Denmark to the Netherlands

We arrived at the ferry port the time we were told to be there and were first in line. That’s OK. Get something to drink and pull out the ukulele to entertain the masses.

This was an overnight ferry that seemed more like a cruise ship. It was a beautiful ship and very nice. We pulled on board at the designated time and secured the bike to the deck, along with about 50 other bikers. Finding the stairs to the upper decks we found our room, stowed our gear and headed to the open decks on top. We had a couple drinks and sat with a couple other riders about their upcoming journeys. While on board this Danish vessel I went to the ATM to get some new currency, not knowing it was going to give me Norwegian Krones. If anyone is traveling to Norway next year, I’ll trade you for Pounds, Euros or Dollars.

We arrived at the port in Hitshals, Denmark in the morning. The skies were threatening with the promise of a couple days of bad weather. The hightailed it east, away from the storm front to a small, isolated AirBnB near the coast. This was a nice one room hut in a farmer’s back yard, about 100 meters from the house. We had heat, nice full-sized bed, and a small kitchen with refrigerator. Perfect! We quickly unloaded and ran into town to get some groceries for the next couple of days. We almost made it, catching the rain just before we got back to our hut.

After relaxing and catching up on electronic communication (FREE, good Wi-Fi), we headed to a small-town south of Copenhagen to see a friend and do some motorcycle maintenance on the bike. He was a US citizen back at the Hobbit house that he had grown up in. He was taking care of his elderly mother and had invited us to stay for a while. While I can’t disclose who he was, we had a fantastic time with them, made some lifelong friends and can’t wait to see them again. We toured Copenhagen with them and were fascinated at the number of bicycles we saw. They were parked everywhere. On boats in the canals, on streets and in multi-story bicycle parking garages. The rush hour traffic consisted of bicycles with men in suits, women in dresses and everything else you could imagine.

After a few days of having fun with the best host and hostess ever, it was time to move on. It was threatening rain again, so we put on our yellow rain suits. It had the desired effect, it never rained. Our destination was a campground on the levee in Germany, just north of the border of the Netherlands. We stopped in Hamburg to visit Miniatur Wunderland, an enormous model railway system based on famous global sights. Each of the different section highlighted an area with light town and cities, moving vehicles on roads and, of course, trains. It just defied description. We followed that with a Big Red Bus tour of the city and then left for the coast.

Staying on small roads as close to the coast as possible, we made slow progress but had a wonderful ride. The campground was across the road from the levee that towered maybe 100 feet about the campground. It was a beautiful setting with good wind block and green grass all around us. There was a small restaurant at the campground, and I had to try the Seafood Pizza. It had shrimp, mussels, calamari, and fish on a dough pizza with a red sauce. Fantastic! The next day we rode toward Amsterdam.

We would be here for a couple of nights. The following morning, we would catch the train into downtown Amsterdam and look around. Again, the public transportation was easy and inexpensive. We decided to do the on/off bus tour, which also included a boat tour of the canals. We enjoy these as we also get a narration of what we are seeing. Stopping in the downtown area we had to visit the Original Dampkring Coffeeshop of Amsterdam. It has a most captivating menu of smokables and edibles. We followed that with a visit to Vleminckx Sausmeesters, serving homemade fries since 1887. The original munchies joint, I would think. Of course, no visit to Amsterdam is complete without a beer at Delirium Café.

The next morning, we packed up camp and headed south to the beach. Our ferry for the UK would not be leaving for a few hours so we had some time to waste. There wasn’t much to see, or so we thought. Stopping at a seafood kiosk to look at the water, the owner of the business came out to say hello. We ended up talking for a while and he invited us to eat some seafood, desert and a coffee. While talking he told us of a motorcycle track just on the other side of the berm, which we couldn’t see from the road. We rode around the corner and right up to the track to watch some open track day for people in the area.

