Three days of solo driving might just be enough to drive one mad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! The scenery and experience has been absolutely amazing. But after 1,000 miles with nobody to talk to but yourself, well, I talk to myself a lot anyway. I easily doubled the time it would take to just get to Hamburg, if that were my goal. Driving through the fjords was totally worth it. And oops, I took a wrong turn and drove that amazing tunnel, saw some glacier capped peaks, and now I understand why Norwegians believe in trolls. The landscape looks truly hewn by large, trollish hands. I think the network of tunnels I drove through were really troll traps… maybe Trollhunter really is a documentary?
These are the thoughts that started to occupy me. That and a strange depression. I think I’m getting lonely… good thing Kim is in the air on her way to Hamburg right now! Our phone calls have been brief to preserve the pre-paid cell minutes on the travel SIM, and every other person I have to talk to speaks a different language. I pride myself on attempting to learn as much as I can and not be an ugly “speak English!” American, but it does exhaust the brain. I’m ready for some companionship again!
All that said, the driving days have been absolutely spectacular. The one nice thing about flying solo is I can stop whenever I please to take some snaps. I never get anywhere when I plan to, but as we’ve discussed previously, that’s really not the point. British Columbia has the Sea to Sky Highway… Oslo could almost lay claim to the name Sky to Sea, but there is no Highway involved here. It’s all E roads with 80kph speed limits, curving around sharp and twisted outcroppings of rocks and straw fields. It’s all fiber and texture.
I woke up from my unexpected free cabin and bade farewell to the momma sheep guarding her lambs nearby as began the long drive south on Wednesday. The accidental ferry ride across the fjord may soon be a relic as it looked like they were building a bridge in the distance. All of the ice, altitude and gravity lends itself to plentiful waterfalls, lakes and rivers leading out to the seas, and that pretty much defined the day as I also made my way down to Kristiansand. The town of Odda, nestled between two of these lakes and featuring its own falls, was also home to a smeltworks. Not to be outdone by Seattle’s Gasworks Park, they turned their Smeltworks into a park of sorts too. Somebody forgot to tell them you shouldn’t do this with a *working* industrial area.
As I got closer to the more populated port the idea of a hotel near the ferry terminal began to sound like a really good idea. It must have sounded like a good idea to everybody in southern Norway, because there wasn’t a room in the city. Well, that’s not exactly true, the Radisson Blu was willing to host me for the princely sum of Kr1500 (over $250). I gave up after an hour of fruitless searching, grabbed a felafel sandwich and drove back out of the city to the first campground I could find. The one nice thing about Norway is that camping is plentiful. It’s like the whole country is a national park. There are picnic areas seemingly every kilometer. Denmark turned out to be much the same.
Exiting the ferry terminal in Hirtshals, I saw two classic Fiat 500’s getting on in the other direction… too quick to snap a pic, but as you can see, the new 500 is very popular in these parts. I turned the wheels north despite my desire to arrive in Hamburg… there were sights to be seen first! I wanted to see if you could really see a line where the the two seas collide at the northern tip of Denmark. I think I tweeted it was the Atlantic and Baltic, but lest I upset any map fiends, it’s really the North Sea and the Baltic (come on, it’s water, you can’t really just arbitrarily draw a line can you? Ok, that’s what cartographers do…)
Between lingering in Skagen, stopping in Arhus for food, and being otherwise slowed down by road construction diversions and caravans of slow moving oversized trailer trucks (looked like rocket parts or something), it took me the better part of 11 hours to actually arrive in Hamburg. Oh, I also stopped to argue with eKit customer service about why data suddenly stopped working in Germany. I could rant about how bad they are, but I know it’s not interesting… summary: stay away from Telestial’s Passport SIM when traveling, buy your pre-paid on arrival.
I finally checked in, very late, to the Generator Hostel in Hamburg to get some much needed sleep. Today was chore day: laundry, new SIM card from T-Mobile, work on photos… and now it’s time for bed again so I can wake up and fetch Kim from the airport first thing in the morning! We go straight from the airport to the harbor where the rally shenanigans will kick off, and despite the previous 3 days of amazing driving, this thing will really get into, uh, gear… sorry, couldn’t be helped.