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Old 2nd June 2017, 20:40   #1
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Default A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

A glimpse of Norway
Along with my wife, I recently had an opportunity to spend a week in Norway (South of Norway to be precise) as I had a few holidays combined with a weekend. Adding with a couple of days of break from work made it a full week. This was our first ever visit to this fantastic destination.

My wife and I moved to Netherlands around 5 years ago. We have been trying to explore as many destinations as possible in last few years. We were glad that finally Norway is becoming a reality after a long wait.
Norway has been in my list for long. I was trying to make a plan almost from the first year of being in Europe itself, but unlike many other destinations, Norway needed bit of real preparations when it comes to many days of trip combined with travel by road which kept the plan moving a lot. My original plan for Norway was to drive from south all the way to the north and return via Finland and Sweden. This needs lot more time than a week – so its kept safe for next time!
Norway as destination is quite different from most of Europe in my personal view.
--It has a different currency (1 Norwegian Krone equals 0.11 Euro).
--Nature and landscapes are different and that combined with extreme weather conditions in winter makes it important to plan well.
--I got to say that the landscape is so amazing that it is not easy to embrace it in its full magnitude.
--The scale of mountains and lakes (known as fjords) is BIG in Norway. We had never seen something of similar scale before.
--People and culture are also very different from the part of Europe where we live and the list goes on.

Before anything else, a few basics.

--Norway accepts Schengen visa.
--Norway has an excellent tourist info website. The site also offers an interactive map with all important destinations - very useful.
--Norway is not a crowded country. Compared to 17 million people in Netherlands, Norway is somewhere around 5 million making it possible that you come across long deserted roads and planes. Finding basic amnesties could be a challenge in case if you are planning to be in remote places.
--Norway is expensive when compared to other typical European destinations (but well worth a visit).
--Norway has good road, rail and air network, but weather plays a major role in everything.
--EU credit, debit cards will work almost everywhere, but having some currency (Norwegian Krone - NOK) is important. We had a few occasions to deal with.
--Ferries are widely used in Norway and not all of them operate around the clock.
--Driving in Norway is just like driving in any other European country. But what is different is, there are tolls almost everywhere. They are automatic and can be paid either by using a chip (pre paid or post paid) or you can just drive by which is what I did. An invoice will soon be arriving using which I would be paying. So if you are renting a car, make a note of what is it needed to deal with tolls.
--Though we have not tried, Norway is very friendly with wild camping/fishing/hiking and so on.
--Speed limits are not as fancy as those of other European countries. Usually everything stays between 60 to 100 kmph where in 100 is very rare. Common sights are around 70 to 80 for the most part.

Back to the trip, this is what we followed for a week.


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-map2-complete.jpg

Map of the route followed. Netherlands to Denmark via Germany, followed by a Ferry crossing over to Norway, Round trip covering the destinations and following same route back home.

Sat Day 1:
Bussum, Netherlands to Hirtshals, Denmark where we had booked a ferry ride next day that would take us and the car over to Norway.
Distance: around 950 kms.

Sun Day 2:
We boarded ferry from Denmark to Norway at 11:45 AM from Hirtshals, Denmark and arrived Kristiansand, Norway at around 2 PM.
Destination for the day: Sandnes, Norway and settled for the night.
Distance was 222 KMS/4 hours.

Mon Day 3:
We hiked and visited Pulpit rock.
After getting back to the base, we started driving towards Flam, Norway which was about 360 kms away taking about 6 hours’ drive. Destination for the day: Voss, Norway.

Tue Day 4:
Nærøyfjord Cruise that started from Flam, Cruise took us to Guvangen and a shuttle bus back to Flam where we had our car parked.
Before setting off towards Oslo, we also enjoyed the Flam mountain railway and a bit of walking around in the beautiful town of Flam.
Drove towards Oslo [5+ hours, around 400 kms] and checked into the Airbnb around mid-night.
The location was about 40 KMS outside Oslo.
It was a log cabin, next to woods and lakes. We wanted a few days to be just lazy and relaxed and this one suited the idea best.

