Exactly as expected, but better somehow
Not being widely travelled has its advantages, one of which is that at the delicate age of 52.9 I don’t really have a lot of experience of other cultures. See my post on the Bikers Rest for evidence on this point.
We left Denmark feeling a little culture shocked after the last few days and we were going to go to Oslo but frankly, they want too much of my money. What few campsites surround the city have really poor ratings and so we ditched that plan and took to ground just outside of Larvik. We had sailed into Larvik on the colourful colorline ferry from Hirtschals. If you want to know what a high speed floating creche with broken toilets is like, go colorline!! The ferry was a madhouse of screaming kids and leaky bogs. I loved it!
We find that each country we get to there is an immediate sense of being a little overwhelmed as we filter into the traffic outside the port and try to get to grips with the local signage. Planning ahead for a change we decided to go to a campsite Clair had found just south of Larvik where we checked in without incident on a patch of grass only a few hundred feet from the beach. Norwegians pretty much speak flawless English which is embarrassing as we still have not got the basics down ourselves and as soon as you open your mouth, they cotton on, switch to our language and that’s it, no chance of picking up the lingo.
It was a shock to see a hill! I had sort of expected Denmark to get a bit hillier as we got to the northern tip but it was pretty flat. The roads just rolled up and down a little. We were both a bit overjoyed to finally come to a bend or two and it showed as we whooped at each other on the intercom. We also got speed cameras and speed camera warning on the satnav so hopefully we wont fall foul
We stopped at the site for two nights and used the time to a bit of research. Norway is reputedly very expsenive. As we have worked our way through Europe, many people we talked to have sucked in their cheeks about the cost of living there. However, its not that bad. Obviously, don’t drink the beer or the wine or you’ll find yourself in debtors prison before you know it. Petrol is about 20% more expensive on average than the UK. Tea drinkers will be disappointed, I know I was. They have exactly two brands of tea, they don’t seem to use milk in anything so I am getting used to coffee creamer (no powdered milk either damn them!). I got to the point today where I tried and failed to drink a coffee. So, it mostly water for me after our current supply runs out.
However, this is our travel blog and as to travelling, Norway is just epic. Our first ride out on the first evening gave us a taste of what to expect, just outside of Larvik we stopped on a road that was cobbled but now has about 10mm of broken tarmac on top. We were overlooking a small lake with still water reflecting the sky and to the right the stark concrete of the new E38 flyover crossing the edge of the lake before the motorway disappears into a tunnel. That is Norway, they appear to be building roads a a furious rate and they dig tunnel after tunnel.
We have been blessed in our first few days with blazing sunshine and this is what we have discovered: Norway does not build straight roads. Its like they looked at all the straight roads of France, Belguim, the Netherlands and Denmark and said no. No flat bits, No straight bits. Just corners, corners and more corners. When we followed the E18 today we discovered that they don’t even dig straight tunnels. Got a gap between two tunnels? No problem, lets have a massive suspension bridge between them. WOW! It seems that every road swoops from left to right and left again. And while you are doing your best to wear out the edges of your tyres, your neck is straining as you take in the most unbelievable scenery in every direction. No amount of photos will do it justice but we are trying.