced.

 Anyway, the view from this place is fantastic. Also the light and the fresh air contribute to the great feeling.

After 1pm we start walking down to the car. Once in the car we drive to the Kloster Garasjen parking (18 NOK/hour) where we park the car.

Then we start exploring the centre of Bergen. Shirley immediately spots a McDonalds restaurant, so we stop there for some quick food. After that we continue having a look at Bergen.

The centre of Bergen is definitely cute and there are also a few old buildings, mainly in the Bryggen area. On the other hand, there are very few buildings which look older than 100-200 years. Perhaps it's because of this Norwegian wood architecture, because wooden buildings don't last as long as stone ones. Essentially Bergen as a whole is an overwhelmingly modern city with only a very small historic core.

By 4:30pm Shirley has had enough of Bergen and we drive back to the hotel.

Later in the day, after 6pm I drive back into town for a few more photos. While in town I notice that there lots of men here are wearing shorts and bermudas. Lots of women wear either short shorts, miniskirts or short dresses. As if they just returned from a beach holiday (and in fact quite a few people you meet on the streets are tanned) and want to preserve the holiday feeling by wearing beach attire. I guess as long as the summer lasts (right now it's the last few weeks and then it's a long winter).

I'm back in the hotel at 9pm. Tomorrow we drive to Oslo.





17.8: Bergen -> Oslo
Apartment in Oslo, rented via Airbnb. 87 Euro for a small apartment with two bedrooms, livingroom + kitchen, toilet with shower, washing machine and clothes dryer. The kitchen is fully equipped and of good standard (everything looks like new). The entire apartment is stylish and elegant, spotlessly clean and modern. Good WLAN available. A garage parking is included.
Weather: early morning it's still cloudy, but from 9am onwards it's sunny with a blue sky and some clouds every now and then. Top temperatures of 27°C. Probably I'll wear shorts tomorrow (like everybody else is doing right now in Norway).

In the morning we check out around 10:30am and start driving towards Oslo. On the way we stop at a petrol station to refuel the car. This time the diesel costs 13.10 NOK/litre, which is a good price in Norway. Later in the day we'll see prices in the 14-15 NOK/litre at various petrol stations and 12.65 NOK at one.

At 12:40pm we make a stop at the Skjervfossen waterfall. Here there is a parking area with a cool elegant toilet and tables for picnic. There are a couple of trails leading to different viewpoints. It would also be possible to drive further down the road for another view of the waterfall.

The next stop is the Hardanger bridge at 1:30pm, a 1380m long suspension bridge across the Eid fjord. This bridge starts immediately at the exit of a long tunnel, i.e. you exit tunnel and are immediately on this bridge. Technically the bridge is quite impressive - one big arch spanning the entire fjord.

We then continue driving and after a couple of short stops at 2:30pm we have a look at the Vøringsfossen waterfall. Also here there is a big parking and a trail leading to a viewpoint. Later I notice that there is a second viewpoint with a viewing platform further up the mountain.

Later we cross the Hardangervidda, a large mountain plateau. This is less scenic, because everything is more or less plain and there are no or few peaks or rock formations.

Shortly before 6pm we stop at the stave church in Gol. After buying some food in a REMA supermarket we reach the apartment in Oslo at 8:45pm.






18.8: Oslo
Apartment in Oslo.
Weather: sunny, blue sky, but a bit less blue than in other places in Norway. Could be the pollution of the air or some very thin clouds layer. Quite hot (top temperature of 27°C, people are swimming in the sea until the late evening), no rain.

Day spent exploring Oslo. I'm a bit disappointed - Oslo it not as nice and cute as the other Norwegian cities I've seen so far. It's a huge and messy city (compared to other Norwegian cities). There is much less waterfont in Oslo than in the other Norwegian cities (relatively dull coastline). Lots of ugly buildings and not enough cute or old ones to make up for the ugly buildings.

There is also no medieval core (cute old buildings, cobblestone streets etc). It's as if everything or almost everything in Oslo is at most 100-200 years old, or as if everything old had somehow been destroyed.

