As I left Belgium, the mood was not good, even the damn music I listened to was talking about loneliness and the weather was cloudy and disturbingly depressing. I was supposed to ride 300 km that day to a camp in Holland; I rode like a maniac 690 km all the way to Northern Germany to a village I don't know the name of and slept in a camp out in the bush, with no one in sight. I wasn't going to stop for few days anywhere until I got to Norway. I rode to Flensburg the next day, then Frederikshavn, Denmark, where again I camped in a place all by myself as the season is only starting and no one was camping. I took the ferry to Gotheborg, Sweden and I was supposed to camp in Sweden somewhere, but rain was on me yet again, and I decided to just ride. I ended up somewhere between Honefoss and Klaeken in Norway, in a beautiful village. Norway was beginning to show its beauty from the moment I crossed the border. It would be the start of a shocking journey, of a solo ride that would take me so far through 7 mountain ranges, 5 fjords and extremes of weather, from 1 degree on top of mountains covered with snow to 21 degrees in Hardangerfjord, camping in a cherry orchard in paradise. I decided to split in 2 episodes my Scandinavian tale, mainly because of distances (over 3000 km so far and still 3000 more to Helsinki) and because of the amount of photos I collected. It is impossible to give you a just idea of what I am seeing in one post with 30-40 photos. I have over 600 so far and they keep on piling. I do 400 km in 9 hours because I stop a lot and film and take photos. Below you will understand...
Norway so far has climbed to the 2nd most beautiful country in the world (in my book), a short second after New Zealand. West Coast of Canada comes 3rd, Alaska and Northern Canada 4th, South Africa 5th, Namibia 6th, Vietnam 7th, Australia 8th, Vanuatu 9th, Morocco 10th, in case you wondered what the 10 top countries of this traveler are.
Norway has managed to shock me to the core of my soul, because the diversity and marvel of this country are hard to describe. Mountains few thousand meters high, packed with snow and minutes later you find yourself at the bottom of a canyon sitting on the beach of a fjord with perfectly clear waters surrounded by small villages with red houses reflecting in the mirror below. Hardangerfjord is home to more than 400.000 fruit trees, lining the slopes of the snow capped mountains above, all the way to the waterline. Peaches, cherries, pears, apples and plums, all were in bloom when I was there (May is the perfect time to visit Hardangerfjord, apparently), releasing their perfumes everywhere and making this place look like out of a Heidi story in the Swiss Alps. The farmers there supply more than 60% of Norway's fruit from an area of about 10 km long.
From Hardanger I headed to the famous Geirangerfjord, 500 km north through some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever been in my life. Rugged mountains with extremely steep slopes where roads were built, waving their way down in the valleys, immense tunnels dug through the belly of the mountains (I was lucky to ride through the Laerdal Tunnel, the longest in the world, stretching 25 km through a massive mountain. These people didn't just built tunnels, they build parking spaces with blue lights (see below) and even roundabouts, sending you to different directions right there under the massive rock. They didn't even bother to cement the tunnels but left them carved into the stone for a natural look. Apparently, the granite is so strong, they don't need to do anything else but to carve their way through it. It was very humbling to ride my bike through these tunnels, especially that many of the smaller ones don't even have lighting so you have to really feel your way through them (not good for me, as I ride with tinted goggles, making me completely blind inside these tunnels).
Their standard of life is higher than anywhere I have been before, and the prices reflect that: I was lucky to buy all my food in Germany otherwise I would have been forced to beg here. With my kind of daily budget (25 Euro, food, gas, accommodation) I couldn't even serve a proper breakfast here. On the other hand, all water in Norway is safe to drink and everywhere you turn, even in the smallest, most remote village, the facilities are impeccable.
I arrived in Trondheim exhausted, cold to my bones and excited in the same time, for having crossed all those mountains, through so many landscapes and places and seeing so much beauty. My mind is still racing with the images that entered my eyes. I wish I was a professional photographer with professional equipment to capture all that I have seen, but I managed to capture images that will be with me for a long time. I was just lucky I guess to arrive here on my own terms, riding my own bike and having the freedom to choose where and how long to stay.
From here on, Finmark will start soon with the Sami people and their beautiful locations and herds of reindeer. I only hope I can reach Nordkapp without having to freeze on the way there.
For a great website for bikers, click here:
The morning I left from Hardanger, I had a neighbor, which is rare, as I usually camp alone. His Land Rover reminded me of my African treks and I took a photo because it was a perfect opportunity