Moto Adventures

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lofoten and Beyond

Three different types of beer from Norway, all writing is in English or at least the slogans are. The can on the far right was totally in English.

Ken and I on the mountain across from Tromso, more mountains behind.

NordKapp coordinates...boy that is way up there!

Reindeer are plentifull and you always have to watch for then along the road. We saw wild and domestic reindeer, you can tell the domestic animals because they have spray painted brands on them.

Ken and I at the end of the European Continent, NordKapp.

A Swedish moose, a long lost relation to...Bullwinkle?

Our bikin' buds from the Bodo Bike Club.

The view of Tromso from the adjacent mountian was great.

Fishermen cabins line the waterfront, many are converted into cabins for rent.

Our first night on Lofoten we stayed at a campsite on the beach, what a spot! Our most expensive site yet, and to top it off after they dinged you for pitching your tent you also had to pay for showers and for the electricity to the little hot plate($1/30 minutes)so you could have a pot of soup for dinner. But with this view, needless to say the campground was busy. Driving through Norway is like driving to Alaska only with three times as many R.V.'s. We love the european R.V.s, they are so cute and everything is top quality.

The Arctic Circle, Sweden.

Racks and racks of fish drying line the side of the roads in the small communities. They put the fish(fish heads dried separately)on the racks to dry in October and they dry until July, then they are packaged for sale mostly to Africa and South America(saving a bit for themselves and for the tourists).

Ken tries his hand at skiing down a patch of snow, the first time in years.

A misty view over the ocean from NordKapp.

We had good intentions and we did get to Bodu from Vannas in one day but we didn't make it across to Lofoten. On the way across Sweden we met a Swedish couple going to Bodu for the weekend to attend a motorcycle rally, they invited us along and we just couldn't refuse. So, we spent the evening having a few drinks and visiting with some new friends and talking about motorbikes and Norway and Sweden. We watched the midnight sun and got to bed late, late enough that we just made the 11:00 ferry to Lofoten. The good news is that our wait payed off and we had very good weather on Lofoten. Yes Heinz, Lofoten is beautiful! Rocky mountians coming straight out of the ocean, white beaches, twisty roads and quaint little villages with many little fishermens cabins hanging over the water for rent. So very nice. We kept driving and enjoying the view, crossing bridges and going through tunnels under the straits and before we knew it we were on our way to Tromso.

Tromso is a city that is built on an island in a fiord, it is connected to the mainland by two bridges and a tunnel. It is a new city and doesn't have the character that many of the European cities do, but it has a cable car going up a mountian located beside the city and from the top you have a very nice view of the Tromso and the surrounding water and mountians. Ken and I toke the 420 meter cable car ride up and then hiked a remaining 300 meters to the top through some remaining snow. At the top we talked to a couple ladies from Tromso and they mentioned that usually by this time a lot more snow is gone from the ground. Everyone around Scandinavia agrees that this year is about 5-10C degrees cooler that normal. The weather has been cool for riding but the sun is at least showing itself to make riding a little more enjoyable. So much so that after much consideration we decided to make a quick run to NordKapp the northmost point of Europe.

The road were dry and the temperatures didn't dip below 10C until we got to the last 20 kms or so. On the way we drove through pine forests, and rolling hills of tundra covered with reindeer. Many of the reindeer here are domestic. The Sami, the original inhabitants of the area have the right to herd, use and sell the reindeer meat. There are many stands along the side of the road selling the fur hides and antlers from the reindeer. The temperature dipped to 5C, the winds started to blow a harder and a little fog started to roll in as we approached the cape. There is a 7 km tunnel under the water that connects NordKapp to the mainland, and as we drove down through it it gave a funny feeling to think about the turbulent ice cold water up above. At the cape the fog lifted long enough for us to have a good view and take a few pictures, after which we went into the building and watched a movie on the Cape. There must have been 20 tour busses arriving as we emerged from the building with tourist ready to watch the midnight sun at 12:00, a very large cruiseship was in port and we wondered if it was one that we had seen earlier in the fiords. Three hours after we arrived we found the weather had gotten noticeably worse and there was no way we could pitch our tent on the Cape. So for our short stay on the Cape we paid a total of $45 in road tolls and over $40 each to walk out to the point and watch the film, was it worth it? bet, it was a pretty cool experience. We got on the bike the headed south, after a long day and over 640 km we found a great tent spot, the rain even stopped long enough to setup the tent. But only for a short time! Not long after going to bed the rain started again and not long after the wind also started with a vengeance, by three a.m. the tent was laying flat out, our new REI tent got put to the test. Around seven a.m. we couldn't take it any longer and attempted to take down the tent, we did it but not with chasing a few things across the road. I wish I could have caught the mayham on my camera but at the time it was all hands on deck! But that was it...we had had enough of the crappy weather. We headed south, Finland and warmer weather on our minds. We are thinking of starting a new reality t.v. show calles "Sun Chasers" what do you think?