Off to the UK, and The Overland Event.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Denmark, Europe, Horizons Unlimited, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Netherlands, Suzuki VStrom1000, VStrom | Leave a comment

Norway to Denmark

The next morning was again beautiful with clear blue skies. I hiked from the campground to the Storfossen waterfall just as the sun was cresting the mountain. The sunrise made for some amazing pictures. The water was cascading down the steps of the falls with the sun sparkling off the foaming water.

After breakfast we continued up the mountain on Route 63, toward another fantastic, not-to-miss pass. With great pavement and sweeping curves we climbed toward two large waterfalls, the Kvanndalsfossen and the Forfriskendefossen. We stopped briefly to look at both falls and headed to the top of the pass where the road turns left and winds steeply to the top of the Dalsnibba Mountain Plateau at a height of 1500 meters (4291 feet). The views are incredible in all directions. Feeling like we on top of the world we just stared out in amazement.

Continuing on, the road runs along the crest of the mountain providing incredible views before heading downhill to another small fjord, the Innvikfjorden. There is an arm of the Jostedalsbreen glacier that feeds a river to two glacier lakes on the way to the fjord. I saw several camping areas on the lakes, one being next to a small bridge, crossing the river connecting the two lakes. They had a great spot for us right on the lake looking skyward to a small glacier just across the river. Canoe rentals were available, and the price was, FREE! We hopped in one and canoed the length of the second lake to see the large glacier from the water. It was spectacular!

The next morning, we rode toward the glacier, and the end of the road. We decided not to hike up as we didn’t want to leave our gear in the parking lot, so we continued. We have an Austrian friend, Anita, that was near us and we had decided the tonight would be the best day to meet and camp together.

There are a couple stave churches on the way to Flam. One of them is a UNESCO Romanesque church, the Urnes Stave Church. It is listed as the oldest stave church and was built around 1130. There is a ferry crossing to get to the church, so we passed and went to the other one. The other one, the Borgund stavkyrkje (stave church), was built around 1190 on stone foundations, is exceptionally well preserved and is the most distinctive stave church in Norway. The church has beautiful, lavishly carved portals, five carved crosses and dragons on the roof. The area surrounding the church is rich in cultural heritage. The Vindhellavegen, part of the King’s Road across Filfejell is designated one of Norway’s most beautiful roads.

We backtracked a few miles to a crossroad of old and new. The new Lærdalstunnelen is the longest road tunnel in the world. The tunnel is a 24.51-kilometre-long (15.23 mi) long road with blue-lit rest areas and speed averaging, so be careful, speeding tickets are expensive in Norway. The old road FV243 climbs over the mountain offering spectacular views and a picnic/hiking area at the top. We had lunch fixings with us, so we took a break and enjoyed the sunshine and the views.

Anita is part of a team of female riders, the Grizzly Race Team. The team set a woman’s world record in 2018 for riding around the world. She was riding to Nordkapp with her friend, Yvonne. They were moving quickly, as would be expected, and made time in their travels to camp with us for the night. They arrived later in the afternoon. After setting up their camp at Flam Camping og Vandrarheim we headed into town for some chow and a few beers. We had a wonderful evening with good friends and in the morning, parted paths.

We were catching the ferry out of Bergen in a couple days, so we found a campground on the outskirts of the city. The first night we set up camp but the next morning we checked to see if there was a cabin available. Since we had to catch the ferry first thing in the morning, we decided a cabin would be easier. Yes, there was a nice small cabin available so we could move over immediately. We tossed everything in the room and grabbed the bus into Bergen.

Public transportation is so easy over here once you understand it. Getting to town was easy as the bus stop was right across from the campground. We bought our ticket ay the gas station out front and went and stood at the bus stop. I followed our route on map.me and when we got close to downtown, we jumped off. Getting back was a different story. We got on the wrong bus at got off at the next stop. We thought we then knew where we were going. Nope, wrong again. I had to convince Melanie I finally got it figured out. We only had to walk one mile, in the rain, to get back to where we had gotten off the bus coming into town. Great! Only 45 minutes until the bus gets here. Time for lunch, a beer and chips.

