Day 162 Forsand to Bergen, Norway.

Today has been full of adventure. Inexplicably, we seem to have lost our map of Norway. Although this seems unlikely in a van of our size, we cannot find it anywhere. So, despite having two satnavs on board, we have felt incredibly lost without it.

After packing up this morning, we set both Boris and Natasha for Bergen. Inevitably, in the first five minutes, they disagreed. Within the first four miles of our journey, we found ourselves taking a ferry. This was not unexpected, since to reach Lyseford from either direction, a ferry is required. It was just a short hop across the water, back towards Stavanger, and most people didn’t even bother to get out of their cars.

As we approached Stavanger, the tension mounted. The problem with both our satnavs, is that although they indicate that we will be crossing water, they don’t make it clear whether this is by tunnel or ferry. So to our surprise, from Stavanger, we entered a long tunnel. 

The weather by now was clearing a little, having been greeted by yet more rain first thing this morning, and the fjords around Stavanger were looking splendid. Shortly after the tunnel, we suddenly reached another ferry terminal. The ferries along the Norwegian coast operate a similar service to the Caledonian McBrae ferries in Scotland. They are peppered along the coast, and as well as serving the local communities, in the case of our route northwards today, are the only sensible means of getting any distance behind you, since otherwise you would be covering huge mileages zig-zagging in and out of fjords.

The ferries are very frequent, and very efficient. No sooner have they have arrived, you are loaded, and they are off again.

This second ferry was slightly longer, crossing Stavanger Fjord, giving us enough time to get out and grab a coffee, but only just. We continued to meander our way up along the coast. Offshore there was an archipelago of many small rocky islands, mostly uninhabited. The further north we drove, the more beautiful the scenery seemed to become, although we couldn’t help notice that everywhere looked very green – no doubt due to the frequent rainfall!

An hour and a half later we are approaching another stretch of water on the satnav. We start to take bets – is this another tunnel or a ferry? Turns out both – first an 8km long tunnel (I quickly pulled in to let Howard drive that one!), followed just a mile or so later by our third ferry of the day. We sat in the queue next to a rather good looking grey and white two-tone VW California, with a ‘Just Married’ sign in the back window. We stood admiring the colours for a while until the ferry arrived – rather swish. This ferry was the longest – about forty minutes, and it brought us to within spitting distance of Bergen. It had taken us the best part of the day to get here – three ferries, about ten tunnels and several bridges.

Our campsite is a few miles out of Bergen besides a lake. We managed to grab one of the last lakeside pitches, largely due to the fact that our hook in cable is very long, and so offers us more choice than most. Who should pull up a few minutes later? The Honeymoon couple in their Cali. They are a young German couple, who bought themselves the van as a wedding present. We offered our congratulations. As it happens, parked up next to them is an enormous Winnebago, also with ‘Just Married’ on the back – this time with their names and the date they were married (two weeks ago) actually painted onto the bodywork. Perhaps this is a new craze? Gone are the days of saving a deposit for a house, the new ‘must have’ wedding gift seems to be a camper van! Let’s hope Thomas and Katy don’t go getting any ideas – ‘cos they’re not having ours!

Having just parked up, the sun has eventually peeped out from behind the dark looming clouds, giving us a lovely vista to have a drink and eat our tea.

Tomorrow we plan to visit Bergen. I will need to buy a new map, since I’m suspecting we have plenty more ferries to take before reaching the top of Norway. I’m also hoping for better weather – the thought of walking around town all day with Howard wearing the sou’wester is a step too far!

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