Friday, 30 July 2010

Pleasure and Pain on Senja

I was completely unprepared for Senja. After the gently undulating hills of Helgeland, Lofoten and Andoy I was feeling confident of traversing Senja in an afternoon. The approach should have tipped me off
but I was too busy admiring the beauty of the Cloud falling over the Mountain. As soon as we left the port of Gryllefjord we started climbing...and climbing...and climbing, then a steep decent down the other side. There were may interesting things to see on the way like

this Troll theme park, or

this beautiful "Steinsopp" (in Norwegian) and after some time I caught up to Bjorn who had been fishing for quite a while, albeit unsuccessfully. Luckily I had brought dinner

so we ate Porcini Risotto and Flintsteaks. At Midnight we rode on for a while till we reached the crossroad of Finnsnes and Botnhamn. Bjorn is a morning person and wanted to crash and then go on to Finnsnes whereas I was just getting energy so we decided to go our own way. My route led straight up to the snow line. By the time I reached the top I was cursing my decision until I saw 

this magical Lake

so at 2am in the twilight with a full Moon feeling tired, hot and sweaty I went for a swim. All the pain and anguish turned into pure ecstasy. It is a moment I will never forget.Then I went through the tunnel and saw

 Fully energized I continued to Steinfjorden where I spotted some tents near the shore and,,,monkey see...monkey do, at 4am I pitched my tent. I got up at 10am and without further ado I hit the road to Botnhamn. I felt a sense of urgency now and concentrated on the km's. Again there were steep hills, tunnels and wonderful sights but no more photo's or mushrooms slowed me down. I made the ferry with half an hour to spare. By the time I reached Brensholmen on the Island of Kvaloya I was thoroughly exhausted  and was hoping to get a Bus to Tromso. No such luck. The bus shed gave me no useful information so I headed to Tromso. It was 4.30 pm and I had 22 hours to do 55km. The first 23km were easy but then came another Mountain. One hour later I was at the top and being only 20 downhill km from the Scandik Hotel, a hot Shower and a soft bed I relaxed and thought Dinner would be a good Idea. Also I had picked up a few more mushrooms and still had instant soup and dried stockfish. Not stuff to take to a hotel.
So ends my epic Trondheim to Tromso saga, stay tuned for reports from the tournament.
Ciao for now :-)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Svolaer to Andenes

It has been a wireless-free zone between these two towns but now I am at the Andenes tourist informaton place with free wi-fi so all is ok again. The first day was raining and uneventful but I made the 77km just to finish at Norways worst Camping in Sortland. Expensive, no even ground and none of the facilities worked. I could go on ad-infinitum but sufice it TO say that if you are ever in the area you are better off Camping wild. At least you will find even ground. the day did have one highlight. Smile or frown?
I was feeling a bit low on energy the next day to begin with but solved that problem with a stop at a Cafe and a heavy lunch followed by Waffles with Cloudberries. Not a bad view either.

It was at this Cafe that I met Bjorn from Denmark 

and we decided to ride together for a while. This is him later that evening warming himself by the fire. Being a fit young man he was very tolerant of a slow fat Aussie desperately trying to keep up the pace. Actually his speed on his one-gear bike means I will make the tournament on time as we made up a day. I contributed by making a Mushroom Risotto with some Boletus Edulis I had found earlier in the afternoon.  
After Coffee this morning we headed to Andenes, again at a brisk pace, past some spectacular beaches and mountains. 
And now I have to go shopping because the only food left is some cheese from Andoys best little Cheese-producer Nordtun Gard. This is May Johannessen showing off her wares.
Until the next wi-fi folks, have a nice day :-)

Monday, 26 July 2010


This evening I arrived in Svolvaer Courtesy of the Nordland Express Boat from Bodo. It was an overcast day so not great for taking pictures. Still it was worth having a window seat.
We stopped at a few little towns on the way
arriving at 20.30. It was raining but the tourist information was still open and I got some maps, timetables for inter-island Ferries and instructions on how to get to Lofoten feriesenter. .Nice place with fully equipped kitchen and Wi-fi. Showers at 20NOK set a new record for me though but that is a minor quibble. Dinner was medallion of Elk and Potato salad. I bought a camping-frying pan and some other essentials in Bodo thinking it may be remote here but it turns out my fears were unfounded. Also I discovered that the tournament starts on Sunday the 31st, not Friday the 29th as I had for some strange reason assumed so
I can take my intended route via Andenes after all. Time for a good night's sleep, long ride ahead tomorrow.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Good food exists in Norway!

I am now in Bodo in a fantastic Cafe, the Paviljongen. Pink Floyd is playing "wish you were here", I am drinking a local beer called Bayer (?!) and feasting on a tagiatella with shrimps, crab tails, sundried tomatoes, capsicum and spanish onion. My first good meal since arriving in Norway.