But, back to Bergen. The downtown area was very scenic. There was a large four-sided memorial in the square dedicated to the sea farers throughout history. The wharf area has an expensive fish market just as you arrive. The prices were outrageous, and the market was full of cruise tourists. We didn’t eat there as it was definitely out of our budget, hence the gas station beer and chips for lunch. On the far side of the wharf was an area referred to as Bryggen. It was the old medieval wharf in the historic harbour district known for its colorful, wooden-clad boat houses. Standing on the other side of the harbour we were able to get some wonderfully scenic tour guide photos.

The next morning, we packed up the bike and headed to the ferry port, destination Denmark.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Europe, Horizons Unlimited, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Norway, Suzuki VStrom1000, VStrom

Central Norway

Just south of our BnB was the fourth largest city in Norway, Trondheim. The settlement was founded in 997 as a trading post, and it served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217.IMG_20190730_113219881_BURST000_COVER

Riding into the old town is relatively easy, considering all the one-way streets. The Nidaros Cathedral is visible protruding high into the skyline as we weave our way closer and closer.
Parking in front of Nidoros Cathedral, we walk toward the imposing structure. The cathedral is part of the Church of Norway and was built over the burial site of King Olav II (c. 995-1030, reigned 1015-1028), who became the patron saint of the nation. Initial construction lasted 230 years (1070-1300), and continued 7 centuries, until 2001. It was Catholic until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and it became Evangelical Lutheran. Nidaros is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.
The city was still busy as Olav Days had just finished, celebrating King Olav II. The West Front consists of a rose window above the crucifixion and 57 statues.IMG_20190730_113604556
As we were leaving the cathedral and walking toward the old bridge we walked near the bike. A parking enforcement officer was standing behind Yellow Donkey. I stood at a distance so as not to have to interact with him. I learned that lesson in Czechia. After he finally left, I walked over to the bike. He had cleaned my dirty tag and, seemingly becoming confused, left. The old gate and bridge are around the corner so we walked over, got a picture, and rode out of town before the attendant returned with backup.IMG_20190730_114608628

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Old Gate to the Walled City

There are a couple of travelers that were coming from the south. Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford rode motorcycles for 4 years around the Americas, south to north. They are now in a tricked out, 4-wheel rig and driving from the UK to Nordkapp, Iceland and down to South Cape, the “Cape to Cape”. They are good friends and since we were near each other, thought we could camp together on the epic Atlantic Road.

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The Atlantic Road

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Hello Friends

We rode in from the north not knowing where they were. Just as we crossed the high bridge, there they were. Such a treat! After we had a coffee, Jason found the perfect spot to camp, or so we thought.IMG_20190730_222626250
With the ‘psst’ of the opening of beer cans, we toasted our trips and the good fortune of being able to do this on the road. Lisa fixed a fantastic meal and we all feasted like royalty. Nighttime came way to quickly and after a brilliant sunset, we headed to our tents.

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Great Meal, Lisa

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The photographer at work.

In the morning we were none to anxious to leave, so we sat around sipping on our piping hot coffee. We noticed a man pulling up in his truck. He walked our way and demanded money, since we had camped on his property. We protested, and he pointed out the well hidden signs. Welcome to progress and capitalism in central Norway. North of here, camp anywhere for free. From here south it gets very busy, so beware. Jason and I were really grumpy after this encounter, but more coffee and time eased the pain.
Leaving is the difficult part of traveling. Since both our lives are basically nomadic, you never know when you may see each other again.
We headed south and they north.
The Trollstigen pass was our next road on the map. Stopping first at Trollstigen Campground to get a picture of the trolls and a couple stickers, off we rode up the pass.IMG_20190731_144321116 IMG_20190731_144848522The pass starts to climb right away. Just as you near the top the road contorts itself into hairpin turns. Twisting back and forth you reach the viewing area nestled between the Trollveggan and other surrounding peaks. The Troll walkway guides your way to an overlook of Stigfossen and the incredible road below. As you stand there surrounded by such beautiful vistas you cannot help but be thankful that you are lucky enough to travel this way.

