Our original plan was to cross from the west side of Denmark to the west side of Norway on True East. As it turned out we toured most of the country by land as you can see on the map.
When we finally got the boat repaired in Fredrickhaven, Denmark the weather window for the crossing had passed and there was no way we could meet Kristi and Katherine in Bergen as scheduled. Leaving the boat, we flew up to Oslo so that we could meet our guests on arrival and rework our travels during their ten day stay. After a day in Oslo, we all took the train to Bergen, then a ferry up the fjord to Flam and the train back to Bergen. The train from Bergen to Myradal was the highlight of this day. We found Bergen to be very touristic, yet offered adventures like the cable car up to the restaurant at Ulriken where we had a sunset dinner.
With Dan’s nephew Tony and family arriving on the 12th, we decided to take a risk and fly back to Denmark to get the boat and then make a dash for Oslo while Kristi and Katherine continued down to Stavanger before flying back to Oslo. Sprinting 150 miles up to Oslo, we were fortunate to find dockage at the Aker Bryggee Marina in the heart of the city. Knowing the tall ships were going to be passing the mouth of the Oslo fjord on the 14th, we planned to take everyone down to watch the parade and anchor up for the night.
Once again, we encountered a technical problem with the boat and limped back to Oslo on one engine after only getting a third of the way down the fjord. After spending a few days in Oslo, we arranged the Bergen trip to Tony, Julie and Leah while we stayed in Oslo to deal with the boat. Amazingly, there was a Cummins dealer ten miles from Oslo who had the parts we needed for the repair; however, the annual Norwegian vacation time had just started so no mechanics were available. Knowing we had 10 days or so, we decided to head for the arctic circle and booked a plane to Bodo, Norway. No sense in staying still.
In Bodo we took the tour of the Saltstraumen Sound maelstrom on a jet boat. This maelstrom on a King Tide is supposed to be the strongest in the world….it was blast that day. Enjoying long summer arctic days/nights we had a conversation with a local bartender who told us he had a golf tee time at midnight…Marcia woke up at 3:45 that morning and realized that he was just finishing up his game in plenty of light! Renting a car, we then headed for Narvik which was an important port during WWII. At the Resistance museum there we learned a great deal about the war in the North, a part of the war we were not familiar with. The following day we drove the magnificent Lofoten peninsula to the little village of Reine and stayed in a converted fishing camp. This area we learned is famous for its Stockfish (a form of open air dried cod fish). During January and February they fish, then hang the fish on racks that cover every available piece of land. The fish then air dries for four months before being packed or shipment, primarily to Italy and Japan. In the old days, the farmers would become fishermen for these two month. As the gulf stream runs down the west coast of Norway, the water and seashore are not as cold as one might think, being in the arctic circle.
Taking the car ferry back to Bodo, we then flew to Trondheim. This city used to be the capital of Norway. At Trondheim, we rented a car and drove to Sweden for lunch in Are, then on to a quaint hotel in Selbu. Along the way we stopped at the Helga fortress, built in the early 1900’s by the Norwegians to defend against the Swedes. From Trondheim, we flew back to Oslo to pick up the boat after it’s port drive unit was repaired by the wonderful guys at Vollenslipp.
Crusing the boat south west, we arrived at Arendal just as the wind picked up again making our return to Oslo in the near future dubious. Dan’s grand nephews Chad and Kyle had planned to meet us in Oslo, instead they drove down to Arendal were we had a short by great visit. As the boys left, once again we rented a car and hit the road. This time our travels were along the coast to Stavanger (this was to be our first port in Norway in the original plan). After an overnight, we then drove back thru the mountains to Arendal.
While we had intended a coastal tour on the boat, we ended up seeing much more to the country than we anticipated. There was nothing we did not like about the country and its people. We were very much reminded of Canada in terms of topography, moderation, and hospitality. The discovery of oil in the 1970’s lead to the development of a very sophisticated engineering culture building off their ship building experience. Oil revenues cover about half of the federal budget, but they know it will run out, and have built a Commonwealth Fund whose dividends will make up the difference in twenty years. While they export the oil, they are also developing a fossil free economy, over half of the new cars sold here are Teslas. Some of the reasons these are the happiest people on the planet.