NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 2: ‘On the road’

Muscle pain, hitchhiking and free spa treatment.

I ended the last post with the budget question. How to afford butter on the bread in Norway?

Trick out of our poor sleeves number 1: If you are on a very tight budget like we were you do not buy bread at all. No it’s not a joke. You don’t buy bread because you don’t have to. Most of the Norwegian shops have bread slicers in the shop and for some reason local people tend to throw the ends of the bread to a (clean) bin next to the slicer. Here you go, here’s your bread that someone has already paid for. It’s not always perfect but the bread is fresh, untouched and what is most important, for FREE. So yeah, we ate the bread every single day the whole 2 weeks even when just thinking of it made you not want a sandwich until Christmas.

So we bought 2 chocolate cakes and took some bread from that small shop in the valley. While hitchhiking further a guy with an ice cream came over. You know, just to say that they would take us but their car is full. I have still not understood why do they do it. I guess it’s nice they come over and give us some company but… why. Sometimes they even pull over on the road just to say ‘sorry, I’m not going that way’ or ‘hi, sorry my car is full’. Confusing? Much!

It was so hot down in the valley that we took turns to sit in the shadow while the other one was hitchhiking. I tend to get heatstroke very easily especially when my head is not covered. I bought a hat just for that reason. As a girl with long(ish) hair another bonus is that it covers all your dirty hair. I have pretty dry hair usually but over 3-4 days cannot afford NOT washing it. Therefore, a hat on the road is your best friend. Finally, got a ride from a guy working in the Gausta mountain where we just came from. He had a day off and decided to escape the heat towards the next mountains. Perfect!

The first stop we made was on a view point to a waterfall. The driver told us all about the history of the valley, the town and Norway in general. I have noticed that I am far more interested in the history now than ever before. For some reason it is so much more fun to discover things from locals while being there than listening a teacher or reading it from a book. We heard everything about the heavy water and the sabotage as locals seemed to be very proud of it and mention it in every single car we sat in.

That and the next day we spent by hitchhiking around trying to see as much as possible. We made a little stop by a lake as I needed little cooling time out. We managed to find an access to the water from a private little bath off the road. That was a really dream come true. Sunbathing by a lake on a beautiful day. While standing there preparing myself mentally for getting in the water I noticed whole punch of small fish swimming around my feet. One of my… many…. fears are bloodsuckers. So whenever swimming in a new country or a bit muddy lake I get super paranoid that there are going to be bloodsuckers just waiting for me to jump in. Well this time there were no bloodsuckers but those small fish doing the same job… well almost. If you stood there really still they started gently biting/licking (not sure) your toes. I have no idea what they found there but the tickling sensation was kind of nice. Free spa treatment, jeei! And the water was surprisingly warm (considering it’s Norway).

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Again before continuing hitchhiking further we filled the boxes with fresh raspberries. So good! Raspberries are one of my favourite anyways and on the road they taste like heaven. Boxes full of good stuff, feeling all nice and fresh we managed to get to Odda by the end of that day. An amazing town in a valley by a fjord. You can see glaciers on top of mountain all around the valley. This is a town I would see myself living in. Having the mountains and water near your house is the perfect combination for us as a couple. What is more, one of the most visited mountains is right around the corner. As every other tourist we were hoping to walk to Trolltunga and have the famous picture on the cliff. Unfortunately, that did not happen for couple of reasons. First it was too crowded on top of the mountain so they decided to close the whole road going up there. Great! We could have walked from the car park but my legs were SO sore from Gausta. The last time I had my muscles that sore that I could barely walk was in university. So that was the main reason we skipped the most popular view of Norway. Well.. I probably would not have made it to the edge of the cliff anyways. I still had to get down to the valley from the car park, though, and oh boy, did that take time and effort. Couple of tears too.

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If this is not ‘Scandinavian’ then what is.

