A Travellerspoint blog

Day 32, The Last Day!

Sunday 25th August

sunny 28 °C
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As usual, it's days after our return, and I'm sat in the living room trying to finish off my blog. The washing has all been done, the van cleaned and the house is now back to normal. What is there left to do but finish off the blog and start to plan for next year?

We knew our last day was going to be a long one, so we deliberately planned in some chill time. We left the camp site from hell, and drove back the way we had come. Lyn found his way onto one of the dike roads, and we drove out onto a fishing pier type road which was quiet and surrounded by water. There was no one in sight, and it was just utterly peaceful. I managed to get into my bikini for the first time this holiday and we pulled the chairs out and chilled for a few hours with our kindles. It must have looked as if we had quarrelled as I was sat at the front of the van in the sunshine, and Lyn was at the back of the van in the shade.

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We enjoyed this, and reluctantly pulled ourselves back into reality to start the long drive home. The drive from the Netherlands to Calais took us about 4 hours and we reached Calais in plenty of time for our 7.50pm crossing. Yeah right! The Eurotunnel in August was it's usual chaos, and we waited over an hour to check in, then they were turning vehicles away as there was no room in the car park. We eventually got on with about 90 minutes delay, then faced the sad ride back home, getting back home at about 2.30am Bank Holiday morning.

So, how would we sum up our holiday? From my perspective it was much better than anticipated. I really hadn't fancied Norway, but was blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. My biggest memories will be of the colour of the sea and just how clear it was. The beaches were beautiful and if it wasn't for the absence of Bob Marley music and palm trees you could have felt you were in the Caribbean. I also enjoyed the cities; Stockholm and Oslo were beautiful, with amazing public transport systems and both very clean and safe. I loved the museums and art galleries in both.

The biggest drawbacks for me were two fold; the sheer distances involved and hence time spent in the van, and the expense of food, drinks etc. We ended up driving 5,011 miles, which is a bloody long way. There is no easy way to get there, as there are no ferries to Norway from the UK, so you are faced with a big drive through Europe to start with, then a long ferry ride, then another long drive to get to Northern Norway. The Norwegian roads are also not good; they are not fast and tend to be single carriage way and can be expensive with tolls. We will be billed for them in about a month, and a van of our size can cost 2-3 times the price of a car. We did absolutely the right thing in driving there through Sweden.There were many many tunnels, some very scary, plus many ferries, which were fun. We had been anticipating heavy food expenses, so had filled our van with staples such as pasta, tins, pizza bases, cereal, snacks etc, so we only had to buy the basics such as bread, milk, butter etc., and meat occasionally. Lyn also had to have his daily sausage at about 7 pounds a time! I would never want to fly into Norway and stay in hotels and eat out, as it's not my type of food (fermented herring??) and very expensive with not much choice. We drunk less alcohol than in any previous holiday, as we mainly drunk what we took.

My biggest regret, however, is that we didn't spend enough time in the places that we loved. We were on a road trip with a schedule to keep to, so we were ever mindful of keeping on track. Hind sight is a wonderful thing, and if we had know that our favourite places were to be in Senja and the Lofotens, we would have stayed there longer, and not pushed on so fast. You never know what is around the corner, to the tendency is to keep on going. We could definitely have left off the last day of the Atlantic Coast road. If I had to pick put one standout place in our trip, it would definitely be Uttakleiv Beach. Lyn had seen Uttakleiv Beach in video of a man with his drone over the beach, and had ear marked it as one we had to go to. i am so glad he did as it's such a special place, and I'm sad I'll never get back there. We may get back to Norway in the future, but it will be on a Fjord Cruise, or more to Southern Norway. We probably won't go back to Finland, unless we do a Northern Lights trip, or a city break to Helsinki, but we will definitely definitely return to Sweden. We are planning it right now!

Some stats from our trip;

8 countries visited
5 different currencies
32 nights away
8 nights camp sites, 24 nights wild camping
5,011 Miles driven
1338 pounds Fuel cost
21 fuel stops
15 ferreis
Countless tunnels
Too many pounds of pick n mix and definitely too many sausages!
No arguments!!

Rate my drive for Lyn 10/10

Hope you enjoyed my blog, if you have then please subscribe so you get updated for our next trip; Thailand Easter 2020!

Posted by CariadJohn 06:16 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged netherlands calais eurotunnel harveytherv hymer travelswithharvey Comments (1)

Day 31, Day of the Dike!

Saturday August 24th

sunny 28 °C
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Den Helder certainly looked like a nice place to explore! We got up and went out for a walk to do just that. We walked past some of the historic ships in the harbour, and then crossed the busy road to the dike. The road was so busy with traffic; then we realised that it was all the cars going to the ferry to the offshore island of Texel.