In the morning we face the problem that parking in Oslo is insanely expensive. A parking close to the city centre costs up to 100 NOK/hour (and we'll probably need to park the car for 5-6 hours). In the end we drive to the Kongen parking which is the cheapest at 13 NOK/hour, even if it is quite far away from the centre (2km walk).

By the way, driving into Oslo involves taking some undersea tunnels, where Google Maps doesn't work properly and it's easy to take the wrong exit and get lost.

The Kongen parking is full. So we open the parkopedia app and choose another parking for 20 NOK/hour (also a bit far away from the city centre). This place is not full, but the garage smells like pee. In any case we leave the car there and walk towards the centre of Oslo (the cathedral).

We quickly reach the central area with pedestrian streets, shops, people etc. Shirley and especially the kids switch into shopping mode and get stuck in a shop for ladies products. I leave them there and spend the time having a look around.

After that we walk to the royel castle. This is in a big park. The royal palace is, well, a bit underwhelming (if compared to royal palaces in other countries). On the other hand there is a change of the guard performance, with soldiers in traditional uniforms.

 From the royal palace we walk to the Akerhus fortress, which, well, looks better in the pictures than in reality. There is some park and some oldish buildings, but that's it. Not exactly terribly impressive.

After the fortress we walk to the waterfront with the opera house. That's really nice. Great view of the building from the distance.

After approaching the opera house we discover the train station which is nicely integrated with a shopping mall. Next to this mall there is another mall, the Oslo city mall.

It's now almost 5pm and we walk back to the car and drive back to the apartment (stop in a supermarket along the way to buy some food - this supermarket doesn't have its own free parking for customers).

In the evening after 8pm I'll go again into town for some blue hour photography. This time I drive to the Tjuvholmen area (parking is 60 NOK/hour even in the evening). Tjuvholmen is a pretty cool place, with a very stylish and modern museum, a nice waterfront and a beach area. I'm back in the apartment after 11pm.






19.8: Oslo
Apartment in Oslo
Weather: in the morning overcast, then after 12pm the sky opens up and for the rest of the say it's sunny and blue sky with a few clouds here and there. Less warm than yesterday (perhaps 23-24°C max) and some wind.

We leave the apartment after 12pm and get to the car. Then we drive to the Ekeberg park, a public park on a hill southeast of Oslo, known for the statues which are spread in the park (all modern art). It's a bit confusing at the park entrance, because it says cars are not allowed in, but then there is a road and a restaurant with a parking. In the end we drive in and park at this parking.

I was actually looking for the famous set of statues of the naked people, but it turns out that these statues are not there. They are in another park, the Frogner park. So we walk a loop in this park (by the way, some statues are quite interesting) and at 1:40pm we get back to the car and drive to the Viking ship museum.

The Viking ship museum (ticket: 120 NOK) is small but very interesting, because it contains two complete Viking ships, the remains of another one (only the bottom part) and other artifacts of the Viking period (probably 10th century).

We spend some time in this museum and then around 2:45pm get back to the car. Then we drive to the Frogner park, which is only a few km away.

It turns out that the Frogner park is wildly beautiful, with trees, meadows, lots of flowers and art and statues everywhere. Strange that the guidebooks don't mention this place - we would have almost missed it. Not sure why so much effort was put into the creation of this park, because it is far away from the centre of Oslo and there is no apparent reason for its existence.

In any case, we spend about one hour in this place. Then, as the kids are getting hungry (as usual on this trip we skip the lunch), we drive to the McDonalds restaurant in Majorstuen. I chose this place, because it's the closest fast food restaurant to the park, but this Majorstuen area seems to be very interesting and full of life. Lots of shops, people, activity.

Norwegian women you meet on the streets in Oslo wear overwhelmingly sexy stuff (shorts, miniskirts etc.). In the parks you find young women getting suntanned, wearing tiny little bikinis which do not cover much. I guess that the winter in Norway is long and when the summer is here, people want to get the most of it, especially if the day is sunny.

