Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A trip to Norway - Part 3

To pick up where I stopped last time, we just hiked back down from the Preikestolen in the early morning.
When we made it back to the parking lot we finally ate breakfast. The hike down took half the time it took us to get up there, which was still a good 2 hours of hiking with heavy packs.
So when we got down my legs were trambling again, and I could really use the food.

The walking wasn't done yet though. The parking lot was still a pretty long way off from where we needed to be to get a ride, as the only people up where we were just arrived and still had to climb the Preikestolen.
They wouldn't be back for hours, maybe even the entire day, so nobody was going back to the main road yet.
After breakfast we sat around a little longer and then started our walk back to the main road.

Hiking to the main road

As you can see the area wa beautiful, and thankfully the hills weren't very steep except for at the start.
Along the way we came across a camping ground that turned out to be run by a Dutch family. This was day 5 for us, and in those 5 days we haven't had a shower. And especially after the hike of the previous day, we really would've liked one. And so we walked up to the reception building and asked if we could take a shower in their facilities, and said we could and would pay for it. But we were denied, which soured our mood a bit.
But that wasn't quite the end of it. We did have access to their public bathroom, which was quite roomy. And one at a time, we simply washed up at the sink inside it. So we still had a 'shower' and got the last laugh in the end. 

We decided to try our luck hitchhiking from this spot, hoping for a camping guest to go back down to the main road.
We set up our position in a less than favourable position, a bend in the road in front of camping entry, but it was the best spot there was. Luckily we didn't have to stand there long. 15 minutes later a full car pulled over, and the driver rolled down her window. She told us to wait, she was taking two guys up to the Preikestolen parking and she would come back down after to give us a ride to the ferry back to Lauvik (which is where we wanted to go).
So after waiting for a while longer she came back down again. We loaded our stuff into the car and started the drive to the ferry. She had her younger sister (Sophia) with her, who sat in the backseat with Willem. I sat in front with Kathrina and had a nice chat with her. She was studying to be an engineer in green energy, and was already promised a job 5 or 6 years from now! (there is a massive demand for engineers in Norway, if that wasn't apparent by now :p)

She dropped us off in time to get onto the ferry, so we hastily thanked her and Sophia and ran onto the ferry. This time we didn't get across for free, but the price was maybe three or four Euro's so we couldn't complain: those 4 Euro's were all it cost us to see the Preikestolen, whereas if we had taken the ferry and bus ride from Stavanger we would have had to pay around a 150 Euro's!
And this time we prepared our sign while on the 15 minute cross-over, and I took it for a walk along the cars before we arrived. Nobody responded, but when we got off and walked up to the road a car pulled over anyway. Maybe they had second thoughts? I don't know, because the English of the elder couple Jarnfrid and Svarre wasn't very good. (Jarnfrid's English was good enough to have a basic conversation, but Svarre didn't even know what I said when I asked him for his name. I had to point at me and introduce myself, then point at him to get him to understand). They took us to Oltedal, where they dropped us off at some kind of gift shop.
We went to get something to drink at the shop, and inside we saw a chessboard carved into the table with the rather large chess pieces already set up. So we stuck around for a little bit and played some chess before trying to get another ride.


That ride came not long after setting up. We were picked up by a couple from Lithuania, Willia and Sigatas (that is how his name sounded to me, I am not at all sure if I got it right haha).
They were on their way to climb up to Kjeragbolten, a place that we had also wanted to visit initially, but after the hard climb up to Preikestolen we had decided to pass by it for now. Maybe next year?
Anyway, if you are curious, Kjeragbolten is up in the Kjerag mountains, and is essentially a boulder stuck in between two cliffs.

I found this image via Google. How is that for awesome? Serious balls of steel on that one!

Willia and Sigitas took us to a small place called Rysstad I believe. It was just a small spot of the map, it's main feature a T-section with a gas station. And that was about it.

