Left our alcohol-free campsite having knowingly broken the rules but thankfully had not been arrested in the middle of the night (we were very grown up and camouflaged our beer by drinking out of mugs!) and headed into our final push for Oslo. A fairly uneventful day of cycling through rolling hills and nice scenery, but nothing as spectacular or tough as we have experienced until now so we just plodded along happily. Stopped for a mid-morning snack in Sandefjord, which we had read was a lovely town with lots of Viking heritage, but it wasn’t anything special so we didn’t hang around long. We had lunch by the harbour in Tonsberg (Norway’s oldest town) – again nothing special in terms of scenery as we have been completely spoiled over the last week. The road out was a bit difficult with lots of roundabouts and crossing paths, and as always it was poor Nigel who had to navigate, but he did another fine job and we were well on our way in no time to our end destination …a campsite outside Horten which seemed like a lovely little town, although we didn’t actually go through the centre. Nice cycling on the leafy outskirts though.
We have now officially come to the end of the North Sea cycle route which we have followed on and off since Holland…so Nigel is our trusty navigator from here on. The most noteworthy event of the day was our neighbours in the campervan next to our tent complained to the campsite owner that we were too close to them…the first unfriendly Norwegians we have met since we got here…not that we met them mind you. Campsite owner confirmed our tent was the designated 3 metres away from them, so once again we were spared getting arrested! Photographic evidence below.
Before dinner, we had noticed another long distance cyclist come onto the other side of the campsite and we bumped into him this morning…an English guy Paul who is cycling Norway, Sweden and Finland over 8 weeks. When you meet someone like that you think “Horrah, we’re not completely stark raving mad doing what we are doing….and at least we have company by doing it together”. On the other hand this guy has done so many cycling trips…Canada, South America, North America, Africa, Kenya….that I felt like a complete amateur…and to top his cycling expertise, he’s a vegan so lives off nuts, lentils chickpeas and bread when he is travelling. Let’s just say we won’t be going vegan any time soon is all I can say….way too hard core for us softies!
We also met a lovely Norwegian lady who came to speak to us as we were packing our bikes. (Interesting tidbit from Paul is that having an Irish or Canadian flag on your bike are the best conversation starters no matter where you are in the world…Trent Garner get yourself a bike – you are qualified on both scores!). Anyway, Mrs Norway told us that this coming Thursday (17th) is their national day….and every city and town has parades of children in national dress and bands as part of the festivities. Also, in Oslo the royal family do a balcony appearance …and guess where we will be?? Oslo. Well, actually our plan had been to leave Oslo on Thursday, but we have since decided to stay an extra day to see what it’s like. I am thinking of the equivalent of Paddy’s Day parades in Ireland with a bit of royal waving thrown in, and a few less tractors/haulage trucks and less booze…so we will see. And since we will be missing the Royal Wedding in England at the weekend, this can be our substitute for royal shenanigans.
Anyway, we left the campsite a bit later than normal because of our chatting and had a pleasant morning through some rolling hills but nothing too taxing. We literally cycled around the Fjord to the other side and when we got to Svelvik we took a short ferry ride to Verklet to continue our journey. Borrowed an empty table and chairs to sit by the waterside for lunch, which was good timing for a refuel as we went straight into a 20-minute MONSTER hill climb. We knew we had a hill ahead of us and I had flippantly said to Nigel “See that house way up at the top of that hill? Imagine if our climb took us to a road just in front of that house…” Well it bloody did. We had both sweated our sun cream off well before we got to the top. Thankfully that was the worst climb of the day and we had a relatively pleasant rest of day until we got to our campsite…about 40km from Oslo and once again we lucked out on location….another patch beside the sea. We had been told the bar would be open after 6pm, but it wasnt to be so we spent a pleasant evening looking at arctic terns diving into the sea for fish.
A lazy breakfast with a sea view and we headed off, excited to be hitting a big city – and hoping traffic and roads would be kind to us to get there. The scenery was quite pleasant and coastal along harbours – and we stopped for lunch by a marina about 15km from Oslo. This is where we met another English man, David Hill, who lives in the area and took a break from his jogging and came to speak to us. Turns out he’s from Exeter and went to school in Wellington where Nigel also went to school…although different schools and different years. He is an archaeologist who has lived in Norway for a long time and has also done lots of long distance cycling tours, so he was brilliant in imparting local and cycling knowledge. A few interesting things he told us are that Norwegians tend not to eat out in restaurants very much…so we haven’t been missing out on Norwegian cuisine by sticking to our campsite diets. But he has given us a couple of recommendations for Norwegian restaurants, which we are going to try when we are here. Also, our assumption of no booze on national day is completely wrong….apparently it’s the one day of the year that Norwegians drink all day….and where we are staying is Oslo is right in the middle of the action, so looks like we have made the right choice to stay.
So exactly 6 weeks since we left the UK we have arrived in Oslo….ready to relax , take a break from cycling and be tourists in the capital. Our accommodation is a lovely apartment near the royal palace so right in the thick of things – and the weather is fantastic. Long may it last!