Heaven on Earth

Now children, this is a public service announcement.  If you wake up on a Sunday in Norway, just don’t bother getting out of your bed.. because hardly any other fucker will have.


There is no breakfast at this particular inn so we go into town to find a cafe.  Sunday morning.. people will be up and about walking dogs.. getting papers .. chatting over hot coffee .. we’ll have trouble parking.. and have to queue.  But no.  No dogs. No papers. No coffee.. No… just no.  Everywhere… everywhere is closed.  For anyone used to a 24/7 country like the UK, its a strange experience.  There is absolutely nowhere open apart from the filling station, and all they have is dirty fries .. nom nom ergggggggghhhhhh


So today we’re going to take a scenic route .. or should that really be the more scenic route..  We’ll head to Saltstrauman and follow the coast road down to the ferry at Halsa, then down to Jektvik for the longer ferry back through the Arctic Circle,  then the last ferry of the day from Nesna and follow the road down to our quarters in Mosjøen.  Its not sunny today.. the mood has turned and  we have the clouds in battle with the land for the focus of every landscape.. and its amazing ..

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I dont like repeating myself.. I don’t.. like repeating myself .. ever.  It took a very special effort just to type that .. and already thinking of deleting it.   I will do it under certain circumstances, if I have to, but very very rarely do I want to do it.  We’ve only been riding a couple of hours today, but this is one of those circumstances.  I already want to ride this again tomorrow, and possibly the next day too.  This really is a very very special journey.. a very very very special journey.

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Every turn, every corner, every hill, every move gives me a spectacular view that’s using a full pallet of natures colours to maximum effect.   Bridges.. tunnels.. ferries.. and more red paint than a fire engine factory.. its .. I dunno .. its art .. Mother Nature and Slartibartfast creating a landscape to rival anything else on the planet.

But still .. everywhere is shut.  We get to Ørnes looking for a coffee.  Petrol station. Closed.  Go into the small town and a parade of shops.  Not a small parade, quite  a big one with a big supermarket.. all closed.  Go to some other cafes on the satnav.. all closed.  We see a young bloke coming out a building. ‘Yes its Sunday, everything is closed, but there is usually a small shop open about 40 mins further on.  In the UK people would starve if the shops were shut on Sunday, and people would have mental breakdowns in they couldn’t get their Amazon delivery of that inflatable toilet seat..

Set off.. there’a cafe with lights on .. screech to a stop.. closed.  Nice flower arrangement though .. I wonder if I can eat it ..


My stomach isn’t being fed but my eyes and ears and nose certainly are ..

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We get to the shop and its like a single cowpat in a massive field with human flies buzzing all around it.. it does have a cafe attached.. but its closed on Sunday, as is the one directly behind it.. I don’t understand it.  I reckon I could make a good living just opening a cafe here and working just one day a week ..   We buy some crusty tarts and gold bars wrapped in snickers wrappers .. well we assumed they were by the price.. and just sit and stare at the world around us before following the visual roller coaster straight down the throat of the next ferry.. IMG_3037 IMG_3057 IMG_3060

The ferries obviously bunch the traffic up and if you don’t get off first then you’ve got some traffic to play with for a while.  I frequently get out in front before I simply have to stop.. climb down a precarious steep bank of big boulders and nearly fall into a fjord.. but its always worth it .. every single time ..


The next ferry is a lot bigger and has a cafe.. shock horror .. that’s not for the fact they have a cafe open .. its for the fact they charge about a tenner for a sorry looking soggy burger.. but the price is worth paying just for the view of the young lady behind the counter.. if not for the view of the mess on your plate..  I had 5 ..

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This ferry takes about 40 minutes and crosses back over the arctic circle where everyone rushes out on deck to take a picture of a tiny spec of a sign in the far distance

IMG_3089 IMG_3093and I had to stop young Brian from swimming across it.. mainly because young Brian can’t swim ..


Its getting colder and gloomier as the day goes on but it doesn’t detract from the fun we’re having.  On to the last ferry of the day before we chase back through the tunnels towards the real world where .. fingers crossed .. we can find a hot meal and let all this sink in.

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The hotel is of the unattended variety on an industrial estate, punch a code and a locker opens with a key.  We go out on a dinner hunt and I glance at my bank to see one of the auto petrol stations has charged me £125 for about 10 litres .. ummmmmm .. maybe that’s right.. see I told you Norway was expensive .. Jesus … still I can sort that out later.  Time now to crawl down a slippery bank of green covered rocks and slip, smash my phone protector screen and twat my hip bone.. still .. it was worth the trouble ..

