(18) It’s all downhill to Oslo
Sunday 22nd July
Woke on the grassy area just off the road. Tent was dry so made packing up easier. We got on the road and looked for somewhere to have breakfast – we saw a great spot by the water. After a well needed cuppa and cereal we felt better and rode for another 20 miles. We arrived in Fagernes. It was only 11am and we only had 30 miles left to ride to our hosts house so we decided to stop at the tourist information centre. We asked about the condition of the road ahead. He told us it was a short uphill then flat before descending into the town of Gol. We took advantage of the free internet and had a leisurely lunch before heading off about 3ish. We thought we’d have plenty of time but soon discovered that the climb was more than ‘a short uphill’. We felt both felt great to start with after all our mountain training but it went up for 8 miles with the odd hair pin bend, coupled with a head wind and increasingly heavy rain. We reached what we thought was the summit at 740 metres, only to find that we were to continue to climb and drop over moorland to 870 metres. We finally arrived at the downhill which were a glorious 8 miles. Luckily we were only half an hour late for our host from warm showers. His name was Stan and welcomed us in and offered us tea and chocolate ; ) which was a great first impression of warm showers!
We spent the evening chatting about bikes –of which he had a good collection! Tim and Stan also did some bike maintenance and Stan looked at our computer and put an advert blocker on which has made it quicker. We had a great evening together.
Stan and Tim
Monday 23rd July
We had boiled eggs for breakfast with toast which was a nice change from porridge. We said goodbye to Stan who we were very grateful for letting us stay and headed into town and found a Rema to Sharon’s delight and picked up supplies. Heading on down the highway, we were planning on taking a back road suggested by Stan but with a strong headwind and rain forecast we decided to take the easier option of following the valley down on the busier road. We made good progress and stopped for lunch in a town. We headed over to a Mcdonalds for the use of their free internet and sat on a grassy area outside. As soon as we had lit the stove, a man came out on his ride-on lawn mower. Before long he was mowing rings around us and it became increasingly difficult to relax and enjoy our break. He kept mowing over the same piece of grass next to us so we finally took the hint and packed up.
We rode on down the highway for another 20 miles. With increasingly heavy traffic and rain we decided to stop at a town called Norsund. Tim went off in search of ice cream to cheer Sharon up as the blisters on her hands were returning. He succeeded in his quest! We sat down to eat them and spotted an area just off the road with a nice grassy area 200 metres down the road. We made our way down to the benches and made a cupper and laughed as a camper van drove up and down looking for a way into our camp spot but there was no vehicle access! We slept well.
Tuesday 24th July
With the Kiwi store only 200 metres away from our camp we had cold milk and a carton of orange juice for breakfast – delicious! We set off with only 30 miles to ride to Svein and Gluesa’s house in Honefoss where we were staying the night. We were looking forward to seeing them again. It was a good ride with plenty of sunshine and quieter roads so we could enjoy the scenery a bit more.
Heading down the valley towards Honefoss
We arrived in Honefoss and treated ourselves to a punnet of strawberries and sat in the square. It was a pretty town with a bustling lunch time. We looked around and headed to our friends home to be greeted by Gluesa and her son Bruno who was visiting from Brazil. We were treated to a delicious soup and warm bread and chatted the afternoon away. Svein arrived home and we were told that it was their wedding anniversary and were to be included in the evenings celebrations of champagne and an amazing roast dinner. It was a great evening; the only thing we wished we had done was asked Svein to play his grand piano. It was great being there on their special day.
Wednesday 25th July
After a really good night’s sleep we woke up and said goodbye to Svein as he headed off to work. We slept a bit longer before getting up and having a relaxing breakfast with Bruno and Gluesa. We packed our things loaded our bikes and headed back out on the road to Oslo. On the way we went past the Island of Utopia where sadly there was a terrible massacre a year ago. It was a very sombre moment with a lot of people paying their respects. We put some flowers down and rode on to find somewhere to have lunch. With the roads really busy it was hard to enjoy the scenery because we were always checking how close the cars were.
We stopped at an intersection and had a short lunch stop and noticed there were a load of cans lying around. Svein had told us that when he was cycle touring he used to collect them and cash them in at the supermarkets which pretty much funded his trip. With a value of 1kr or 12 English pence each we thought it would be interesting to see how many we could collect – and of-course use it for ice-cream or chocolate.After about 30 miles we had got 26 cans so we found supermarket and put them in the machine which told us that 6 didn’t count. It then gave us a receipt that we could cash in, thinking we’ll save it for when we do our next shop.
