Our ship sails at 12.15pm and it is only around 120km to Hirtshals but we want to be there in plenty of time and of course in case there are any hold ups on the highway.
So it was an early start, just after 6am, which is most out of character with the BBA V3.
It didn’t take long to pack up the car and we hit the road back onto the E45 and continued north.
This morning light drizzly rain was in the air not that it hid any of the scenery as the land here, as it has been for the last couple of days, is flat and one tends to focus on the scenery close up anyway.
Just after Aalborg, another city the motorway bypasses, the road splits with the E45 going to east coast port city of Frederikshavn and the E39, which we took, to the port of Hirtshals on the northern coast not far from the tip of Denmark.
Aside from an impressive building that houses and oceanarium and a small town with a couple of hotels it is the port that seems to be the main reason for this town
to be here.
There are two main ferry lines that operate from the terminals at the port. We are travelling with Colour line while the other line is FjordLine.They both operate to Kristiansand, our destination in Norway as well as Larvik, Oslo, Stanvanger and Bergen. There is also another line that is operated by a third company which has less frequent sailings to Iceland and Faroe Islands.
The trip across the Skagerrak Strait which is part of the Baltic Sea will take 3 ¼ hours.
We arrived in plenty of time into Hirtshals with no delays on the highway. It all seemed very easy pulling up at the office at the terminal gate the young woman even knew who Gretchen was without asking for any ID.We did figure out that she got the name from our online booking and matched it to our car registration plate as we drove up.
We were directed to queue number two and were first in that line waiting for the ferry to arrive from its morning sailing from Kristiansand.
There wasn’t a lot going on at first although we had two hours to fill in before we sailed.
Then as time ticked by the whole massive yard started to fill up with cars, trucks, motorbikes and buses until there didn’t seem to be anywhere they could more in.
Someone must have got wind that the ferry we were booked on must have been coming into the small harbour because people started to gather out of their cars. Then the ferry appeared and berthed very quickly.
There were a large number of cars that came off the upper decks of the ferry while trucks and buses came off the lower deck.
It was to be a one hour turnaround and once the last vehicle came off we were given the go ahead to proceed onto the upper deck on one of the two lanes. Being at the front of lane number two we were at the front of the upper deck lane on the ship.
Gretchen had parked very straight but had been a little too far to the right hand side of the lane which meant that my passenger door was up against the bulkhead on the ship’s deck and I couldn’t extract myself from the car. Now I do accept I enter and
exit cars in a manner which make my family laugh but whatever I did here I still couldn’t get myself out. Thankfully the lane immediately next to us was vacant so Gretchen was able to start the car and move it back and then forward to give me more room to get out of the car.
There were plenty of spaces for people to sit in various lounges for the voyage and we wisely chose seats amidships.
We left sharp on time and the first half hour or so were quite calm even though there was a strong southwest wind blowing that was making some whitecaps.
Gretchen took a stroll up to the front lounge which meant going through the large duty free shopping area and when she came back she did say she had noticed the pitching of the ship which caused the liquor bottles on their display shelves to tinkle.
Half an hour later it was time for my walk up to the bow end and we were now well over half way across to Kristiansand and the ship was pitching a bit more to the extent that I had to hold on to
shelves to keep going forward. I did look twice at the crewman who passed me heading towards the stern carrying a large number of ‘sick bags’.
Over the years we have both crossed Cook Strait so many times that we have lost count and the crossings have been in all sorts of weather including those lovely southerly busters that tear through Wellington at 100kph+ creating 6 metre swells.
Well this trip wasn’t like that and funnily enough we actually enjoyed a bit of rock ‘n roll although I can’t say that for the people I passed with sick bags close to their faces. Why they were sitting towards the bow of the ship where the movement was greatest is beyond me.
Land was soon in sight and after passing some rocky outcrops at the entrance to Kristiansand harbour the message came over the ship’s loudspeaker system for car drivers to return to their cars. All of a sudden there a mass movement to the stairs down to the vehicle decks and there were just a few foot passengers left.
Where we had ended up parked at the front of the ship and on the second deck
became interesting as to how we were going to exit the ship when we had a barrier ahead of us about 1 ½ metres high that looked unmoveable. You could see over the barrier to the lower deck where cars were already on their way off the ship.
And then it clicked! The deck we were on was going to be lowered by a pulley type system once the lower deck was clear of cars and people! and we would drive off.
And that is exactly how it happened. Alarm bells rang and then we started to be lowered ever so gently, the immoveable barrier dropped and we were off to join the six lanes of traffic that had to come down to three lanes to go through a customs check.
We chose the nothing to declare lane and a quick inspection by the customs official of our passports and we were on our way on the E39 heading west to our overnight stay.
Our travel card didn’t have an option for Norwegian Kroner to be loaded onto it so we need to now find an ATM and get some cash out to hopefully last us
the 14 days we are here.
There is always some anxiety when one pushes a Kiwi bank card into an ATM in a foreign country. Will it come back out with some local dosh!
Bingo, yes it did. Now we are in business.
The E39 will be under our tyres for a good distance as we travel north to Trondheim so we will get to know it well.
We had to turn off the E39 to get to Mandal and this was the first time in the 40 minute drive from Kristiansand that we had got back in contact with the sea.
Again we found our Air BnB apartment with relative ease and it is a generous size with separate bedroom and a heated floor in the bathroom. This is going to be great to get the ‘smalls ‘washing dried overnight!
We won’t have a lot of time here as we push onto Stavanger tomorrow so we took a walk before dinner down to the sea inlet to check out what was there.
There was a line of boat sheds over the water where you could drive your boat into and then hoist
it out of the water in the winter. Seemed like a very clever idea although we understand that the water here doesn’t freeze over in the winter because the Gulf Stream keeps it just warm enough.
Tomorrow should bring more encounters with water as we cross the first of the southern fjords to get to Stavanger.
PS:OK so this wasn't the Mersey we were crossing but this was the most well known song I could find with 'ferry' in its title and we think that this will be a place we will love.So enjoy on Youtube as usual.
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