Saturday, 28 July 2018

IJsselstein - 28 July 2018

We left Bad Bentheim via the local Lidl, buying mainly wine and beer, at prices much lower than in the UK. 

As we were in the car park, it started to rain, although not nearly as much as might be expected after such a long period of hot weather. 

After a few miles we crossed the border into The Netherlands. We grabbed one of the remaining camper spaces at the camperstop at IJsselstein where we overnighted on our return home in 2016. A lovely location next to a river.

I went off for a welcome walk this afternoon, a circuit of about three miles, the return part being alongside the river. Quite a number of motor launches out and about. We both went for a stroll this evening around a park and woodland. A nice day and a lot cooler than of late. 

Shopping in Lidl in Bad Bentheim this morning was a joy. Everything a third of the price it was in Norway, and wine as well. We stocked up on food for the journey tomorrow and quantities of German wine. No cartons this time though! 

Today's planned journey should only have taken a couple of hours, but slow traffic as we approached Utrecht encouraged us to divert cross country and pick the motorway up again south of the city. It was a good move - an enjoyable drive through quiet country roads. We arrived at the Camperstop at the marina at Ijsselstein at about 2.30 and secured one of the two remaining places. We loved it here two years ago - it makes a perfect last night stop, just an hour away from the Hook of Holland. The temperature is a good 10 degrees less than yesterday, and a good breeze means it is really very comfortable. I had a lazy afternoon - well, to be honest I slept - while Geoff went for a walk along the river. After supper we both went for a very pleasant walk, getting back just as it was getting dark, the sky still pink from a lovely sunset. A good day.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 27 July 2018

Bad Bentheim - 27 July 2018

Another hot driving day but kept cool inside by air con and a wetted bandana around my neck.

We shopped for a few essentials at a nearby Netto. Here we experienced our disaster of the day.  I put a carton of cheap red wine in the cupboard over the cab. Unfortunately, I failed to realise that the metal strut might collide with said carton when the cupboard was closed. Consequently, I was immediately battling with an influx of red wine over the fabric around the cupboard and the driver's seat and various other places. We did the best we could to soak it up and a proper cleaning job will have to wait until we get home. 

Finding our sliproad on to the A7 closed (why didn't the satnav know?), Amanda navigated us on to it by another route. At least we found somewhere to refuel nearby at €1.24 a litre, compared with €1.51 on the motorway later on. 

It was then just keeping going on the motorway with just a couple of stops. The roadworks around both Hamburg and Bremen were extensive but always moving. So, here we are at the stellplatz at Bad Bentheim. Not many other vans here, compared to our previous visit two years ago. 

There is a Lidl just around the corner where we shall stock up with German wine and beer to take home. 

Another driving day, this time right the way across Germany. Our plan to take things slowly and calmly in the heat went rather awry when we discovered just how far a litre of red wine from a carton which burst in the process of being stowed away over the cab could actually spread  over light coloured camper fittings, carpets and upholstery! Oh well, things could only get better, and the rest of the travelling was Ok. Heavy traffic and delays around Hamburg and Bremen, but we were expecting them. 

We are back at the Bad Bentheim site in the castle car park which so impressed us two years ago, with very few others here. We enjoyed a walk in the adjoining park, around a lake, after supper. Research tells me that it is still 27 degrees outside here, at almost midnight. The light breeze which helped a bit has dropped and it is now quite still. We are in no hurry to go to bed!

Tante Henni Stellplatz, Hasloh - 26 July 2018

A very early start, up at 4.45am and away by 5 for the nearby ferry terminal. Vans had overnighted in the private car park next to the terminal entrance and even in the lane leading to the check in. Obviously only doable if arriving late. Our car park for 80NOK was reasonable because we were able to park for the day. 

We'd paid for a buffet breakfast and it was excellent, with extra secreted for lunch. A very calm crossing of about two and a half hours arriving at Hirtshals around 9am.

A hot day, we spent the entire time on the road, having leisurely stops and keeping hydrated. It was a very comfortable journey, taking it easy at a steady 60. Thank goodness for good air conditioning. What also worked well was a wetted bandanna tied around my neck. 

In the afternoon, it was clear that we would want to stop for the night just north of Hamburg. We had no plan to stop for anything in Denmark. Casting around online, I found what seemed our sort of place (rather than a Knaus caravan park at €37!) leaving the A7, we headed for Quickborn and, in the village of Hasloh, we arrived at Tante Henni, a small site with a cafe and top class loos and shower. Very welcoming place and we sat under a sun shade outside the cafe and downed a couple of cold beers. 

The camper is parked in a little shaded area, just perfect. There's some noise from planes going in and out of Hamburg airport but not too intrusive. 

