46 Scandinavia

SCANDINAVIA July-August 2012

On 2 July 2012 we chose the cheapest ferry - from Dover, England to Calais, France.

In Soltau, Germany we were camping with friends. The Friday night Dipli’s 6 year old auxiliary batteries would not hold their charge. Our friend researched on the internet and phoned. At 2pm on a Saturday afternoon three new deep-cycle batteries were delivered. German efficiency!

Before entering expensive Scandinavia, we stocked up with food and diesel.


We stopped in Odense at Hans Christian Andersen’s birthplace. In spite of a difficult childhood, he had used his vivid imagination to later write hundreds of brilliant children’s stories. His motto was; “Do not give sorrows a room for a single moment so they remain with you throughout your life.”

Moesgard museum displays the bog-preserved body of a man from 300BC. Nearby is the 10th century Viking fort built by King Harald Bluetooth (the origin of the name of Bluetooth wireless technology). Opened in 2012, Your Rainbow Panorama is mounted on top of the Aarhus art gallery. The spectacular skyward glass rooftop walkway features all the colours of the light spectrum.

Copenhagen was being dug up for a metro and traffic was choked up. The droves of speeding bicycles were unnerving. However, we managed to photograph the statue of The Little Mermaid.

At Amalienborg, the King’s current palace, the changing bear-hatted guards strutted their stuff. The Treasury in the Rosenborg castle was overwhelming. There were tables with marble inlay, a throne of whale tusk, life-sized silver lions, crystal candelabras and a chandelier made of amber. Then the royal crowns: of gold and silver; encrusted with pearls, cameos, diamonds, rubies etc.

Tivoli gardens are enchanting in the evening. There are flowers, arches of lights, performances and fun rides. After a waterfront dinner we waited until midnight for the sound and light show of dancing fountains and coloured lasers.


A 12km toll tunnel/bridge links Denmark with Sweden.

At Jonkoping’s Match factory museum we learned how they made matches in 1860+. Children were used to dip bundles of Aspen-wood splints in toxic phosphorus, which caused severe afflictions to teeth and jaw. Match factories became one of the biggest industries of the 19th century.

Throughout Scandinavia we followed the route we had taken in 1969. (We had Leone’s diary). The two of us and a friend had traveled in a Citroen 2CV. The three of us slept in a small tent with our feet sticking out. We often cooked our evening meal on an open fire.

At Omberg nature reserve, on the lovely large Lake/Vattern, we were at the same spot on the same day of the year as 43 years before

17 July 1969

17 July 2012

Stockholm’s waterfront parking is free on a weekend. The open-air café’s extend along the harbour. The swish sofas and deck chairs were jam-packed with people soaking up the rays until 10pm when the sun set. (Stockholm is dark 2/3 of the year)

The huge wooden warship, Vasa, sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. 330 years later the vessel was lifted from the sea and reassembled like a giant 14 000 piece jigsaw. Now preserved and supported with observation galleries all around, it is amazing to behold.


The ferry from Stockholm to Turku, Finland takes 12 hours. On the modern ship with free wifi and our lap-top we could get up to date with email.

Although Finland’s economy is dependent upon Nokia, we could not find a 2nd Nokia mobile phone of our choice.. We decided to remain with our British Lebara service provider and one phone.

The Finnish language is like no other. We recognized a few cute borrowed words like ”hotelli”, “poliisi”, “grilli”, “muffinsi”.

Helsinki has lovely buildings and seaside parks. It also boasts exquisite shops with Finnish design in home ware, fabric and fashion, like Iitala glass, Arabia porcelain, and Marimekko textiles.

We proceeded north through wooded regions; parking at night at a lake or river. We came upon the fantastic annual sand sculpture competition. At dusk we had sundowners above a daily waterfall accompanied by Sibelius music. (The gush of water came with the compliments of the hydro-electric company who had dammed the river- damned the river?)

In spite of the mosquitoes it was enjoyable to pick ripe blue berries in the forest. (Blue berries are red when they are green!)

Arctic circle in Finland

16 August 1969

3 August 2012

Reindeer often wondered onto the road. The Sami people of Lapland own them. ATV’s are now used to round up the animals. The towns of Rovaniemi and Inari have museums with enlightening displays of the traditions and multicoloured dress of the Sami. Animals of the north and birds and their sounds are shown. We were too late in the year for the midnight sun and too early for the Northern lights but we could see the movies.

Utsjoki has a handsome bridge into Norway.


We were thrilled to spend our first night in Norway at a spot overlooking a picturesque fjord.

Dipli had to collect furthest north on the continent of Europe at Slettnes light house.

Near there we stopped at an appealing harbour village called Mehamn. It is at the turn off to the furthest north on foot (Kinrodden). In a pretty building called The Red Tree we met the owner, a South African! Ruan, and Rita de Flamingh run tours from their guest house. They gave us souvenirs and delicious fresh and dried fish.

