By keef and annie hellinger, Jul 11 2016 01:08PM
Motorhome trip No27 : May 8th- July 8th 2016 A KeefH Web Designs Travel Blog NOTTS->Scandinavia ->NOTTS 6140 miles
Feel free to use the MENU to find specifics This was the longest trip so far in our lovely Wendy house of a van, she “dun great” the whole trip…. Up hill, down dale and along the flat! 10 ferries, numerous islands, bridges and tunnels, 61 days, 6 countries, from the fjords to the Russian border, 44 campsites, 6140 miles and a few tanks of diesel – what a fabulous experience, feel like we have experienced & learnt so much plus I think I can prove I’m related to that great Viking – Harald Bluetooth, he of the rune symbols that all later day geeks know ;) Holland, North Germany, Denmark (all 3 parts – Jutland, Funen & Zealand), Sweden as high up as the lake district, Finland across the southern end and Norway as high up as Trondheim. It was such a wonderful opportunity, such a shame that the UK no longer runs ANY ferries to Scandinavia, we only met 4 other Brits in the whole 2 months and 2 of them were from Oz!. Because of the driving distances it is unlikely we will be able to return in the van as Scandinavia is awe-inspiring for scenery, culture and people. Anyhow we loved it, and we want to share some of that with you. Feel free to let us know if you have been and what you thought of it, thanks.
Full Slideshows with Audio Diary (save reading if you prefer)
See calendars below for where we were when and there is a slideshow of all the campsites day by day. Note the Numbers referenced are the campsite number in the ACSI handbook or website. #hintasandtips
Want to see the SLIDESHOWS
We spent 15 days in Denmark, 14 days in Sweden, 10 days in Norway, 6 days in Finland and 10, 5 and 1 days in Holland, Germany and UK respectively getting there Highlights is tricky as there we so many but if pushed I would list Hallingskarvet National Park in Norway,the fjords of Norway, the Lake District of Sweden, Langeland Island & Kronborg Castle (Helsingor) Denmark and the ferry crossing to Finland (Kappelskar to Nanntali) Lowlights not many but prices and trying to find the campsite in Delft (low bridge), chickening out at the Russian border, we had no papers for the van and was seriously worried about officialdom, so turned around in a layby right next to the border crossing and scarpered 😉
The scary tag is for my beard and many tunnels (dark and damp with grotty road surfaces) and the russian border experience 😉
The one with speech (i.e The Talkies) is also associated with Blog 101 as indeed are the full sets with Audio Diary attached to the slideshows.
Video with Speech, Also covered by BLOG 101
FULL SLIDESHOW WITH AUDIO DIARY OVERLAY
For those who would prefer to listen than read, entirely up to you
It is in 2 parts, the first covers 8th May to 5th June 2016 in audible diary accompanied by the complete set of images from both Denmark & Sweden back in 2016. It is 68 minutes long.
The second covers 6th June to 7th July 2016 with an auduble diary accompanied by a complete set of images for Norway, Finland, Holland and Germany. It is 2 hours 13 minutes long, so beware, you can of course watch and listen in parts but its a lot of images, actually 4.9 GB worth (tee-hee) but its there for prosperity.
#motorhome #motorhometravels #travelsin2016 #campsites #majortrip #timeline
Here is a quick run through of the sites we stayed at day by day that accompany the written diary
Sunday 8th May 2016
Having packed the van we travelled down to Harwich and stayed at the Green Acres site at Dovercourt campsite, never again awfully run down and full of permies, in future trips i.e., that to the Faroes and Iceland completing our complete visitation of all Scandinavian countries covered by BLOG 135 we stayed up on the hill overlooking the sea, perfectly fine, great views and free and since the ferry always leaves so early in the morning to the Euro port in Rotterdam ideal.
Monday 9th May 2016
We travelled on the Stena Ferry Britannica from the port of Harwich to the Euro port in Rotterdam, Netherlands named the Hook of Holland. A pleasant journey, even went to see the new Star Wars movie, Annie fell to sleep and missed the bit where Harrison Ford dies ha-ha, interesting views plus very few actual customers, mostly cargo lorry drivers, does make me wonder how much longer this ferry will survive the ones from Newcastle to Bergen, Norway stopped in 2008, it was possible for a bit to use the cargo ferry from Immingham to Brevik, Norway but they now only take commercial vehicles and the other DFDS ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg, Jutland, Denmark has also stopped so there are NO ferry crossings direct to Scandinavia, we didn’t mind as were driving there and seeing a lot on route. After getting off the ferry we travelled along the coast, getting out of Rotterdam for us is always a nightmare at the first big roundabout as our Truck Nav gets confused, maybe next time we will get it right first time, maybe not, but at least whilst getting lost we always get to see all the lovely greenhouses and bulb selling establishments tee-hee, anyway we camped that night at De Brandling site in Zandvoort on the coast near Amsterdam, lovely beach view walk in the evening. We stayed here 2 days.
Tuesday 10th May 2016
Today we took the train into Amsterdam from Zandvoort which is at the end of the line. Had a lovely day out and about in the capital, walking around taking photos and generally soaking up the atmosphere along the canals, watching the boats and bikes everywhere. Some of what we saw was The Kafe Cobalt where Rembrandt once lived , Rijksmuseum, Dam Square, Henry Willig’s cheese shop, the Damrak trams, the interior of the old main post office, what an amazing building, old canal side merchant houses and bridges in prince henri kase, Amsterdam Central station, fast food vehicles selling Dutch delights, and a whole lot more. We had a canal cruise on a nice boat which gave us a great feel for the whole canal system and associated locks.We really enjoyed it and then caught the train back from Central station to Zandvoort, all very efficient. The walk back to the site took us past one of the very first Cente Parcs holiday establishments. That night whilst cooking we realised Keef had made a camping schoolboy error, the gas cylinder had run out, oh dear!
To see some the the many architectural delights Amsterdam has to offer click HERE
Wednesday 11th May 2016
Went into Zandvoort in search of a replacement / refill for our Orange UK Calor gas cylinder , found a camping shop but the guy said in Europe they only sold the Camping Gaz containers and we would need a new regulator to go with it as the 2 are not compatible. Expensive but essential and heavy to carry back through the no parking area of town. Still in the long run we have both types now and can mix and match for our trips either in the UK or Europe. Panicked a bit as parked in a short stay parking zone so grateful to get back, find we hadn’t been booked or clamped and set off on the next stage of our journey. Crossing the fantastic causeway across the Ijsselmeer (E22 or A7 you choose) we arrived at the lovely site at Koudum , Friesland, North Holland called Vakantiepark De Kuilart, which is both a marina and a campsite with boardwalks, a restaurant, shops and a swimming pool. Here our pitch was right on the river’s edge. Keef’s converted the gas cylinder to the new one borrowing the kind Dutch guy next pitches spanner ready to cook tea, as they say we were back “cooking on gas” ha-ha. We stayed here 2 nights.
Thursday 12th May 2016
Our 2nd night at the fabulous de Kuilart site in Koudum, we were on pitch B4. We had breakfast outside as the weather was so good and watched the pleasure cruiser pick up passengers from the jetty in front of us on the Johan Frisokanaal, magical times, we went for a few walks around and generally relaxed from some of the travelling. In the afternoon we went to their indoor swimming pool, very chlorinated but refreshing. Had trouble with the coins in the lockers, oh you Brits, ha-ha. Bought some nice bread and cakes in the site shop for tea.
Friday 13th May 2016
We moved onto the equally nice campsite, Wiedumerhout campsite at Wiedum based on a farm and on the edge of yet another canal, The Wiedumer Feart. We ate a very classy 3 course meal there in their Michelin starred chef’s restaurant as well as having a lovely walk along the edge of the many canals’ intersection and junctions there. All in all, a very relaxing time for 2 days. We remember entering in the van just as the farmer with his muck spreader was driving in, chaos and smelly but so rural.
Saturday 14th May 2016
Our second day relaxing at Wiedum. All very nice but time to move onto Scandinavia. Annie remembers the showers not being great there, indeed a little primitive.