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We would have liked to visit Texel but just didn't have the time just now. It is the biggest of the Wadden islands and looks fantastic with over 30km of sandy beaches.

We could see the beaches of Texel across the water from the top of the dike. The view just went on forever. The long flat paths of the dike made it so popular for walking, cycling and running. There were loads of people out enjoying the sunshine, but it never got busy.

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We turned inland after our dike walk and looked for somewhere for breakfast. Even though Den Helder is a bustling port town, the actual town centre was very quiet, with many places not opening till 12pm, despite it being a Saturday.

We walked back near our camping spot and went to one of the water front places we had drunk at last night. They were just opening up at 10am and we were the first ones there. We sat outside in the sunshine, and ordered our breakfast. Oh boy! It was our favourite breakfast of the holiday. I had a cheese and onion toastie which was heart shaped, with an iced coffee with a salted caramel bottom. Lyn's farmer's omelette was huge and really tasty. We also had tiny Dutch liquers with whipped cream as a free extra. I was gutted we were leaving! I wanted lunch and dinner there!

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We headed off again in Harvey, knowing our holiday was nearly at an end. Lyn found us another fab place to chill for a couple of hours, on a grass bank above the sea. There was a tiny little beach, filled with people, and we spent a few happy hours there, reading and chilling, watching the boats and jetskis in the water.

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We were in Zeeland now in the Netherlands, which has got a fascinating coastal history. In reality, the Netherlands is not meant to be built on; one third is under sea level and the other two thirds liable to flooding. The Dutch have had to become world experts in keeping the water at bay in order to live. We found ourselves chilling on one of the dikes on the Deltaworks,

The Deltaworks has been declared one of the wonders of the modern engineering world. It is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers.

The aim is to shorten the Dutch coastline, reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. Major areas to be protected from flooding are identified.The cost of flooding is assessed using a statistical model involving damage to property, lost production, and a given amount per human life lost. For the purpose of the model, a human life is valued at €2.2 million.

We knew we couldn't stay, however, due to the Dutch camping rules, so we had to find a campsite. We ended up in the overspill carpark of a large camp site nearby. It was like the village of the damned! We had a little old guy who kept walking really close to our van back and forth all the time, plus a big guy in another van who kept blocking cars in with his motorbike so he could get them to move and he could then move his van into their space. He did this several times! He then parked up right next to us (of course he did!), and made friends with the people in the van opposite.. They all then proceeded to drink together and look at us, before eventually he went back to his van and started singing across to his new friends, who then responded in song back! And on and on it went... It was a long night!

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Posted by CariadJohn 13:11 Archived in Netherlands Tagged netherlands harveytherv hymer travelswithharvey Comments (0)

Day 30, Dee Dink Dee Dink

Friday 23rd August

sunny 28 °C
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..... we dive at dawn!

Lyn has always had a strange fascination with submarines, hence the title of this blog post. Das Boot is an often quoted film in our house! He was up early to get to the Naval museum as it opened at 10am.

The museum is split into 4 areas, pre WW1, WW1, WW2 and after WW2. It is quite a small museum; the main exhibits are the boats outside that you can clamber all over. There was no mention of Hitler, Naziism the Third Reich etc; all the information was factual about the ships only.

At the start of WW2 there were only 57 U boats available to the German Reich, but only half were suitable for deployment in the Atlantic. The U boats were deployed in packs against allied convoys of merchant shipping. The USA had enormous shipbuilding capacity when it entered the war in 1941, which meant the new building figures remained higher than the tonnage of ships the U boats managed to sink. In addition, the allies had superior reconnaissance possibilities using radar and sonar technology. They also cracked the German Navy’s telegraph code. When more than 40 U boats were lost in May 1943 alone, the Germans suspended the Battle of the Atlantic, and the development of new types of U boats came too late to improve the situation. By the end of the war 757 of the 1157 U boats had been sunk, and around 29000 U boat crew members and lost their lives.

Lyn went through the U boat twice whilst it was quiet. It was not a WW2 U boat but he still had the impression of the claustrophobic working conditions.To be underwater in hot sweaty conditions, hunting and being hunted, the submariners must have had nerves of absolute steel.

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Whilst Lyn was squeezing into tiny gaps not meant for his size, I was out walking on the dike. It was just my type of walk; flat, empty and right by the sea. It was amazingly peaceful. I did about 3 miles, and then went back to the van to recline in my chair outside and finish my book on my kindle. A perfect couple of hours for me! It was also the only time we have spent apart in a month!

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Lyn came back and we packed up, ready to move on to our next country! We bought our last cheap food and beer of the holiday.

