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).
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.
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…