Two days in one blog as we celebrate our arrival in to Norway.
Monday 16 May
The weather was back to full on sunshine, so what better time to do a spot of Christmas shopping! Yep, we are off to see a lit
tle village called Dropak which celebrates Christmas all year round. A relaxing drive through the green and fetching countryside dotted with the odd little picket fence. Clearly spring is in the air with the trees budding and little green shoots peaking out from the peat rich soil. The farmers plodding along in their tractors or rounding up the dairy cows for a milking session.
We parked up just outside of village of Dropak and took a stroll down the steep hill to the wooden village with its narrow 18th and 19th century streets. It was extremely quiet but in summer this is a popular place to live and a favourite holiday spot. We tootled over to the rocky waterfront via the largest permanent year round Christmas exhibition with a Christmas House and a post office, run by Father Christmas’s pixie-like helper…but we were too early. Both the Christmas House and the post office were shut until lunch time. However, a great view down Oslofjord and over to the islands certainly made up for the disappointment of seeing a little bit of tinsel and baubles.
A spot of lunch and then off to Oslo, yeah. The 7 kilometre tunnel was certainly an experience. We entered the tunnel and for a kilometre or so everything was fine and then all of sudden the road started to split. With traffic zooming in every direction it was crazy. Jeez, a complete road system inside a tunnel and not one simple sign that says “Oslo”. Every suburb and district and a Tom Tom in ‘tunnel’ snooze mode. Oh dear, where do we head for? We took a punt and prayed for the best. After what seemed like an eternity we popped out in to daylight and to our delight we were on the right road. A couple of left turns and we arrived at our destination, the marina. The marina doubles up and an aire but with not a single motorhome in sight we had the choice of our plot. We parked at the far side right on the waters side with great views out to the posh yachts and a lovely forest area to our rear. Once settled we walked over to pay. We followed all the pay meter signs but clearly all the meters had been removed. Eventually we found one rusty pay meter with a cover over it. Ummm what do we do for paying? We asked a several people where do we pay and they all looked at us blank. Pay? Err, you don’t need to pay. With that we headed back to Vin and commenced the chores. We had bedding, towels and loads of clothes to do as well as the dog’s blanket. A huge afternoon of cleaning, scrubbing and washing everything and anything. We even cleaned out the grey tank, which we do every month or so. It stops the build up and keeps those nasty smells at bay. It felt good to be clean and after all, we need to be well prepared for tomorrow!
Our sleep spot tonight, prime location. Parked right on the waters edge in the middle of Oslo marina with just bobbin boats and the odd duck.
GPS position N059.917759 E010.675013
Route: Son to Oslo
Weather, low 7 high 21. Back to toasty weather, a perfect day for doing the laundry.
Tuesday 17th May
Up at the crack of dawn and well excited. Today, is Norway’s National Day and what a better place to spend it that in the countries capital. We took Mac and Tosh for a good walk before leaving them on guard duty. Then out with our little motorbike and off to the best vantage point for Oslo….Holmenkollen or the ski centre. The venue for the annual Holmenkollen Races and ski jumping events, Norway’s biggest tourist attraction, which have been held here since 1892. Even out of snow season the ski centre is open with a small museum, rifle shooting, cross country skiing and of course a climb to the ski tower offering a superb view over Oslo and the inner Oslofjord. We had a ride all area, to the chapel, the dry sky jump and finally over to the winter park. It was a fab morning and with perfect weather, it just got better and better.
As we started to wind down from Holmankollen we could see small groups and families making their way to the centre. We made our way down through the windy road and headed to the palace. The Norwegians are a deeply patriotic race and the crowds of families were on the streets dressed in either traditional folk costumes, national dress or best bib and tucker. It was so lovely to see and so surprised to see the majority of people (even younger generation) in traditional dress. We parked up the motorbike, followed the crowds and what a delight. The atmosphere was like nothing we have experienced for a long time…it was like stepping back in time. A good old traditional family day with picnic in the park. Everyone was having smiling, laughing and having fun and not a drop of alcohol in sight. No police and no barriers! Wow. At first it felt strange to be amongst large crowds of people and have no police presence or no security guards. But after a while, it felt right and felt good. This is how life should be. People sat on the lawn having picnics and children parading down Karl Johans Gate (main street) and up towards the Royal Palace. Brass bands, singers and musicians providing the parade entertainment all the way toward the palace to be greeted by the royal family who stood on to the balcony waving at the crowds.. The streets were teeming with life and we just completely soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed.
Eventually, we made our way back to Vin to discover we had a new neighbour. A Swiss couple also on their way to North Cape. We had a good chat with them as well as a chat with one of the Kings men. The head of the royal yacht club joined us for a coffee as he opted for a national day with his feet up and just pottering around the marina. Karl lived just behind the marina and he said that technically, we are parking in the Kings back garden as just behind us is the Kings summer residence. All of a sudden our parking spot felt rather special.
Shortly after, I went to input our coordinates to the spreadsheet and nothing there. Where is it? I
searched every document but nothing. I shouted Craig over and he had a look but nothing, too. Oh no, that’s all the data gone for this trip, crikey. Craig did a restore on the iPad but that didn’t worth either. I was gutted. Nothing for it, take the dogs for a walk with my tail between my legs. I kicked some stones in to the sea and grunted and when I returned Craig had managed to find a back up file from last night. Yeah, spirits lifted again only to be immediately flattened by the fact all the maps data was no longer there. We spent ages searched for blinking map data and spreadsheets on a day when we should be celebrating….grrr but without the maps, we are snookered.
We then noticed the time, blinking heck we had better get a move on. Time to head back in to the city and meet an old friend, Tommy. Due to spending time restoring the iPad and trying to recover the maps data our ‘lets get dressed up’ quickly got replaced by a quick freshen up and hop back on the motorbike. As we parked up the cafes and bistro’s were buzzing. Every doorway, a delicious smells of grilled aromas and every window crowds of people enjoying themselves. This place certainly knows how to party in style with not a single gang or drunk in sight. We parked up and within a couple of minutes a beaming smile greeted us, hey Tommy. As the weather was so nice Tommy took us to one of the many wonderful parks. Like most parks in the city it is a place where you can not only go for fresh air and a stroll, but also have a bite to eat, enjoy a beer or two or just slurp a cola (if you are driving) like us. The park was heaving with families and groups of friends celebrating the day. We joined Tommy, his wife Emilie and his friends. It was lovely to see Tommy, again after all these years and so good to catch up with him and quiz him on the best places in Norway. A truly wonderful end to a fantastic day.
Our sleep spot tonight, same place as last night but with an upgrade to a Royal parking pad!
GPS position N059.917759 E010.675013
Weather, low 6 high 21. Glorious weather just perfect for picnic’s in the park