Category Archives: Norwegian Adventure

A sad encounter [Norwegian Adventure, day 6]

When I finished my breakfast and was just about to put my camp down, an older gentleman walking with his dog stopped to ask if I had all the food I needed and if I hadn’t been cold during the night. Then he started talking about his situation. He had recently survived a big personal loss and was currently dealing with some problems that had resulted from it. He nearly started crying. That’s what happens when you travel by yourself – you get approached by lonely people who desperately need someone to talk to. So I listened to what he had to say, because what more can you do? And then our ways parted, or so I thought.

I put my camp down, walked to the road and started hitchhiking. Four hours later I was still at the very same spot, quite irritated. And then a car pulled over. Inside I saw the man I had talked to in the morning. He wasn’t going far, but he could take me out of this town, to an important highway junction in Bjerkvik. On our way, we stopped by his summer house where he was living now. He insisted that I come in and see it. It was really nice and offered wonderful view:

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He also offered me to stay in his guest house but I would feel too awkward accepting it due his personal situation. And besides, I wanted to get back on the road. He drove me a bit farther from the highway junction, so that I had better chances of catching a ride. After few minutes, however, I thought he had been driving me for too long. I suspected it was due to his emotional struggle and I didn’t want to take advantage of him, so I asked him to drop me off at the nearest spot I saw it was possible. He seemed a bit irritated by that, but didn’t say anything.

When I saw where I ended up, I felt a bit uneasy. It was a beautiful spot for camping – it offered wonderful view and was far enough from the nearest town. It was really bad for hitchhiking, though. While I was wondering how long I would have to wait there, I saw a cyclist I had been passing few times already.

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‘No matter how bad it gets, it would be much worse if I was cycling’, I thought. Anyway, soon to my surprise I got picked up by a couple of young nice guys. They drove me for a few hours until they had to turn at another highway junction in Nordkjosbotn. During the ride they taught me how to pronnounce that name, which I would often say from now on to impress all the other non-Norwegian travellers.


A day off [Norwegian Adventure, day 5]

First thing in the morning I did some laundry, and stretched another piece of rope between the trees to let it dry. Then I looked really pleased at my camp, admired the view from my spot, said ‘hi’ to some friendly joggers and dog walkers and generally enjoyed the well-deserved free time.

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And then I embarked to explore the town. When I had been in Kiruna last winter I really regretted not visiting it, so I was quite excited to get this opportunity. As it turned out, there was not much to do for me except to hike. So hike I did.

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Just a nice, simple, quick walk. At the top I met a few Polish girls who live in Narvik. That didn’t really surprise me since I had been meeting Polish people all day long. One of the ladies was so kind as to offer me warm shower etc. at her place, should I need it. It was first such offer on this trip. Luckily, the weather was so nice there was no need to risk the awkwardness of staying over at a stranger’s house.

On my way back to the campsite I wanted to get some groceries at a supermarked I had spotted earlier. That’s when I learned that in Norway most stores are closed on Sundays. So I walked a few hundred meters when a thought struck me: Why should it deter me? There must be some garbage bins around the store! I went back and noticed a big dumpster that looked promising. Unfortunately, all I found was some old, bad smelling flowers. I didn’t really want to dive in to look for some hidden treasures, but as an afterthought, I should have ripped some bags open instead of just checking what was on the top of them.

In the evening I made a fire on the beach to cook some peas. It takes at least an hour, so I didn’t want to waste my stove fuel on them. Acting like a tramp is tougher when you are vegan.

Overall, it was a nice day. I really needed a day off.


A long, long ride [Norwegian Adventure, day 4]

I’m standing by the road. The weather is nice, the place is quite scenic, so I’m in a good mood. After about an hour of waiting, an old car pulls over. A young kid asks me: ‘Where are you going?’

‘To Nordkapp’

He smiles and says: ‘Hop in’.

It turned out he was going to Narvik, about 700 km or 10 hours drive down the road. Sweet! And on top of that, I had heard some nice things about Narvik when I was in Kiruna, Sweden last winter.

The kid said he would always pick up hitchhikers, mostly because he enjoyed listening to their stories. Our ride would be the longest lift he gave to anyone and he seemed quite happy about it. Unfortunately, he also seemed a bit disappointed to learn that I had had a few longer rides before.

It was a magnificent ride. That day I saw my first fjords, entered the Arctic and observed the landscape completely change. The views were absolutely mindblowing. Sadly, after few hours the driver seemed to grow a bit annoyed by my presence in his car. I was not surprised by that, knowing his young age. At some point I mentioned being interested in magic. After I showed him a few tricks when he wasn’t driving, he got happy again. I guess he considered me cool again.