All fears unfounded! The world looked rather lovely at 5 o'clock this morning. Boarding was seamless, and we were settled in the comfortable, peaceful and relatively empty buffet restaurant half an hour before departure time. A splendid breakfast buffet, and then "elevenses" of more coffee and pastries at about 8 o'clock and we were well set up for the day. We docked before 9  and were among the first off and away.
The day was then spent travelling down through Denmark and into Germany, more than 300 miles covered, with frequent stops. Thank heavens for air con. It seems that it is now 30 degrees out all across Northern Europe, with temperatures up to 36 degrees forecast for tomorrow.
We were struggling to find somewhere to stop for the night, all available apps and reference books being brought into play. Too many facilities, not enough facilities, very expensive, etc. Then Geoff found this one, the delightfully named Tante-Henni, just off route north of Hamburg. It is a small site,  gorgeous, and ticks all our boxes, and more. The chilled beers at the little terraced bar were very, very welcome., as was the wi-fi, and I was able to change our Hook to Harwich crossing for a day crossing on Sunday. A late cold supper sitting out in our little secluded corner, and a nice chat with Dutch neighbours, and we went to bed with every available window wide open. And completely forgot to write the blogs!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Kristiansand - 25 July 2018

Not far to drive today so we didn't leave last night's site till noon. Yet another warm day without rain. It was an easy drive into Kristiansand. We first went to investigate the ferry terminal for tomorrow morning and then went to find a car park for today and overnight. It's at N58.14531 E008.00969 but maybe for not much longer as there's a board up with an artist's impression of an apartment development. 

After lunch, we went to explore the town. There's a beach nearby and lots of people were out, both locals and tourists from a cruise ship. We wandered around the fish market. 

The evening has been spent relaxing in the camper. 

With only a short drive to Kristiansand to do, we knew we could spend an unrushed morning around the campsite. First though I wanted a shower and hair wash, so got myself up at 7.30 to make a dash for it. The three showers were already in use, but I was first in the queue at least.
We left at the designated time of midday. 

First stop in Kristiansand was a reccy of the ferry terminal. No possibility of overnight parking there, but we headed on through the town to the car park where we are now. Parking fees are by the day, so we are paid up to midnight and trust that there is no-one checking between then and 5am. Several other Campers seem to have the same idea.

Plenty of time this afternoon to spend a few hours wandering around the town, which was looking pretty good in the brilliant hot sunshine. Fortunately there was a breeze, and several opportunities to duck out of the heat into coolness - at the Kunsthall, incorporating both the library and an art exhibition, the cathedral, and the indoor fish market. There is also a good sized sandy beach, very busy,  great water fountains which children were having a wonderful time in, a fortress and a couple of parks and green spaces. As well as the ferry terminal, the town has a terminal for cruise ships - at least one was moored here today - and several small marinas scattered around. The whole place was buzzing, but in a nice way.

On our way back to the Camper we stopped to shop for cooked chicken for supper, and a few other things to use up our remaining Norwegian small change. So we will try and get an early night ready for our early start. There is still quite a strong breeze, which doesn't bode well either for the crossing, in a SeaCat, or for the chances of enjoying the breakfast buffet!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Sandnes Camping, Mandal - 24 July 2018

Having paid for 24 hours parking in the motorhome parking area in Flekkefjord, we wanted to get the best value out of it so were in no hurry to move on. Besides, we weren't intending to drive far today. Once the rain stopped, we went for a wander around the town. Many of the older buildings were white clapboard and looked very attractive on a sunny day. 

Leaving Flekkefjord on the E39, we had an uneventful drive to Mandal Camping where we booked in for one night. It's a nice site and full. A woodland walk leads from the site to a lake. 

We're there somewhere 
Heavy rain this morning, much needed of course. We were able to spend the morning snug in the Camper sitting it out, making the most of our 24 hours, and catching up on the papers. It quickly cleared after lunch, and became quite hot, drying the tarmac out in no time, so we were able to have our planned stroll round the lovely little town. Sadly the interesting white wooden octagonal church had just closed for the day, but it was very enjoyable just wandering through the streets of white painted wooden shops and houses. All very smart and prosperous looking, and very much geared to tourists. In the sunshine we realised that the Camperstop which had just seemed like any old large car park was in fact very attractively positioned between a sheer cliff face and the seashore and little marina, and very convenient indeed for the town.

An hour's drive along the E39, still scenic even though a main road, and we are at Sandnes Camping just outside the little town of Mandal. It is a very attractive smallish site, with wooded rocky hills on three sides, and a rustic, relaxed feel about it - all signs and buildings are wooden. Very nice!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Flekkefjord - 23 July 2018

First stop this morning was the ferry for the 45 minutes crossing to Stavanger. From there, we drove to the Fjordline terminal to change our reservation. We had planned to take the overnight ferry to Hirtshals (Denmark) on 5 August but now want to go earlier. The earliest availability on this crossing would be Sunday but we can go on the shorter daytime crossing from Kristiansand on Thursday (6.45am - eek!) so that is what is now decided. We'll now travel around the coast to reach Kristiansand on Wednesday. 

