Tuesday, May 16, 2006
We set off at 10 a.m. from one of the most densely populated parts of Holland and headed north towards Friedland, once we got out of the built-up area we programmed the GPS to avoid the main roads so once were over the large dike without ourselves on country roads going through one village after the other. Was very interesting that almost the whole part of this journey we could always see a church steeple.
We left the campground at Breede where we spent the night and proceeded on north (after a fashion) again on country roads, went thro a area that has pictures and statues of Mermaids, not sure if someone in that village married one or not and then one town that we went through later was extremely interesting with the quality of the houses, it was very much like the most expensive part of any large city was beautiful houses set on spacious lawns, lots of well-established trees, everything very clean and tidy taking a much more space for a house for one normally associates with Holland. The name of the town was Bellingwolde it was quite close to the German border, in fact was rather interesting once we crossed over the border we are back into large houses with barns attached. It was on thro countryside for the rest of the day, very rich looking houses with barns attached, very large barns I assume to contain all their animals during their hard winters, we are currently at 53d N.
We have camped in a special Motorhome car park in a small town called Osten in Lower Saxony.
Today on up the costal road, right beside the dyke keeping the North Sea out of Germany, without the two GPS units we have this would not be possible as you would never be able to follow the maps from one town to the next on the back roads. Why TWO? We have the Navman which will get us from point A to point B one of several different ways, but it does not allow you to choose the roads where as the "Microsoft Auto Route" on the laptop you can see all of Europe if you wish right down to about 100 meters to the inch so it give you a very good overview and the ability to really select the roads. I run them both together and the Navman keeps adjusting its route depending on the roads I take from the Laptop.
We are today on the Frisian Islands on the Island of Romo (55dN) which is connected to Denmark by a causeway
I was finally able to buy a Camping Carneg, a card you can leave at the camp office instead of your passport, don't leave home without one!
On up the North Sea coast of Denmark today with massive sand hills between us on the road and the ocean. Almost every house we went past on this almost country road was had a thatched roof (some very old 1850+) then all of a sudden there was none, just normal roofs of tiles. Must be to do with where they can grow the reads for the thatching or some other climatic reason.
Tonight we are camped on the shores (in a rest area) of Nissun Bay at 56.55dN
As we drive thro Holland to Denmark it is very interesting to see all the Windmills generating electricity from the wind (of course), most are on the shore of the North Sea getting the benefit of the gales that blow in on a regular basis, some in Denmark look very old so they appear to have stood the test of time.
Every where you drive in this country there are campsites, some very large and they have very many amenities and are often full of caravans, for, it appears, weekend use. I find this interesting as Denmark is the same size as Holland with a third of Holland's population and .12 of our land mass in NZ with about 2mil more people (than NZ).
It is rather nice almost every house and business is flying the Danish national flag, they also have their flags in a long pennant style which looks good at the top of a flagpole.
After England, where caravans anywhere, usually have a wheel clamp, hitch lock and often a lockable post in the drive because of the "English Disease" Theft! It is a complete revelation to drive thro Denmark seeing caravans parked in driveways totally unlocked, I remember 10 years ago commenting on outboard motors being left on boats in harbors. It is a pity we did not get more immigrants from this country, or we did not attempt to change the NZ thinking.
Tonight we are in 3 star campground near Lokken (57.34d N) they have Deluxe sites with water, power, TV and wireless internet, it is fairly full of caravans, not all occupied at the moment.
Today we drove to the most northern part of Denmark Skagen, (57.75d N) a beautiful port town that really comes alive in the summer, on a cold bleak day there were quite a few people about, but all with coats and hats on. After lunching there we headed south stopping for the night at a campground near Asaa (57.14d N).
Satellite TV has gone from 17 stations in UK to three news channels this far north, soon I may have to switch to the European satellite with 350 channels in German etc and two news in English!
We drove along the coast today making a slight detour inland to Alborg to get a bridge over Limfjord, a fiord that crosses the Jutland Peninsula, with a population of about 162,000, a city founded by the Vikings appears to be very compact in size with a large number of Apartments that one drives thro on route 180, observing this large number of apartments it became rather obvious why there is the large number of camping grounds with hundreds of empty caravans, during the week, just waiting for the weekend to be occupied.