Our next goal was to see the stave church in Heddal, which was the largest stave church in Norway.
These stave churches are protected by the government as heritage. There are only 30 left in all of Norway.
And what makes them special is that they are completely made of wood, they have some kind of Viking architecture in them despite being Christian churches. 
The Heddal stave church lies close to Notodden, and to get there I had chosen a route through the smaller villages. I wanted to see more country side, away from highways. As a result, we ended up in an area with relatively few cars. Rysstad was such a place, and we got stuck there for a few hours.
It did give us the chance to fill up on water and food though.
Eventually it got up to the point where we started hitchhiking in two directions, anything to get out of that place. Ideally we would go up north through Valle, but should the opportunity present itself we would have gone south too. It would have been a detour but it would take us back to bigger roads.

We were rescued by Harald though, and he was going up north through Valle, and all the way to Seljord, which is a LONG distance. Harald would prove to be one of the best rides we've had.
He had a story or some interesting information about pretty much every small place we passed through and kept us entertained for the entire way.
Along the way we had several stops as well, the first in the mountains.

And believe it or not, this place actually had wifi. We didn't make use of it though, just some interesting trivia.

Later on we passed through a place called Dalen, which has a famous hotel in which many kings and queens had stayed, so we pulled over there as well, and Harald took us inside and around outside to show it to us.
To give you an idea of the prices, the cheapest room available was 300 Euro's per person, per night! The more expensive ones range in the thousands!

Dalen from above

Dalen hotel with it's unique style. That's Harald on the left.

The hotel from the back

This was a famous ship too, though I can't recall the specifics.

Eventually we passed through the Telemark area, which is where the modern ski got invented, as well as the Telemark technique (

As I said before, we ended up in Seljord that day. Harald dropped us off in front of a camping ground.
We thanked him for the fantastic ride and watched as he drove off. We got some food at the camping cafetaria, but we had already decided that we wouldn't stay on the camping grounds.
Instead we walked across the bridge situated next to the camping grounds and set up our tent on the other side of the river. That night we watched a movie called Easy A.

Camping grounds on the right, our sleeping spot on the left!

Tired after a long day!

The next morning we decided to go for a real shower. We didn't plan on asking for permission anymore though. This time we simply walked over to the camping ground one at a time, and walked into the shower facilities as if we belonged there. Willem went over first, and after half an hour he came back.
Now was my turn. I packed the stuff I needed and slung it over my shoulder in a small bag, crossed the bridge and walked straight to the showers.
The shower required 10 krone coins of which I had two, and each coin gave me about 4 to 5 minutes of showertime. Refreshed and clean I walked back to our campsite to pack up.
Today we were going to try and make it to the Heddal stave church. We hoisted our packs onto our shoulders and started walking to the edge of Seljord.

We had run out of cardboard and had these shitty bags that flapped in the wind. Quite annoying haha.

We tried sticking to the shadows as much as possible because it was very hot. After that one rainy day we've only had good weather, almost always a good 30 degrees celsius. We were already sweating again.
From the location in the pictures above we got a ride after trying for a short while.
We got a ride from a French guy called Jeremy from France. He was on a solo car trip through Europe, so his car was packed quite full. He had to move around quite a lot of stuff before I could get into the front seat and Willem in the back. I could get rid of my backpack but Willem had to have his on his lap, which ended up getting him stuck (it wasn't the first time and certainly not the last in our trip for him to be in this position!).
As we got to talking it turned out that Jeremy had been to the Preikestolen on the same day as us, and he was actually one of the people who arrived in the middle of the night while Willem and me were sleeping on the edge. He hadn't recognized us or we him just by looking, but what a coincidence! He is actually on one of the pictures. I'll show it again:

That's Jeremy in between Willem and the group in the back.

And he had actually gotten us on a picture as well. That's me and Willem packing up our stuff.

Jeremy took us to Heddal as it was along the route he was taking. He was going north from Oslo, and passing through Notodden. As I said before, Heddal was right in front of Notodden, so this was perfect for us.
We took a wrong turn at first, which took a little bit of time to get back from as we noticed too late, but eventually we were back on the right road and saw the church coming up. That's where he dropped us off, and after looking for a minute or so he was back on his way.
Now we had a little break as both Willem and me were very tired. We sat around in the shade of a tree eating some cookies before exploring the church.