Sunday 15th May 2016
We had a 2hours 30 minutes’ drive from Weidum in Holland to Wingst in Germany ging through the Weser tunnel. We stayed at the Knaus Campingpark in Wingst Schleswig-Holstein on pitch 96 where Keef had to practise his German to get booked in. It was a nice friendly father and son in the office who greeted us and offered us some nice German Kuchen or as we say in English cake, spicy and yummy. The site itself was how can I kindly say, in need of some TLC however the flowers were lovely, rhodis, azaleas and lilacs, super smells in the air.
The main towns we bypassed on our journey today were Groningen and Oldenburg, but we called into Leeuwarden first.
Monday 16th May 2016
We left Wingst and made our way to wischhagen where we caught the ferry across the river Elbe, what a wonderful journey accompanied by many tourists but also a whole bunch of motorcyclists who were touring around. The other side of the elbe is Gluckstadt. When we arrived we then had to wait for the Keil canal bridge to descend, we had previously in 2004 been up the Keil canal with Mum on a cruise holiday so this was seeing it from a very different angle. We have seen loads on windmills through out Holland and now Germany, we learnt it was National Windmill day today, who knew? We called in at Rendesburg , quite an old Schleswig-Holstein town , the town square was cobbled but amazingly interesting. This town was near the nord-ostersee canal also known as the Keil canal. We then had to take the sehestadt ferry across the Keil canal. We arrived at our campsite for the night at schlei-karschau but in Germany there is a siesta lunch break, so we had to wait patiently in some serious humidity until the office reopened, they do stay open quite late in the evening to be fair. We were on pitch 7, after setting up we went for a local walk along the boardwalk to the marina, and around the town, fascinating architecture.
Tuesday 17th May 2016
We left Karschau on the Baltic Sea inlet about 10 a.m. and travelled onto Mommark Marina Camping, South Jutland in Denmark through Flensburg near the border between Germany and Denmark re-joining the e45 motorway past Flensburg. At the border crossing at Ellund West the border guards were stopping most vehicles, indeed doing a thorough check on a pulled over white van man but seeing our British number plate they just let us straight through. We love the Danes.
We travelled along the coastal road along the Flensborg fjord thru Sonderborg just over the road bridge that joins main Jutland to the island of south jutland. Mommark is right on the east coast looking across the little belt at the small island of Marstal.
We were on pitch 63 overlooking the beach in our own walled pitch, just fabulous. When we arrived, we were royally greeted in good English by the site owner in his restaurant / café on site. A very helpful fellow. They didn’t accept our ACSI card, so we had to buy a Camping Radet / Key Europe card for Scandinavia, good value and worked for the rest of our holiday.
Wednesday 18th May 2016
Spent a lovely day here at Mommark, one of our fave campsites, few issues for Annie as builders had turned off the water to the showers but otherwise just fab. They have both a harbour, lighthouse, goat pen, small animal farm and both restaurant and heritage chairs outside, reminded me of a scene in the cult series the Prisoner. Some pitches were high on the hill with great views, we were on the flat by the harbour wall. Keef listened to music on headphones outside and read, Annie crocheted and read, very relaxing. We had a walk on the beach bordering the Baltic Sea, nice white sand and even tried out the first ever of a few selfies with our new selfie stick, we were not that good at it, tee-hee. We saw lots of fish such as plaice being brought in by the fishermen as they unloaded their harbour catch.
Thursday 19th May 2016
Sadly, we had to leave the truly magnificent Mommark today, we travelled across the road bridge that joined what is yet another island in South Jutland called Osterby to its far tip to visit a lovely little quaint fishing village called Sonderby and had a nice walk around there, having parked up the motorhome, the smell of wild lilacs growing in the hedgerows was magnificent. There was even a Sonderby Strand campsite there that looked nice, but we weren’t staying this early in the day. So we left Sonberby and travelled via the wonderful and interesting island of Romo , its causeway and dam, here we stopped at the lobster port of Havneby, onto Esbjerg stopping for a walk and look around the historical old capital of Denmark in Ribe, Viking capital way back when with lord angsvar circa 801 BC and modern capital circa 1400 AD, a truly interesting place, its main torvet (street and square) were lovely, the whole place had fab buildings and streets especially the famous puggaardgade, on the west coast of Jutland. We stopped at Esbjerg camping site , about an hour and a half drive from Mommark in theory but we spent all day as so much to see. We stayed at Esbjerg for 2 nights
Friday 20th May 2016
Relaxing day in Esbjerg, did a bit of washing and hung it on a makeshift line rigged up between the hedge and the back of the van, nice secluded grassy pitches. Had cinnamon buns and tea outside, bliss. The campsite had a swimming pool and goats. Mostly a relaxing day in the sun reading etc.
Saturday 21st May 2016
Today we travelled from Esbjerg to Farso in the North of Jutland, Denmark stopping at the wonderful town of Billund, the traditional home of the world-famous Lego. Learnt a lot about the founding father’s family, the Christiansen family still own it after Ole Kirk C the Danish carpenter started it with wooden bricks for his kids to build with, later obviously they evolved into the cheaper plastic variety we see worldwide today. In Billund we saw a full-scale house they were constructing in Lego, the amusement park, leaned lots of history and saw the Lego band. Such fun. We also visited Silkeborg, its river Gunena, bits about Hans Christian Andersen and Viborg on route. At Silkeborg besides seeing Tolland man in the museum (amazing) we saw a guy training for winter sports in summer going down the road on roller skates with ski poles. We have had some lovely Danish pasties so far, yummy, the real thing plus in Silkeborg museum we had homemade coconut cake. The campsite at Farso was OK with its traditional yellow buildings.
Sunday 22nd May 2016
We went from Farso North Jutland to Skagen at the top of Jutland via Limfjorden, the ancient Viking port and city from where they launched their “rape and pillage” excursions ha-ha, it is a huge fjord, then it was onto Vilsted So, where we had a walk, Logster, Alborg, the university town and home and birthplace of the man who created the Sydney Opera House, the one and only Jorn Utzon, indeed one of the buildings there was also designed by him, we loved Alborg a fine place and a walk along the river side is a must. Plus, we visited briefly Hirtshal the port town where we would return in 2018 to catch our ferry to the Faroes and Iceland and complete seeing all countries in Scandinavia, I have both the T-shirt and proof I have been to them all, tee-hee. The journey of the E45 should take 2 hours but as we were being tourists it took all day, who cares? At Skagen we were on pitch 76. We went there after having a stroll around the harbour, quite cold and windy and we saw lots and lots of ice-breaker trawlers and ships as well as a tall ship replica. Fascinating stuff.
Monday 23rd May 2016
We left the lovely Skagen high up in Jutland quite early after a refreshing breakfast, travelling on the E45 back through Alborg, the uni town, and through Randers and Arhus and Vejle , about 3 hours driving, to the road bridge, called the little belt bridge (E20) over Arhus bay onto Denmark’s middle island of Funen and the appropriately named Middelfart (tee-hee) which is where we camped for the night, day 16 of our trip. We stopped at Randers on Jutland to have a look at the cathedral and town square, very interesting. We also stopped on the outskirts of Arhus, on the way back from our Faroes and Iceland trip in 2018 we went all around the centre of Arhus, another big university town and Denmark’s 2nd largest city after Copenhagen. We stopped for most of the day at Jelling the ancient home of the Vikings visiting both the Stones and Church which are UNESCO World heritage. And the fabulous Viking Centre, known as Kongernes Jelling and National Museum of Denmark. King Gorm, His Misses Thyra and son Harold Bluetooth (who actually built the church) feature heavily in this area and their alleged burial mounds. The Middelfart site had a very nice pool but today it was a little too cold to use it.