An interesting thing happened when we were waiting for a ferry. He insisted that I pay for myself. Of course, I was grateful for the ride and would pay for myself even if he didn’t mention it. But I found the way he told me to pay quite amusing. He did it not only in a very assertive way, but his tone might be considered a bit hostile in most societies. And the funny part is, the price was very low – 35 NOK, i.e. what you normally pay in Norway for a loaf of bread or a kilo of apples. My impression is that Norwegians in general are extremely assertive and never feel intimidated to settle up, even when it comes to silly small amounts.

On the ferry I finally got a chance to take a few pictures of the mountains. A Norwegian gentleman laughed when I asked him to take a picture of me. To him the view was so ordinary.
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I asked the driver to drop me off just before Narvik, so that I could set up my camp. I guess we didn’t understand each other, since he left me in a middle of a town. I tried to hitchhike from there, but I knew I didn’t have much chance. And after hour or two of futile waiting, I made up my mind: I would spend the next day in Narvik, use the time to relax and explore and get back on the road the day after. To my surprise (and relief) it took only 3 or 4 km walk to get to the far end of the town, where I set up my camp:
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Just by the beautiful Herjangs Fjord:
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I also learned how trusting Norwegians can be. When I asked two ladies who apparently owned a garage near my campsite, they not only had no problem with me camping there (and seemed surprised that I had taken the trouble to ask), but even suggested a spot that might be more convenient. Neither of them seemed to be bothered by my presence at all.


Norwegian Adventure, day 3

The third day of my trip was quite uninteresting. First I went to a sporting goods store I had noticed the day before and got some fuel for my stove. From now on I would be able to cook a hot meal, yay!

I went to a gas station to ask for a ride, but all the people were either going the other direction or unwilling to give me a ride. I was surprised how frank people were with me: ‘No, I don’t want to’. To some it might seem rude, but I really appreciated it.

So despite the rainy weather, I went to a highway ramp, wrote ‘Nordkapp’ on my sign and turned down two offers before I realized that I wouldn’t find anyone going any significant distance. So I went with the third driver that pulled over. It was an elder priest who was going back home from a funeral. He complained a bit about Norwegians not being religious but other than that was a nice fella. After about 20 minutes he dropped me off just before Trondheim.

After a couple hours of putting a backpack raincover on, off and on again, I got picked up and driven almost 200 km to Steinkjer. Then literally the first car approaching me pulled over and picked me up. The driver was a young kid who had never picked up a hitchhiker before. He really wanted to take a picture of me to show to his friends who, by the time he dropped me off, already claimed him insane for picking me up, even though we were going together only for a few minutes. I ended up in Aspaugen. Some locals looked really surprised to see a hitchhiker. But they didn’t get a chance to get a close look because very soon I got picked up again. This time by an older gentleman going to inspect his forest in Kram.

When I got there it was already 7:00pm or so, so I doubted I would get another ride that day. Still, it was early enough to give it a shot. And when I was just about to go seek a camping spot, an elder lady picked me up. She explicitly said she wanted some company to keep her awake for the remaining hour of driving. So I did my best to be an interesting conversation partner. She was going to Grong but was kind enough to drop me off a kilometer or two farther down the road, in a nice rest area where I could camp.

The place itself and the view it offered were very charming:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the two beautiful trees growing in the very middle looked like they had been planted there with hammock lovers in mind:
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Having set up my camp and cooked some hot meal (an instant soup with couscous), I called it a day and went to sleep. It was all perfect… except for the guy who arrived at 1:00am and spent like 20 minutes inflating his air bed with a very loud, annoying pump.


Lots of water [Norwegian Adventure, day 2]

The night was not too bad. Every now and then I would wake up and get rid of the few mosquitos that had gotten under my window curtain. In the morning it started raining, so I decided to sleep in. It didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon, so eventually I had to put my camp down in rain. It was challanging, but I did pretty well. Especially considering that I couldn’t pack the hammock without upsetting the tarp canopy. Then I put the tarp over my head and wrapped myself in it, using it as an impromptu poncho, and walked to the gas station. There was some confusion and at first I was asking for a ride at a wrong station. But eventually I managed to get a ride a bit farther north. I got dropped near Minnesund, at a really big gas station and truck stop.

To my surprise, the drivers I approached didn’t seem scared of me at all, despite my long dark hair and a spooky beard. Unfortunately, almost all of them were going the opposite direction, to Oslo, or at least that’s what they said. After few hours of soliciting and getting wet, I finally met a truck driver who was going north. Not far, just half an hour ride, but I really wanted to get out of there. It never feels good being stuck in one place for too long. After I got in, it turned out his plan had changed and he was going almost all the way to Trondheim, which meant 5 hours ride! It was so nice to spend those few hours in a dry vehicle.