And there it is!

Most of the gravestones were pretty recent, which was a bit weird to us.

The church is interesting in that it has an outer walkway inside the  building. You can walk all the way around the walls you see here. If you want to go through this door however, you need to pay some money. Which is weird because the church is not that big, and you can see everything just fine from within the doorway.

See? One meter further and I would have had to pay.

Going around the back

The woodwork is very nice, and overall it looks more like a Viking building than a Christian church.

Now in motion!

There was another building close by with a restaurant in it. In the basement of that building there were some display cases. The one below was interesting. Apparently it was common for people to go to the church with their axes, which they would leave in the walkway outside of the inner building. These weren't for self defense apparently, though they certainly could have been used for it.

Maybe you can read it, but probably not. My camera isn't at it's best inside.

From there we made our next plans.

We were going to try to get to Notodden from there, and move on up to Oslo if possible.
This time we were standing at a pretty busy road again, and we found a bus stop which was ideal for cars to pull over. It only took maybe 20 minutes before Amir pulled over for us. He could take us all the way to Oslo.
Amir was from Kurdistan, and apparently Willem and he had a very good conversation. Unfortunately I didn't get too much from it. Amir was a softspoken man and I didn't catch much, and with the heat and exhaustion from the previous days I fell asleep. I woke up to the mentioning of Amir spending two years in prison. It turns out that Amir went to Iran to fight for human rights. The government didn't like it much and arrested him, and so he lost two years of his life: fighting for the good of mankind. 
He dropped us off in the centre of Oslo, near the central station. 

We looked for a McDonalds but settled for a Burger King, to make use of the wifi. I hooked up my netbook and started looking for a cheap hostel.
Two Asian girls were sitting close by, and I don't remember how but Willem struck up a conversation with them. Turns out they were studying in Holland, though they were both originally from China. They were on a trip of their own, taking the train through Norway. They were going to go to Stavanger the next day, and they had public transport tickets for the entire city of Oslo that they were not going to use anymore, but were still valid for the next day. They gave them to us to use, with the promise that we would send them back by mail. They even helped us finding a cheap hostel, as the oldest of the two knew some good websites.
After a while they took off, and we planned the best way to get to the hostel with public transportation. We needed to get to the far northern side of the city.
We eventually got there by metro and a bus ride after. The bus station was in a kind of decrepit part of the city. The entire area looked a bit poorly and at the bus stop stood a guy that was completely drugged out of his mind with no shirt on. At the bus stop we found a wallet that belonged to a Polish guy, with creditcards and all other kinds of passes and cards. We gave it to a bus driver the next day.

Eventually we got to the final busstop but we weren't quite there yet. We asked a cyclist for the route to the hostel, and went on our way. The area was completely devoid of people. 
After a bit of a walk up hill we made it to the hostel, and booked two beds for the night in a dormitory.
We had only one roommate called Ă–den, though we referred to him as Odin. He was a philosophy student.
We didn't talk a lot though as Willem and me were both anxious for a shower. (the second that day, but this time I put on a new pair of pants and put the old one in my laundry (read: garbage) bag.

The next morning we went to see the National Folk Museum, but I will tell you about that the next time. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A trip to Norway - Part 2

When we woke up the following morning it was under a slightly overcast sky.
We had talked about maybe staying a day but decided to move on to Stavanger, and plan our best route to the Preikestolen, our main goal for the trip. So we had breakfast, packed up our stuff and did a small hike back to the main road where we found a good spot for hitchhiking at a busstop.
As mentioned before in the previous post a main theme to the trip was having bad luck in good spots and good luck in bad ones, and this was to be the first example of having bad luck in a good spot. We stood there for quite a while, perhaps an hour or an hour and a half untill we got a ride. As also tends to be usual though, the rides we waited long for also took us quite far, and Orian (turns out I got the previous name right, but from now on there will be more mistakes, and this is probably one of them haha) took us all the way to Stavanger.