The whole rest of that day we spent hitchhiking further, hoping to get as far as possible. It wasn’t going too bad until we totally got stuck on the road in a town with the an amazing Viking church (above). Anyone who has tried hitchhiking knows how frustrating it can be. The most difficult part in standing for hours in one place is staying positive, keep smiling and not loosing hope. Even when it starts raining. I am quite an impatient person and it’s very difficult not to get bored or anxious on the road. Also one of the reasons (after safety) why I would never hitchhike alone. You can improve the odds by standing in a visible place with enough space for cars to pull over and look as friendly and harmless as possible but you will still depend on the strangers. Something that a control-freak like me does not enjoy. But I guess it’s a good way to grow, right?!…

And here is the trick from a poor sleeve nr 2: when on a budget, do not hire cars. Not just hiring them is expensive but gas costs more than you’re used to as well. Take a bike, walk or just hitchhike. So far hitchhiking in Norway has made me feel the most comfortable and safe during my whole hitchhiking experience. People are nice and don’t look weird when you’re standing by the road with your thumb up (can happen in some other countries in Europe). They always smile at you even though they might have no intention to stop. Unfortunately, taking a bus can be quite a nightmare in countryside so that’s why hitchhiking is the best option. Unless you have lots of time, strong legs and you want to cycle all those crazy mountains.

On our way to our new spot we met so many amazing people. We met two young Syrian guys who moved to Norway 3 years ago. We were so interested in getting to know how they find the life in there and how did they even end up in such a cold country. Apparently for a refugee Norway is expensive but full of great opportunities. At least those 2 guys found the life there to be pretty good. We also met two Polish guys who have been living in Norway over 10 years. With them we wanted to discuss what are the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Norway as a foreigner, what is it like to learn the language and how do local people feel about foreigners. Both guys spoke Norwegian and English so I guess the language is not as difficult as it seems. As an Estonian, and making the assumption just based on listening, it seems it would not be too hard for us to learn Norwegian. The sound of it is pretty sharp and robustious and should suit us perfectly. We also met plenty of Norwegians who gave us very genuine idea what is it like living in the countryside in one of the most amazing countries in Europe. I must admit I am very tempted to move up there one day. Despite the amount of taxis they need to pay and the fact they rely a lot on oil, they are pretty happy with their lives up there.

Because of spending most of the time on the road AND me having only 1 battery for the camera with (yeah, managed to loose one right before taking off from Manchester) I have very few pictures of those couple of days. I was really trying to save the battery for Lofoten. The featured image is from Odda, by the way. I have no idea why I literally have just 3 pictures of it, though. I promise I will make it up with the next posts! Speaking of which, next stop Molden aka the best hike AND view I have ever experienced.

To be continued…

NORWAY 🇳🇴 series part 1: ‘Day one’

New boots, fear of heights and the budget!

I cannot believe how long it has been since I last sat down and wrote something. Not even going try to explain why. Let’s put it that way- life happened.

Anyways, I am now back in UK, back in routine and am ready to tell you all about my last holiday in NORWAY. I am going to make it into a short series as there is simply too much to tell and that post is going to be way too long otherwise.

So where to start? Oh yeah, from the beginning.

I have always thought that Norway would be a country I would really really enjoy. Not just as a tourist but I believed I could even live there. Why? I am not sure. Maybe it’s just an intuition, maybe I’m a psychic, maybe because I like cold winters.  I really don’t know. It was my first time going there and I was already like… 90% sure I am going to love it. I guess by the end of this series I will let you know weather I was a psychic or not at all.

It all started with a flight from Manchester to Oslo. I was flying alone this time as Tom wanted to hitchhike all the way to Norway to save money but I refused to waste half of my vacation on travelling to the destination. Yes, it was not the cheapest flight I have ever booked but considering it’s Norway, I guess it could have been even worse. I know people travelling up there for 8 quid, so bargain hunters, do not burry your dreams just yet! I tried to mentally prepare myself for 2 weeks of starving. Norway has been my dream destination but let’s be honest I do not have money to have a luxurious.. who am I kidding, not a luxurious, a decent holiday in Scandinavia. As always we wanted to see as much as possible and spend as little as possible. Usually 500 pounds for 2 weeks has been enough but can you do it in Norway?

We met in Oslo on Tuesday evening and planned to stay for 2 weeks, hitchhiking all the way from Oslo up to Lofoten. It was unexpectedly hot when I arrived. I guess this summer has been unexpectedly hot everywhere in Europe. It’s been hot even in Manchester…. in the city of rain. We spent the night in the tent nearby the airport. I was a bit scared that there is not going to be anywhere to put up the tent or like in Canary islands, it will be in the dirt. This is the last thing you want- start your vacation in the middle of garbage. Fortunately, that was not the case. It is still Scandinavia we are talking about. We found some fine grass near a pavement under the birches. Was not very private, but good enough for a couple of hour sleep.