It was quite amusing to hear about the driver’s vacations. Last year he went to Dubai and was staying in a five-star hotel. This year he is planning a few weeks vacation in Bangkok, and during that time he is going to fly back-and-forth few times to do some errands in Norway. Not many truck drivers in the world can afford that.

When the trucker asked me what was my final destination, I said I just wanted to go somewhere north. ‘If you want to go north, you should go to Nordkapp. You cannot get any farther than that.’ Awesome! It feels nice to have some specific destination and now I knew where I was going.

Finally we arrived at a truck stop near Støren in the evening. Luckily, the weather was quite nice and the place itself was lovely:
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At first I wanted to set up my camp on the beach, but then I realized how hard it was to make my poles stable when stuck in the sand. So I moved under a bridge nearby, which was a really good choice. It was so nice to spacious roofed area and even nicer to know I wouldn’t have to put the roof down when packing my stuff in the morning.

And here is what it looked like:
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This time I hadn’t eaten anything since the supper the day before. I was quite hungry and so was really happy with another meal consisting of bread and chocolate.

I had to get used to the noise of cars and trucks driving above my head, but overall had a really good sleep. It was so nice to wake up at night, see that it’s raining and know that all my stuff, including the tarp, is going to remain completely dry.


Starting the Norwegian Adventure

What follows is a diary of my recent trip to Norway. Each post will correspond to a single day. Even though I’m writing this down after my return, I will set the publication date for each of the posts to the day it describes.

I took a WizzAir flight from Warsaw to Rygge near Oslo. I hate waiting in a queue for boarding so I was one of the last passangers on the plane. We were all asked to take any seat we can see as quickly as possible. Everyone pretented not to notice a particular place next to two little girls. Unfortunately, a flight attendant asked me to sit there and I couldn’t really refuse. So I had to help them a bit when preparing for takeoff and landing but more importantly, I had to listen to the lound, high-pitch screams of the younger one for the entire flight. It seemed they were travelling with a guy sitting in front of me who didn’t really care. Well, he was partially excused since there where another two girls sitting in his row, so there was no way he could put all four of them around himself. I cursed myself for leaving my earplugs in my big backpack instead of the cabin luggage.

There were two surprises awaiting me after we landed. Firstly, the three guys sitting in the row behind me started chatting with the girls. It turned out they were all related, only they didn’t want to listen to the screams themselves, so they pretended not to know my charming little neighbours and let me have the honour of sitting next to them. Secondly, when I reached for my cabin luggage, I realized I had put the earplugs there just before checking in my big backpack and forgot about it. Damn it.

Well, at least I was in Norway now. And it was time to decide where to go. The west coast looked really appealing on my roadmap but after I asked at the tourist information and at a gas station, it seemed that getting there and then travelling along it might be quite complicated for a hitchhiker. So I decided to take the main Norwegian highway (the E6) and go somewhere in the North, for I love the arctic.

A short, nice walk to the nearest roundabout and in no time a car pulled over. I got picked up by two Polish guys working in Oslo. As I was about to find out, there are lots and lots of Polish people working in Norway. The driver used to hitchhike himself so he was so kind as to drop me off at the far end of the city.

I didn’t wait long at that spot either. After a good hour, maybe an hour and a half, I got picked up again. The driver wasn’t going far, but he used to hitchhike himself and assured me that I had much better chances at the proposed spot. He told me to stick to the gas stations and not to hitchhike on the highway ramps, or else I will have to deal with the police. I found and still find it hard to believe, but perhaps the cops around Oslo are more uptight. My driver also said that nowadays, when he wants to go somewhere far, he calls local DHL branch and asks if they have any trucks going that direction and if he may go as a passanger. That’s another thing I find hard to believe.

Anyway, he took me to Jessheim, just north of Oslo, showed me a nice small forest just by the highway where I could camp and also a gas station where I should start the next day.

The camp set-up I chose for this night was this: a hammock, a simple mosquito net (i.e. a window curtain) hanging loosely from the hammock ridge line and a tarp supported by the ridge line, stretched with some pieces of thin rope to form a canopy. I put my sleeping pad in the hammock and a sleeping bag on top of it. There were quite a few mosquitos in the woods so I was curious to see for the first time how the window curtain would work. Alas, I forgot to take a picture of the camp.

Only after I got everything set up, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. All I had was some bread and chocolate but I was quite happy with my supper. And then it was time to get some good night rest.


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