As mentioned we were up early so that we could get the ferry across to Kragero town at 8:15. The next ferry was at 11:45 so we really wanted to get the early one or else it would ‘waste’ half the day. We’d seen the ferry port the day before and it was about 4km away and of course there were a few hills in between! We still had to rush a bit and some of the equipment wasn’t completely dry by the time we’d completely packed up, but needs must!
Got to the ferry with a bit of time to spare, which gave us the opportunity to actually figure out what we wanted to do today. The ferry ride was a very pleasant 15 minutes and the cargo consisted of the two of us, our bikes and one other person. The scenery was stunning as was the weather, a real treat even if we did have to get up at the crack of sparrows to make it!
Kragreo turned out to be a lovely little seaside town and we had a quick wander through before picking up the obligatory supplies. Managed breakfast number two, consisting of a cake and banana, by the harbour which was also very nice. This has now become a daily ritual, which Martina clearly enjoys!
Even fuelled up with Norway’s finest cake we were both pretty tired and decided on a shorter day than normal, although we have said that many times at the start of a day! The hills continued as per the previous days and at one point descended to a place called Valle, so assuming with a name like that that we’d be on the way up again we were pleasantly surprised when the hills smoothed out somewhat, though they we still definitely there! Not long before lunch Norway’s hills did however, have the last laugh (there may be more of course as we’re still here!) when we had to choose between the E18 trunk road and a forest path. We chose the latter and only when it was too far to go back did we see the error of our ways. Firstly it was a gravel track, not so bad we’ve done these before, but then it was at 30% up, which is mountain bike territory. We literally hauled and pushed our bikes up the slope and did eventually get to the top, puffing more than if we’d been able to cycle it! Luckily the track only lasted for about 4km.
We stopped in a lovely park in the town of Stathelle on the coast for lunch and then made the dash for the campsite we’d chosen. The final 10km or so was along a main road with loads of cars and trucks sat in a traffic jam in the opposite direction to us. Though we did feel a bit smug, it wasn’t a very nice environment to cycle through. We had definitely been spoiled over the past 3 nights as we’d stayed in amazing camp sites, so were initially quite disappointed with this one as it was next to a road and wasn’t particularly nice to look at. But we made the most of the nice weather and chilled for a while whilst making dinner etc. Once again it was early to bed, but this time a slightly later get-up as we didn’t have a ferry to get.
A couple of other things happened today – first, we saw a snake on the forest track and second we saw a female moose…yup they have them here! We didn’t hang around the moose as she was seriously spooked by a car that had stopped to take pictures. Who knows she may have had a baby nearby and I certainly didn’t fancy our chances if she decided to charge at us!
So back to our normal-time morning start. Having thought that the hills were getting a bit easier we were shocked at the first hill of the day – 2km of up straight out of the campsite! It did, however, smooth out again after that and we had a very nice and dare I say it easy (it’s all relative really – in Germany any hill would have been greeted with disgust!) ride with just a few taxing slopes. Once again the weather was hot (low 20s) and it was a really nice ride. We’ve been told that Norway has had a really cold winter by more than one person, so it is amazing that we’ve had such a great run of warm weather. Even at the lower levels we have been at over the past few days there are the remnants of snow in the shaded forests.
Got to Larvik for lunch and to be honest we weren’t really taken by the place, not bad exactly, but glad we weren’t staying there! Things took a downturn when we found out that it’s a special holiday today (Ascension Day) and nearly all of the shops are closed, including all the supermarkets! We’d hoped to stock up on necessities and more importantly buy a couple of beers each – dang it! Martina’s silent protest against the outrageous beer prices as she had abstained for the last 10days had spectacularly backfired on her…!
Got to the campsite reasonably early as we were on a short (55km) cycling day. We decided last night that we need a rest day as we have covered 700km since leaving Stavanger, ten days ago, and most of that was over some pretty hilly terrain and basically we’re a bit knackered! We did think about staying in a town so that we had something to do, but that sort of negates the fact that actually what we really need to do is nothing for a day. We chose a site not too far from Larvik, which as I’ve said didn’t impress us much and so there’s no urge to do much tomorrow, so it’s a proper day off. Also gives us a chance to do some washing etc. And on arrival we discovered that there is an alcohol ban on the site…are you serious??? We might be breaking that rule once the shops are open tomorrow….
A few Northern Europe observations:
The electric assisted bike revolution has hit here in a big way, much bigger than in the UK. Every man, woman, child, youth, etc has one and of course they whizz past us slow manual peddlers! Being the puritans that we are however, we think they are of course, cheating (sorry Dad!).
Another thing that has taken on in a big way are robotic lawn movers – all over Northern Europe there are small robots buzzing away cutting the grass whilst the owners are out! Weird.
Finally for today, why do a lot of the doors open the wrong way? As an example, toilet and shower cubicles should open inward, whereas over here they usually always open outward. In all the cabins we have stayed, the front doors have opened outward, mad! Of course the only time you find out is when you push and it’s actually pull and vice versa! I have loads of other examples, these are just a few.
One last point that we have yet to mention. As you have read we have gurned our way up numerous hills be they steep, slight, long and short, but one thing that we’ve not yet said anything about is the wind. Though you expect to encounter wind in the Netherlands, northern Germany and Denmark you’d expect it not perhaps to be so much of a factor where there are loads hills in the way. Let me tell you Norway also has its fair share of wind! This has affected us at every point going up and down the hills to the point where we have had to peddle quite hard even on the downhill stretches, just when we thought the going should be easy! And we have both suffered a bit of windburn over our time here…as well as peeling noses and bacon ears!