I left Vennesund rather late and headed to Bronnoysund 49km away. The Camping in Vennesund was next to an old trading station and was run by a friendly old couple with little foreign language skills.
Just make sure you don't have to eat there. It was a bright sunny day yet cool and breezy, perfect for Biking yet for some reason I had no strength in my legs. I had to stop frequently for rest and food but nothing helped. First was a little town called Vik which is charming enough but the Museum is just funny. Basically somebody just raided their Grandma's place and put all the rubbish she didn't want anymore on display, or maybe she passed on. As usual there was great scenery along the way but I was less able to fully appreciate it due to the pain in the legs and elsewhere.

I got to Bronnoysund too late for the ferry to Vega because again I had failed to plan ahead. This is becoming a habit. I then found out that the good ship Hurtigruten calls just after midnight so not seeing a good alternative I decided to skip Vega this time and go straight to Bodo.
As I realized today that was a very good decision. I had greatly under estimated the size of the Lofoten islands and am actually in a bit of time trouble. The Nordlys is a Cruise-ship that goes up and down the coast of Norway between Bergen and Kirkenes for the Hurtigruten Company. It is comfortable enough with a great breakfast but I was disappointed that there was no Wi-fi aboard as I had been told there would be. Apparently only on the newer ships. Oh well.   Tomorrow I am taking the express boat to Svolvaer and I hope that after a days break I will have my legs back because I really need them now to make the first round on time :-)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Oh what a Perfect day

The Sun was shining today and the breeze was cool. Best day for Cycling ever. I spent the morning drying some more things and frying fish that a German had given me the previous evening. Two families had been coming to Leka for the last five years to fish. They had a freezer full to take back home. As it turns out Leka is famous for fishing the wall of the freezer room is full of Trophy-Pictures. So after an early Lunch with this view
After Brunch I headed off to the Leka Museum 

where I received a guided tour from Julie and Rune. Behind them you see some old fishing Boats and inside there are many relics of a way of life gone by

And last but not least some fossilized Whale bones. I could write a whole Blog just on the exhibits, like the remains of a German WW2 Bomber, Mines, Farm machinery etc but come see it all for yourself. Here is what remains of the Whale
I then caught the ferry to Gutvik losing a Glove in the process (my third Pair so far) and headed to Holm. The scenery on the way was breathtaking.

The next one took some work. I had to do quite some climbing so I hope you appreciate it :-)
It's past Midnight now, still light but time for me to get to Bed and rest before visiting another Island. Goodnight

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I woke up today to the sound of Rain falling on my Tent. I checked the weather forecast and it was not good. Rain all day. For a while I considered just staying there another day but my slow progress and the prospect of spending a whole day in my Tent motivated me to put on my wet-weather gear (which I stupidly neglected to do yesterday (why carry it if you are not going to use it when it rains???) and hit the road to Namsos. I had seen that there was a fast Ferry to Leka.
This is cheating technically speaking but by now I have accepted the fact that I am not going to make Tromso by the 29th with just my Bike. Even without the constant rain. It was a pleasant journey and not too expensive. 293 NOK for a lot of km and a chance to see one of Norway's most beautiful Islands. There was only one downside. The weather got worse and standing on deck was impossible because of the wind.

A few hours later we arrived in Leka and I soon started regretting my decision. The wind and rain had picked up considerably and the port was not in town. After several km's I arrived at the Leka Motel and Camping place drenched, despite my wet weather gear, and freezing. They also have Stone Cabins
and I really didn't feel like trying to put the Tent up in the wind and rain. Funny thing is that as soon as I paid for the Cabin it stopped raining and the Sun came out! Ever get the feeling some supernatural force is playing games with you? Well anyway, a night in Comfort is not a mistake and the price of 400 NOK is definitely not unreasonable. There is also a well-stocked kitchen so I rode to the nearest supermarket to make myself my first hot meal for several days. So I put on the heater, had a cup of hot fish soup and fried some pork chops while enjoying the magnificent view from my window

Tomorrow and the weekend are supposed to be sunny so I think I will revise my strategy and concentrate more on the scenery. I will take more Ferries and try to see as much as possible of this beautiful country instead of doing as many kilometers as possible as quickly as possible. Hasta manjana amigos.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Strawberry fields Pt2

This seemed like a good place to stop for Lunch. Anybody who has never had wild strawberries has not lived a full life. They taste only remotely like the big ones from supermarkets. They complimented the Yogurt and Banana I had bought earlier for Lunch splendidly. After a great meal I returned to the main Road, Hwy 17 and started to Panic about the time and few km I had done. I didn't get all that far before meeting Ron.
Ron is an American living in Switzerland and rides for charity. We spent a while chatting by the side of the road. My Bike was quite muddy and he told me his number one rule was to keep the Bike clean, especially the Gears and Brakes. He also had fascinating stories to tell about Biking in War zones and other exciting places. But let him tell you more himself on his website . By the time we parted ways it was 5pm and I still had 53km to go to my intended destination Namsos. After two more hours of Rain and Hills I saw the Holmset Camping Ground an decided to call it a day. It is now 1am and I am posting this from my tent. If it is a nice day tomorrow I will try to make up some of the km's. Good night all. 