When we got there after a bit of a drive the weather was slowly getting worse. The clouds grew darker and upon arrival there was a slight drizzle falling down. We discussed the possibility of staying at a hostel and taking a ferry and a bus to the start of the Preikestolen trail, and to see how much this would cost us we looked for and found the tourist information centre. As we looked at our map and discussed the plan another two guys with backpacks walked in, who also turned out to be Dutch, were also hitchhiking and who's goal was the Preikestolen as well. What are the chances right? Their names were Rick and Bernhard, a bit younger than us, sitting around 19, and we would run into eachother several times from this point on.
After getting some food at McDonalds we (the four of us) looked around on the internet to look for hostel prices, and found them to be too steep. Along with the ferry and bus ride it would cost too much for our liking, and so a new plan was made: to backtrack a little bit to Sandnes, and follow the road further east into the country to another ferry at Lauvik.
The road from there would take us to the Preikestolen from the south, while the ferry and bus would have gotten us there from the north.

So after dinner we walked through the centre of Stavanger to the nearest road that would take us in that direction. This is where we split up again, because getting a ride for four people is ofcourse nigh impossible.
So we left them at their spot close to the centre and moved further down the road ourself, walking to the city edge (which thankfully wasn't very far at all) and setting up our position there.
Now at this time the sky was completely overcast and the drizzle was getting thicker and we were getting slightly wet, but we had decided to push on and make it as far as possible. It wasn't too bad yet.
After a little while of standing there we suddenly heard a honk and saw waving arms from a car as Rick and Bernhard passed us by with their ride. And not two minutes after we got a ride too. Her name was Anita and she would take us to Sandnes. She was a nice lady who worked as an engineer who designed plans for laying oil pipes under water. The vast majority of people in the area of Stavanger work in the oil industry as we were told several times. Orian worked in the oil industry as well.
After reaching Sandnes we were a little bit lost as Anita didn't know the town very well. She dropped us off at a place she went to shop at, and from there we gathered intel as fast as possible.
After asking around for a while we had a direction to head to, and so we started walking again. By now we were taking turns carrying the tent which was quite a nuissance throughout the trip, at least for me. I hate having to carry stuff around in my hands, that's not what I have a backpack for, but it didn't fit in there or in Willem's. So carrying it in my hand it was!

Eventually we made it to another bus stop, not an ideal position but it was shelter for the rain, which was coming down a bit harder now.
As I was standing out by the road trying to catch a ride a guy walked past who started a conversation with Willem. He wanted us to come with him to his place, where he could give us some food and where we could wait for the next bus to come later on at night, but Willem declined. There was still daylight left, and we had more road to travel.
This turned out to be to our benefit as soon after another car passed us by, then turned around at a roundabout and came back for us. In the car were another two very good-looking young girls, who were bored and had decided to give us a ride just to give themselves something to interesting to do.
Especially the driver could have been a photo model, she was that good looking. Another major surprise haha! What's more, they were going to take us all the way to Lauvik.
Now this was one of the harder names I've had to write down, and I'm not at all sure if I got it right. The girl in the passenger seat was easy enough, Marianne, but the driver was called something like Reinhilde.
Her English was really good, which was understandable enough since she had spent quite a bit of time in England as an au pair. After maybe an hour's drive they dropped us off at Lauvik, which turned out wasn't a town but just the ferry port, and lo and behold: Rick and Bernhard were there already!

The ferry here was just a small one, not like the big ships at Stavanger or the one that took us from Denmark to Norway. Just enough room for a few cars that got put over onto the other side in about 15 minutes.
It is a paid ferry but as we walked on (we had arrived just in time to catch one) nobody bothered us to pay, even while we walked past one of the ferrymen. So we got over to the other side scot-free.
Unfortunately none of us had thought to ask around for the next ride during the way over and so everybody drove off, which left us standing there having to wait 30 minutes for the next batch of cars. So we decided to walk and see if we could get a good sleeping spot (by now it was around 22:00 I think).
Not too far away we saw a sign for a house or a cabin, so there was a chance of a roof over our heads. We walked until we saw a little harbor area where a man was still at work. So we approached him and asked if he knew of or had a place for us to stay. Turns out he rented cabins out to people, as well as boats for the lake etc., and if we wanted we could stay in his barn. He didn't have any empty cabins left and at any rate he didn't figure we had money or wanted to pay for a place to stay.
So we walked up to his place while he finished up, and he showed us his barn, which was quite big and had more than enough room. Thanks to Lars we had a roof over our heads that night, and the ability to let all our wet stuff dry, and even the ability to fill up on water.
We put down a plastic sheet to lay our stuff down on and laid our stuff to dry. Willem and I played another game of chess before going to sleep.