Now, in reflection of Norway the one word that I would pick to describe the country...Spectacular! We absolutely loved the countryside with its jaw dropping landscape and the people, even in consideration of the prices and the weather, both of us would return again and would erge everyone else to do so as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to Sweden

We saw an older woman using this scooter. She could walk along behind it using the handlebars like a walker, but when down hill came look out...she stepped on the foot boards and she was gone!

We met a couple, Monica and Uwe from Germany riding a BMW RT 1200, and spent an evening dinner with them. Ken, Monica and Uve were drinking a beer(which I don't like) so Uwe made me a martini...complete with an olive.

Ken takes a Triumpt Exporer for a spin, he likes the power!

A sleigh parked in the front yard of a home in Vannas. They get alot of snow for sleighing, skiing, and dog sleighing...after all we are at 63.4 degree latitude north.

Swedish countryside.

More Swedish countryside.

So we have left Norway and headed back into Sweden, the grass is always greener on the other side of the mountians! We decided to go over to the Baltic Sea where the weather stations said it was going to be much warmer and drier than on the Norwegian west coast, namely Lofoten(an archipelico that everyone says we absolutely have to see in nice weather). We headed northeast 350 km to Umea, a university city that didn't do much for Ken and I so we kept on going until we hit Vannas. Vannas is a much smaller and friendlier town with a nice campground that offered us a kitchen, tv room, wifi, and a pool and sauna all for $17 a night. It doesn't get much better than that!

On the way back across Sweden something seem familiar, and on this Ken and I both agreed, it looked a lot like Canada. Long sections of roads lined with pines and rolling hills like in the far north, only without the wild animals. We have only seen one moose, a family of sandhill cranes and one fox so far on our trip. The moose looked like ours only smaller and lonelier. As we rode out of the forest and into farmland the sights reminded us of the Armstrong area, only with bigger and older farm houses and barns. We thought we were riding in Canada only thing is when we were asked where we where from everyone says we are the first Canadians they have seen travelling here.

Ken purchased new raingear today and I bought another pullover, we just didn't bring enough clothes for cool weather but this latest purchase should guarantee nice weather. While we where at North Bike bike shop one of the salesmen asked Ken if he wanted to take a Truimpt 1215 Explorer for a ride, Ken was all over it! It was an impressive ride with excessive power but when all was said and done the Honda Africa Twin was more suited for us and our trip around the world. Don't worry Heinz we are not going to trade our bike in.

Tomorrow we set out early to cover the 600 km back to Bodo and the Norweigan coast, and if we have time maybe even catch the ferry over to Lofoten, if all goes well. Just for the record the bike is running like a dream and the new camping gear we purchased before we left is great, rain tested and true!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Here is an example of the small cabins we have been staying in, cosy to say the least but some have a fridge and a hot plate.

The famous Bergen waterfront. Old buildings dating back to the 1600's when Bergen was one of the main trading centers in Europe.

The Trollstigen(the trolls cape)Pass twists and turns 11 times it makes its way from 800 metres down to sea level. It was started in 1928 and finished in 1936. As we rode down the mountian we passed several cyclist on their way up.

The end of the Geiranger Fiord with 4 cruiseships sharing our harbour.

Typical old cottage, many roofs back then and today have sod with grass, shrubs and small trees growing on them. Notice the fruit trees growing beside the cottage.

A view across a fiord...just a nice view.

One of the MANY waterfalls along the road.