Tuesday 24th May 2016
Left Middlefart and travelled onto the town of Odense, Denmark’s 3rd city, we had a good look around the cobbled street centre, with all its lovely old traditional yellow washed buildings, not quite as nice as Ribe but almost and which there we went to visit Hans Christian Andersen’s boyhood home, this being where he was born, the gardens and museum nearby look nice as well, we peered thru the windows of both. We also had a walk and look around Svendborg close to the highway 9 bridge to the island of Tasinge. Svendborg’s marina, boardwalk and statue of the Snow Goose were all very pleasant. Svendborg’s harbour, station and crooked house were equally interesting. This is the place you catch the ferry to the island of Aero (or as I called it earlier Marstal) but it was just too expensive for us to consider sadly. My fave place there was the Hats and moustache shop, class ha-ha. We then travelled over the various bridges thru Tasinge island with its fab views onto the island of Langeland, our home for the next 2 days and camped at a very large site in one of the sections hedged out there at Emmerbolle strand, halfway up to the north of the island. A very nice and friendly campsite and right on the edge of the sandy beach. Chairs out time to relax, fact.
Wednesday 25th May 2016
A day at the Emmerbolle campsite on the island of Langeland chilling and then later after lunch when the sun was beating down, we carried our chairs down to the Stand , or beach in English. Glistening clear waters, keef went in swimming, basically we had the whole beach to ourselves for the afternoon, magical.
Thursday 26th May 2016
Packed up early after breakfast and went to explore the bits of Langeland island that we hadn’t already seen from top to bottom, it is however a very thin island with only a handful of roads. The island is famed for both its old windmills and grain production, anyhow once our sightseeing was complete, we went back over the various bridges back to the mainland of Funen via the titchy island of Sio first then Tasinge leaving Langeland at the bridge near Rudkobing. We so loved Langeland and would gladly return.
We travelled up the coastal road to Nyborg on Funen and then to the Storebaelt Bridge , an 18-kilometer-long suspension toll bridge that connect the main island of Funen where we were coming from to Zealand Island where we were going to. It goes across the Great Belt. The cost by 2022 is about £28 or 250 Danish Kroner, just can’t remember how much it was in 2016 but it had the same effect on us as the Confederation bridge in Canada back in 2010. Long and windy, indeed it was somewhat foggy as we drove across it. I’ve often wondered if New Zealand was discovered by a Dane hence its name but know it was first Maori or Polynesians, then Dutch then English, the reality when I have looked it up is the name “New Zealand” comes from “Zeeland” (which translates to “Sealand”) in Dutch, after the islands were seen by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Zeeland is a province of the Netherlands. Why is it call New Zealand? Zeeland is a low-lying coastal area in the southwestern region of the Dutch homeland whose name translates as “sea land.”
After the bridge we drove about another hour via Soro and Osted to the wonderful town of Roskilde and visited the Viking ship museum on the Roskilde Fjord, the ancients route out to plunder far off those lands, and boy were they good at it. In Genealogy I can trace one of my many family lines back to Aelgifu Elgiva NORTHUMBERLAND who married Gorm the Gormless’s father Horda Denmark (note I would certainly not have had the bottle back then to use that name direct to his face ha-ha) and therefore Viking warriors such as King Sweyn Forkbeard who ruled Britain her great grandson and by implication to Harald Bluetooth, whom I count as my 1st cousin 34 times removed, which I am well pleased with, even if latter DNA results tell me that my Viking blood has been watered down from 2% to miniscule, I’ll take that link, so proud.
Anyhow at the Viking boat museum we went on the tour, saw re-enactments of fashioning the wood for boat building and some long boat reconstructions but the real treat was inside the actual original Viking longboats that had been rescued and conserved from the waters where they sank. Trading ships, coastal ships and 34 man short long boats, 67 man long longboats, all fascinating especially accompanied by the informative tour talk, lots of pictures taken obviously. The Viking ship museum is UNESCO world heritage and deservedly so.
After the museum we went into the centre of Roskilde to visit the Domkirke , church inside of which were lavish mausoleums to various past Kings & Queens of Denmark. The church itself was magnificent. Harald Bluetooth and our hero, for various reasons that will remain nameless, Christian the 4th are walled up here. Chris 4 reigned the longest and was such an egoist he conquered , rebuilt and then renamed what became Oslo as Christiana after himself, wow!
We then travelled to Holbaek where we camped for two nights, a bit of a slopy pitch, but convenient for visiting the local areas.
Friday 27th May 2016
We were on the lovely Holbaek site today again, pitch 5, the site also had a large pool which we went in. We got great views of the Holbaek fjord which is part of the much larger Isefjord which in turn is part of the massive sea area known as the Kettegat.
We visited Helsingor (or as the Bard would have it Elsinore) and Kronberg Slot or castle from here today a drive of about 1 hour and how worth it was that. We spent most of the day there seeing all things Shakespeare and of course once again our much-maligned hero Chris 4 was everywhere, in our humble opinion he is Denmark’s answer to our own Henry 8th. There were many pictures of great actors and actresses who had performed the Bard’s works at Kronborg, such as Gielgud, Olivier, Jacobi, Burton, Leigh, Compton and mostly it would for obvious reasons be The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The modern-day prince of Denmark Christian is married to Mary Donaldson from Hobart, Tasmania, which is close to our hearts as cuz John & Diana live there.
We could look out of the castles turret windows and see Oresund sound where the ferry makes it way across the short distance to Helsingborg on the other side, we did not use this route. The moat well laid out castle walls, courtyard , where we saw an actor dressed as Hamlet, the chapel and remains of what was the old town area were all fascinating in equal measures. There were numerous images of Kings and Queens (Dronning in Danish) on the walls, and apart from Christian the 4th, Queen Sophie and Alexandra of Denmark who married for her sins Prince Bertie, Victoria’s wayward son who later became Edward 7th of England. That’s your history lesson over folks! Helsingor also paid tribute to Hans Christian Andersen by having its own little mermaid.
Afterwards we drove back via Fredensborg Slot the royal residence that we had been to once before with Mum on our Baltic cruise in 2004 when we stopped at Copenhagen. We then drove to Fredriksborg Castle and had a walk around the lovely baroque gardens and lake all in very nice weather before returning to the campsite at Holbaek, all in all a great day out. We had a quick swim back at the site to cool off before tea.
Saturday 28th May 2016
Packed up early in Holbaek. Today we left Denmark for Sweden travelling over the Oresund sound, part of the Baltic Sea on the Oresund toll bridge, we stopped ever so briefly in the middle (naughty I know but only 5 seconds) to take a picture at the same spot where that film noir scandi series the Bridge found the dismembered torso. The Bridge is the largest in Europe and don’t remember how much the toll charge was but by 2022 it is £44 pounds or 390 Danish krona. The E20 motorway then turned into the E6 motorway which we used to skirt around Malmo, deciding not to drive through such a large city. We drove through Lund but did stop on the outskirts of Kristianstad for a brief look around before driving onto our campsite at Ahus on the eastern coast of Sweden on the Baltic sea past the quite impressive clear , still and reflective Hammarsjon lake. A great place to take a pic methinks! The campsite felt like you were in the woods on the edge of the Helga A tributary and overlooking the Aspets nature reserve. After setting up and our usual cuppa we had a bit of a walk around the site, the smell of burning wood on camp fires is infectious.
Sunday 29th May 2016
Before leaving we had a bit of a look around Ahus with its old building and a quick walk on the sandy beach edging the Baltic, I was not going to dip my toe in like the Great Lakes in Canada, it was freezing even at the end of May, ha-ha. Today we drove about 3 and a half hours and 150 miles up the coast of the Baltic Sea through Solvesborg, Karlshamn, Ronneby, Karlskrona, on the E22 and over to Oland Island across the Kalmar straits on the Oland Bridge, nice views all the way across. We stopped at what we affectionately named surfers paradise, or to give it its real name Beijershamn for lunch. Here we saw an outdoor shower fixed up to a motorhome so the guy could wash off his wet suit after surfing, a great idea we thought. Lots of lilacs everywhere, we went for a board walk after lunch near Morbylanga. Oland island has over 400 windmills, it is famous for them, they were everywhere. We visited Lange Jan lighthouse past Ottenby in the far south of the island. Having had a good look around the island from Grankulla in the north to Ottenby in the south we arrived at our campsite near Morbylanga. We liked Oland island a lot.
