Kristiansand, Mandel, Flekkelfjord, Sogndalstrand, Kleppe, Viste
34 days away
182 miles / 293 km since last post
2,054 miles / 3,306 km total
Well, we have only been in Norway for a couple of days but we love it already. The weather is glorious and the landscape is dramatic - just what we like!
On Thursday night our ferry to Norway arrived into Kristiansand at midnight. There were no checks as we left the ferry, so we just wanted to find somewhere to stay as soon as possible. After an unsuccessful attempt at staying at the local marina, we noticed another motorhome driving around the corner and decided to follow them. It worked out well as they had found a quiet car park just round the back of the bay. Feeling very tired we went straight to bed as soon as we'd parked up.
Friday morning started very hot and sunny. We decided to take a walk out of the car park to see what was nearby. In the daytime the whole bay looked beautiful. A few people had also parked up and were doing some sunbathing on the rocks. It seemed a peaceful part of town. After a nice walk around we had to spend a bit of time working out a plan for Norway. We didn't want to plan the whole trip but needed to get a rough itinerary together. Then we could leave the car park and start exploring Norway!
Around midday we left Kristiansand - so named after its founder King Christian IV, and its sandy headland - and headed west towards the fjordlands. We didn't have to drive far before we knew that we were going to enjoy Norway. We were driving past beautiful lakes, around winding roads (but taking it steady in the motorhome of course). It reminded us of driving in parts of southern New Zealand and in the high Sierras of the USA.
We stopped briefly in Mandel, Norway's most southern town, to make some lunch by the river. We decided not to stay too long as the car park was quite small and had a parking charge. For some reason a couple of different locals felt the need to point out that I was exiting through the entrance to the car park. Very nice of them to do that, but I'm not driving a mini here - not the easiest of vehicles to turn around in a small car park just to go out the other way.
After lunch we continued our scenic drive west, taking the coastal route 44. This is apparently one of southern Norway's most beautiful drives, and we could certainly see why. The winding roads took us through bouldered hills - literally right through them via the many tunnels - near forested areas and around some stunning lakes. We passed through the town of Flekkefjord, and then descended into the area of Jossingfjord. The rock scenery here was simply beautiful - such a world away from the plain flatland of Denmark just a few days ago and miles away. It was around this area that we spotted a couple of motorhomes parked over by the fjord to the left of the road. We took the side road down and parked up beside them. It was a fantastic spot right by the side of the water, really peaceful. It was also the location of a couple of 17th century houses known as Helleren, built right beneath a precarious looking hanging rock. After a full afternoon of driving and stopping at scenic spots, we were ready to retire for the evening and this area by the water seemed the perfect spot, and didn't cost us a penny!
Saturday morning we headed off to continue our beautiful drive. We continued on the scenic route 44 taking us further west along the coast. We stopped at a lookout above the Jossingfjord, where we had stayed the previous night. There were some information panels about the Altmark Incident which occured during World War Two. On 16th February 1940 there was a fight between the British Navy and Nazi Germans in what were, at the time, the neutral waters of Norway - Jossingfjord to be precise. You can find the full story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altmark_Incident
Our lovely drive took us through the town of Egersund, and passed yet more glorious lakes, fjords and rock formations. We stopped at a few pretty lookouts, and later picked a good spot by another lake to have some lunch. Later on we stopped at a small place called Kleppe, for no other reason than it having a McDonalds. Not because we fancied a Big Mac, but because it was a good opportunity to take advantage of their free wifi - and take a bit of a driving break.
As our drive was leading us to the big town of Stavanger, we thought that finding somewhere to stay for free there might be a bit tricky. So instead of going up to Stravanger today, we decided to head just north of here to a small place called Viste - we can visit Stavanger tomorrow. It was a good plan as we found a lovely spot right by the water and a little beach. There was another motorhome already there and we were greeted by its owner Imi - a friendly guy from Sweden. We had a good chat with him for a while. He thought Stu was Australian when he first met him, and he was really surprised to find that we had come all the way from England to Norway. He wasn't the first either - a few people have commented about Norway being so expensive, they can't understand why we are here. Imi has been on the road for the last couple of years. His plan is to stay in Norway for a while and get a job - sounds like a good way to take advantage of this rich country I suppose.
Another plus for this stop is that Stu discovered some 'free' wifi - even better! A good chance to get the blog updated again and make sure Mum & Dad know we are still alive ;)