We continued to Oslo trying to stay on marked cycle paths but constantly got lost with no signposts and the ones that were present seemed to be confused about exactly which way they wanted to point. We ended up asking about a dozen people all in different places how to get to Oslo. We kept finding signs that said ‘no cyclists’. We finally found the centre with the help of a guy on a moped who guided us onto the cycle path that would take us into the centre. We found a McDonalds to get internet so we could find our host’s address. A friendly couple with a map who were off to the cinema, stopped to talk to Tim and started asking him about the trip. They were surprised when Sharon walked towards them as they had presumed Tim was travelling with another man. The lady said ‘oh a girl’! It was lucky Sharon had shaved her beard that morning! They helped us find the right end of town and taking a photo of the map we headed off in the right direction. After 20 minutes we knew we were close but still couldn’t find our host Maarten’s house, so we rang him and he very kindly came and got us.
Being an hour late Maarten kindly cooked a great meal and put us up for 2 nights so we could relax and enjoy the city the following day. We had both had a long day but both enjoyed the evening chatting with Maarten. We both slept really well that night.
Thursday 26th July
We got up early as Maaten had to go to work which was good for us as we would have stayed in bed and not seen anything. We rode into the city and looked around for a while stopping at Oslo cathedral and found a place with internet to write the last blog. After a couple hours and the sun beaming down on us we decided to buy some lunch and head for the park for some shade. The park we were in was called Vigeland Park and is an extraordinary open-air showcase of work by Norway’s best-loved sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. The incredible Monolith at the end of the park stands 14m high (see below) and took 3 stone carvers working daily from 1929 to 1943 to complete. It was nice laying in the sun and we could have been there all day but with it being 3pm by now we headed on. We rode on through the park past the many sculptures which were amazing.
After we left the park, we rode on to the Viking museum where we could see three original Viking ships which were truly fascinating. All were built of oak in the 9th century and were used as tombs for nobility, who were buried with all they were expected to need in the afterlife such as food, carriages and tapestries. We spent a couple hours there learning about these intriguing and powerful people.
One of the 3 viking ships on display
We headed back along a pretty cycle track back in to the city. We got to the centre easily and tried to find our way back, needing to head northwest we went in the direction we knew it to be and with a compass bell on Tim’s bike we turned a few corners and found that we were slightly lost because the tramlines made the compass read west in every direction. After a while of checking the map, Tim turned on the GPS and followed it to the last reading that was recorded the day before and hoped it would lead us back to our host. After 10 minutes we had arrived back and with Maarten only being back 10 minutes himself it was perfect timing.
Sharon cooked a lovely meal while Tim and Maarten chatted. We had a great day but still hadn’t finished the blog so spent the rest of the evening getting it finished. By 12pm it was all done and we could sleep, with it being a rest day we felt shattered but relieved we had done what we wanted to do.
Friday 27th July
With a late night and a long day we woke up still tired and with our bags what we really needed was another rest day to do nothing but it was not to be. Tim went in the kitchen to have coffee with Maarten while Sharon Skyped her sister. We left the flat and Maarten kindly guided us out of the city and put us on cycle route 613 which was one of the best routes to follow so far. We came across a Rema store to Sharon’s delight and picked up breakfast. We rode on and the 613 route started to play up so we stuck to the road and headed for route 22. Once on the 22 we could relax as it went on for about 40 miles with no turn off so we had lunch and relaxed. By the time we had finished lunch it was 3.30pm so we rode on and decided to collect more cans to buy ice creams. After a while we were getting a bit fed up with it as we seemed to be spending more time looking in the verges then at the view. We arrived at a small town called Bastad with some amusing signs at a sports centre and traded our cans for cash at a supermarket and treated ourselves – “WE LIKE ICECREAMS”
We rode on to Mysen to buy tea and decided to use our coupon that we had got a few days earlier to help pay for it. At the checkout the lady scanned the receipt and told us that it has to be redeemed in the store that you deposited the cans “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” was the response but felt ok as Norway was now a little tidier. We cooked tea in a local park and head on to find a camp spot but with all the fields full of corn we really struggled to find anywhere. After an hour and a half of looking we were starting to get fed up and decided to ask a man who was painting a garage next to a large house. His reply was “yes you may camp at the back of the house as the owners are away”. Not wanting to miss an opportunity for another free camp spot, we quickly found a nice spot behind the house on the ornamental garden (with Sharon feeling a little uncomfortable) pitched the tent and Tim went around the front just to check we hadn’t miss heard him. He confirmed it was ok and offered us some raspberries. Great camp spot!
Next instalment coming soon…….