On the Hardanger Pass,which lays between Oslo and Bergen, we rode by glaciers and glacier lakes, the pass was spotted with many little vacation cottages in use for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Ken having a bite to eat after our cruise up the Geiranger Fiord.

Norway...what can I say it has been accosting our senses ever since we cross the border from Sweden. We left the torential rains behind as we assended the Hardanger Pass, on the top we found views of glaciers, small mountian villages and still frozen glacier lakes. Then we twisted down into the very old and picturesque city of Bergen, with its famous and colourful waterfront.

Many of the highways around the major centers are toll roads but they are free for motorcycles...yeh one less expense because let me tell you there are many more. Gas is $2.55 a litre and there are many ferries along the way criss-crossing the fiords and they all cost at least $15 a pop for a 10-20 minuite ride. They tend to like ferries here opposed to bridges but we did see one bridge in the making that will be Norway's highest when it is finished. It is amazing the expense they have put into the roads here, so many tunnels, ferries and miles and miles of roads twisting through mountian passes and along the water. Of course, the prices are not outrageous to the norwegians, they have the worlds leading economy and their wages are approximately twice ours.

After leaving Bergen we rode some of the narrowest and twistiest highways yet, it took us all day to travel just over 200 km. Roads cut into the side of the fiords joining small villages were not wide enough to pass another vehicle, pullouts are plentiful and work well as long as you keep your eyes open. There is no time to speed here on these roads. Most times though I would have to say that the Norwegians prefer to "go through it", they will put in a tunnel just to reach a village of around 100-200 people. The longest tunnel we have had to go through was around 9 km. it even had a traffic circle inside with another highway taking off inside the mountian in another direction.

At one of our campsites the owner gave us some tips on what to see in the area not far away, namely the Geiranger Fiord and the Trolstigen pass. We have to thank her for that! We caught a ferry up the Geiranger Fiord, $70 for the bike, Ken and I, one hour and ten minutes with our mouths hanging open in awe. Some of the cliffs that lined the side of the fiord were close to 700 metres straight up and made of solid granite. Along the way the guide on the boat pointed out old farms that were located on the steep banks, small plots of land where they kept goats, cows, and horses(we have no idea how they got the animals up to the farm). They grew hay and fruit and raised their families there for generations, they had to tie and tether the children so they wouldn't fall off the steep cliffs. The farmers would reach their farm via a ladder up from the sea below, which was handy when it was time for the tax collectors to come around because they just pulled up the rope and the tax man couldn't come up the cliff. At the end of the fiord we found 4 large cruiseships anchored so needless to say the little village at port was very busy so we made a picnic a few miles down the road, before the big climb out of the fiord.

On the top of the pass we encountered snow and lots of it, not on the road but deep banks cut into the side of the road and glaciers beyond. At the end of the mountian pass, just as we were ready to descend, we thought maybe the road came to an end because it literally dropped down and zigzaged its way down the very steep side of the mountian. The view was tremendous as was the ride down.

Up and down mountians, across water, wind and rain...I have been wearing just about every piece of clothing and riding gear I have, in fact I bought another pair of long johns yesterday so I have something else to wear when I have to do laundry! The cool weather is the only not so good(I can't bring myself to say bad)thing we are up against here. We love Norway, the landscapes are unbelievable, that being said...I think maybe we have some terrian simular to these in Canada but we do not have the roads to access them like the norwegians to here.

After checking the weather this morning it looks as if we are changing our direction again. Instead of heading to Lofonten, where they predict rain for the next week, we will go back to Sweden and look for more favourable temperatures.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Ken loading up the bike after a stay in Trollhattan. This little cabin had room for us and our gear along with a little fridge. How cute!

A nice view over a creek on a walk we took at the park near Karlshamn.

What a wild ride! A bicycle built for 2 that rides along on the railroad tracks.