Wed Day 5:
Airbnb

Thu Day 6:
Airbnb

Fri Day 7:
Checked out and visited Oslo city and spent a couple of hours.
That was followed by a drive of around 4 hours, 320 kms to Kristiansand and we settled for the night.

Sat Day 8:
Return ferry at 8:00 AM, arrived at Hirtshals, Denmark at 11:15 AM
Drove back to Netherlands - 950 kms.
Total distance was approximately 3500 kms.

Now the obvious question: What car? and why road, but not air?

First, Norway is such a location that demands travel by road than flights to extract every bit of essence out of it. Major cities are connected by trains; however, we never had the idea of spending time in cities.

Second, Car is available, fuel is free (Not really, but sort of). Let me explain a little bit.
I drive a Volvo V40 D2 Cross Country Nordic plus. It is my company lease car, I received it as brand new on 22nd of October 2016, lease lasts 4 years. Current reading on odo: 27898 kms.
Those who are wondering about using company car for personal trips, this is how it works. Netherlands and many other EU countries have this concept of company cars. They are usually for jobs having travel. The big idea is, Company leases a car on your behalf and takes care of maintaining and fuelling it. Lease usually would be for 4 years. Alternatively, you can have your own car or ways of travel and claim the car allowance from company. Which way to go is a not an easy discussion, I will keep it for another time.
With a company lease car, there is a personal contribution to be made towards taxes. It’s not cheap really, but the pick between personal car Vs company car as I said is a big topic needing a separate discussion. With the personal contribution towards taxes, car is also available for personal use up to a certain number of KMs per year. I have 14000 KMS available every year for personal use with fuel included. Now all this combined with my passion for long distance driving makes it the only option I have for this trip

Back to the trip. I am going to try explaining each day in a little bit detailed way, along with photos.
You would have figured it out by now that my writing is going to be super boring and photos are going to be the only rays of hope!

Sat Day 1:
First leg of drive was from Bussum, Netherlands where we live to Hirtshals, Denmark where we have a ferry next day that takes us and the car over to Norway.
Distance: around 950 kms.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-map1bussum-denmark.png


We started driving around 7 in the morning. Not a lot of traffic and it was easy motorway (Highway) cruising. Comfortable motorway drive is one of the key reasons behind me picking V40 over the competition.
A1 motorway in Netherlands followed by Autobahn 30 and 1 in Germany. We took stops every few hours and finally arrived Denmark border after passing by Bremen and Hamburg. E45 and 39 took us to the destination.


How about roads? Well, here is my quick feedback.
Highways in Netherlands: Good for the most part. Speed limits between 100 to 130 depending on the road. Week days are going to be crowded.
Autobahns in Germany: They are well known for having no-speed-limits which is true though some parts of autobahns have speed limits. However, what is not so known and interesting to me is, these roads have never ending road works. I have been driving around for years and I cannot remember a single trip where I could benefit from the high speeds because usually the time saved goes back into all those road works.
Highways in Denmark: Fantastic. No crowd and well maintained roads. Quality surface with 130 kms limit. Maintaining high average speed is easy which important for covering distances.
There were no tolls in any of these roads.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-denmark.png
Denmark's E39 (Europe 39) Motorway

We arrived at Hirtshals around 6 PM and check in to hotel.
A bit of time was spent driving around and eventually settled for the night after an easy pizza dinner.
Stay at Motel Nordsøen

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-denmark-hotel.png
Motel Nordsøen, Hirtshals, Denmark.

The hotel was very close to the ferry port, outdoors were really nice though the rooms were a just ok.

Sun Day 2:
We boarded ferry from Denmark to Norway at 11:45 AM from Hirtshals and arrived Kristiansand, Norway at around 2 PM.
The ferry was large and had all the facilities you would need. Guess what, it also had a duty-free shopping centre inside.
The ferry needs advance booking. The route can get pretty busy and expensive in summer.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-ferry.png
Color Line ferry that operates between Denmark and Norway. The ferry route is a pat of E39 motorway.