We stayed at another campground with wireless internet and good amenities at place called Øster Hurup.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
On south today and driving thro the small Danish one could be forgiven for thinking that the Pizza was the national dish, you see Pizzerias all over the place. It is interesting to see a Danish word Kommune referring to I assume is a district and to realize how the English version has almost a different meaning.
Today at another one of the hundreds of the campgrounds called Ajstrup Strand in the seaside town of the same name (56.04d N) still raining but fine this afternoon with a strong cold wind. Free wireless internet again.
On again to the back roads of Denmark, possible only with the Microsoft Auto Route on the laptop, it is the only way one can drive down a country road, know where you are, and see where you need to turn to get to your destination, it is very interesting as you enter a small village, where you have to reduce speed, most have a radar speed indicator to show you your speed, wonderful reality check!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Today is a Religious holiday in Denmark with most of the shops closed, it would appear as if a lot of people make this a long weekend and as we were leaving the campground there was a solid line of caravans arriving, as there were on the road many going to all of the other campgrounds thro Denmark. I have worked out that there is room for at least 16,000 caravans in the 400+ campsites thro the country.
Well finally a fine day….well for a while sunshine then hail, then rain and so the day went…
It is very interesting the age of houses as you drive thro the countryside, many are very old, most of the old houses have thatched roofs, some you can see the moss growing on them which to my mind says they are possibly close to being re-thatched!
Today I avoided a ferry crossing and went on a motorway to cross from Funun to Zealand, thinking I was going to save some money, no such luck it cost $NZ82 to cross the bridge!
When I am in to old Soviets I always photograph the Orthodox Churches and their Onion Domes, it is interesting the Luda is fascinated with the construction of the Western Churches and is photographing as many of these as I have of the Russian Orthodox.
Tonight at Strøby Ladeplads.
Friday, May 26, 2006
On towards Copenhagen… the long way…. A beaut fine day today, no rain, sunshine all day, but cool in the wind.
We have stopped for the night in a parking lot near the sea near Gilleleje (56.107dN)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
On towards the camp ground at Helsingør, we drove around the city for a while and observed all of the Swedes with trolleys full of grog, they catch the ferry across from Helsingborg in Sweden where there is a very high duty on all alcohol.
We made out way out to the closest campground and I went it to check in, the guy in the shop was busy talking on the telephone and continued doing do for the next 15 minutes…. That I was there, I walked out after this time, emptied the toilet using their amenities, filled up with water and then moved on with a little bit of satisfaction for the waiting with no service.
On to Copenhagen via GPS straight to the campground, no wireless internet, hard to fill up with water, but close to the train so this will do for the next four days.
Count of exotic cars I have seen since being in Denmark 2 E type Jags, 4 Ferrari's and 2 Lamborghini's.
We went into the city today, tried to buy a train ticket by credit card but my card was rejected because it did not have a chip built into it, by the way, it is thought, in Europe, that you need to have a pin number rather than just a signature as there if you loose your card and you do not have a pin they do not pay out any loss you may have.
A Danish guy user his card for us for the Metro trip into the city when we bought tickets enough for the rest of our travel here.
We went first thro the Tivoli a entertainment centre built about 1854, it is a type of Disneyland but much older. It was built to give the people of Copenhagen something to do beside rioting, and was a outstanding success.
We then went on three sightseeing tours around the city, it was wet so not much else to do on a wet Sunday, it was interesting and would have been more so if they could have coordinated the commentary with the sights instead of being early or late so you looked around for the sight and nothing! There were eight languages available with four working.
Monday, May 29, 2006
A reasonable fine day with only a few heavy showers, today, to walk around looking at the things we drove past on the tour, I always seem to suffer from shoe problem on every tour and end up buying shoes where ever I happen to be, fortunately the always seem to be good and solve what ever problem I have been having. Eventually we had, had enough and headed towards the camp arriving there we found a note stuck in the door telling us that Hank & Yvonne were camped 4 spaces away from us, they were on the way to their Daughters in Norway and decided to stop in Copenhagen over night and lucked on our campsite.
The four of us headed off to see the crown jewels and the way the Royals lived in the 1600's. They were NOT good looking people, neither the males or females, so it is a wonder that the line did not die out. Their sheer style of living was beyond good taste and I was not at all impressed, other such royalty in other countries, that I have toured thro were either not as well documented or were in some way different, but I can not see why as they were ALL related.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Today we packed up and headed to Sweden after dumping the grey water and paying to fill up with fresh water (a first). It was off to the bridge that crossed from Denmark to Sweden first thro a 4 kms tunnel then a 7.8 km bridge said to be the longest Car & Rail bridge in the world. The Toll cost for crossing for a 6.2m motorhome was DKK470 (NZ$130) which was less than I expected.
We drove up the Swedish Baltic coast towards Stockholm on the smallest coast road we could find. We stopped for the night at Ahus (55.54d N) We noted a lot of the beachside parking spots in this area have "No Camping"
On the north towards Stockholm and we came to the turn off to the island of Öland which is 140km long, 3 to 16 km wide it was settled in stone age has a total of 1344 square kilometres a population of about 26,000 which gives it a density of about 18 people per square kilometre. It is said that most of the population makes their living from farming or fishing, but we had a feeling as we drove around that a lot of the houses were holiday homes for the city people.
We found a motor camp on the edge of the ocean, drove around trying to find the check in spot, nothing to be found, so we chose a nice site and setup for the night. In the morning I thought I'd better tell them I had been here, and pay some money, and that nice site was worth NZ$44, which is expensive.
So after paying the money we headed off North to the tip of the island, have walk through a forest, visited the lighthouse and a old church and found a parking area beside the sea that had nothing about not camping there is to park there with for night and by the morning they were three other motorhomes in that parking area. The parking area was at 57.36dN near a lighthouse on the northern tip of the island.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Today it was time to turn around and head back down the island and I tried doing this via some of the small back roads, but after a while some of these roads became too small and too much like goat tracks so we headed back to the main road for the 30 kilometres that was needed to get to the turn off for the eastern side of the island.
We stopped all looked at a reconstructed Fort dating from 400AD then on down to see the lighthouse on the southern end of the island, was also happen to be a bird sanctuary in their lot of people there with their powerful spot telescopes checking out the birds. Being a bird sanctuary there was no camping in that area so we drove on North about another 10 kilometres, found a shingle road that went by the see in camped there in an isolated spot for the night. We just hope the wind does not get too strong.
Today it was time to leave the island and head on towards Stockholm, when we got out on the main road we found we still about 400 Kms to go, perhaps we had lingered on the island too long. Have looking at the books we bought about the island we discovered that many things we had not seen and it would appear that the island has been lived on since the Stone Age.
Well it is a beautiful fine day… summer is here, well today, in total we have driven about 355 km round Island so in spite of missing a lot we also saw a lot.
We stopped the night in a town called Gamleby (57.88dN) about 255 kilometres from Stockholm.
Another fine day for the drive into Stockholm, with the GPS it was easy to find where the camp ground was in the centre of Stockholm, or I should have said where it was supposed to be. We drove around in circles passing the location four times and whilst all the arrows pointed down the street there was no sign of a camp ground anywhere. So after the fourth no-show attempt we headed out of town 26 kilometres and found a nice camp ground in a dormitory suburb with the metro 700 meters from the camp site making the city very easy access.
Let me at this point give up some statistics of Sweden. It has approximately 9 million population, most of the population is in the southern part of the country with the northern part extremely sparsely populated. It is 1.69 the size of New Zealand, 10 times the size of Denmark and Holland, whilst Denmark has 128 people per square kilometer and Holland has 382 Sweden has 20 and of course New Zealand has 14.
Sweden only has 9% of its land that is arable where as New Zealand has 50% of its area suitable for farming and another 25% suitable for forests. Of course there is also the vast difference in the climate.
Today is Sweden's National Day and it is a holiday for the majority of the population with most of the small shops closed, of course department stores etc were open for business. Stockholm was packed with people and there was a lot of entertainment and a few parades but the sightseeing was out of business for the day because some of the streets with closed off and the rest were crowded. We therefore went on a boat tour around all of the island's that make up the Stockholm area.
I should make a comment at this time that I been totally dismayed at the lack of high heels being worn throughout the country's that I have so far visited. This I hope will change when we reach Estonia, more news on this later.