The barn

The following morning

We could sleep in for as long as we wanted, but we woke up quite early nonetheless.
Lars wasn't around anymore but we had thanked him the previous night for his hospitality already, so he knew we were grateful. 
We knew the weather report too. It was going to clear up at 12:00. Before we moved out though Willem wanted to see if he could catch a sea star he had seen the previous evening, so we moved back down to the harbor area and as he and Rick and Bernhard looked in the water I got out my book to do some reading (Anne Frank's Diary, I had never read it before untill I decided to buy it shortly before we left).
Eventually they caught a few sea stars and we decided to move on. This time Willem and me got dibs on the first ride, so we moved back up to the road.

The small harbor area.

We didn't stand up there long. We had quite a bit of luck. We had missed the cars from the ferry but as we stood by the road Lars' neighbour from across the street walked up to check his mail, and started a conversation. Eventually he offered to take us to the Preikestolen, driving us all the way up to the start of the trail! His name was Ingval, and he was here on holiday from Stavanger. He had quite a lot of bad weather the previous week and told us our timing couldn't have been more perfect. And he was right: the clouds were almost completely gone, and there was only good weather coming up for the rest of the week.

When we got to the start of the trail we thanked Ingval, and decided to get some postcards from the giftshop for our family. We didn't have to carry them around either as the shop clerks could send them for us.
After hanging around for a little bit and eating some ice cream we started our hike to the top of the Preikestolen.
It took us about four hours. It can be done faster but we were ofcourse carrying our backpacks, each weighing in at about 20 kilo's, while everybody else was just carrying some food and water. 
Suffice to say the climb eventually got quite hellish as I was not in a good enough shape to do that climb with that backpack, and I paid the price haha. When we got to the top my legs were beat. But the sights along the way were beautiful and very well worth it. Besides, now we would get to sleep on top of the Preikestolen!

Around the start of the trail

And wouldn't you know it? Ahead of us we ran into Rick and Bernhard, who had actually gotten in front of us while we were lounging about at the start of the trail.

Nearing the top!



The actual Preikestolen! From the edge it is 600 meters straight down :)

At the very edge of the Preikestolen

Enough to make you feel a bit queasy, isn't it?

I also took this video when we first got there.

As evening fell, it got quieter and quieter untill eventually there were only a handful of people left.
We climbed further on up the mountain to stay in the sun as long as possible, played some more chess, and eventually got driven back down again by the mosquitoes. 
Bernhard and Rick stayed up on the mountain with some German friends of their's that had run into trouble at the border carrying illegal substances with them, who as fate would have it managed to get to the Preikestolen on the same day as them. Now it would probably be a good time to say that Willem is in the police academy, so we decided to take our distance from these guys. 

After dinner above Preikestolen, seen on the right below us.


When it got dark enough we laid down our sleeping bags. It was around 23:00 but it was still very light because we were so high. The sky was clear and the moon was out in force, so it never really got so dark that we couldn't see.

My sleeping bag at the edge of Preikestolen :)

And then, the following morning, we were greeted with this view...

What a great view to wake up to, isn't it?

This was approximately around 4:30. It gets dark late, and bright early.

We decided to skip breakfast and leave early before the crowds arrive. There already were some people that had arrived earlier during the night, and more would surely follow very soon.

One of the few small lakes you'll find on your way to the top

We were high enough up the mountain to stay above the morning fog, and it led to some awesome sights!

Nearing the parking lot again.

Back down at the start!

And this is where I'll finish the story for now... More to follow soon(er than this time)!