Monday 30th May 2016
Left the campsite at Morbylanga and went up the west coast of Oland Island to visit Borgholm Slot, and interesting castle with lovely views at Solliden Slott. It is home of King Karl Gustav 16th. After having a bit of a walk around the lovely laid out gardens and looking in the Royal gift shop it was time to leave Oland Island, so we travelled back over the Oland bridge back to the mainland at Kalmar. From here we visited Pataholm a heritage village with lovely old buildings and great harbour views. The Baltic Sea near here seem to have a thousand Islands a bit like those between Canada and America at Gananoque which we did in 2010. See our holiday website at HOLIDAY2010 dot co dot uk. It was about an hour from Borgholm slot to the historic village of Pataholm. We then went onto our campsite at Monsteras pitch 8 using the scenic route through Kalmar County and Timmernabben which took about 25 minutes. Lovely scenery along the water’s edge. At the campsite we went through the woods down to the boardwalk jetty in the harbour. Plus our first experience of the traditional Swedish cinnamon bun, our love affair had begun and this was the first of many, yummy yummy.
Tuesday 31st May 2016
Day 24 of our fab Scandinavian sojourn. Left Monsteras and travelled through Oskarshamn onto Vastervik where sadly the battery on the sat nav gave up because Keef hadn’t plugged it in properly to the cigarette lighter slot, schoolboy error, anyhow not really an issue as the route we were travelling today was quite straight forward. Keef had got a cheap old TomTom one off eBay and found and downloaded maps for Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland and added then on so having a very cheap journeys satnav. Today’s journey was only just over 2 hours travelling. We visited Sandvik and Kallvik both in Ostergotland county, out down a coastal road off the main road, a very interesting diversion. We had a walk around Kallvik and its harbour and jetty, just lovely and so peaceful. We drove on from here to our campsite at Valdermarsvik. A nice welcome at the café cum office when we arrived and the views from the site were to die for. The Valdermarsvik fjord was truly superb scenery, possibly the best we had seen so far. We took our chairs up onto the hillside over looking the fjord and sat in the sun, keef reading, annie crocheting.
Wednesday 1st June 2016
Set off from Valdermarsvik using the motorway initially up to the Gota canal which we crossed via the Bjornavad bridge near Norrkoping, it counts as Sweden’s longest tourist destination, going from east to west in its entirety. We stopped off to have a look at the lock keeper’s cottage and one of the canals many locks. From Norrkoping we travelled onto our campsite for the night at Oxelosund. Quite a big site with lots of permanent campers and holiday chalets. We camped on the grass in one of the many rows, all neatly laid out. After setting up we wandered off to explore. There was a lovely harbour area densely surrounded by high grasses and very few people. We walked on its deserted beach and this time Keef even had a paddle in the Baltic. A very nice area to stay.
Thursday 2nd June 2016
From Oxelosund we travelled back through Nykoping onto the E4 motorway which we used to travel into Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, the total journey to the outskirts was only about 1 and a quarter hour but then finding the campsite at Bredang in the suburbs was a little more tricky. We did eventually get there were we would stay for 3 nights to give us time to really have a good look around Stockholm. The site was large and already had a Dutch motorhome caravanserai or duckling club as I prefer to call them on it. Just like one we saw near Ullapool in Scotland once. Anyhow, we parked up in one of the tarmacked slots which in fairness had all the facilities you need, each row was hedge lined to try and create aa semblance of privacy but with the numbers of folk walking past your van constantly that was impossible, we wouldn’t be at the site much over the next 3 days anyhow as sightseeing so all good. The site prices were high as well, understandably as the capital. UPDATE, this reference on reflection was for the site in Helsinki, having reviewed our images, whilst the price was high and it was packed it was grass pitches which were far less regimented that those in Helsinki (7th & 8th of June)
We walked from the campsite down to the station Bredang T-bana where we caught the equivalent of their metro into the centre alighting at Gamla Stan station. Their metro is known as the Stockholm Tunnelbana. We had a lovely long walk around, what a fabulous city seeing as much as we could right down to the harbour’s edge. Here we purchased a 2 day ticket for the Hop On Hop off sightseeing bus to enable us to get around all the attractions, we saw the ABBA museum although too expensive to go in, see the slideshows to see what we saw on day 1 in Stockholm, we had teas in the hard rock café before returning by metro to Bredang and the campsite, exhausted but truly inspired by what a great city Stockholm is.
Friday 3rd June 2016
Had breakfast then headed off again to walk past the very nice apartment blocks and gardens from the Bredang campsite to the metro and caught the train back into Gamla Stan where we walked back down to the harbour area and along past the boats and statues until we were outside the Swedish Handelsbanken at Kungsträdgårdsgatan 2, 106 70, Stockholm where the Hop ON Hop off bus stop no 1 is, we used it to alight this time near the Vasa Museum i.e. just near the funfair with rides that spread out across the harbour. We were in the museum for quite a while, all very interesting and almost Sweden’s answer to the Titanic, only many years before, OK quite a lot as built by command by then Swedish King Gustavus Aldolphus in the 1620’s, a huge ship heavily over laden that sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm harbour soon after launch.
On the way to the bus, we had a look at both the opera house and the royal palace, indeed that was quite near the start bus stop. After making a complete loop again on the bus as part of our ticket you also got a harbour cruise which was a fascinating way of seeing from a very different perspective many of Stockholm’s gems, we had seen either by walking to or from the bus stop. In the harbour there were some mega Cruise ships which luckily weren’t moving else the wash may have capsized our little sight seeing boat, rather like the Vasa only maybe on a different scale, tee-hee. All day the weather was sunny and on occasions humid. We returned via train and foot to the campsite again thinking how privileged we were to have been able to spend two days in such a lovely city.
Saturday 4th June 2016
A day off at the campsite catching up with things like van duties, washing and just generally chilling, had a bit of a walk around the area in the afternoon, we were recharging our batteries for the next few days travel to Finland. Some lovely sunsets in the evening. Took lots of pictures
Sunday 5th June 2016
Finally left the wonderful Stockholm, would gladly come back another time. Travelled the 1 hour journey about 55 miles on the E18 to the port area of Kapellskar. Only stopped at Brevik on route for a very quick look around. Stayed at quite an interesting campsite not surprisingly called Kapellskar camping near the harbour. Our pitch was slightly up a hill, very lush grasslands with some good views. Went to sleep quite early as early morning start on the ferry to Finland tomorrow.
Monday 6th June 2022
Up early to catch the ferry, was a very short drive from the site to the Ferry port at Kapellskar, waited in line to get on our Viking line ferry for what turned out to be the most magnificent cruise we have ever been on, indeed better than the Baltic one with Mum in 2004 and way better than our 40th Anniversary cruise to the Caribbean and States in 2018, Blog 125. Our ship was called the Finnfellow, run by Finnlines, all food and drinks were included in the ticket price which was incredibly cheap for 2 adults and a motorhome, about £50 return in 2016 for a 4.5 hour journey in each direction, 150 miles of sea each way, truly stunning price. We only found this out food included when I tried to pay, and the lady said no, just help yourself whenever you wish, which we did. So, we got fed and saw some of the most magnificent scenery as we travelled along from Kapellskar in Sweden on the east coast to Naantali on the west coast of Finland via the sea of Aland and all its lovely little islands, the major one of which of course is mainland Aland and we called in there at Langnas , Lumparland to let off passengers and their vehicles and take more on. It is 30 kilometers from the Aland islands capital Mariehamn. The Aland islands are owned by Finland, but the residents speak Swedish. They and there are lots of these islands the main one our ship called in at being by far and away the largest are all in the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea.
