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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!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A trip to Norway - Part 4

Man, it's high time for this last part of the Norway trip, isn't it?
I've been meaning to do it much sooner, but besides being a procrastinator extraordinaire I did have some valid reasons for putting it off haha. I've spent time over at friends, got too busy working or had other distractions. Despite that, I could have done this sooner and I didn't. It's been gnawing at me all that time.
So no more! It's time to wrap this up.

When we woke up at the hostel we went for breakfast in their cafeteria, which was quite good.
We didn't waste much time though, as there was a time limit on the passes we had gotten from the two girls the previous day. We wanted to visit a museum, and two options caught our eye: the National Folks Museum and another one that had old Viking ships. We decided on visiting the National Folks Museum because it seemed to have the most diversity and could teach us the most about the country. It was somewhere on the other side of Oslo, so we needed to go back to the busstop and make sure we got there in time.
Along the way we stopped at a supermarket to buy some food and drink, and after two bus-rides, some walking around trying to find the boat that goes back and forth between the harbor and the museum area, we got on it and made it to the right place. After getting off the boat it was just a short walk to the museum.

The museum consisted of two main parts: some main buildings with several exhibits containing clothing, tools and weapons from several times in the history of Norway, and an outdoor area containing buildings in the old style that you could watch, and some of them were enterable too. In some locations they had actors living out that history.
We left our backpacks at the foyer and started exploring the inside exhibits first. They were pretty interesting but there were a lot of clothes that didn't hold our attention for a long time. Before long we found ourselves outside, where we could get a glimpse of the actual living space the items we had seen inside were worn or used in.

It starts out in a time closer to the modern day...

As evidenced by this oldtimer car.

But things got more interesting quickly!

Here, a farmer and his 'wife' were cutting the grass with a scythe.

Some very nice-looking farmland.

And as I said before, some of the houses were enterable. This one was very nice, with the fire and stove in the centre of the room. The boxes left and right are the beds. Not a lot of room but with the deer skins and other furs on top they did look pretty comfortable still!

This is the outside of the house in the two pictures above.

Close by a new house was being constructed.

The kids were helping out and were instructed by this man. I suppose they are children belonging to other museum employees, though I'm not sure.

After spending several hours in the museum we decided to get out of Oslo that same day. Our bus-tickets had timed out by this point, and so we gathered our packs and started walking the road back to the highway closer to the centre of Oslo.
It didn't take us too long to get there, and we set up shop at an on-ramp. And so the waiting began.

We stood there for quite a long time, though I can't recall the exact length of time we stood there without being paid attention to by anyone other than any passers-by. We were in a bad spot for getting to where we wanted to go, the plan being to be in or near the border of Sweden by the evening, as we were somewhere in the west end of Oslo, while we needed to be in the east end.
After a while we got restless, we wanted to try something different. Maybe we could catch a bus still? We had noticed the busses being pretty long with a rear entrance, and the checking of tickets was pretty loose. So we decided to risk it, and waited for a bus to take us to Oslo Central, where we might be able to catch the metro out of the city. We got in just fine at the back of the bus as more people were waiting for that same bus, and we could get in unnoticed. The metro was less busy but again there weren't any check-ups, and we managed to ride it to the eastern-most station.
A small walk later we found the highway and a good on-ramp near a gas station. At the gas station we met another two hitch-hikers, a couple from Poland who were trying to sell cigarettes they had bought in their home country where they were much cheaper than in Norway. They could sell them at a discounted price compared to the cigarettes in Norway while still making a nice profit to keep them going. We talked for a little while, and then after some directions from  the gas station attendants put ourselves at the side of the highway, hoping to catch a ride before the police would kick us off.

Thankfully one came along, and we managed to get out of Oslo thanks to Sulvei (I'm not sure if I spelled her name correctly, not the first name and not the last name to keep me uncertain), who dropped us off at another gas station a half hour out from where we started. I went inside to find more cardboard to write on, as this close to cities it helps to specify short goals and getting us more rides. I came back with a big box, which we had to tear up to be able to do anything with it. We would be good for the next couple of days with the amount of cardboard pieces we stuck between our backpack rigging.
We stepped over the highway railing and onto the emergency lane again, and stuck out our thumbs to catch the next ride. The sun was setting but we could get further still.