We took off the next morning, again with sun shining and giving us hope to get far up towards the fjords. While waiting for the first ride near the airport a girl came up to us and offered 2 (almost full) pumps of camping gas. We knew we are going to need it up in the North, so it was more than perfect timing. What is more, no wasting! Hitchhiking in Northern Europe is said to be considerably easy. Unfortunately, the first half an hour did not make me feel this way. We were trying different spots on a roundabout until decided we need to walk further as clearly noone is stopping. As soon as we picked our bags and started walking we got a lift. I may need to make entire post about hitchhiking in Scandinavia to explain it but it seemed like whenever you carry the bag people were willing to stop more often.

*Damn… I think I need to write these posts right after I’m back from the holiday as I already start forgetting the details- which driver, when, how far?

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Well, we managed to end up at Gausta mountain by the evening. We decided to take a little hike up to the top before putting the tent up. First time ever I was sooooooo excited as I had just invested my money into a pair of new hiking boots. After suffering from tremendous knee pain on every hike I decided enough is enough and bought a pair of Meindls. Yes, unfortunately, not a vegan brand but I really needed the pair and had very limited time and options. I am going to take a good care of these and hopefully wear them forever…. well I guess not forever but as long as I am able to hike. I am definitely not planning to purchase another non-vegan ones. Maybe by the time I need new ones (far far faaaar in the future) they have better variety of vegan ones. So, there I was with my new pair of hiking boots, climbing the mountain like a goat. I honestly did not expect the difference to be that major.

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Despite the comfort, I didn’t go all the way up, though. The very last bit of this mountain looked extremely narrow and because of the wind the fear of heights got the best of me. I decided to go back down and let Tom climb the last bit on his own. I hate when that happens. I am always scared I’m going to miss out the best views because of a stupid fear. Anyone with a serious phobia or fear can relate. I want to go but I don’t. I am not a psychologist and I don’t know how to properly treat an irrational fear. All psychologist-friends, HELP! Among all my stupid fears heights is the one I really want to get rid of. And so far the best way has been getting myself into the situations where the outcome of overcoming the fear will remain as a picture to remind me that the fear is not the boss of me. I am. Unfortunately, days are not the same and that day was not The Day.

On my way down I over took all the people I met when going up, feeling no pain in the knees, whatsoever. I felt like flying. The very last couple of hundred meters I did feel  the fatigue but not the pain. Of course Tom managed to catch me before the finish line despite my magic boots. But usually he does it way faster so I am still pretty proud of myself. Jeeei! Go me! The first night we spent under the stars near Gausta. We put the tent up on moss which is the softest bed ever. I had a very good night sleep that night.

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Next day, before hitting the road we decided to take most of the nature and filled our boxes with fresh blueberries. DE-LISH! I think we really nailed the season as there were so many berries to pick. What’s better than fresh berries when on a budget?! Especially in Norway where everything is SO, SO, SO expensive. Fortunately, not waiting long for the first ride. We got a lift by a local down to the valley. He was driving so fast down that I must admit I was a little uncomfortable. Not because I thought he’s going to crash the car or something but it just made me feel sick. Plus the fear of heights did not help either. We made it down safely (I promise, mom!)! We decided to check the local shop before hitchhiking further. You know that feeling when you just had an amazing hike, good night sleep, fresh berries, and then the reality check just shakes you. Shakes you hard! We managed to find a -50% aisle, something vital when travelling in Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. My sweet tooth was on fire as the only thing we bought was 2 chocolate cakes, each 3 quid…. Yea, not cheap even when -50% but they were so worth the money. I was craving for coffee and a salad as well but I had to punch that b*tch down right after seeing the prices. How to explain it? England is expensive but with a full time job you can afford butter on the bread. In Norway, with British salary you cannot even afford to smell the bread, with Eastern Europe salary you forget what bread is. Well, one needs just love, air and water to survive anyways, right?! You must be wondering how many kilos did I loose on that trip, well….. Not much. How? Well first, because I just said we bought 2 cakes for lunch but we also had some tricks ready to be pulled out from our  poor sleeves.

 

                                                            To be continued…

Oh, before I let you go, I have already uploaded some pictures of the trip. Not just the day one but through out the entire trip, Go check them out as well!