Maps of our ferry journey
The slideshow to accompany this magnificent ferry trip is backed by Abba music, appropriately, the sea was calm, it was sunny and blissfully relaxing, we bought Finn Bear for Charlie (or Peanut as she was known in the womb!) We loved looking at Aland and its islands, eventually we came into the headlands off Turku, Finland, looking rather industrial, it is a main shipping, cargo port for Finland. It turned slightly to come into Naantali. We drove off, set the satnav to Finland and located our campsite for the night, a lush green hilly site on the edge of the Gulf of Bothnia, fab views down from our pitch all fringed by the green pines, elements of Canada here.
Tuesday 7th June 2022
Day 31. Drove from the lovely site at Naantali onto Rastila camping site in Helsinki the Finnish capital. We were on pitch 13.
The site was large and already had a Dutch motorhome caravanserai or duckling club as I prefer to call them on it. Just like one we saw near Ullapool in Scotland once. Anyhow, we parked up in one of the tarmacked slots which in fairness had all the facilities you need, each row was hedge lined to try and create aa semblance of privacy but with the numbers of folk walking past your van constantly that was impossible, we wouldn’t be at the site much over the next 2 days anyhow as sightseeing so all good. The site prices were high as well, understandably as the capital. The other great thing about the Rastila site was that the metro train station was right next door, hugely convenient for getting into the city centre. The journey via the scenic route which started off on Highway one through the industrial area of Turku was about 3 and a half hours, but worth doing. If we had just used the motorway into Helsinki, it would have been just over 1 hour but somewhat boring.
Our first stop after Naantali was the seaside resort town of Hanko , a past holiday resort for rich Russians, it was a 2-hour drive through some very nice scenery, woodlands, hills, abundant flora and fauna, didn’t see much native wildlife, although some bird species we have not come across before. Especially remember the lovely beach walk in the sunshine, some interesting old and new architecture, i.e., villa tellina and margarita, pine trees everywhere, water tower, old church, and the formal gardens all in flower. It was about hours’ drive after a fab time in Hanko to the site in Helsinki.
Wednesday 8th June 2017
Up early, breakfasted and caught the metro next door to the site, Rastila station into central Helsinki. Interesting colour scheme on the metro, all red. Anyhow it was a somewhat grey and miserable day weather wise but not on the discovery front. From the main station we found the stop for the Hop on Hop Off bus tour in the main square and having looked around both the cathedral and town hall, both very grandiose, we paid and got on for our voyage of discovery around the Finnish capital. In our humble opinion most of the architecture was drab Russian utilitarian. Had some lovely cardamom buns as a snack, yummy. The main square also commemorated Alexander 2nd of Finland who was murdered by the Russians. Still raining it was nice to get on the bus. Although the drizzle did obscure our view somewhat. Bus tours are a great way to find the things you really want to see about a city. Lots of trams, funfair and Finn sky wheel on the harbour area, market square was very interesting area, and the market was on today. Loved its Havis Amanda statue. Presidential palace, esplanade, lots of boating and rally cars (Finns are world champions at this sport) at eira beach, big cruise ships at the melkki cruise terminal, by the afternoon the sun had finally come out, so we got to see both the botanic gardens and the old Olympic stadium nearby, that where all their long distance runners are celebrated. We got off the bus after 1 and a bit trip around the circuit near the Hard Rock Café where we had a chocolate milk shake and not surprisingly Keef bought a T-shirt. Our waiter was from Hungary and had a very interesting chat with him, his English was superb, he loved living in Helsinki which was a great recommendation.
We then caught the metro back to Rastila and the campsite, as now sunny went for a walk around and saw both wooden holiday chalets and a Finnish dog show a bit like cruft’s, tee-hee, pooches everywhere. We also strolled down to Rastila’ s beach called uimaranta and its marina and harbour, all very pleasant especially as so warm. The Finns love their sauna’s and we saw wooden out buildings housing these everywhere.
Tea and bed early, tomorrow we are off to discover the rest of Finland, ok maybe!
Thursday 9th June 2017
Day 33 left the wonderful Rastila and Helsinki and travelled onto Hamina on the E18 which also doubles as a scenic route. We firstly stopped at the village of Porvoo on the Porvoo river, it had a lovely old heritage bridge , old boats, quaint wooden houses and shops riverside and cafes. We had a lovely long walk around, indeed whilst out by the old wooden historic river bridge we met a young girl on her bike who told us in brilliant English, they all speak it brilliantly, that she did tourists’ trips around the old town. I remember one of my first experiences in a garage in Finland , just outside Naantali where I couldn’t work out how to use my credit card and the little girl behind the counter said in strident English it’s the other way up sir, amazing, so wish I had done better at languages at school. The cathedral and its cobbled square were also wonderful. The old schoolhouse was equally amazing. Anyhow we walked back along the river to the wonderful old, cobbled town square. The old Irish Embassy built 1820 was amazing. We really liked Porvoo.
After Porvoo we drove onto to just before the Russian border past Vaalimaa, literally, next stop St Petersburg, which we loved when we visited in 2004 with Mum especially the Hermitage Museum, artwork to die for. Since we had no papers and didn’t want the motorhome impounded, we turned around just before the crossing in a layby and returned to Hamina town, another traditional old Finish town. It took about 30 minutes and 25 miles from the Russian border.
Hamina town and its magnificent town hall had a feel of being a cross between Hanko and Porvoo as old traditional Finish towns. The Linnoitus fortress was also worth a visit. It was built by the Finns to stop the advancement of Peter the great who wanted to capture all the seaports along the coasts for Russia, maybe this is reminiscent of Putin in 2022 and Ukraine, sadly! After a good look around, we called into the Hamina campsite and restaurant, by the water’s edge and booked in. The site was quite empty, so we had the pick of the pitches. Very forestry, and we set up and went for a walk around, down to the sea and beach along one of the many boardwalks. A very nice, deserted beach. Had a long walk around the site, looking at the amazing wooden sauna buildings wood fired, must be amazing in winter.
Friday 10th June 2016
Keef couldn’t sleep so up early, about 5 a.m. and went and had a shower and a good look around. The site is on a very sandy base. Back afterwards and Annie had awoken and showered we had breakfast and set off on our journey back to Naantali with a real feel that we had at least in part sampled some of Finland’s culture and scenery and we liked it.
The journey back to Naantali was all via motorway and took just over 3 hours by passing Helsinki , through Espoo and Turku and back into the town for a look around which we hadn’t done when we stayed 4 days previously. We parked up and had a good walk along the boardwalk surrounding the harbour and marina, all very interesting. Weather not too bad. Bit overcast but warm. We then had a good walk around the old town, seeing many old traditional wooden houses , the town hall with its old clock tower hovers above every sight line in Naantali. Some of the streets were steep all leading back down to the harbour. A very interesting town. After that it was back to the campsite, this time we were on pitch 51, closer to the waters edge but still on the flat. Such nice views we then set up and relaxed for the rest of the day ready for our cruise back to Sweden tomorrow.
Saturday 11th June 2016
Having stayed in the same campsite at Nanntali we knew our way back to the ferry terminal , the Naantali Nadendal, pronounced Natalie, and so most of the day was spent doing that lovely ferry trip via the Aland islands and multiple little islands on route back to Kapellskar. Can’t recommend this trip enough, just so relaxing, and free food and drink as well, what more could you ask for. Our ship this time was the Finneagle. We saw a lot of salmon farms on route as well. We also got to watch, heaven forbid, the Queen’s 90th celebrations on the TV delivered in Finnish, amazing, ha-ha, I of course stood to attention. In general, it is all plain sailing but there is a very rocky coastline, so we saw many lighthouses through the Gulf of Bothnia. We even went past the Finnfellow , the one we went over to Finland on, on the way back , they obviously use 2 vessels on this trip. There are many private islands with their own boat jetties along the route. We eventually got back to the Kapellskar campsite in Sweden at about 6.30 in the evening. It is quite a long boat trip, but so enjoyable, at 8hours 34 minutes. This time we were on pitch 16, tired we retired early after a snack as well fed on the ferry trip. So loved Finland.