Proving us right were Uni and Elena, a very interesting couple that were very good to us. They offered us diner at their place, and a place to sleep in their bus that had a double roof that you could put up to create a sleeping area on top of the vehicle.
Elena was from Romania, and created a national dish for us that tasted absolutely fantastic. She had met Uni through a dating website and had actually swindled him for money the first time they were supposed to meet. She had promised to come over to Norway if he would send her money, and obviously she kept it and never came. But Uni wasn't one to give up and actually managed to find her again, didn't care about the money, and made the relationship work, and they were now happily living together. Elena's sister was over too, to work in Norway for a while before moving back home with the money she made. In Norway she could  earn in a few months what she would earn in Romania in an entire year, on just a regular waitressing job.
Uni and Elena had similar plans, to save up for a few years in Norway before retiring in Romania ending up much richer than they would have been if they simply stayed in Norway. 
The minimum wage in Norway is around 20 euro's for entry level jobs, cleaning, painting and other such things, where in Holland the minimum wage is pretty much half that. But living costs in Norway are much higher, so you end up spending more money on food. Uni and Elena were close enough to the Swedish border to drive there for groceries though, where food is cheaper than it is in Sweden. There are no border patrols to keep Norwegians from doing this or to stop them from taking more than a specified amount, so this is pretty much a common practice along the entire border.

Uni had a very interesting background prior to his stay in Norway.
He grew up in Malaysia. He told us a little about his childhood in a small village and how he and his friends used to go into the jungle and would often find wreckage from battles fought in the second world war.
Burnt out Japanese tanks would often be found in their 'playground' that were never reclaimed or moved, and sometimes they would still find skeletal remains and old rifles, as well as unexploded ordnance.
Still young, he decided he didn't want his future children to grow up there and decided to move to Europe.
But how was he to do that? All he had was 40 U.S dollars (this happened somewhere during the 70's, so I would imagine it was worth a bit more than now, but it's still not a lot) or the local equivalent, but he spoke of Dollars. That wouldn't get him very far. But this being a hitch-hiking blog, you can kind of guess his solution right? 

Yeah, he hitch-hiked from Malaysia to Europe, through Thailand, Burma, India and eventually ending up going through the Middle East, making his way through countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran before ending up in Eastern Europe. He then hitch-hiked through nearly all of Europe and all of it's countries before settling down in Norway. He had a great story for pretty much every country he had passed through.
We were thoroughly impressed, as well we should be! The amounts of miles he has traveled, the danger and the adventure he had seen... This was a man with tons of life experience, yet completely humble and inconspicuous. He's a hero to me. I wouldn't mind making the same journey he made myself, though I have a feeling going through Afghanistan as a white guy wouldn't be the smartest thing to do right now.
On this trip we've heard lots of good things about Iran though, so.... We'll see!

Anyway, we gladly accepted their offer to stay for the night and had a good night's sleep in Uni's bus.
When we woke up the next morning Uni was ready for us and called us on inside, where he had been preparing breakfast for us: bacon and eggs on toast. Now I'm not the biggest fan of eggs but didn't dare tell him, but I have to honestly say it tasted great. The added taste of kindness, maybe?  :P

After breakfast they drove us to the Swedish border, where we thanked him for a great evening and all they had done for us. Back to hitch-hiking!

Our next target was the city Göteborg, where we would get on the ferry to Frederikshavn in Denmark.
We spent some time waiting for a ride but eventually we got lucky, and we got a ride from Emmelie and Prebben who happened to go all the way there. They dropped us off at the ferry terminal before moving on to get to the theme park they were going to.
We had to wait a while for the ferry that would take us to Denmark, so Willem and I settled for a game of chess, then played some more chess on the ferry. It was around dinner time when we were done and we were hungry, so we went to look for some food. We found a truckers diner on the ship that was obviously reserved to truck drivers, but Willem used his charms on the cafeteria lady who allowed us to get in and eat a really good pasta dinner.
Once the ferry docked we made our way outside past some drunk truck drivers who were swaying their way outside, and started to look for a decent place to hitch a ride.
We walked to the edge of town and set up shop at some stopping lights. We got a ride pretty quick from a guy called Christian. I can't quite recall where he took us, but after he dropped us off we got another ride from a man called Jonas, the final ride of the day.

He was a guy who worked with the homeless, a very interesting and friendly man. I think he dropped us off at Vejle, just north of Kolding which is where originally started our trip.
He let us off at a gas station that had a playground and a big wall in the back running the entire property.
We decided to camp there for the night, and climbed that wall to set up our tent behind it.

Clear night behind a gas station... :p

The following morning.

Next morning we broke up our tent and climbed over the wall again, dropping down right in front of some playing children and their bewildered parents. We walked over to the gas station all casually like nothing was unusual about the entire situation and went to get some breakfast. Thankfully no scene was made haha.
After breakfast we had to walk a short distance to the highway on-ramp, where we got the first ride of a very busy day from Ilya, a truck driver. He dropped us off at a gathering place for trucks, hoping that we could catch a ride all the way into Germany from there.

That didn't happen. After waiting for a while we decided to pack up and walk to an on-ramp somewhere, and hope for the best there.
It didn't take long from that location for the next ride to come along from a guy called Jerry who took us to a gas station along the highway close to the German border. We got some food there and positioned ourselves at the gas station exit. We waited for an hour or two, eventually trying the emergency lane on the highway before deciding to head back to the gas station and simply wait there.
Car after car passed us until eventually a convertible that had passed us stopped on the highway entrance and went into reverse. We ran up and talked to the driver, Aage, who felt bad for leaving us standing there and offered us a ride to Stedesand, even though he had very little room in his car.
We made it work though, stashing Willem in the back with the backpacks while I sat in the front seat next to Aage. He was going to drive us across the border into Germany.

Aage was an older man with grey hair and weathered skin, but in a very good physical shape and very muscular. It turned out he was an adrenaline junkie and the owner of a fitness centre in Stedesand. At his fitness centre he offered training to people with agression problems, so they had a place to work out their frustrations. He was very big on natural training, and would kick away anybody caught doing anabolics.
I liked that, and Aage and I spent the entire ride talking about it, as well as exciting stuff like sky-diving and my experiences with it in Canada, while Willem sat in the back unshielded from the wind, unable to hear anything because the wind was blowing past his face with 80 kilometers per hour, pretty much incapable of even so much as opening his eyes.

Like this.

When we got to Stedesand Aage gave me his business card, suggesting I'd get in touch at some point in the future which was a very nice gesture, though I don't think I will be passing through Germany again soon.
He dropped us off at a bus stop close to a supermarket, so Willem and I went to get some food first before setting up at the bus stop.
It turns out Stedesand was a pretty small place with hardly any traffic, and quite a bit removed from the major highways going to Hamburg, our goal for the day.
After sitting there for an hour Willem started to get pissed off, but before too long we got a ride out of there from Dieter who drove us to the next place along the road we were on. I believe it was Husum, but I'm not sure.

When we got there we decided to go west from there, to get back to the main highway to Hamburg.
We stood on a T-section waving our sign when a truck stopped. As I started to move towards it I saw it didn't stop to pick us up, but to let somebody out. Out came a pretty girl, who was hitch-hiking her way home after a trip to Istanbul. We had a short conversation before she walked away to move home.
I regret not asking her for her email adress or her Facebook, she seemed like my kind of girl. But I let the opportunity slip, and I haven't been able to find her again. I really need to stop doing that haha.

Shortly after we got a very short ride from a guy we don't even know the name of, because that's how short the ride was. He initiated a conversation right away and we kept talking untill he let us out of the car again at an intersection. My German isn't that great but I think I held up pretty well in the conversation.
We walked a short distance down the road we needed to follow after some consultation with our driver, and put our backpacks down at a gardening centre of some sort. Almost immediately after we put up our thumbs another car pulled over.

A woman got out of the car, and the first thing she asked was if we had weapons on us in German. I replied no, knowing full-well we had pocket knifes in our pockets but I didn't know how to tell her that. Besides, we weren't going to use them on her so there was no need to alarm her.
Her boy sat in the front seat, so Willem and I crammed into the back with our stuff. Even if we had meant her harm, we would have been unable to move haha. I was barely able to move my hand.
We introduced ourselves without shaking hands (how could we?), and as it turns out her name was Anne as well. That made her laugh as she thought I was joking with her, but no, that's my real name I assured her.
In all of Germany Anne is considered to be a woman's name, as it is in the rest of the world too, even the Netherlands. Friesland is the only place it's a normal guy's name, so I'm used to this reaction by now. It doesn't bother me though, so I could laugh about it with her. We had a conversation in German as she didn't speak any English. It was good practice, these last few rides!

She dropped us off at an on-ramp to the highway going to Hamburg, where we said goodbye.
She had to drive off quickly as there wasn't a real place to stop her car, which unfortunately also meant there wasn't a proper place for us to stand to catch another ride. We walked up the on-ramp and set up in a bend in such a way that incoming cars could see us in time, but there was also kind of enough space to pull over quickly. There wasn't anything other to do than just try to make it work right there, and we were hoping for the best.
Thankfully we got a ride within half an hour from father Henri and his son Simon, both of whom spoke good English. They could take us all the way to Hamburg and drop us off at a gas station on the highway.
We had come a long way today, but we could go further still. It was late when we got to the gas station where they dropped us off, and the sun had gone down. But we decided to keep trying.