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Our road up.

IMG_20190731_180017839IMG_20190731_152313094You never feel as if you spent enough time in places like this, but it’s time to start looking for a camp for tonight. The Trollstigen ends at the Storfjorgan fjord, where a ferry takes you to the other side. We want to spend the night at the top of am arm of the Storfjorgan in Geivanger. We see there is a campsite right on the water. Perfect!

Just before reaching Geivanger the road has a hairpin turn at a veiwpoint some 1500 feet above the fjord. You can see the Seven Sisters waterfall from there and the cruise ships look like small Monopoly pieces. IMG_20190731_175337394_HDRIMG_20190731_175408649IMG_20190731_175652147IMG_20190731_180124889The road down from there consists of eleven, very tight hairpin turns on a very narrow road. Buses are not allowed on the road but two, traveling opposite directions, have become stuck and unable to pass. This has backed up traffic from the middle of the way down, both directions. The road is so tight and traffic so congested that even motorcycles are having a difficult time maneuvering past. The temperature has climbed as high as the emotions and we are glad to weave our way through to the camp at the bottom.

IMG_20190731_182524109The cruise ships and many cars in town should have been an indication got is to keep moving, but we stayed packed like sandines onto a patch of grass between other irritated campers. From today forward the crowds become overwhelming and I get a case of fjord/tourist-itis. It is getting time to leave Norway so we book our ferry out of Bergen to Denmark for a few days from now.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Europe, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Norway, Suzuki VStrom1000, Trollstigen, VStrom | Leave a comment

Nordland

From our campsite after midnight

Norway. What a beautiful land. It’s called the land of the midnight sun. It called a land of fjords. It’s also a land of ferries and tunnels. Norway ranks third in the world with it’s total tunnel length of 1338 kms.

We left Nordkapp in the morning and rode south along the same fjord as when we arrived. It’s funny, the same road in the reverse direction could be an entirely different place. You end up seeing many things missed the first time through.

Riding south we tried to cling to the coast. Beautiful fjords and empty roads dominated the days. Our luck remained as clear blue skies lended the contrast to barren landscape, green valleys and bright, multi-colored wildflowers.

Camping was easy as there was always a place to set a tent, usually with an incredible view. Every village had its own small market making fresh foods readily available.

On our second day as we rounded a bend, a pulloff rest stop beckoned us to stop and enjoy the view. As we were pulling in a bike passed us headed to Nordkapp. He slowed and made a u-turn, then pulled in and joined us. He was Italian, the “Born2be Bearded Biker”, Alexio.
We chatted about each other’s trips and FB friended each other before we both headed again in opposite directions.

The scenery of Nordland, or northern Norway, was incredible. We would set an alarm to wake us at 0700hrs. The Arctic circle was 1000 kms south of us, so it was still always light. After coffee and coming breakfast we would ride until we were tired in the evening and start looking for a campsite. There was very little traffic this far north. These days were fantastic.

After several days we needed a break, so we decided to head toward the Lofoten Islands. The barometer was dropping and rain was coming so we rented a hut for two days to catch up on laundry and our blog.

Catching a ferry to Andenes, on the Andøya peninsula, we found our campground in Stave, nestled between the beach on the Norwegian Sea and the mountains.

Arriving to a beautiful, warm afternoon the contrast of the green mountains and blue sky behind us and the white sand beach, blue waters and a almost sunset, was fantastic. The morning brought rain. The temps stayed chilly, about 50°F(10°C) and the heavy foggy mist obscured all but about 100 feet of our view. We had chosen the perfect rest day off the bike.