We stopped for lunch near some sand dunes. A lovely sandy beach with rock formations. Amanda had a paddle. 

A short distance away, we went to look at the Domsteinane på Sola, an ancient stone circle, completely restored ten years ago. 

The road hugged the coastline much of the way. We stopped to see the site of the Hårr graves and boat sheds (just adjacent to a layby) from mediaeval times. 

Having thought we'd left the mountainous scenery behind, the road climbed beyond Egersund and we were amongst mountains, rocks and lakes again with a long winding descent the other side. 

We called a halt at Flekkefjord, an attractive town which we shall explore tomorrow as we shall have time in hand with not far to go to reach Kristiansand. We are on a sizeable tarmaced area designated for motor homes, a ridiculous price but convenient. 

A day of decisions and putting into action new plans. We crossed to Stavanger on the smart ferry, a 40 minute crossing. We just missed one, and there was a 35 minute wait, but no matter when you have coffee to drink and papers to read. And we were first in the queue. At Stavanger we set the Satnav for the ferry terminal. Having decided to try and change our tickets for the overnight crossing from here in two weeks time and cross over to Denmark earlier than planned, I had had no luck getting through on the phone, so we reckoned that the terminal was our best bet. And so it proved. The large and very smart building was completely deserted - there is only one Fjordline ferry from there per day, a night crossing - and the girl on her own in the ticket office was clearly very pleased to see some people in person, and happy to attend to us while the queue of people waited on the phone line. The upshot was that we are now booked on the short crossing from Kristiansand, a few hours drive down the coast, on Thursday morning with buffet breakfast included, and the clever girl calculated it so that the cost, and the fee for changing the booking - some £70 - were just covered by the amount we had already paid. We hadn't expected to get away with that.

As the Terminal is some distance south of Stavanger, we decided not to venture back into the city, but to set off south down the coast road. Of course, this had not figured in our original plans, but what a joy it has been! The early part was like a Norwegian take on Norfolk. Very flat and agricultural with glorious golden sandy beaches stretching for miles round the bay. There were even some pillboxes. We had our lunch stop by the dunes, then a walk on the beach and a paddle for me. I could have stayed there for hours! Then as we headed south, after a brief stop to investigate a stone circle, there were first rocky beaches, and then, suddenly, as the road curved inland we were in another world. We thought we had left the hair-raising hairpins and sheer drops behind us, but no. I struggle to describe it, so will quote Lonely Planet (read after the event - it was all a complete surprise!) "The road swerves through barren boulder-blotched hills with a few forested sections, lakes and moorlands before descending" through dark tunnels and round hairpins "to breathtaking perpendicular rock scenery."
Through Egersund and on to Flekkefjord, where we are parked in the town's Bobilparkering. The price - what we have paid in proper campsites - is a rip off, for a space in a large car park, with electric, and two loos between countless Bobils. But the bonus is a supermarket close by, and a pizza takeaway. Yes, we have indulged! And tomorrow we should have ample time to stroll into and around the town.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Tau - 22 July 2018

Today we followed the Ryfylke scenic route. First stop this morning, only a few miles out of Sauda, was a noted waterfall, Svandalsfossen. Only a couple of other vehicles already there so we stopped. It was a good stepped climb up towards the top of the fall but not that impressive in view of the lack of rain recently. 

Much of today's driving was alongside fjords with rock or forest to our right. Very nice but not as stunning as yesterday's scenery. We crossed Jøsenfjord by the Nesvik to Hjelmeland ferry and gradually the countryside opened out and we left the mountains behind. 

Wanting to reach Stavanger tomorrow, we stopped at Tau, a small town that has grown around a ferry. We are at a camperstop on a marina just a few minutes from the ferry (co-ordinates N59.06144 E005.91011).

A sweet, elderly gentleman out for his constitutional with his wheelie this morning stopped to smile and look at the Camper. He couldn't speak or understand English, but seemed to be asking whether it was really a Bobil because it was so little. There are plenty of VW vans around out here, but not many hi-tops.
Leaving Sauda, and continuing on the Ryfylke which we would follow for the rest of the day, we quickly came upon another notable waterfall, Svandalsfossen, where 500 steps take you up to the top where you are supposed to be able to stand behind the water. I did 200 of them, stopping when the nice regular steps became rocky and uneven. Geoff went to the top, of course, but the lack of rain meant that the fall was not as spectacular as usual.

The rest of the route was very pretty, with more interesting combinations of tunnels and bridges, one ferry, and not a few hairpin bends - this time on a much wider road than yesterday's. Good time was made, and we reached our stop near the ferry for Stavanger at Tau, in time for tea. Good timing it was too, as there were few spaces left at the Camperstop on the marina. Although a few more Bobils have squeezed in since, several have arrived and left again.

Sent from my iPhone