We had a very short stay in Sweden this time around. The rain started as soon as we left Copenhagen and drove into the tunnel for 5 km and across the 15 km bridge(which cost us a cool $60...$3 a km)to Malmo and into Sweden. After talking to a few people we decided to head around the southern tip of Sweden and wouldn't you just know it...the rain followed us. Lucky for us, most camping sites here in Scandanavia include cosy little cabins, we have been sleeping in them on the really rainy nights. These campsites include a kitchen and sometimes a t.v. room, along with great bathroom and shower facilities. Tent spots cost around $20 to $30 and the small cabin cost $35 to $60, which doesn't sound like a great deal but it's a steal compared to the hotel prices. At one parks we stayed at we went for a long walk and wouldn't you know it, I ended up getting a tick on me. Thank goodness I was worned to watch for them(I guess I also have the sweet blood, Martina). We were going to visit a friend, Agneta, in this area but the weather was so bad and it looked as if it would be getting better in Norway so we decided that we wouldn't wait the four days for her to get home and instead we made a run for the border and will visit more of Sweden a little later on.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Hey Carl, here is a Tesla! The worlds first and fastest production sports car made in California.

When is Denmark you have to try the danishes, and we did! Yummy!

A view of Egeskov Slot, built in 1554. The owners started opening the gates to their castle when it became too costly to keep their 60 farm employees, they charge an entry fee which pays the taxes and keeps the place running.

The grounds of the close as we got.

Anders and Karen, during a supper of tradition Danish food, Pork liver pate served on a dark bread, topped with a pickled beet. It's good!

A view of Copenhagen from the boat on the canal.

One of many bikes. There are more peddle bikes here than we have ever seen, they don't even have rush hour traffic here because most people ride their bikes to work, shopping and for fun. Cars are very expensive here, they cost about 3 times the price in Canada, and there is 180% tax all purchases!!! and bikes are not cheap here either...nothing is cheap!

Our first campsite.

Our visit in Germany has ended for the time being but not without a small amount of drama to send us on our way. Having loaded the bike we took to the road with directions from Heinz as to the best way to leave his area and start our trip. Thank goodness we are such good navigators because 20 minutes way from his house we encountered a crazy man in an orange car swerving and driving like a mad man, just about running us down! It was Heinz. It seems he was checking out our great little log cabin where we stayed while at his house and found my pocketbook of i.d. which included drivers licence, visa and depit cards. H-o-l-y C-r-a-p!!! I would have been in big trouble! Once again we said our fairwells, with even more gratatude, and we were off to Denmark.

Riding in Germany is always beautiful, small paved roads meandering through the farmland and that day was a great day for riding with the clouds parting and the shining. We were headed for Copenhagen to visit riding friends but along the way they suggested we stop at the Egeskov Slot(their word for castle).The grounds of the castle were beautifully kept as was the free campground, but that was about all we saw of the castle because we couldn't bring ourselves to pay the 200dk(danish krone)or $35 each for a 2 hour walk in the park. We stayed the night and left the next morning again taking the small less traveled roads to Copenhagen. The farmland is much the same in Denmark as Germany but the farmhouses are quite different, long low building with straw roofs are a favourite in the farm area, many dating back to the 1700's.

Our gps took us staight to Anders and Karen's place in downtown Copenhagen(you have to love the new technology). The home they live in was built about 1885, the rooms are small and cosy, the ceiling in the basement, where their bathroom and shower are located, was not quite high enough for Ken to stand, and it even has the original wood floors. The place is very cool, you just don't see this stuff in Kelowna. Anders and Karen showed us around the area by foot the first night we arrived, the Carlsburg beer brewing factory is just down the road and it was a half hour walk to the city center where the tall apartments lined the streets as well as many cafes and restuarants. The next morning Anders once again showed us the way down to the city center and left us to enjoy a day of sightseeing by ourselves. We took in a canal tour of the city which included the harbour and what was the mote and wall around the Copenhagen at one time, it is a great way to see the city. We also stopped in at the Rosenborg Slot for a look at the Queens digs and the crown jewels, it is really hard to imagine the wealth! All in all the Danes are pretty proud of their country and their heritage, the Vikings will always sail the sea here. To end a very busy day we went to see Anders give a slide presentation of his and Karen's trip through Eastern Europe, Russia, Korea and North and South America(it was during this trip that we met them at Valley Moto Sport in Westbank)it was interesting for us because we recognized a lot of the places they had been...even if we didn't understand a word of the Danish.