Strawberry fields forever.

The third day started sunny. Until I got on the Bike. It started drizzling immediately. My first stop was in town (Steinkjer) where I visited the Malmo sports store. I brought two pairs of Bicycle Gloves for my trip, lost one pair in Leiden and the second pair in Levanger. While there I also bought a Bike shirt. It was on special. Next stop was Egge and the outdoor Museum. Since it was still drizzling it was lucky that they had lots of indoor exhibits. I was served Coffee and a Hot Dog for breakfast by a lovely young lady called Kjersti.
After breakfast she gave me a semi-guided tour of the Museum. it shows how people lived on the land in times gone by. 

There is also a Shed with Automobiles, Tractors and an Ancient Steam engine.  

Kjersti tells me that some of the exhibits are still functional and get taken out sometimes to take groups of Schoolchildren for a Joyride. This one for example.
After spending a good hour at the Museum I headed to an Archeological site nearby to see some rock carvings believed to be 6000 years old. It seems Adam and Eve liked to travel.

It continued to drizzle incessantly. I was not making good time so I tried to hurry it up a bit. Still when you see this

Running out of battery, to be continued.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Bikeway to Hell

Well the Epic journey started yesterday. I arrived in Norway at 3pm and went straight to Hell. Don't believe me, think I am speaking figuratively, in tongues? Well here is proof.

I then bought a tent at the local sports shop and headed north. Cycling in Norway is a lot different from the Medoc or Holland or Germany. Although beautiful the country is very hilly and carrying about 15kg of luggage does not make it any easier. I spent the first night at a Camping place on a lake in the middle of nowhere. Next lesson. Always carry some food with you when Biking. It's not as vital as Water but there are places where you cannot get any food. This morning I got up bright and early, and hungry, and headed to Asen .A few klicks up the Road (E6) I saw an Ice cream cone cardboard-cutout. Strangely enough it was a Candle factory but served Coffee and Ice cream as well as other sweets.
 In Asen I was advised to take a Bike road to Levanger. This was a tough and hilly hike but the countryside was picture postcard. An example perhaps?
And my "Vehicle"

Did I mention that it drizzles incessantly? At least that keeps the temperature down. After Levander and Lunch the going got easier and by evening I reached Steinkjer. I am now at the Guldbergaunet Camping ground . This one is very civilized with free Wi-fi everywhere and all the facilities. A steal at only 140 NOK a night. More next time I have Wi-fi or I figure out how to connect via my phone. I figured out today how to transfer pictures to the laptop so progress is being made :-) 

Monday, 12 July 2010

Round 3 Leiden

Rainy day in Leiden

Well folks, it's raining, my TV is not working and I'm bored. I arrived on Amsterdam from Munich by Night-train on Friday morning 9am. From there I rode to Leiden on my Bike. Some lessons learned, getting out of Amsterdam without a map is not so easy. That took 2 hours. Next lesson, ALWAYS have a lot of water with you before a long bike ride especially on a hot day.I eventually got here at 2pm. I hope to improve on that rate ( 35km in 5 hours) in the coming months. Anyway due to too much red wine and Laziness I never got to finish my Naujac Beach series so here are a few more Pics.
 Montelivet Beach hosts a Bike Rally every Year so it can get quite noisy on the weekends. There is also a huge market where you can buy fresh Oysters, Wine and a plethora of other local delicacies.
The tournament was won by Merijn Van Delft with 7/9. A great performance considering the fact that he is a professional football player :-)
To finish off here is Nina enjoying Hourtin Beach. So within 10-15 minutes drive of Naujac there are three nice Beaches all with a distinctive Charm.

Friday, 2 July 2010

France v International selection.

Once again the French national football team has been humiliated. Nevertheless they had scored 2 Goals by halftime and the new French Captain John Castro felt that the team is making progress in the offense. "At least we don't have Anelka holding us back".
Eva Maria Zickelbein was the Captain of the International team here posing with Star Striker Thomas Mueller. The International team had scored 5 goals by halftime and were looking forward to making a few more in the second half.
The match was played in a friendly spirit and the teams spent the break together. The French team is expected to do better in 4 years time when a lot of the players will be in their teens. The International team will have to find replacements for their experienced players. Hopefully they can convince their grandchildren to play in coming years.