There are two major companies as far as I know operating between Norway and Denmark. Fjord line and Colorline. I had originally booked with Fjord line but had to cancel it and book it with Colorline due to change in their schedule which was not going to work with our plan.

We almost immediately left the city of Kristiansand behind and drove further towards Sandnes. We took many stops in between as the initial frame of Norway's serene beauty was so stunning that we could not resist. What a destination!

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Kristiansand to Sandnes E39 route.


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-norway-1.png
First glimpse of what was ahead. Pic from Kristiansand to Sandnes drive. Norway's nature truly represents Norway's tourism tagline - "Powered by Nature"

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-norway-2.png
Kristiansand to Sandnes E39 route


We picked a location outside the city limits for the stay. We wanted to spend our limited time closer to nature as much as we can.
Destination for the day: Sandnes, Norway and settled for the night.

Stay at Kronen Gaard Hotel

Hotel surroundings

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-norway-4.png
Kronen Gaard Hotel surroundings.


Distance from Kristiansand was 222 KMS/4 hours.

Mon Day 3:
We hiked and visited Pulpit Rock – one of the most visited destinations in Norway. If you are afraid of heights, better think twice before adding this to your bucket list. Regardless, the view and the experience of being there cannot be beaten. It’s not an easy hike. 4 kms one way will need a bit of real stamina. Trail is not so smooth as its filled with rocks and slopes.

Let the photos speak!

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-pulpit1.png
The hike leading to Pulpit Rock. Hike was definitely not easy.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-pulpit2.png
View from the top of Pulpit Rock


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-pulpit3.png
View from the top of Pulpit Rock


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-pulpit4.png
View from the top of Pulpit Rock

Preikestolvegen 521, 4100 Jørpeland, Norway is where the parking is located for those who are looking for a visit. Visitors have a small cafe and rest rooms.

The drive from Sandnes to Pulpit rock includes a short ferry of about 20 minutes. Ferries are integral part of Norway’s road network. Most times they operate couple of times every hour. No booking needed or even not possible in most cases. Payment is done on board.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-ferry-local.png
One of the local ferries. They play a major role connecting Norwegian roads.


After getting back to the base, we started driving towards Flam, Norway which is about 300 kms – 6 hours’ drive. We had booked our stay at Voss which was about an hour behind Flam. Flam was relatively expensive, however since our cruise next day was only at noon, we had enough time.

Stay at Voss Vandrarheim Hostel. It was more of a hostel than a hotel, but just a night's stay is all what we had to deal with.

Tue Day 4:
The cruise day.
Nærøyfjord Cruise that started from Flam, took us to Guvangen and a shuttle bus back to Flam where we had our car parked.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cruise.png
The Nærøyfjord Cruise route map

The scenic beauty of fjords is unbelievable. Mountains filled with water in between at enormous scale keeps everything we have seen far behind. With such a wonder of nature, the bonus is that Norway is not generally spoiled by tourism. Something we have seen in Swiss. Swiss is a quality location but the tourist crowd makes it a little uninteresting in my view.


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-1cruise.png
Picture taken while cruising the Nærøyfjord

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cruise2.png
Picture taken while cruising the Nærøyfjord

With a bit of sharp eyes, you can probably see 3 white dots in the above picture. Those are three houses where people live. That would probably help set some ideas about the sheer size and magnitude of these mountains and lakes.