At the gas station we met another couple who were hitch-hiking, but we didn't talk for too long. If we wanted to get any further tonight we had to get into action. The parking lot was very spacious, with a restaurant about a 100 meters from the gas station. So we moved to the exit of the parking lot and tried our luck there. Funnily enough these other two hitchhikers got a ride before us, simply by chilling out next to the gas station. The sky had gotten cloudier and cloudier as the day went on, and now the clouds finally broke and it started to rain. Willem and I first sought shelter at the restaurant, but it being very quiet there we ran over to the gas station.
Hardly any cars were coming through here and so we simply sat down at the gas station entrance with our little sign. We were too tired to make much of an effort anymore, so we simply sat and waited.
Some cars passed by, most ignoring us and some others telling us they didn't have any room.

It was about 22:00 when a camper came by with a couple inside. The woman felt bad for us and talked her boyfriend into taking us along. He didn't say it but we could tell he wasn't too excited about the idea, but he went along with it. Their names were Wiebeke (again, no idea if I spelled her name correctly) and Jesse, and they were going on vacation to France, and they were hoping to get there sometime in the morning.
That meant a long ride for us. They were going to take us all the way to Cloppenburg, which is nearly the same distance from the Danish-German border to Hamburg from where we were at, so this single ride would take us as far as all the other rides of the day had taken us.
We talked for a while but Willem and I sat in the back of the camper and they were sitting in the front, so we had to raise our voices to talk. Eventually we didn't speak much anymore, and we could tell Jesse was starting to get eager to get us out. But we did end up all the way in Cloppenburg, for which we thanked them greatly!

It was now around 3:30 and we needed to find a place to sleep. We started walking around from the place they let us out, and couldn't find anything. Eventually we settled for an open grassland area between two crossing highways, one of them running over the other with an overpass. We had one of the highways to our side, about a 100 meters, and the other below us at relatively the same distance, so we had a pretty safe spot to sleep.
We didn't bother putting up the tent because we thought it would draw too much attention, so we simply rolled out our sleeping mats and bags and went to sleep. In this area it was no longer cloudy, so we thought it was pretty safe and we wouldn't get wet. Thankfully we were right.
We didn't sleep long, and got up shortly after sunrise. Today was the day we were going to make it back home.

We needed to get to Emmen, where Willem had his car waiting for us at his parents' place.
We figured out which way to go from our current location and started walking in that direction. There wasn't a good spot anywhere so we kept walking down the road, eventually settling beneath a small overpass and in front of a small emergency parking spot. This wasn't a very good position to be in, but we had walked for about an hour and didn't get any better, so we decided to try it from that spot for a while. It wasn't a good place to be in. After about half an hour the German police showed up telling us we had to go away from there, but having no means of going anywhere they decided to drive us to the next town.
Willem told them about being in the police academy in Holland, and that surprised them quite a bit. "Du bist ein Polizist?" I guess they couldn't figure out why he would want to hitchhike.
Anyway, they dropped us off at the nearest town which I don't know the name of, from where we tried to get a ride to Meppen, the closest town to the border and Emmen.
Here's where we got into trouble, as the town we were dropped off in was a horrible spot for getting rides. We spent hours in several locations trying to get a ride, first inside of town and later on near an on-ramp to the highway. We saw the police come by a few times, probably to check up on what we were doing.

Eventually we got completely fed up with waiting around and we decided to walk along the highway to the nearest gas station or parking lot, hoping to get there before a cop car would find us.
It was a long and shitty walk but we managed to get to a resting area before we got caught. There were several trucks parked there and we decided to try and ask for a ride, something I normally dislike doing but we were both tired after a short night and dismayed at the lack of progress so far. It so happened that one of the truck drivers was a Dutch man who could take us to Klazienaveen. He wasn't supposed to take anybody along but he wouldn't mind having someone to talk to for a while, and there's no way he could get caught doing this. Finally we were going somewhere again!

Once we got to Klazienaveen we went to get something to drink at a gas station before trying our luck again at a roundabout going to Emmen. Thankfully we didn't have to wait for long.
We got our last ride from Imad, a local restaurant owner who was willing to drop us off at exactly where we needed to be. I'd say he's got some new customers now!
Once we were at Willem's parents' place we had to wait for a little while as his mom was out for a walk. We had something to drink and then got into Willem's car for the last drive home.

And thus I will conclude the tale of our trip to Norway.
I'm looking to put up another post at some point in the future with some documentary stuff about hitch-hiking that I've found over the years, as well as some music that I think will appeal to the traveling souls among you.
So keep an eye out for that, and I hope you enjoyed all my posts so far!

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