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I hobble down town and we just push restaurant doors until the first one opens, no pissing about .. feed me now!  I have some special reserved slots in my memory .. my best rides ever folder.. they’ll never expire.. and I’ll never tire of throwing them back up on the projector in my head and slowly leafing through them .. today is going in that folder.  What a wonderful day to be alive ..

The next day is never going to match the day before.  We are heading towards Trondheim but its my turn to get the accommodation tonight and I’ve gone a bit left field.  Its a B&B on a small island called Tautra.  Its connected to the mainland via a causeway, and it looks quite interesting.  We’ll have to see how that turns out .. but first .. breakfast.  Again, the first few places we try from the satnav are closed.. brilliant!  We ride into an empty carpark for another cafe and it looks closed but there is someone drinking some coffee under an awning and I ask where he got it, and he points to the door.  In we go, and its completely empty but we can hear someone knocking about in the kitchen.  I give him a shout and he appears. ‘Breakfast?’ ‘Sure, Eggs and bacon?’  ‘Sir .. I want to have your babies’..


I’m salivating just at the memory.. the first proper breakfast this trip.  Just what my body needed.  I go to pay.. he puts the cost in the card machine .. its £126.50.  Ummmmmmmmm……. ‘Is this right?’ .. ‘Sure.. of course’.  ‘But its £126’.. ‘This is Norway .. its expensive here’.. ‘You are not fucking joking mate’ .. and then I have a moment where I’m actually going to put my card in and pay.. he must be right.. its Noway.. its expensive.. that makes perfect sense .. ‘But we only paid £60 for dinner last night, so how can 2 eggs and bacon be £126?”.. and then the light comes on for him.  This is apparently a hotel and he’s assumed we stayed the night here.. ‘Ohhhhhhhhhhh OK .. sorry.. £25 then please’.. ‘OK that is far more reasonable.. and I’ll add a £100 tip’ ..

So out we go heading south on the main road.  They can even get enough traffic here to form a small queue at road works


Its still a beautiful ride but its never going to take my breath away like yesterday did.  You know you’re spoilt when days like this are tagged as ‘average’ ..

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There really is hardly anyone about but they’re all crawling along at 80kph. Maybe they know something we don’t.  Its always best to follow the lead from the locals so we take just take it easy and cruise along all day, just stopping for some helmet love from Greta.  Not that Greta thank God, this one was born with fully functioning smile muscles ..


I think she lights her own farts too, so definitely not the other Greta ..

We follow the wandering river for a while, and pass little hotels covered in grass catering for the fishermen.

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The island is quite a few miles off the main route south.  I’m not entirely sure what the catering situation is so we drop into a supermarket and get a few provisions.  I’m a bit worried about this place to be honest.  Brian never ever complains but I don’t want to piss him off just because I want to stay on an island.

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So off we go, off the beaten track.  We are seeing the changes in sunset times as we come south and tonight its getting a bit gloomy as we twist and turn our way towards the hotel. We get to the causeway and there is a big electric gate to keep the foxes and other predators  out.  Over we go.. through some fields of pungent cabbages, and up a small hill.  I’m thinking Brian will be cursing me in his helmet.. I’ll have to apologise to him later.  We arrive at a small building and go inside. The second I cross the threshold I just know everything is going to be alright.. it has an atmosphere that runs up to me and envelopes me in warmth and friendliness and love.  There are some almost sexual cooking scents coming out of the kitchen, and this place is apparently a brewery too.  I’ve run out of boxes to tick, but then the host tells us we’re staying in his house and leads us across the courtyard to his house, then up the stairs. He pushes open the door to our room ..


Fuck.  Just Fuck. I still haven’t spoken to Brian about it but I look at him and his face just says it all.  This.. this is a beautiful place.. a very beautiful place indeed.

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Come here and see it for yourself, that’s all I can say.

Brian and I go for a walk after dinner, down to the jetty where we meet a group of pissed up people from Tronheim, all dressed like SBS recruits, ready to board a big rib that’s tied up with its engines burbling and burping in the water.  They’re all smiling and laughing and full of the full set of beers brewed by our B&B.  Turns out this place is pretty well known for its food and ales.  Sometimes you’re just lucky I guess.  You press a button on a tiny piece of glass and it all leads you to a secluded house with a view of a fjord from your bed, lovely food, and another memory beaten into your brain with a stake through it, never to be removed.

I walk down past the hotel through some fields and down to a rocky beach where I just sit and watch the show finish with the sun dropping and the clouds showing the end credits in gentle purples and reds… I collect some stones to take home and give to my wife. Stones I can just hold in my hands, close my eyes, and come back to this exact moment..

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Next: Back in the box



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