Norwegian Wood(The Beatles) - Mandal to Stavanger,Norway via the D44 Coastal Highway - 1st July 2016

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July 1st 2016
Published: July 6th 2016
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We had a solid sleep despite the fact that the bed was an old fashioned double the type of which we haven’t slept together in for years. This is the only shortfall this apartment has.

The washing in the bathroom with the under floor heating working dried nicely overnight.

The same can’t be said for the weather outside as there is steady rain falling and the forecast looks like it will be wet for most of our drive to Stavanger.

Loading the car up wasn’t pleasant with the rain falling and a flight of outdoor wooden steps to go and forth from the apartment to the car.

We had two options to get to Stavanger, the E39, the main highway or an option we hadn’t previously considered until we took a closer look at the atlas and noticed the D44 that tracks north along the coast rather than inland as the E39 did.

We had to overrule the GPS as we drove as she continually wanted to take us back to the E39.

The D44 started out with small lakes on both sides of the road, surrounded by the heavy looking grey stone that would become a feature of the landscape almost all the way to Stavanger.

We took the opportunity to buy lunch from a bakery in Flekkefjord which was the last sizeable town we would see for well over 100kms.This was the first time we had a need to spend some of the Norwegian Kroner we got from the ATM yesterday and with 6 of them to the NZ dollar we had to really think about prices to get an idea of what we were paying for things we bought. In general terms grocery items are roughly double what we would pay in NZ such is the cost of living in Norway. The average weekly wage is about 50% higher than in NZ so things seem about right when you take this into account.

There were only a few small villages on the early part of the route and what was mostly around us you could only describe as was raw wilderness with beautiful scenery. This is what we had come to Norway for!

We were starting to think that it was time for lunch as the road descended to the Jossingfjord and we had another one of those experiences that you really don’t expect to happen and all because of the route we had taken.

I had read about the Altmark Incident of February 1940 which drew Norway, which had been neutral, into WW2 on the side of the Allies but had not linked the fjord we were now driving alongside as where the incident had taken place.

With dark clouds overhead and showers passing by, the small narrow fjord had an ominous feel about it. This was made even more so when the road got to the end of the fjord and there seemed no way to proceed until we noticed that the road climbed clinging to the mountainous rockside.At one point there was a tunnel of sorts, more just an opening and passage of a couple of hundred metres just wide enough for two vehicles to pass. The passage was so narrow that there had been a separate narrow path constructed around the outside of the ‘tunnel ‘for cyclists to take as there was no lighting in the ‘tunnel ‘which would have made passing through it for them dangerous.

It was on the upper side of the ‘tunnel ‘that we got our surprise of today’s drive.

It was another WW2 incident that we didn’t know about.

In February 1945 a squadron of planes of the RAF with aircrews from several allied countries including New Zealand attacked a German destroyer that was hiding out in the fjord.

The attack wasn’t particularly successful with many of the Allied aircraft shot down either by the ship they were attacking or German planes that came to give cover to the ship when it tried to escape the fjord.

Two of the Beau fighters the New Zealanders were flying collided over the sea as the battle ended and 4 New Zealanders were killed. Two of their bodies were recovered from the sea but two others were never found.

There is a sizable memorial and plaque at the car park/rest area just up the mountainside from the ‘tunnel’ set on a giant slab of rock that has tremendous views out over the fjord.

Every year on Norway Constitution Day in May the battle and those who lost their lives are commemarated in a ceremony at the site.

The passing showers made it too wet to have a boot lunch so we ate in the car and reflected on this little piece of Norway where New Zealanders lost their lives in the battle to free Europe from Nazi occupation.

There had some reconstruction of this coast road as we have proceeded but we came across a real overkill of supervision of roadwork’s shortly after we got back on the road after lunch.

Sure the road was down to one lane and they were working on the side of the road being reconstructed but the wait for an ‘escort’ vehicle that headed the queue of cars that had stopped ahead of us and then to have the ‘escort ‘vehicle guide the queue of cars for about a kilometre was a bit of an overkill. All the other major instances of roadwork’s we had come across on the BBA V3 had been controlled by lights and had worked perfectly well. Perhaps this might be why Norway has a relatively low unemployment rate?

We joined the coast proper at Hellvik and scenery changed a bit as you would expect. The rugged, rocky mountains were still there to our right but now we also had views of the North Sea as well.

One of the things that has been very noticeable for us for almost every day of the BBA V3 so far is the lack of any strong winds and today has been no different. So the sea was calm and visibility was very good, not that there were any ships in sight.

The area around us is the largest flat plain in Norway and the locals were making the most of it with their farming of crops and in some places small flocks of sheep were grazing .Whether they were being raised for wool or meat wasn’t clear and they were in such small numbers as to what we would see in NZ.

We stopped to do some grocery shopping at Kleppe where there was a good size supermarket. Noticeable here was that all the locals were dressed as if it was still winter and it wasn’t that warm at 15C.

The D44 came to an end and we joined the D510 and then the D509 to Sola where the apartment we have for a couple of nights is located.

Our host was away on holiday (it is summer holidays here) but she had said her oldest son would be home to let us in.

When no one answered the door we telephoned her and she said that her son had had to leave the house but the key was under a flower pot and we should let ourselves in. We have found all the Air BnB hosts to be very trusting of someone they don’t know. We are not sure we could be quite so trusting although we might change our mind if we ever got into the Air BnB thing ourselves.

We hadn’t realised that the apartment was in the basement of the hosts house but as it turned out it was very roomy and with windows all in strategic places and even though they were small it was surprising how much natural light actually pervaded the apartment. Except in our bedroom which had no window as the room was internal. This will probably work out well though as we won’t have to worry about it still being light outside when we head to bed.

Our main objective here in Stavanger is to climb to Pulpit Rock which is located south of the city and now we hope that the weather forecast for tomorrow is OK for the 4 or 5 hour return trek to see Norway’s best known natural attraction.

PS:we have started our trip through Norway with a blog title of the only song we know about "Norway'.Actually we thought we knew the song but it is more the tune than the words which when you read them it is hard to make much sense of them.Anyway enjoy the song and video on Youtube

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6th July 2016

Nicely written
That description and the detailing. Great Article.
6th July 2016
Plaque to NZer's killed in air raid on German ship,Jossingfjord

War history questions
What was the Altmark incident? Tim also wonders if the ship you mentioned was a destroyer or was it the sister ship to the Bismarck....a name like Tripaze....rings a few history bells for him
6th July 2016
Plaque to NZer's killed in air raid on German ship,Jossingfjord

The Altmark was a German tanker that was carrying British merchant sailors as POW's through neutral Norwegian waters.The British became suspicious and from the HMS Cosaack they attacked the ship,boarded it and released the POW's.Effectively an Allied victory in what was known as the period of the Phoney War.The 1945 air raid was after the German destroyer Z(not sure why it didn't have a proper name) and although the ship got away on this ocassion it was later sunk further north in Norwegian territory.

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