Friday July 3 to Tuesday July 7
Today we took a car ferry from Sandefjord Norway to Strömstad Sweden, a 2 1/2 hour trip. It was a beautiful day but windy and the ship rolled gently on big swells. The ferry was busy and amazingly cheap; the profit seems to come from the sale of duty-free goods (mostly alcohol) rather than the fare. Everyone was buying their limit. It isn’t surprising given the heavy taxes on alcohol.
Our last four days in Norway have been pleasant cycling in good weather along the coast. It is a popular vacation area and the towns are busy. The coast is rocky with islands and inlets, the road is often inland in forest or farmland with small lakes, and our route has mostly been off the main highways. The hills are often steep but not long. We’ve walked a few hills and encountered one 27% grade in an off-road section that we could hardly push the bikes up, but that was an exception.
We used small ferries to cross fjords or hop between islands almost every day in the last week, including one ferry that claimed to be the last wooden hull ferry in regular service. But we didn’t pay enough attention to ferry schedules making last Saturday a crazy day of racing between ferries, and both cancelling and booking accommodation on the fly. We had based our plans on using a ferry that doesn’t run on Sunday, but we didn’t realize that until Saturday morning. We figured out that if we cycled hard on Saturday morning we might make the Saturday morning sailing of the ferry, and then if we cycled even harder in the afternoon we might get another ferry which would put us in a town where we might be able to find a place to stay. To top it off, we had to fix a flat tire on the afternoon ride. (First puncture in almost 3000km of riding and I’ve never changed an inner tube so fast.) It all worked and thanks to a helpful woman in the Kragerø tourist office we had a place to stay.
It would be interesting to know the level of boat ownership in Norway—it must be one boat for each person. Every town has several busy marinas with huge docks as well as parking lots full empty of boat trailers.
With the exception of the cost of everything in Norway, we have enjoyed the country. I would like to see more of it.
Tonight we are in Tanumshede, a small town about 30km south of Strömstad. It was an easy ride from the ferry but the strong wind made it slow.
Just before arriving here, a km or two after passing the 3000km mark, I came close to serious injury or worse by making a left turn onto a busy road without looking left. The oncoming traffic I didn’t see was doing about 100kmph. Traffic swerved left, I swerved right, the first car, probably doing 80kmph when it hit me, clipped my front wheel and I went down. The car behind went around me. I have no idea why I didn’t look; I’m normally a cautious rider and very experienced at riding in traffic. I escaped with only road rash—a scraped knee and knuckles. I apologized profusely to the driver who was as shaken as I was. The only harm to the bike was the front wheel out of true (a wobble in it), which I fixed at the hotel. The accident was unnerving. Inge made the same turn a minute ahead of me and there was no traffic when she turned. She didn’t need to stop. Perhaps my brain locked on that image. Inge didn’t see the crash, she was waiting down the road wondering where I was. We did the last km into town together.
We are in a comfortable hotel which boasts the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Sweden—since 1663.
A few photos: