Norway - Part 2
From Kiruna, Sweden I followed the route along the railway which is used to transport the iron ore or pellets to the sea. In Narvik the product is loaded onto freight ships to be delivered to mainly European ports. Originally I had intended to spend a day or two in the City. Upon arrival, however, it struck me as yet another busy harbor town, I also was not overly impressed with the accommodation options. Since I arrived relatively early, shortly after noon, I decided to move on, towards the Lofoten Islands. If what I had read about it in preparation, then this should be a highlight of this trip.
I had to take two ferries to get to Svolvaer, the main town on the islands. While waiting in line at the harbor in Skutvik, four rugged individuals with 2 motorbikes (Honda ST Pan European, Cagiva Navigator) and Jeep stopped next to me - apparently Italians. I used the few Italian words I speak to say “Hello” and to pass the time (there war a fairly long cue of cars waiting to board the ferry). It turned out that these fellow travellers came from Taranto, Southern Italy. Coincidentally, I had been there (or at least passed the city) in autumn of 2000.
We seemed to get along quite well, and after agreeing on the superior quality of Italian coffea – or rather “caffé” - over what was available in Scandinavia in general and on the ferry in particular, I received an ad-hoc invitation to dinner that evening. What I did not know at the time was that these gentlemen had meticulously planned a several course dinner for each day of their three week journey! I was seriously impressed. The “linguini al tonno” at the campsite that evening were fantastic.
Fellow Bikers from Taranto, Southern Italy
Pictured above (left to right) are:
Rino D´Ambrosio (also known as) - “Il Priore”
Antonello Palazzo (aka) – “Il Combattente”
Pino Rondinelli (aka) – “Il Re” or “Pinosauro”
Alcide Passannanti (aka) - “Lupo”
My hosts that evening belong the motorcycle club “Birota”. Located in the city of Taranto in the Puglia region of Southern Italy, it has some 150 members (see their website www.birota.it
) and each year they do at least one major trip. This year it was Southern Italy to the North Cape. It lasted for 3 weeks and meant to distance of some 10.000 km. There website is in Italian, but it includes some very interesting pictures. During this trip they were mainly staying on campsites and sharing rides on the two motorcycles. The jeep was used as general storage facility for a seemingly endless supply of Italian food.
Birota Club Members on their ‘Adventure Raid’ 2003
(Click for a rough outline of the Raid 2003)
Following this culinary extravaganza the next day was spent to explore the sights of the Lofoten Islands. The trip along the coast line was arguably the most interesting of my whole trip.
The very interesting day on the islands also included a intensive discussion which some of my fellow travellers had with the Norwegian police. Seems that the tolerance for speeding is practically zero. I found that the going rate for such violation ( 10 to 15 km/h) is 1.800 Norwegian Kroner or about 225 Euro – I had made the same experience a couple of days before on the mainland. Because of this and the general cost of living, Norway was by far the most expensive country of my trip.
"Nice scenery - but watch out for speed traps!"
(Click here for a larger version of this picture)
Being a somewhat sobered group following the interaction with the Norwegian police, we continued our trip towards Trondheim. The route, chosen by my Italian fellow travellers, went along the coast. Because of the fjords this meant a combination of ferries and winding roads. For the most part we followed the Highway Nr. 17 which I consider a must. The views along this road both on the road itself and even more so from the ferries are fantastic. During the trip we also tried “free camping” in an open field which is perfectly legal in Norway. Since we could not make out a farmhouse anywhere in sight we felt okay to pitch our tent. After some time the owner of what appeared to be an uncultivated piece meadow showed up, slightly annoyed by our setting up camp on his land. In the end, however, we got his okay to stay for one night. The invitation to join us for a pasta dinner was declined (his loss, our gain…).
(Click here for another "Free Camping" impression)
On one of the many ferries
The next day we spent on the road towards Trondheim. My travel companions had checked out a campsite just south of the city. We spent the evening by checking out Trondheim and to absorb some of the local atmosphere.
Birota members exploring the Trondheim “in places”
(Click here to see Birota members striking a pose “Bella figura”)
All good things must come to an end. On the morning of July 21st my Italian travel mates left Trondheim to catch a ferry from Oslo to take them to Northern Germany from where they would continue on to Italy.
I spend one more day in Trondheim and then went to Bergen on the Norwegian west coast. The ride would have to be done in two days and I decided to stop on the shores of the Sognefjord, known to be Norway’s longest fjord with a length of over 200 km. The ride towards Kaupanger took me across a mountain region with which offered more dramatic scenery:
I spent the night at a campsite near the ferry terminal at Kaupanger. The ferry for Gudvangen left the next morning at 9:30h. It was crowded with tourists from all over the world. Not having bothered with prior reservation, I counted myself lucky to get on board. I was literally the last person to be allowed on.
When I arrived at Bergen, I felt that I had had enough of beautiful landscapes. So when I found out that I would still make the 5 p.m. ferry to Newcastle, UK I did not hesitate to buy the ticket and leave.
(Click here for another "Farewell" picture)
Posted by Heiko Neumann at May 09, 2004 08:24 PM GMT