We hear a lot about the very attractive blondes from Sweden, but they must live in another part of Sweden, and whilst there been quite a number of young attractive girls, say 18 and younger Sweden will not make it to Ivan's list of countries of attractive women.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Into the city to go out to the Viking village but we found we were too late for the boat, so we went on a bus tour around the city getting off at the Vasa museum, the Vasa was an extremely large wooden battleship, built for the King, as a showcase of Swedish craftsmanship, that was badly designed and sunk a few minutes into its maiden voyage staying on the bed of the Harbour 333 years until it was recovered, treated and restored and is now on exhibition.
Stockholm has about 750,000 population and has very many beautiful areas with some other fashionable areas with beautiful houses and apartments, costing, I would, imagine a healthy sum.
Another fine day, as usual cool in the shade, left at 7.45 to go to the Vikings Island of Bilka, was a sort of interesting boat trip out to the island, however either the activity gets much better in the middle of summer or we were about three or four years to early visiting the island as the infrastructure suggested in the brochure had yet to be put into place.
That evening the LPG cylinder that I had purchased in England ran out of gas after being used for 22 days.
We started heading south towards Helsingborg through the centre of Sweden, we were backtracking, one could say, to greet Peter Cejnar on his arrival in Sweden. We tried to find a LPG filling station on the way but in Sweden they are a little like the hens teeth! We stopped the night at the camp site about half way towards Helsingborg at Jönköping, the camp site was one that had wireless Internet, if you used your laptop in the reception area. I downloaded all of my e-mails but I had a major problem sending my e-mails, either something to do with the setup of the Xtra account all the wireless network setup.
I was able to download the address of the LPG filling stations in Sweden so at least that is progress.
It was sort of reassuring to go past boat Harbours full of runabouts all with their outboard motors still fited…….. we were however given a reality check later when we were told about German motorhome's wild camping above Helsingborg on the first night in Sweden being robbed at night while were sleeping they still have plenty of cash in the van.
On to Helsingborg, and hopefully a LPG filling station as the first when we visited was closed on a Saturday. At uneventful drive and when we arrived at the city and the filling station we had our first experience at using the LPG filling system, it was not smooth, but now at least we know how to use this type of station.
We then went on to the suburb of the city where we were to find Peter, he received a considerable surprise in seeing us even though he was aware that we may try. He had, had a enjoyable time first stop in England, only losing his tickets, and in the 10 hours he spent in Sweden, most of which he spent sleeping, he lost the mouse for his computer, so everything is going well for him and up to and beyond expectations.
We moved on North and were going to camp near the sea shore, but the area we chose camping outside camping parks was forbidden, so tonight we are at Marias camping in Mellbystrand.
It was interesting observing that whilst almost every home in Denmark had at least one Danish flag flying, perhaps only one in five, or less, were flying flags in Sweden.
Back on the road towards Oslo, this time I managed to get off motorways by studying the map carefully and drawing and a route that sort of zigzagged up the coast. Very interesting going through the little town's seeing the activity that made up everyday life.
Eventually it was time to start looking for a motor camp, we thought we had found one out on the edge of a peninsula but it did not look very inviting so we went back up the road couple of kilometres and parked in the edge of a forest for the night. (58.43dN)
Back on the zigzagged road towards Oslo, today the route took us to a ferry crossing, we arrived just as the ferry was pulling in which was good, then we had to wait for the rest of the traffic to fill up the ferry, the interesting thing was that was not charge to use the ferry, perhaps the authorities have worked out that to do this was substantially cheaper than building and maintaining a bridge.
Was interesting when we reached the Norwegian border will wait straight through without having to show passports. But Norway is not in the EEC, and whilst we were in a German registered motor home we could have been traveling under any passport, in fact Luda was travelling under Russian passport.
The a lot of roadwork's on the way into Oslo, also some new roads which made the GPS not quite as sharp as it should be, we passed several signs to a motor camp whilst we heading towards the one closest to the city, we found out later that had wireless Internet and when we went to which overlooked the whole city had no Internet, no organized parking, and was in fact the most casual site would be on this trip. We are now at 59.89dN… the same latitude as St Petersburg and we are experiencing the "White Nights" that that city is famous for at this time of the year, this of course will be more extreme as we go further north.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
We went into the city today by a bus, and went on tour called the Oslo experience, it started off by boat, and then graduated to a bus, which took us round a range of museums before doing a mini-tour of the city near the end of the tour. Walking back to catch the bus we of course discovered a direct route which was considerably shorter than the indirect route we used that morning.