Looking towards the beach

The following morning the fog was heavy and low, but the rain has stopped. Loading up the bike we road out into a magical land. This type of morning ads an almost mystical, eerie feel that add another dimension to photos. Rounding a bend I spot a multi level waterfall.

Easing into the muddy, dirt road we ride across a wooden bridge crossing the waterfall. On the way back, Melanie hopped off and captured a picture of me riding back across the bridge, Yellow Donkey’s lights punching a hole through the heavy mist.

As we left the island and rode into southern Lofoten the weather continued and the tourist buses increased. We decided to ferry over to Bodø on the mainland and what looked like much better weather.

Stopping at our first poor campground past Bodø we found a corner with grass for our tent in Saltstraumen. Saltstraumen is a narrow channel flowing into Saltfjorden and out to the Norwegian Sea. It is known for the strongest tidal current in the world 40km/h.

Copied from Hans. Thanks, mate.

Good decision. The weather was much better. The E6 is the fast inland route down to Trondheim, because this section is considered boring. We were told by another rider to take the coastal road, the Fv17, also called the Norwegian National Road. This road is longer, more scenic and has 6 ferry crossings, if you don’t veer off. What a great road! Great tarmac with winding and twisting roads following the coastal fjords. Traffic was minimal, camping was again plentiful and there were glaciers around every corner.

On the first long ferry of the six we were told to look for the Arctic Circle globe on a small piece of land. This signaled the crossing back into Nord from Nordland. The nights would start being longer again as we continued south.

At the last campground we were told about a cool place, Torghatten. This granite mountain has a large hole through it near the top. The hole measures 160 meters long, 35 meters long and 20 meters wide. This started as two sea caves eroded by wave action 10,000 years ago when the sea was 105 meters higher than its current level. At Torghatten there are traces of humans from around the mountain. You can journey through time, from the Ice Age to the present. The hike takes about 30 minutes to get to the cave.

Path up the mountain

After a few days of riding this route our 19th anniversary was coming up. I found a Bed and Breakfast on the island of Tautra, just outside Trondheim, the Klostergården Bed and Breakfast. We arrived mid afternoon and were treated like royalty by the owner.

Back of the BnB

Front

The owner brews their own beer and distills their own whiskey. Behind the BnB are the ruins of a monestary built here 900 years ago. I was quite honored when the owner wanted me to be the first to try a Saison beer from the new batch. We had a delicious meal, Melanie with cattle meat and I with Salmon. After the meal, the owner gifted us a couple samples of their first whiskey distilled and a small pitcher of water. It had been casked in 2013 and was 114 proof, so smooth. Perfect!

Happy 19th Anniversary, Honey

As we rode further south to he mountains would become higher, the walls of the fjords steeper and the tourists…way too many. As Jason would say, “I am fjorded out”.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | Leave a comment

Nordkapp, the Top of Europe

We arrived at the ferry port in Tallin, Estonia, midday, having reluctantly left our beautiful campsite on the sea. With the help of a couple people we found the ticket booth for the ferry, which was leaving in about two hours. We queued up in a line for motorcycles, which ended up with about 50 motorcycles awaiting to board the ferry.

There had been a car show for American cars in town for the weekend. In the queues around us were several great looking cars from the 60’s and 70’s, all headed back home to Finland.

Great looking cars

With our bike lashed securely on board, we went up on the deck for the quick two hour crossing.

Ferry to Helsinki

Many of the bikes on board were biker clubs out for the weekend. Getting off the boat and riding out of town was quite chaotic. Seems all the bikes and hotrods needed to be the first out of town.
We were headed west out of Helsinki toward the small town of Porvoo. We found a campground south of town and camped all by ourselves, except for the several woman walking around in just towels after their showers.
Heading to the downtown area to find something to eat along the waterfront proved futile. Everything was closed Sunday evening. We had seen a McDonald’s on the way into town, so of we went to get a cheeseburger, and a cheeseburger without cheese for Melanie.
In the town of Porvoo is a small 13th century Lutheran cathedral that was made of wood, before the stone walls were added in the 1400’s. In Finland, 85% of the population is Lutheran. We talked to a tour guide that was very interested in our trip, then let us listen in on the history of the church.