It has been a great stay here in Denmark even if it has been short, once again we are racing the weather. Next we are off to the approximately 23km long bridge across a section of the Baltic Sea and in to Sweden, hopefully staying ahead of the rain.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Our first week in Germany

Heinz, Martina, Jonas, Ken and I enjoy a piece of cake and a coffee, tea or hot chocolate at a nice cafe renovated from an old farmhouse.

If you look very close you will see Ken, Heinz and Jonas standing at the base of the windmill...look very close!

A beautiful view from the castle where we had "einen kleinen kuchen und kaffee". A small town on the Rein river below.

Looking DOWN the stairs into the cave, >450 steps down...>450 steps up.

Can you guess what this is?
It is an insect house in a garden, inviting flies and bugs to the house instead of to your table.

Rapunzal, Rapunzal, let your hair down...from a castle tower. A room at a castle hotel has a great view from its balcony, it's yours for around 200 euros p/p per night, this price does include some extras.

Ken enjoyed his mini ride. A can opener was almost needed to get him out, I think he would like to take this car home.

After spending a busy weekend in Calgary visiting with my family, one last time, Ken and I boarded our plane to Germany. We were both hoping that leaving Canada at midnight and arriving in Frankfurt at 6 p.m. the next day would make it easier to adjust to the time change. We thought that if we could stayed awake for most of the 9 1/2 hr flight and then visit a little with our friends when we landed we would sleep easily through the night...wrong! We have been here a week now and have just started to sleep through the last two nights. The flight over was a pleasant surprise for us. From the comments we heard from other people we thought maybe we would have to wear our helmets and riding gear while being strapped to the wing of the plane during the flight because service in the airline business had been cut so badly. We brought our own food, pillows, earphones, everything short of toilet paper(actually I had that too if worse came to worse)but the food and the service on board was good(maybe a little squishy)and we enjoyed 3 movies(one of which was Mama Mia that made me want to return to Italy this trip instead of heading north), a dinner with wine and breakfast. And we even got to sit together without my having booked advanced seating!!! We didn't end up having to pay for extra luggage, our carry-ons, checked and one piece of camping luggage all checked in at 1/2 kilo less than what was allowed.

Franz, Sabina, Mel, and Vitor were at the airport to greet us with 2 cars, which were needed to carry all of our luggage, one of the cars included Vitor's cherry red '67 Mustang-nice. The four days with Franz and Sabina were busy, spending time seeing the sights around Weisbanden, visiting a castle for a little coffee and cake, going down close to 100 metres in a cave, Ken took a ride in an orginal '79 mini, and taking drives thru the beautiful countryside. Franz and Sabina were more than generous, we love to visit them. Our plan after leaving Franz and Sabine in Weisbaden was to take the train north to our friends in Asendorf, the trip involved a quick train change that had us scurrying with our 5 big pieces of luggage. Heinz, Martina and Jonas welcomed us to their home in the countryside just outside Asendorf, a cute house amidst the fields of rap seed and corn(which are grown for biofuel)here also you will find windmills for power standing in the fields. The cake and coffee is very good up in this region and we have spent time trying local traditional dishes. Martina works at an asparagas farm and we have enjoyed this dish here and also at Fraz and Sabina's place...fantastic!

But...the most important thing you will find here is...Kens Africa Twin! The bike looks like new, and boy is Ken happy! Heinz has done a great job getting it ready for us and our trip, and as I write this Ken is packing the pannier and can't stop smiling. Checking the bike is the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing he does at night. The bike will work perfectly, we may not even have to strap bags to the outside of the bike as origanally planned, everything should fit inside. Our plan was to leave this morning but after looking at the weather forcast for the next few days we decided to spend one more day here and start our trip tomorrow, heading to Copenhegan, Denmark and then to Finland instead of Norway where the weather is much colder and rainier. Here also the rain and cooler weather have hit the region and yesterday it rained most of the day, hopefully tomorrow will bring brighter skys as it is always nicer start a trip in nice weather...even if it doesn't stay.

Franz, Sabina, Ken and I are having a coffee and cake at the castle overlooking the Rein. Thank you for giving our trip such a great start!

Friday, June 01, 2012

A trying time with the new ipad

We are now at our friends home in Asendorf, and here is my friend Jonas who is teaching how to use the new Blogger! It is not that easy but we shall try it this way!