Published: June 10th 2008June 10th 2008
A big hello from Norway - after 3 weeks I finally reached what was to be the start of my cycle trip!!!
I just caught two ferries in the last 3 days. One from Gothenburg, Sweden to Denmark and the other from Denmark to Kristiansand, Norway. But just in case you were thinking that's a bit of a cheat seeing as I'm supposed to be cycling all the way, well I took in a couple of detours one to the very tip of Denmark and the other to an huge sand dune which has literally swallowed a lighthouse. Both impressive sights... more below.
So it was with a bit of a heavy heart that I finally left Sweden. My last evening in Gothenburg at the lovely clean hostel I got chatting with a Portuguese guy living in Peterborough with a penchant for vodka that would put the Polish to shame (i.e. he was a bit of a drunkard) and a group of american/australians studying design in Helsinki (don't ask why Helsinki - that's what everyone asks, but apparently it's a nice place except for the coffee). The latter invited me out the next day to take in the islands
just south of Gothenburg, but I had may pretty much decided to catch the afternoon ferry across to Frederickshavn in Denamrk, so a day trip wasn't going to fit in. Besides I'd done enough beaches to last a lifetime in the last few days and caught enough sun to make me a test case for Garnier laboratories, so I opted out.
I wandered around Gothenburg which is a lovely city, along with Gent and Groningen vying for the title of place I'd like to live that I've been through. Not that there's too much to see or do, it's just a very nice place. So I guess I should forgive them for beating Dundee Utd all those years ago in the UEFA cup final. Anyway I had a last trip to a supermarket to spend thsoe final swedish krone. A packet of meatballs to the good (unfortunately I must have left my bag of sweets at the checkout - that was annoying) I headed down to the port, in what turned out to be a bit of a race as I had misjudged the time it'd take to get all my panniers and stuff back on the bike. In
the end the ramp went up 20 seconds after I'd made it aboard. As per usual the bikes are lumped in with the heavy duty haulage section of the cargo. Nice.
The exit from Gothenburg was really spectacular. This must be the way to visit the city. Underneath a suspension bridge and then passed millions of boats and bare rock islands. Impressive. After that though the journey was pretty dull (lots of screaming danish or swedish - i'm going to blame the danish - kids) and I was wondering why I'd just left sweden.
I arrived late into Denmark and decided to burn it north to the most northerly tip where the waves of the Skaggerak and the Kattegar (or something like that meet). Well just as I was approaching the last town of Skagen a convenient night shelter was signed off in the forest. As I travelled around I saw a few of them (and used one last night too). The next morning I headed up to the northerly point called Grenen. The final spit of sand is about a mile long (or catch a tractor) and it is an impressive sight even with all the tourists
there. We had a high wind so the waves from the north sea side were fair crashing in against the smaller waves from the other side.
Next, time for a quick breather in Skagen for a most expensive coffee and then on following some of the nicest cycling paths of the trip past huge sand dunes, and through fir and pine forests down to Hirtshals. Hirtshals is a small place, but a big port. I booked a ferry for the next day (the night ferry gets in to Kristiansand at 12 midnight, not a good idea i thought) and headed further south (you see I'm putting in some extra miles to make up for the 'short cut' across Denmark) to a place called Lønstrop. Just to the south is an amazing sight. A lighthouse (apparently in used till 5 years ago) that has been overwhelmed by 90m high sand dunes (which I think are moving up the coast from the south). The wind had fair whipped up by the time I made it to the town, and as I left southwards i was aware of a bit of grit in the air (3 miles from the dune), but nothing
could prepare me for the sand blizzard that i entered at the foot of the dune. The approah road was 5cm thick in sand, so the last 100m I had to push the bike with the sand blinding me. Then a scramble up to the top, and I dared get the camera out for only a few seconds. Incredible, and probably the most memorable sight of the trip so far. I headed down towards the sea, but the dunes dropped off in a 30m cliff and whatsmore I felt like I was getting a layer of skin removed by the sand - rather painful. By the time I got back to the bike, it was just head down and get out of there.
A quick check in the town revealled I was coated in a thin sheen of sand, which is still with me, despite efforts to remove it in the pizza restaurant there (i think i also coated their toilet in sand too!). My hair now almost appears to have blonde highlights - hopefully the sand will all come out in the next day or two. Anyway after a gorgonzola pizza and a chat with another nice waitress
I headed to another shelter for the night. In the morning I chatted with two people who almost seemed like tramps. I don't think they were but they were drinking Carlsberg for breakfast (note that Danish tramps speak perfect english!)
So i got the ferry and am now in Kristiansand, Norway after a wild sea crossing. The wind slowed the boat down, so we arrived two hours late (just in time for the tourist information to be closed, but I found a helpful assitant at the bookstore to find all the info I need). First impressions - well it seems a nice place, and not ridiculously expensive like I was expecting...
Day 17- Göteborg to Skagen (DK) - 8/6
Dist (miles): 21.93
Ave speed (mph): 14.5
Max speed (mph): 19.4
Time on saddle: 1h30
Day 18- Skagen to Lønstrup - 9/6
Dist (miles): 73.32
Ave speed (mph): 11.9
Max speed (mph): 21.5
Time on saddle: 6h08
There are more photos below