Lom, Lillehammer, Sveastranda, Slovika, Kongsberg, Drobak, Oslo
43 days away
372 miles / 599 km since last post
2,742 miles / 4,413 km total
On Thursday morning we left the fjord land and ventured more inland and central Norway, towards snow-capped mountains and some hilly driving. After our steep ascent yesterday we took the trip back down the other side - a lot easier on the fuel economy! We passed lots of farmland and mountains, and despite being another sunny day we experienced our first bit of rain since the Netherlands - albeit for just 5 minutes!
After going through one of the automatic tolls we decided to stop at the services and find out a bit more information about them. It turns out that you can register your credit card with the toll company, and they will automatically deduct the toll from your card. However, we couldn't back date it to the day we entered Norway, so we might possibly have to wait until they send us an invoice in the post if we went through any tolls then. We could register it to take from 22nd July though, and we wrote them an email to explain that we couldn't back date it. Helpfully, they said if we should happen to get any fine for those early tolls, we can write to them and get it refunded. Sounds fair enough.
While at the services Stu insisted we make use of their vacuum to give the motorhome a bit of a clean through, and in fairness it really did need it. It's been a while since we last had electric and were able to use our vacuum cleaner. Once that was complete and we'd filled up with water, we headed on towards Lillehammer.
Whilst the fjordlands were gone and the snow-capped mountains were also now behind us, the drive was still very scenic. As we got towards Lillehammer we found ourselves driving along the massive lake Mjosa most of the way. Lillehammer probably most famous of course for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1994 - as well as the location of Top Gear's Winter Olympics Special. We decided not to stay here beyond parking up and getting some free wifi from the petrol station, and headed a little further south to Sveastranda campsite. We tried a campsite before this but the pitches looked in poor condition. Sveastranda was location right on lake Mjosa, plus it seemed quite well kept and had good facilities - and the all important wifi. It seemed a good opportunity to get some washing done too.
On Friday morning we decided to treat ourselves to another night at Sveastranda campsite. We were both feeling a bit tired and needed a day off doing nothing. It was a lovely hot day so we just spent it relaxing. As a special treat Stu bought a couple of beers from the campsite shop. Whilst we still have a couple of boxes of wine in the motorhome we ran out of out last beer a couple of weeks back, and haven't bought more in Norway as it's so expensive. So this definitely was a treat - especially at just over £7 for two cans!
We both felt well rested by Saturday morning - the extra day was well worth it. After leaving the campsite we stopped at a petrol station close by to drain our waste water, but also spotted a jet wash. It seemed a good a time as any to give the motorhome a bit of a clean - it was starting to look a bit grubby. Stu did the honours, and spent the best part of £10 giving it a proper clean. Stu note: I am starting to sound like a cleaning nut!
We stopped briefly at a picnic stop for lunch, and then continuing our general route southwards. We decided it might be a good idea to stay at a campsite again. We found a site in a place called Slovika, and again we were located on a nice lake and it was fairly peaceful. Stu took advantage of the wifi available to look up some information about getting the cracked skylight replaced. After a bit of research it turns out the part is only available in the UK! I think we might have to wait to fix it until we get back home. Never mind, it is weather proof at present.
Sunday morning was a much cooler, cloudier day. We had noticed that some of the motorhomes and caravans had been struggling to leave the campsite, as the gravel path out of it was on quite an incline - caravans particularly were having trouble and having to try three or four attempts to do it. Our motorhome has automatic gears, but you can change to manual. There is also a button you can press when using the automatic gears where the gears will not change up as quickly as normal - ideal for use on steep hills. Before driving up the hill Stu pressed the button and we successfully made it to the top. However, when he pressed the button again to turn it off the button went right through and disappeared into the plastic panel - oh joy, another disaster! Thankfully the button did switch off before disappearing, and at least we have manual gears so if the steep incline trouble arose again we could just switch to manual. Stu managed to retrieve the button after fiddling about inside with his pliers, but I don't think we'll be pressing it again in a hurry!
Sunday was mainly a driving day, heading further south. We made it to Kongsberg and took a brief stop - both of us feeling quite tired again. We had a brief look at the church in the town but there didn't seem a lot else to see. Stu nipped out briefly to get a few groceries - apples, oranges, lemon, tomatoes and a basil plant costing over £11! Then we decided to drive to Drobak to find somewhere to stay. This would take us further towards Oslo, but we didn't want to arrive in Oslo until the weekend was out of the way to try and avoid the worst of the crowds. We were considering finding a campsite again as finding a free stop was looking less and less likely - lots of spaces with clear 'do not park' signs. However, we eventually came to a marina just outside Drobak. It was a great free spot right on the marina with a pretty good view across the boats and out over the water. There were no signs saying we couldn't park there so it was good enough for us.
Monday we drove straight to Oslo. We thought we would try a campsite first to see how crazy expensive it was, and then if it was unacceptable try and find somewhere free just outside the city. Luckily the campsite we found was OK. It wasn't cheap - but then nothing in Norway can be described as such. However, it was less than the last campsite we stayed at but it had free wifi and free electricity. Stu watched someone type in the code to enter the marina toilets, so we have the use of them too. We could also see the big ski jump slope off in the distance. It's basically a huge parking area behind the marina in Oslo, so there were loads of other motorhomes there of course. For the first time having electricity for a while we took the opportunity to charge up everything we have - so much quicker and easier than through the 12V plug. Stu note: there are well over a hundred motorhomes here - at £20 per night each this is serious money.
This was also the first time we had been out on our bikes for a while too, and it was nice to get some proper exercise again. We headed first to Frogner Park. It was a nice big area to cycle around, and the main attraction within the park is the great Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement, designed by Gustav Vigeland. We cycled on towards the Royal Palace, altough the front grounds were being renovated which meant taking a decent picture wasn't very easy.
We took a walk down Karl Johans Gate, which is essentially the main high street. It looked fairly good for shopping, and was really busy with people. This route took us out in front of the Parliament building, and another little cycle lead us to Akershus Castle and Fortress, a medieval castle originally build to defend Norway in the late 1290s, but remodelled and modernised in the early 17th century. Part of it was just closing when we arrived so we didn't get to see inside. It gave a good view of Oslofjord from the fortress edge though.
Before heading back to the motorhome we decided to stop at a cafe for a drink, as it had been a hot and thirsty day on the bikes. We had originally planned to get a cold beer, but after seeing the prices in the menu I opted for a coke and Stu got some tap water. The cheapest beer was about £12! The pale ale, for 500ml, was a chilling £18.40!
On reflection I'm glad we came to Oslo - I don't think you could come to Norway and not visit it, but it's certainly not the most attractive city in the world. I'm sure we could have gone to some museums to make it more interesting but we found that an afternoon was plenty of time to see everything we wanted to.