Not many people wear surgical masks. On the streets only a few people, more in buses (actually on one bus I notice lots of people wearing masks). But otherwise in shops and restaurants people do not bother wearing masks.

After the McDonalds we drive to Tjuvholmen. There we spend some time walking around, checking the area. The grass area in front of the Astrup Fearnley museum is now full of people in swimsuits (mostly young people). Lots of people swimming in the sea.

The cafes and restaurants in Tjuvholmen are also full of people, as well as the entire area. We go to a Coop supermarket and buy some food for dinner, then drive back to the apartment.

In the evening after 9pm I'm back in town for some blue hour photography (Opera museum and central station area).

Then, later in the evening I receive an email and SMS from Fjordline, the company operating the ferry from Kristiansand to Hirsthals. The 3pm ferry we were planning to take tomorrow has been cancelled. They mention that they will contact us for rebooking or cancellation.

After some brief checking I decide to drive to Denmark via Sweden instead of taking the ferry. Luckily the location where I am planning to stop for the night is Odense, which is located relatively conveniently.




20.8: Oslo -> Odense
Hotel Cabinn Odense. Worst deal I've had in a while - maybe I should complain to booking.com. We pay 115 Euro for a tiny little room in a small city in Denmark. The room is slightly bigger than a train compartment - probably it has 9 or 10 m². They manage to squeeze four bunk beds, a small table with two chairs, an LCD TV and a toilet which has the size of a shower cabin. Actually the room is well equipped and quite high tech, it's just that it is far too small for this price. There is no A/C despite the fact that when we check in, the room is very hot. We are forced to sleep with the open window. WLAN is included.
In the morning the room is still hot, even if outside it's raining with temperatures around 20°C) and the window has been open for most of the night. It must be impossible to stay in this place when the outside temperature is above 25°C. This room has a serious heat problem.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some clouds in Oslo. Mostly overcast and some rain in Sweden. Heavy rain in Denmark, but then in the evening the sky is blue in Odense.

Today we will drive across Norway and Sweden to Odense (Denmark). Total of 760 km, doable in eight hours. In the morning I call Fjordline and they offer to rebook me on the 2pm ferry from Langesund. I decline, because this ferry arrives at 7pm in Hirsthals, which is too late.

We start driving at 10:20am. Initially we stop at a Rema supermarket where we get rid of the empty bottles. Then we quickly get on the motorway to Sweden. The speed limit gradually increases from 70 km/h to 110 km/h (close to the border to Sweden). In Sweden it's 110 km/h and later 120 km/h (the last section before we enter Denmark). In Denmark the motorway initially is limited to 110 km/h and later to 130 km/h.

We cross the bridge from Malmö to Copenhagen (Öresund bridge, 460 DKK) and later the Storebält bridge (245 DKK).

Overall the drive is ok. I've been driving for eight hours, but in the evening I don't feel tired. Probably it's because it was all motorway and there was little traffic.

At 7:25pm we stop in a mall a few km out of Odense, where we have some fast food in a KFC restaurant. Then we drive to the hotel and check in.

Shortly before 9pm I walk into town for some blue hour photography. Despite the coronavirus pandemic cafes, restaurants and pubs are full of people.





21.8: Odense -> Bremen
B&L Guesthouse, Bremen. 85 Euro for an apartment with two bedrooms and a toilet with shower. One of the bedrooms has a kitchen corner with fridge, stove, microwave and kitchen equipment (you can cook). The other is bigger and has a big glass table with two chairs, an LCD TV and a cupboard or the clothes. Small corridor room where you can place stuff. Overall quite spacious place (lots of place), huge difference to the claustrophobic Cabinn hotel in Odense, where you step on each other's feet.
Weather: overcast and even some very light rain (which quickly stops) in the morning in Odense, but not cold (around 22°C). By the time we leave (at 2pm) the sun has already come out and the sky is blue. Then it's sunny blue sky until close to Bremen, where there is some rain (maybe 20 minutes). In the evening in Bremen it doesn't rain and there is a nice blue sky with a few clouds. Top temperatures around 27°C.