Sunday 12th June 2016
After breakfast set off reasonably early from the Kapellskar site on the banks of the sea of Aland in the gulf of bothnia. It was going to be a 5 hour plus drive today, initially back through Brevik and Norrtalje turning off the 77 onto the main E4 into the old capital of Sweden Uppsala which the Vikings used as one of their centres of governance, a fascinating place with lots of history and amazing buildings. We had a good long walk around seeing the old water mill, senate house, st olaf’s arch, the gamla or old town, the old catherdral or domkirke to name but a few and saw folk in traditional dress going to church, as it was Sunday, all very interesting.
Then it was onto the turning leading to alvkarlaby where there was a huge Chinese dragon gate with lions, a rather strange find in a Scandinavian area but extremely lavish and large. We then used the coastal road onto Gavle and then on from there to the start of Siljan lake at Rattvik. This whole area counts as the equivalent of the Swedish lake district and travelling along through Mora and lake Orsasjon to our campsite for the night at Alvdalens camping, a nice site on the banks of the Osterdalalven river. There were some interesting BBQ pit houses on site for use by anyone, we had a nice evening stroll around the site and along the river, all very pleasant.
The guy in the office offered me a chance to catch grayling and trout in the river, but I’m no fisherman. Tee-hee
Monday 13th June 2016
Spent a lovely 2nd day here in the lovely campsite, took the motorhome out to have a look at the nearby ski resorts including the wonderful ski jumping slopes, even though it was not winter you could easily envisage them being used, fascinating. We also had a good look around the area and then returned early to the site to both chill, stroll along the river again and have a nice BBQ in the evening, chicken if I remember rightly. From a taste perspective however chicken in Scandinavia is quite different.
Alvdalen has 4 ski areas using for both skiing and snowboarding. Including Grovefjall, Idre fjall and salen, it doesn’t take a great brain to realise the Fjall probably means mountain in Swedish tee-hee.
Tuesday 14th June 2016
After 2 days in the lovely Swedish lake district we are moving on across the border into Norway but first we visited the wonderful town of Nusnas, Dalarna county on the edge of the huge and majestic Siljan lake. Nusnas is about an hour away from Alvdalen and is the home of the world famous Dala horse. We visited the Grannas A Olssen workshops and watched some very skilled workers creating these wooden masterpieces. From the huge to the miniscule indeed so small you could only see them under a microscope. There was also a history museum within the workshop showing Dala horses back through time to some of the very first ever crafted. These would we worth a fortune if you owned them. They have travelled worldwide, indeed we bought one for our grand daughter which she still has in her bedroom to this day. They were a hit at the 1939 world fair.
This is the smallest available, fascinating, it is followed by a slideshow of all the images we took whilst visiting the Dala horse workshops, enjoy!
After Nusnas we returned via the village of Sarna on the ostadalaven where I took what was possible my best picture of the holiday, just so proud of it. Sarna is in the Fulufjallet national park which has the ski mountain ranges. In essence we had returned near to Alvdalen where we had camped for 2 days but not quite. At Sarna we parked up and visited the very old cedar wood church.
Past Sarna at Idre on Highway 70 we crossed over into Norway, where to be honest there was no border crossing attention from officials at all. We stopped to take some pictures. It is also worth noting and I’d forgotten this that they drive on opposite sides of the road, easy for us Brits to adjust.
From here we headed on up into the Engerdal National Park and to our campsite at Hedmark. Hardly anyone was at the site so we mostly had it to ourselves, again as summer it felt like it was mostly populated only during the skiing season, the site itself was very nice and quirky. There was also a residual of snow still on the surrounding mountains, I would definitely not like to take the van here in winter, just far too scary.
Wednesday 15th June 2016
From Hedmark we set off towards Haneset and Roros along the edge of the scenerific Storsjoen with its mountains surrounding the lake. We came across elk on the road. We travelled through Kvernnes, Tyldal and turned at Tynset through Tolga and Os onto our Roros camping site, a splendid journey mostly through forested areas, the air was just so clean and some magnificent scenery. The whole scenic trip took about 4 hours.
We stopped at stations and saw ski jump slopes on route. The Norwegian village of Roros including the old traditional timber houses was most interesting. We learnt a lot about the heritage culture and customs. It was a Unesco world heritage site.
Thursday 16th June 2016
We set off from Roros camping to as far up as we were scheduled to travel north in Norway for this trip heading for Trondheim and our campsite out along the coast at Flakk. We first called in at Storen and then to see the waterfall at aursunden in the forollhogna national park whose scenery was the backdrop for most of todays journey all the way up to Trondheim. Spectacular views all the way on Highway 30. Some of the mountains on route were positively volcanic, just look at some of our images. Highway 30 turned into the E6. We had a real good look around Trondheim, which was once a Norwegian capital, it has a lot of history. In the city we visited museums, stiftsgarden royal residence, the market, the torget (town square), the cathedral, the archbishop’s palace, the old, cobbled back street, bridges, shops, and a whole lot more, it is a fabulous place, we loved every moment of it. Prior to Trondheim, and you just must do it, we went on the road to HELL and its airport, indeed we had fish and chips there.
After Trondheim and before going to the campsite we went east along the coast road to Vikhammer and its coastal railway station line, all very interesting and different. Then it was onto our Flakk campsite for the night, we got a great pitch with a sea view and as the weather was so nice Keef cooked on the griddle outside, chicken, onions and peppers, yummy! After tea we took a stroll to the harbour near the campsite and saw ice breakers and the ferry from Flakk to Rorvik.
Friday 17th June 2016
We were now at the real start of the Norwegian Fjords, so travel was a combination of both roads and ferry connections, oh and quite a few tunnels, my favourite being a fan of crime fiction was the apply named Nesbo tunnel. I have read all of Jo’s novels.
So today was a journey from Flakk to Kristiansund heading southwest on initially highway E6 then E39. We travelled past fjords and along them seeing waterfalls, and surprisingly a vineyard with grape vines, how does that survive in winter I wonder. This was near Klett just outside Trondheim and although they looked like grapevines may well have been another fruit i.e some sort of berry, but who knows, certainly not us, tee-hee.
We caught the ferry at Halsa called the svanoy to get to kanestraum after waiting in line for a bit for its arrival. We stopped prior to this at Surnadal for lunch.
We camped at the Byskogen site in Kristiansund.
Saturday 18th June 2016
We were one of the very few at the Kristiansund campsite, all grass and forest and no electric hook up but pleasant enough for an overnight stay. Up early breakfasted we set off set off for loen and stryn , it was quite misty. It was a combination of bridges, tunnels and ferries again today. The Norwegians deserve a medal for some of the engineering they have made this watery area connected. I am in awe. We queued for the Sykkylvsfjord ferry at molde arriving at vestnes. We travelled along the 650 with its fab views. Along the way it was more ferries at Stranda. Our campsite for the night was loen lo-vik at stryn on the waters edge, this is where we saw a dutch couple in their dressing gowns head off for a shower is what I can only describe at driving rain and a gale force wind, it takes all sorts. The Nordfjord views and abandoned kayak from our pitch were spectacular in between showers I ventured out to take pictures.
Sunday 19th June 2016
A much brighter day today, took a quite walk along the edge of the Nordfjord from our campsite, what fab views. We then packed up the van and headed south on highway 60 past the town of Loen through the Jostadalsbreen national park with its mountains and fjords through tunnels past utvik, ski centers around skei, moraines, and onto the magnificent glacier centre in fjaerland where the sun was out in force, yippee. We had a good look around the centre, saw stuff about wooly mammoths, walked out to the viewing spots via the provided platforms and took lots of photos. A really interesting place to visit to learn about the ice ages that have passed and how glaciers shape our landscape. From here it was past Mundal and onto our campsite overlooking the fjord at Sogndal, what a campsite , would recommend this one for both its facilities and its stunning location.