Before setting off towards Oslo, we also enjoyed the Flam mountain railway and a bit of walking around in the beautiful town of Flam. Flam seems to be also an important destination for those who are doing the Nordics cruise or European tours. Unlike other destinations, we saw many Indians around.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cruise3.png
Picture taken while cruising the Nærøyfjord


A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cruise4train.png
Picture from Flam Mountain Railway route

The joy of being in Flam enjoying and embracing the nature was followed by a long drive towards Oslo.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-flam-oslo-map.png
Flam to Oslo route map. E16 followed by Route 57, 7 and E18

The landscape kept us amazed throughout. We kept stopping and clicking photos.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-flam-oslo.png
Pic from Flam to Oslo drive. I believe it was somewhere on E16


350 KMS and about 6 hours later, we settled down in what was going to be our home for next couple of days.

Wed Day 5 and Thu Day 6:

A log cabin near the woods and lakes. The location was about 40 KMS outside Oslo.
We wanted a few days to be just lazy and relaxed and this one suited the idea best.
We found this in Airbnb.
It was also the cheapest of all the places we stayed.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cabin-2.png
Exteriors of our much awaited log cabin.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-cabin-1.png
Interiors of the log cabin.

The location, the host, the nature, the cabin and its coziness, the outdoor shower, nice sunny weather - It was a perfect two days (we wanted even more, but we had to return obviously).
It was so difficult at the end to pack and return and digest the fact that we are getting real close to our next working day!

Fri Day 7:
Checked out and visited Oslo city and spent a couple of hours.
We were neither particularly interested in anything specific in Oslo nor did we have any plans but just made use of the opportunity to make a quick visit. We were also hoping to have a coffee with a friend of mine, but unfortunately we could not meet as it was a working day combined with some unexpected emergencies he had to deal with.

That was followed by a drive of around 4 hours, 320 kms to Kristiansand and we settled for the night.
Nothing spectacular about the drive. Its a busy road and we just had to munch the miles.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-oslo-kris.png
The final stretch within Norway - Oslo to Kristiansand where we would be boarding the return ferry next day

Sat Day 8:
Return ferry at 8:00 AM, arrived at Hirtshals, Denmark at 11:15 AM
Drove back to Netherlands - 950 kms.
Total distance of the trip was approximately 3500 kms.
More importantly we learnt that Norway is a destination that needs more visits. We still have not sen northern lights, we still have not seen the north of Norway - there is still a lot left for next time.

A few more photos and a time lapse to bring a warm closure.

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-more1.png
In and around Øyeren lake

A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads-more2.png
In and around the log cabin and a few nearby locations




Timelapse of Norway drive


Finally found something rightly done for the kids to play just outside a road side cafe. This was just awesome! I wanted to try it out really.

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Norwegian kids got some genuine toys to play with!

I always keep logs of basic expenses of the car.

Very interesting to note that the mileage dramatically increased while being in Norway.

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Mileage/Distance tracker - I use Fuel log app for android

With Norway's reduced speed limits, performance is at optimum rate.
Usually I average around 15 to 17, but that was not the case while being in Norway. Very interesting.

I had to also deal with a damage of the tire on the 3rd day where in I ran over a small concrete block and that caused a bubble-crack on the side of the tire. I had to use the 'mini' space saving spare one for about 100 kms before getting a new tyre installed. The incident caused a few warming lights to show up (ESC & Tyre pressure one) which is yet to be fixed.
I spoke to Volvo technical support before driving further to make sure that it was safe to drive with the lights on and they confirmed the same after doing some basic checks.

Apart from the above, the car kept up pretty well and was extremely comfortable through out - not just for me but my wife has same view too.

I dont think any other car in the same class can beat the front seats of Volvos in general. Such a comfy set of seats with quality interiors and build combined with a fair diesel engine (I rarely felt a cry for D3 or D4 to be brutally honest, but D2 is fairly good for the most of the most part) topped up with a ton of safety kits - I think Volvo is doing things right. That is also seen in recent spikes in their sales across almost all over Europe. In all honesty, I have developed quite a bit of liking for the Swedish (now Chinese ) brand in the recent past.