The furthest North on earth, by wheels, is Nordkapp on the island of Mageroya. (Honningsvag is the main town). The 9 km undersea tunnel is now toll free. To enter the Nordkapp area, you have to buy a 48 hour permit for US$90, which includes free camper parking. The weather was good and the views of the cliffs on the edge of the continent, magnificent. Leone took 15 shots of the spectacular sunset. Jan photographed the gps.

21 August 1969

8 August 2012

Sami are found in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. When we were there before, they wore traditional dress and lived in typical wooden huts. Now they live in electrified houses and have boats, pick ups, quads and motor homes parked beside. They do still dress up for festivals.

Norway is exceedingly expensive and we tried to not buy anything. However, at the first opportunity we went to look for the delicious “caramel” cheese “Geitost”. The “finny fare” we tried was salmon. Late July was also the season for the unique rare northern yellow Cloud berry.


Norway’s mountains, fjords and rivers with green and turquoise waters were stunning. We were often alone at night on a spectacular location.

The gps navigator helped us find lunch and overnight spots away from the road. Scenic stopovers are essential because driving is arduous. The winding roads and tunnels were narrow with no shoulder. Trucks support the off shore oil and gas industry along the 2000km length of coastline. Heavy vehicles had made indentations in the tar which did not fit Dipli’s wheel track width; pitching us from side to side

Whenever a panorama was particularly picturesque and we were considering where to aim the camera, we would suddenly be plunged into darkness into yet another tunnel. One day more than 15! Once the accelerator cable broke, and we were so glad it had not happened in a tunnel! (Norway has 750km of tunnels)

A ferry cruise on the Geiranger fjord was a welcome change. It had been raining and the many waterfalls were spurting down the high cliffs. Then we went in search of the Jostedalsglacier, largest ice field in Europe. The long single road approach to the Kjendal glacier tongue was next to a fjord with aquamarine waters.

In Bergen where the composer, Grieg, had a summer cottage, we enjoyed a piano concert.

The Hardanger glacial valley had golden meadows. Berries, cherries, plums and apples were for sale next to the road with an “honesty” box to put money in; where else in the world can this be done!.

We saw fairy tale-like wooden spired Stave churches.

With the Oslo pass we could travel free on the metro and see the famous ships.

There are 2 Viking ships, the polar ship, Fram (sailed to the Arctic and Antarctic) and Thor Heyrdahl’s rafts: Kontiki and RaII

The Oslo ski museum shows rock etchings of ancient peoples on skis and the actual skis of famous polar explorers like Nansen and Amundsen. We parked at night near the Olympic ski jump. There on a cold day pouring with rain, we met the teachers and the small members from the Norwegian All-year Outdoor Kindergarten. They were perfectly kitted-out and looked like tough little critters.

After a meager diet in pricey Norway, we used our remaining Kroner and splurged the last night in Oslo on a splendid buffet. We started with a warm yogurt “soup”. The tables were stacked with about 40 different dishes, like salmon in lemon, smoked salmon, crab cakes, red deer steaks, elk balls (like in meat balls!), dried reindeer, hot vegetables, pastries, fruits and berry mousses, cheeses like jarlsberg and geitost. Coffee was served with a choice of 5 different types of sugar.

Norway is linked to Sweden by toll tunnel and bridge.

From Goteborg, Sweden to Frederickshaven, Denmark is a 3-hour ferry.

At a road side stop Dipli refused to start. It was an intermittent problem, so Jan would do something and it started, only to unexpectantly do it again. After days of checking everything and sms input from Brian the problem was traced to insidious corrosion of the core wires of the earth cable at its clamp. (The first thing Jan had checked was between clamp & battery, which was fine).

Back in Germany, our friends in Leiferde provided garden parking. Leone enjoyed safe walking and village life while Dipli received lots of tlc: Brake shoes, shackle bushes, alternator bracket, etc.


At the entrance of the largest national park in the Netherlands free bikes are provided, to cycle past wildlife and to the gallery in the centre. The Kroller-Muller Art Museum has 180 sketches and 87 paintings by van Gogh.

In Friesland we enjoyed pancakes from “t Pannekoek Schip” and tasted local cheese.

After a canal cruise in Amsterdam, the highlight was the Aalsmeer flower auction - Flora Holland. We gawked in awe at the numerous carts packed with a kaleidoscope of flowers whizzing by through electronic auction rooms. – grown in far away places and sent all over the world. More than 90 million flowers are auctioned every day. 19 windmills in one area, near Rotterdam was a nostalgic vista.

Dipli then took us to Aachen, Germany where he would be stored with the Pleus family who had befriended us near Chicago years before. It was autumn in Europe and time for us to head for spring in South Africa.

This journey up to September 2012:

Time on the road (excluding home visits): 6 years, 10months

Kilometres driven: 276 000 Countries visited: 96 (with Dipli). US States: 49

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