Monday 20th June 2016
We left Campsite Kjornes in Sogndal reasonably early after breakfast having taken yet more breath-taking photos, just so love this site. Initially we crossed the fjord via highway 5 and then we used this highway through alsberg, kaupanger, nybo and then it was into the short amlatunnelen and joining the ferry at mannheller to cross to fodnes, we joined the queue at Mannheller to get on this, quite an experience today the most ferrys, tunnels and bridges we had done as our time in the west fjordlands was coming to an end.
It was then through the fodnesvegan tunnel still called highway 5 and out and turn near tonjum into the E16 and join the longest tunnel in Norway called the laerdalstunnelen which stretches for 15.2 miles. We stopped in the middle which is lit with a coloured light display, all quite surreal.
Having come out of the tunnel we carried on around the aurlandsfjord thru a couple of small tunnels on the E16 and at the end of the tunnel at Lunde Vestland we turned towards the Hallingskarvet national park on highway 50, past lake vassbygdevatnet , steine and then some of the most twisty switchback road bends all the while climbing through 3 dimly lit and wet tunnels with very poor worn road surfaces, the culmination of which was the Nesbotunnelen near the village of Nesbo all named after my hero crime writer Jo Nesbo, I’ve read all his books, had to stop for a photo at the start of the tunnel obviously. At the very top of this ascent was the somewhat frozen vetlebotnvatnet lake, boy it was so cold up here. Then we descended through one more tunnel and down alongside the lake standavatn , lovely views, in the national park still and onto our campsite at Hovet, which in the acsi book at the time was labelled Hol, by 2022 this site is no longer in the ACSI book , I’ve checked, sad it was a nice site. There is however a site at Flam in the book just past Lunde at the end of that long tunnel, I would suggest a great place to camp #recommended #hintsandtips #campsites
Tuesday 21st June 2016
Left the site at Hovet travelling on highway 51 climbing high at Gol and then onto leira and then stopped at the stream or was it a river at dokka in the picnic area for lunch and a good look around. It was in fact the river etna which runs into the randsfjord. We then swapped onto highway 250 which was very scenic all the way into Lillehammer , the winter Olympics town on the banks of the the mjosa lake. It had the winter Olympics in 1994 but this year 2016 it was playing host again this time to the youth winter Olympics, we had a good look around, ski slopes, jumps, museums, tributes, town centre, shops and what limited buildings they had. We saw all the ski chalets at Oyer and then it was onto our site for the night at hunderflossen a nice site with views of the oyer reservoir from our pitch, we even had an ice cream from the site shop, yummy in the sun.
Wednesday 22nd June 2016
From Hunderflossen and Lillehammer we started making our way to the capital Oslo where we would stay for 2 nights at the Ekeberg campsite on the edge of the city’s parkland. #campsites This is their website for bookings etc.
After arriving at setting up and looking at the facilities we went for a walk around the attached park and had a good look at the 35 sculptures in the park, all very quirky but eminently photograph-able.
Ekeberg is high on a hill looking down across Oslo so we walked a little down the hill past the open fields to get a great view from on high of the capital, the station, the old ships in the harbour, the bridges, the town. We had last been in Oslo in 2004 with Mum on our Baltic cruise so could see where the cruise liners arrived indeed there was one in port as we looked.
The other thing I remember is that , and thank god I had researched it before leaving, is that all the roads around Oslo are toll roads so it is worth setting up an account before hand and applying your credit card, 1st time in they take £100 the residue of which was returned to me as unspent about 6 months later. The fines for not having your van registration set up are quite high so I would ensure you do #recommended.
Thursday 23rd June 2016
Our second day in Oslo. We caught the bus into the city centre at the stop just down the hill outside the campsite, it was quite a quick trip into the city centre and very convenient. We got into Oslo quite early and had a good walk around, through markets that were barely open, saw posters saying Paul Simon was playing there, sadly not today and we will have left. We had a look at the main cathedral and then bought a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket for the day in Fred Olsen gata, named after the cruise ship company we had travelled on in 2004, spooky ha-ha. We used it to see most of the key sites of oslo doing our usual once around first to get our barings and then getting off at points of interest, we saw the uni area, main flower parks, the harbour, kontiki exhibition (which we saw in 2004), heritage museums, viking ship museum, fram museum including lots about Amundsen which we found fascinating, frogner park and a whole lot more. So wished we had done that back in 2004 rather than just walking which limited what we saw to just the harbour area. Saw the ski jump slope. We finally finished our bus trip at Karl Johans gata where we visited the outside of the royal palace, listened to bands playing , saw the pride concert area and listened whilst we ate in the outdoors restaurant. The only downside was what we termed “professional” beggars everywhere even pestering you whilst you ate. A lovely day in oslo we caught the bus back to the campsite, tired but happy, so loved Oslo.
The other thing I remember clearly from this site was a Dutch guy on the next pitch telling us the UK had left Europe, Brexit, not that we agreed with it and being away on our scandi trip we didn’t even get a vote, not that us 2 would have made much difference to the result, we are still suffering from that decision 8 years later, grrrr!
Friday 24th June 2016
We are returning to Sweden today. We left Oslo initially on the E6, very complex to get out of the capital, masses of motorways and roadworks but finally left the congestion behind us, nearly all toll roads with auto recognition to allow payment. The E6 then turned off onto the E18 near Ski and thru Solberg across the Glomma River , through yet another tunnel near Krosby through Mommarken and finally crossing back into Sweden at the bridge by the lake rodenessjoen at Orje.
We carried on along the E18 in Sweden through Tocksfors past many lakes and green countryside finally arriving at our site Arjang camping and stugor on the vastra silens.It took only about an hour from the border. The lake had two islands in the middle. As it was mid summers day a huge public holiday in Scandinavia the site was packed but we had quite a good spot. It was lovely to watch families kayaking, barbequing and the may pole dance, all females were wearing a band of flowers in their hair, delightful, it was so nice to feel included in their traditions.
Saturday 25th June 2016
We left the wonderful campsite at Arjang and travelled along the E18 around lake jarnsjon, and then kept on this road throughout along past many a lake and green lands until we turned off onto the E44/45 motorway into Trollhatten. We wanted to visit this town as our eldest son Craig did a school exchange with Peter Anderson when he was in what I would call the 5th year at school (now I guess it counts as year 11). Peter was from Trollhatten, so glad we went there, a very interesting place both the town and then we drove out to see the nearby gota canal and waterfalls, the viewing platform with coffee and ice cream was splendid.
We then travelled about a further hour and a half from the gota canal near Trollhatten past Lilla Edet on the E45 motorway turning off at ucklumsvagen on the 170 and stopped to look at Stenungsund and its railway, and then crossing the bridge on the 160 onto Orust Island. This then turned into the 178 and headed out to Ellos on the west coast of Orust island. We travelled across multiple bridges and saw many islands to get to the campsite and saw many large American cars, a Swedish male obsession it seems. After setting up camp we had a lovely walk on the slightly shingle beach looking at the kayaks, water and across to the village fishing huts that we would take the van along 1st thing tomorrow morning, all very interesting, a lovely spot to camp and hugely relaxing.
Sunday 26th June 2016
Today we visited Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg on the west coast. Up early we drove off to have a look at the fishing village, it so reminded us of our time in Newfoundland in 2010. Clearly though it was Orust island on sweden’s west coast. After this we used the 160 to cross back over the bridges to the mainland and then the motorway E6 onto Gothenburg. We parked in the paid main car park behind the town hall which was incredibly convenient and then went off to explore the lovely city of Gothenburg, truly worth a visit in our humble opinion. We saw fab artwork, the old theatre, stora teatern, hop on hop off boats on the not surprisingly Gota canal start, ferry run from this major port to most parts of scandinanvia and use to go to kiel in Germany and Newcastle in the uk, sadly for us the ferry from Newcastle stopped in 2014 as not enough traffic was using it. Trams and trolley buses operate in Gothenburg city centre, and you can hire the equivalent of Boris bikes. We had a walk through the formal gardens, admired the cities old architecture and many many statues along the roadsides, parks and Gota canal, all in all a great city.