Thanks for staying up, Have a good day and safe driving.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 13th June 2017 at 10:34. Reason: typo corrected
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Old 9th June 2017, 10:07   #2
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th June 2017, 11:06   #3
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Dear sir,
Not alone you, you have taken me also to all the places that you have visited. Very clear narration and attractive photographs worth reading and viewing!
Thanks!
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Old 9th June 2017, 11:46   #4
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Nice write up and the pictures are awesome. You should drive to North Norway once, the routes are very good and scenic everywhere. Tromso and North cape are must visit and the drive will be awesome. You won't find much traffic and you'll definitely enjoy drive. Plan it during winters if you like some adventure
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Old 9th June 2017, 12:13   #5
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Great travelogue Dileepcm!!

Thanks for sharing the Information, the Pictures are awesome!

I was actually planning to do the exact same trip this year, however from Germany instead of Netherlands. But then I decided to push Norway back to next year and do a road trip to Croatia this year instead!.

Your post will certainly be very helpful to plan my trip for next year! I might contact you for some more Details when the time Comes, if that is alright!

Cheers!
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Old 9th June 2017, 12:39   #6
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by smuniswami View Post
Dear sir,
Not alone you, you have taken me also to all the places that you have visited. Very clear narration and attractive photographs worth reading and viewing!
Thanks!
Thanks smuniswami!, appreciate the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haneeshN View Post
Tromso and North cape are must visit and the drive will be awesome.
Thanks. My dream was to go up to North, but a week is not enough to do that sort of a road trip. Norway roads and distances can easily be underestimated making me think that I need to plan even better when I go for the North. However it is in my plan for future for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ishankpatel View Post
Great travelogue Dileepcm!!

But then I decided to push Norway back to next year and do a road trip to Croatia this year instead!.

Your post will certainly be very helpful to plan my trip for next year! I might contact you for some more Details when the time Comes, if that is alright!

Cheers!
Thanks and appreciate the response. Croatia is a nice location too.
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Old 9th June 2017, 12:51   #7
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Wonderful report. Brings back memories of the trip to Norway that I did earlier this year. One of the drives in it was Oslo - Flam - Bergen and back. The roads and views on this route are just incredible.

On the way to Flam, we took the Highway 50 via Gol as it was supposed to be a prettier route. The scenery on that route was something to behold. Maybe its time to write my own trip report .


Also you should have done the Fjord Safari rib boat cruise. Its way more fun compared to the tourist ferry.
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Old 9th June 2017, 15:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
On the way to Flam, we took the Highway 50 via Gol as it was supposed to be a prettier route. The scenery on that route was something to behold. Maybe its time to write my own trip report .

Also you should have done the Fjord Safari rib boat cruise. Its way more fun compared to the tourist ferry.
reignofchaos - Thanks for the note and waiting for your write up
I am not sure whether I will drive again to South of Norway, but I will make a note of your suggestions.

Just curious - Were you driving with normal winter tyres or studded ones?
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Old 9th June 2017, 16:16   #9
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Originally Posted by dileepcm View Post
reignofchaos - Thanks for the note and waiting for your write up
I am not sure whether I will drive again to South of Norway, but I will make a note of your suggestions.

Just curious - Were you driving with normal winter tyres or studded ones?
I think they were studded tyres but honestly I don't remember exactly.
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Old 18th July 2017, 10:23   #10
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Just awesome. The time lapse video was very nice as it gave us the couch surfers a realistic feel of your trip. Excellent narration with beautiful pictures.
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Old 11th September 2017, 16:02   #11
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Wonderful trip report.
It was as though I was travelling with you the entire trip.
And magnificent photos. Nature never fails to enthrall us!

Thanks for sharing such a gem of a place through your writing and photos
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Old 13th September 2017, 20:36   #12
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Default Re: A glimpse of Norway - a week on the roads

Good trip log. Did you also enjoy some of the delicious Salmon there?
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Old 14th September 2017, 14:04   #13
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Did you also enjoy some of the delicious Salmon there?
Not a lot to be honest , I did just try though.
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