We were trying to get to places where we wouldn’t normally get to; so we had opted to visit the very Northern part of the Netherlands. We had to cross the amazing dike at IJseelmeer. This is a closed off inland bay, and is Holland’s biggest lake. It’s special because it used to be the Zuiderzee (South Sea). We crossed over the 32km embankment that closes off the lake; at low tide the water in the Wadden Sea drops below the water in the lake, and the water is run off through sluices.

After we had crossed this we found a camping spot at our next point of call, Holland’s main Naval base, Den Helder. We drove in, and orientated ourselves, looking at some of the big boats moored up, then went out for a walk and a drink.

Posted by CariadJohn 12:35 Archived in Germany Tagged mountains boats germany war hymer travelswithharvey Comments (0)

Day 29, In the Navy....

Thursday 22nd August

sunny 28 °C
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We were sorry to leave this lovely peaceful sunny field on the banks of the Elbe, but it was time to move on.

We had decided to try and bypass the horrendous Hamburg traffic by taking a different route; one that involved crossing the River Elbe by ferry, from Gluckstadt to Wischaven. The crossing only takes 20 minutes, but the queue can build up and it can take a while to get on. We waited about an hour, but were then on the open ferry, sandwiched between all the big lorries. The tide was out, so docking the other side was interesting; it looked like we were in inches of water!

The travelling in Germany was quite relaxed; lots of open, rural, farming countryside, with the agricultural smells to match! My phone signal here was often non existent; surprising really when I always had coverage in the most remote islands in Norway. The countryside made up for it though, with lots of tree lined roads.

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We were heading towards the Naval town of Wilhelmshaven, and got there after a few hours. Wilhelmshaven is a town on the Jade Bright on the North Sea coast of Germany. It is the proud owner of Germany’s only south facing beach; the Sudstrand, and we ended up finding a fabulous paying car park right on the bank above it, with huge spaces for motor homes. We had an endless unobstructed 180 degree view out to sea, and the sun was shining.

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We had a minor battle with the pay & display machine, as it didn’t like either of our debit cards, despite one of them being from a Dutch bank. A little old man stopped to help us, and tried for ages, despite him not speaking English, or us speaking German! We eventually ended up putting all our euros into it, but that wasn’t enough to pay for 24 hours, so we knew we had to go out and get more change. Hmmmm, maybe we needed to go out for a drink??

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We went onto the prom, and walked and walked. We walked towards what Wilhelmsaven is famous for….and the reason we were here! It is the home of the German Naval Museum, and three of it’s biggest exhibits are displayed outside. The missile destroyer Molders is huge, with it’s 40m mast, and that is moored alongside the mine hunter Weilheim. We could also see the submarine U10. Lyn was looking forward to spending a few hours here tomorrow!

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We walked over the impressive Kaiser Wilheim Bridge and then stopped for a drink on one of the waterside bars. We sat on bean bags and watched the sun set, clutching our all important euros!

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Posted by CariadJohn 14:02 Archived in Germany Tagged bridges museums germany war harveytherv travelswithharvey Comments (0)

Day 28, Back to the Euro!

Wednesday 21st August

sunny 21 °C
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Bye bye Denmark, and hello Germany! Just a quick blog post tonight, as today was mainly about travelling through Denmark to get to the German border so we can SHOP!

Oh yes, shop! We found a supermarket just over the border. This supermarket was bigger than Wales. Seriously. It was massive. You can see that it is clearly used by Scandinavians chasing cheaper alcohol and sweets. I’ve never seen so many aisles of chocolates and sweets. The alcohol section was like a whole supermarket in it’s own right, with it’s own checkouts. Reading the reviews of it beforehand I read one from a man who travels 300km each way once a month just to do his shopping here!

After stocking up on German beer for Lyn, and a few essentials, we were back on the road. We drove over a bridge over the Kiel Ship Canal which artificially dissects the whole danish peninsula shortcutting ships routes from the Baltic to the North Sea. This excited Lyn, but not me!

We were heading down to the River Elbe, which meant we bypassed Hamburg and it’s awful traffic problems. The River Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe, over 1000km long, flowing from the Czech Republic through Germany and into the North Sea.

Lyn found us an amazing camping spot for the night, right on its banks. The river is calm and peaceful, and absolutely vast. Lyn is in his element watching the huge container ships go past. We had a barbecue and watched the sunset. It was good to take some time out to kick back and chill outside, especially as it was my perfect temperature of 21 degrees!

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Posted by CariadJohn 14:07 Archived in Germany Tagged bridges boats river germany denmark elbe harveytherv hymer travelswithharvey Comments (0)

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