As we were leaving, a couple came over to talk with us. They were from Helsinki and were in town for the day and had seen or bike. After talking a while, they invited us down to the old town square for a coffee and snack. Of course, we accepted.

New friends, Jussi and Riikka

Jussi and Riikka are both fantastic people and we hit it off immediately. We stayed and talked for a couple hours. It was wonderful. I hope we will make it back to Helsinki some day to see them again, or meet somewhere in the world.

For the next 5 days we would be riding north thru Finland. There are two very distinct areas of Finland. Finland and Lapland. As we got to the north the terrain changed and we started seeing Reindeer.

The south and western side of Finland is the Lakes area. There were many cabins along the 100’s of lakes in this large area. We were told that about 20% of Fins own a holiday cabin on a lake in this area. Campgrounds were plentiful and the weather was cool and windy. It made us wonder what was awaiting us, 1600 kms to the north, at Nordkapp.
As we entered Lapland the trees had started to thin. We were headed to the Arctic circle and to just north of the city of Rovaniemi. This is the European home of Santa Claus, which was located on the Arctic circle.

Crossing the Arctic Circle

After seeing the touristy area and letting Santa know to send a letter to our granddaughter, Lucy, we left.

Making friends

The Main Man

Our grandson, Caleb, had received a letter from Santa after our ride to Alaska a couple years ago. Pointing the front tire toward Nordkapp the route was flat and fairly treeless. Nordkapp is the northern most place in Europe you can drive to, over 700 kms (420 miles) north of the Arctic circle.
The traffic was light, so we pushed forward with a couple longer days of riding. The nights were just getting dim as the sun was not setting the further north we rode.

Early Morning

2AM Full Moon

Crossing into Sweden briefly we soon crossed into Norway and found a campsite south of Alta.

Huts along the river in Sweden

The campsite was inexpensive, but had a surprise waiting for us.
There was a large tipi/tent set-up in the campground. Inside was a center fire pit. Surrounding the fire pit were benches with Reindeer skins on top of them. At 8pm, the 80 year old owner of the campground started a fire inside. Hanging near the opening in the top of the tipi was a chain reaching down to just above the fire. The fire starter proceeded to fill an old fire-blackened kettle with water and just the correct amount of ground coffee.

He’s 80 years old and enjoys doing this every night.

Hooking the kettle on the chain above the blazing fire he made coffee for his guests. One by one the campers showed up, alcohol in one hand and an empty coffee cup in the other. Travelers from many different countries and cultures all sat in a circle surrounding the fire talking and enjoying each other’s company. Two hours with these world ambassadors passed way to quickly. It was another fantastic evening.

World Ambassadors

As we rode toward the coast the next morning, the scenery changed again.

Alta

Alta

Alta

The mountains and fjords became the norm for our ride toward Nordkapp. Amazingly, there are signs reminding drivers to pay attention to the roads as the fantastic scenery had the tendency to distract even the most attentive of drivers.
Finding a nice campground just south of Nordkapp, on the edge of a fjord, we set-up camp.

Great campsite

The day was perfect. The skies were a perfect cloudless blue.

View of coast from Nordkapp

I wanted to get a picture of the midday sun and return at night for the much sought after photo of the Midnight Sun glowing through the globe.

Melanie making friends

Melanie at the Top of Europe

At midnight the place was packed with no less than 14 buses in the parking area.

First to find our sticker gets a beer.

Finding the perfect place for my photo, I snapped the most amazing photo of the Midnight Sun from Nordkapp.

Midnight Sun at Nordkapp

Bucket list item, check.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | 2 Comments

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