After seeing Gothenburg, we carried on down the coast to our campsite at Varberg on the E6 motorway around kungsbacka. The site was a big site backing onto a big surfing beach, we had been given a pitch number but when we went to it a family were still on it not having left as yet so rather than walk back, we chose the one nearby that was empty, indeed most of the site was empty, we thought we were being kind. A family then arrived who had booked the one we were set up on and they went back to complain, the camp commandant asked us to move even though it was still very empty, why they couldn’t go in the pitch next to us is still a mystery to me. What we should have done, lesson to self, is when our pitch was occupied gone back and complained as this family did, anyhow after a false start we went for a long walk past the crazy golf, swimming pool down to the coast, a lovely area. Had a nice meal and retired to read in bed. A very successful day.
Monday 27th June 2016
Today we would return to Denmark and stay at the wonderful Koge for 3 days. We left Varberg and travelled the 3 hour trip on motorway E6 back past Helsingborg and through the outskirts of both Malmo and Copenhagen , stopping briefly at the Malmo services in Sweden for fuel and a comfort break, before returning across the Oresund bridge into Copenhagen and Denmark. From Copenhagen which we did drive through seeing both uni and tenement blocks and some older architecture as well as many statues we travelled on on the E20 / E47 motorways to our Stevns campsite in the town of Koge, our home for 3 nights. Annie did some washing, keef rigged up a line between our van and the hedge, we chilled for the rest of the day, annie completing jumpers for our granddaughters. Like many sites we have stayed at there was crazy golf and a pool, we did neither.
Tuesday 28th June 2016
Today we drove the van to a carpark on the outskirts of the town of Koge, a very old traditional town with many coloured buildings. We spent the day in there walking around and seeing lots including the very old streets, we bought kunnel cake at a bakery and had a look at the churches. We then took the van out to Rodvig and Stege, both really interesting places before returned to the campsite to chill.
Wednesday 29th June 2016
We spent the whole day at the site today, not bad weather, sat outside reading, relaxing and listening to music, as the weather was so nice we also ate outside using the teppanyaki to grill on for our main meal. We were forced to have some more cinnamon buns as well, such a hard life, tee-hee
Thursday 30th June 2016
Packed up the van after 3 very nice relaxing days in the area and set off through the rest of Zealand on the E55 past the famous Faro bridge over the Baltic Sea which connects the islands of Zealand and Falster. We then travelled on the new Guldborgsund bridge to bring us from Falster to the island of Lolland, you rapidly begin to realise that Denmark is made up of many islands all interconnected by well built bridges. Once on Lolland we drove the E47 onto our campsite at Saskobing, quite a small site but very convenient for the ferry crossing at Rodby just 22 minutes along the road.
Friday 1st July 2016
Up early we packed up the motorhome and set off the short distance to the Rodbyhaven ferry terminal and joined the queue having purchased tickets online earlier yesterday. We drove onto our ferry, quite a large ship the schleswig-holstein, run by scandlines ferries i.e named after the german state which is the most northerly of all 16 states. Its capital is Kiel the canal we passed over on the way out and that which we travelled on our cruise back in 2004.
The crossing operates in high season up to 45 times a day and takes 45 minutes. We arrived relaxed and having saved miles in Puttgarden ,on the german island of fehmarn where it was quite a long tedious drive to get out of both the ferry terminal and town and back onto the main highway E47.
It was then a 1-hour journey to Plon and our campsite called campingpark augstfelde plon on the plonsee nature reserve. There were quite a few permanent setups on site but very few tourers. We had the park, a short walk from the site, to ourselves and after a quick set up went for a nice nature walk along the edge of the plonsee lake, a protected nature reserve.
Saturday 2nd July 2016
Set off from Plon to Garlstorf which was to be our next campsite on the journey home from Scandinavia. Endless traffic on highway 1 and crossing the Elbe delayed us by about 2 hours, these sorts of areas are always busy especially in summer. I don’t think we have ever been past Hamburg where there hasn’t been total congestion. The E26 / E22 (A1) route should have taken only 1 and a quarter hours, it took about 4 in the end. Didn’t do much at the site, called into a supermarket Aldi if memory serves and bought a lot of coffee and German sausages for home. Our campsite was all grass but felt like you were camping on a local football pitch.
Sunday 3rd July 2016
Left after breakfast and had a nice drive and look around the rural community of Garlstoft, some very nice houses and expansive farms. We then drove to Hemslingen and had a look around there before travelling onto our campsite just outside the main town of Bremen. The total journey only took just over an hour, so we arrived at the site in Bremen quite early, checked in and set up pitch. It was on a farm area; we then went for a long walk around including seeing the pool and all the statue tributes to the famous story of the famous 4 town musicians of Bremen. A Grimm's fairy tale from 1819. Disney also did a cartoon of this story way back in their catalogue.
Monday 4th July 2016
At the Bremen site in the morning, we saw a set of Donkeys from the farm crowd a lady in her small caravan after she had kindly or is it foolishly decided to feed them, they would not let her go with their begging, hilarious for us. We then continued our journey home today and left Germany and our site at Bremen and crossed back into Holland and onto the bulb town of Tübbergen. We used the main motorway the A1 crossing back into the Netherlands just outside of Osnabruck in the German state of lower saxony. The journey took almost 3 hours and only the last bit was not motorway.
The tubbergen site had a pool and outside table tennis table and was very rural, indeed I would recommend it for an overnight stay in a pleasant location.
Tuesday 5th July 2016
Left the Tubbergen site and travelled onto just outside the big city of Utrect at Bilthoven , the journey was about 2 hours along the A1 motorway around Apeldoorn, at Bilthoven we set up camp on pitch number 378 it was clearly a big site with that number of pitches, it had a pool and many facilities. However, its advantage to us was its short walk to Bilthoven station where we caught the train into Utrect central. We had a lovely long time in the fabulous and historic city walking along the canal side, admiring the architecture, later in the day we did a touristy canal boat trip whicg was just wonderful, after a full day, grabbing something to eat at the station we made our way back to the campsite by train, a very nice day.
Wednesday 6th July 2016
We left Bilthoven, bypassed Utrect on the A1 and turned off onto the E25 and then E30 for the hour journey through some of the more populated areas of Holland to Delft. On the way we parked up in the car park behind the library in Gouda by the canal, the carpark doubled as an air with electricity that we would use on future European trips as very convenient for the ferry at the Hoek of Holland, Rotterdam. We had a nice walk around Gouda, saw the canals, central square with its historic town hall and bought lots of cheeses. We had a good look around the Delft town after leaving Gouda whilst driving but there was nowhere to park so having seen the green open spaces and old buildings, we set off to find our Delftse Hout campsite, what a nightmare, the satnav took us to the bridge and underpass crossing just outside the site BUT the way was prohibited but a load of large stones on the underpass. We then spent longer than it took to get from Bilthoven to Delft trying to find the site entrance, eventually we cracked the puzzle. Keef was so frustrated he bend the van keys in the lock, oh dear, I eventually got them out and straightened them, so they were usable. What a journey not one I wish to remember. The site itself paid homage to delft pottery with its entrance displays, it had a nice pool and was very busy. Exhausted after the frustration of not finding the site we went to bed early.
Thursday 7th July 2016
A long day, up early, drove the 30-minute drive to the ferry terminal at Hoek Van Holland and joined the check in queue. Got on board in the usual way and then got the announcement over the tannoy that the sailing was delayed due to waiting for some commercial cargo lorries, we eventually sailed some 4 hours later. When back in Harwich the road out was closed so we had to do a massive detour and then again the A14 was closed due to roadworks so we had yet more detours to make. We eventually arrived home at 2 a.m. only to find the kitchen electrics had flicked out sometime during the 2 months we were away. Nightmare all there was was the smell of rioting food from the defrosted frozen food, so we got out lots of black sacks cleared it all out and dumped it in the outside bin, cleaned up the freezer, reset the electrics and eventually flopped into bed at 3 a. m. A great holiday but not fun coming back to that. Note go self, run down fridge and freezer before any future long trips and get son to come in and check every now and then.
So we loved it all 6140 miles of it.