On our way past they camp store we bought two half litre cans of beer, and I think I've discovered the way to stop the teenage bingeing in New Zealand, tax the alcohol the same way as they do in Norway which would make a can of beer $NZ7.81 a can.
However on the tour we were shown a large cruise liner that travelled from Oslo to Copenhagen every day, an onboard they have duty-free alcohol and the Norwegians travel on this boat, binge up, sleepover in Denmark, binge up on the way back and I assume this gives them the intake they need for a few more days.
Norwegians are basically Lutherans, however over the recent years there have been a great number of Moslems coming to the Oslo area, so much so that they now have 25 mosques in and around the city, the city that has a population of about 800,000
We collected a book on camping in Norway and in it showed the camp sites with wireless Internet so I placed those camp sites on our proposed route to the North Cape, it is interesting to note that they seem to go in groups, you'll find four camp sites close to each other and they all have wireless Internet so this service is spreading fast.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Today we visited the Akershus fort, a fortification built in the 17th century, we concentrated our sightseeing on the resistance Museum, a well presented series of photographs, newspaper clippings, actual copies of some of the communications and everything else that was involved during the Nazi occupation and the very large section of the population that participated in some way in the resistance to the occupation.
After this we went on to the Nobel peace centre, this is the location where the people meet to decide who is to be awarded the peace prize each year. This is Norway is part in the five different Nobel awards that are awarded each year as part of the trust set up on the death of Alfred Bernhard Nobel in 1896. That year he left $US9 million accumulated (loosely speaking) from his invention of dynamite.
The New Zealand dollar does not go very far in this country.
Analysis of travel by a Motorhome
In writing this journal I've noticed the vast difference in recording travels by a motorhome to the travel I was doing over the last few years. My previous form of travel I flew into a country, often obtained a guide and car and went on a tour through that country staying in hotels which were usually in a city so I was able to observe that country from my exposure in the city's and travelling through the countryside stopping whenever necessary.
This is vastly different to doing my own driving, and staying in motor camp's which are usually outside the city's.
To actually see a country I believe my former method of travel is vastly superior and I'll be interested to gauge my reaction after the trip across Russia to see if it still remains the same.
The real advantage of the motor home is of course only having to unpack your suitcase once, and cooking your own meals majority of the time and of course you never have to worry about where you will be sleeping at night and what the bed will be like.
Thursday June 15, 2006
We left Oslo this morning and started heading south, we will not be at this latitude North again until we reach Bergen. After about 20 to 50 kilometres we started driving into the mountains into the Telemark region where we saw lots of lakes and fast flowing rivers. We are camping tonight on the remains of an old road, the victim of a road straightening exercise.
Currently it is 8:41 p.m. and the sun is still bright and warm and will not set behind the mountains until 9:45 p.m.
There is certainly a lot of campgrounds throughout Scandinavia, not uncommon to find one on an average every 10 kilometres sometimes much less.
Today it was on from the mountains towards the city through the Telemark area in one part of the road that was very interesting was a major number of massive S turns taking you to the top of a high hill. Most of the day were driving past lakes on the left or the right-hand side.
Today it was a short drive to the coast and we proceeded to Kristiansand by the motorway, to the motor camp which according to be camping book had wireless Internet, are either we are at the wrong camp or something else had happened since the publication of the book.
Nevertheless we reach planned the travel via the computer and headed off around the coast after filling up our water tank before leaving. We then proceeded to look for somewhere to wild camp and really found nothing that was suitable by 6:30 p.m. so checked into the next motor camp, as I said before there is a motor camp every five to 10 kilometres.
The motor camp was basically fall of permanent caravans, caravans that appear to be left there all year, they have electricity, water, wastewater all connected, most have large awnings or have a large wooden room sort of semidetached to the caravan. These are a common sight all throughout Europe and I think they must be European version of the Kiwi bach.
It is certainly spectacular driving through Norway with the large solid granite mountains towering up on each side of the road and driving a large percentage of the time beside lakes, rivers or inlets. It is very easy to see why this statistic of 3% of the land is suitable for farming is true because I don't even believe now you could farm mountain goats. They certainly do have large forests everywhere in a vibrant timber industry.
We finally arrived at our destination for today at town called Stavanger, we went to the motor camp that was publicised as having wireless Internet and again the information was incorrect but at least we could connect our computer to the network and catch up with all the spam e-mail that was waiting.