We check out around 10:30am from the Cabinn hotel and load the luggage on the car. Then we park the car in a parking and start our tour of Odense. We quickly get to birth house of Hans Christian Andersen, and are told that we need to get the tickets at the museum. So we walk to the museum, get the tickets (120 DKK per adult, kids under 18 are free) and have a look at the museum. It's nicely made with several exhibits about the life of H.C. Andersen. Even my girls, who rarely care about museums, are interested. After the museum we walk to the birth house, have a look and then continue exploring Odense.

Shortly after 12pm we have a lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant. Then we visit the childhood home of H.C.Andersen. Finally we walk back to the car.

It's 2pm when we finally start driving towards Bremen (brief stop in a REMA 1000 supermarket for some drinks). Google Maps already indicates over five hours of driving to get to Bremen, caused by a one hour traffic jam around Hamburg. Unfortunately there is no alternative route to avoid this traffic jam. For some reason we have to go through the motorway.

While in Denmark, the traffic on the motorway is moderate.

Once in Germany we speed up to 160 km/h and more. Finally we can drive at much higher speed on a much better motorway.

The feeling of freedom doesn't last long, because we quickly reach the Hamburg traffic jam. It starts a number of km before the tunnel under the Elbe river and makes us lose over an hour. To a certain extent the traffic jam is caused by the very brainless way the traffic is handled: in two places they let two lanes converge into one for no reason. One or two km after the lanes have converged, the supposedly blocked lane is not blocked at all and you can again use it. Why let lanes converge into one for no reason?

Then in one section there is an 80km/h speed limit which makes no sense. Looks like they just forgot to remove it. Very sloppy way of handling the traffic.

We reach Bremen at 8:30pm and park the car. While Shirley and the kids have some dinner, I walk to the historic city centre for some blue hour photography. Very, very nice historic core.

After dinner I pick up the ladies and we reach the hotel shortly before 10pm.






22.8: Bremen
B&L guesthouse, Bremen. The Internet connection in this place comes and goes...
Weather: more fresh than yesterday (in the morning I initially wear a light jacket). Sunny with clouds which intermittently cover the sun until about 5pm. Then it rains for an hour and in the evening it's dry again and the sky is blue.

Day spent with Bremen sightseeing. We leave the apartment quite late (it's almost 12pm). Initially I drive to the airport, then into town.

After leaving the car in a parking we walk towards the city hall square. On the way we split - Shirley and the girls do some shopping, while I walk around a bit.

Bremen is cute, but the very special part of the city is very small - only a few buildings in medieval style around the city hall. Once you have seen that, there is not much else left worth seeing.


I go to the train station which has a nice facade and then to the trade fair building. After that I'm back in the city centre and meet Shirley and the kids. By the way, there is an LGBT demo (rainbow flags on the city hall and another building).

We have some late lunch at 3pm in a Chinese restaurant (food is so-so). After 4pm we drive to the Waterfront Bremen mall, a shopping mall a few km northwest of the city centre. The mall is modern, has a number of shops and retail outlets, a Lidl supermarket and a food court. The food court makes a good impression (lots of choice). We should have come here for eating.

By the time we get out of the mall after 5pm it is just starting to rain. We rush to the Lidl supermarket where I buy some food and drinks, then drive back to the guesthouse.

In the evening after 8:30pm I get back into town for some blue hour photography.



23.8: Bremen -> Nürnberg -> Munich
Home, sweet home.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some clouds. Top temperature of 24°C. The whole day no rain.

We leave the apartment around 10:30am and drive to a petrol station, where we refuel the car. Then we start driving towards Munich.

It's a relatively easy drive, almost totally on German motorways. There are just 2-3 traffic jams, the longest causing a delay of about 20 minutes.

At 5:40pm we stop in Nürnberg and have some early dinner. Then we walk a bit around Nürnberg. Right now there is a fun fair in the central square. Lots of people, perhaps too many considering the pandemic situation we are having.

We continue driving towards Munich at 7:15pm and reach home at 9:07pm.


Copyright 2020 Alfred Molon