Trip around Norway, summer 2023, part 1

Mar 12, 2024 | Trips | 0 comments

How many years has it been since I went to Norway? So many. 9 actually. And so many paintings born from this quiet longing. It was so many years that I had stopped hoping for going there in the near future. But in July 2023, I was there in real life for two weeks.

I went only with my dad, because my sister and mom had some important things to do at the time. We went by a small van which my dad temporarily converted into a sleeping van by adding a construction with a board behing the front seats. Under it, we had our stuff and we slept on top. It was a very convenient thing, much more convenient than a tent, even though we also had a tent with us. Why is that? That is because when a person drives all day, one gets tired and setting up a tent is a long process full of effort. But also, some places don´t offer the possibility of setting up a tent safely, for example when you are in a city or in some place that is not so ideal. You might think, then go to a camping site. There is a problem with this option too, because most camping sites close at 5-7 o´clock. That is a really unfortunate thing when one is traveling. The van also offered an economical benefit because it was still small enough for us to not have to have to pay extra fees on ferries.

Day 1

After I said goodbye to my family and my dog, we set off in the morning at the end of June on a colder, partly cloudy nice summer day. We traveled through Czechia and my father did really well that day and that evening we were already in Rostock, Germany. That was a really beautiful harbor city. I saw the sea near the quirky shaped buildings with brick tiles as the sun was setting and it was magical. We took a walk around the harbor and then we parked at a parking lot and went to sleep. Around us, there were some other sleeping vans. There were some nice ambient sounds and the city was pretty quiet.

Day 2

The next day we woke up, found the bathrooms, did our hygiene and made breakfast on a gas stove. We have black tea with milk every single day, because we are lovers of the english breakfast tea. Our ferry was about to leave at 2 o´clock, so we had plenty of idle time. We decided to walk around the city and the harbor, we even went to the local park, which, I must say, was very beautiful. The only thing that concerned me about this park was an invasive species of plant that tends to expand aggressively. I have this knowledge from school, as I study applied ecology. I am not sure which subspecies it was exactly, but it was something of the fallopia species. I have seen it in some places in Slovakia including our cabin area, where we still try to destroy it.

Rostock seems like a very peaceful place with lots of greenery, from what I have seen. We decided to go back to the harbor and eat pizza at a local restaurant. There were so many restaurants around there. I absolutely love eating at restaurants, and it was an amazing experience there. After that, we went to the ferry location. We went there with a large time reserve, because in these situations you need to be there significantly early. The ferry took around 6-7 hours and in the evening we were in Sweden. The night was still dark there, even at a point in the year with the longest days. We slept in the town of Malmo in a parking lot near a railway. I really liked seeing this railway. It was quite difficult to find a place to park because at night you can´t see that well. The night was quiet and we slept well.

Day 3

In the morning as we were eating, we saw two little birds on the ground who were probably looking for their mother. They were so adorable but I also felt sad that they were in that situation. We fed them some bread.

We went off to the road again and I could see the beauty of the southern Sweden with a view of the Baltic sea. In Slovakia, we also have fields with wheat, but in Sweden the space somehow looked different, more calm and spacious, and there were more trees between the fields. This part looked very abundant and sweet, like bread with marmelade. Later I saw more forests. After a few hours, we arrived on a sunny day to the village of Gränna by the lake Vättern where we set up a tent in a camping site to relax a bit before we would head off to the road again. It was very cold that day for a summer day, so no one was swimming in the lake although it looked so beautiful. But I was also fine just looking at it with a jacket on. In the evening we went for a walk around the village and then we decided to sit at one of the many cafés near the camping site. We had a cold beer, which made us feel like total icicles and the beer wasn´t even that good but I love sitting at cafés. After that I put another jumper on.

Day 4

The next day the weather wasn´t so good, so we decided to pack the tent and travel. Before that, we shopped for food and made a stop at a small „borg“(castle ruin). We traveled on a motorway through the many forests of Sweden and the trees were getting increasingly smaller and smaller the further north we travelled. In the evening we ended up at an Ikea parking lot to spend our night there. My dad pulled out the laptop to see the weather forecast at a very good weather forecast site called Windy. This app has got some really good graphic representation of the upcoming weather patterns. It was still dark at night at this place, although I can´t recall which town this was. Then we went to sleep in this lonely place near the Ikea building but still looking at the vast space of small trees in the distance. This is exactly what is beautiful to me about Sweden. That raw and endless nature surrounding everything.

Day 5

The next day was pretty much traveling through forest, forest and forest again with some small fields and red houses. At the end of the day we were greeted by the majestic Hoga Kusten bridge and we climbed up to a hotel on a hill with our car to see the view over the foresty little fjords and the sea. We got some leaflets with camping sites around there and we went to a nearby camping site, Snibbens camping. Although it was already closed, it was a gorgeous place. It was a little hideaway by a lake, surrounded by pine foresty hills. We got there by a small downwards pointing road branching off of the main road. We parked the car near the camping and explored a little bit. We saw a little red house a bit lower right by the shore. It was a small restaurant and people were also dining on the balcony at that time. Around, there were some blueberry shrubs with wildflowers like the bluebell that were shining in the golden light of the night. This was the first night that it was light throughout the whole night. We walked a bit further and we saw a small „peninsula“, kids playground and a pier. We tested the water temperature and it surprised us, because it was lukewarm, while the air outside was quite cold. The color of the water was quite interesting as well. It was brown. I guess that this is because of the colored acids that the boreal soil exudes. I think that that might be why the temperature of the water was surprisingly high. The dark color must absorb a lot of heat from the sun.

We sat on a bench by a table and once again, drank cold beer even though we were a bit cold. After watching the golden sunset above this magical lake and looked a bit around the camping, we went to sleep in our car. Through the night while the sky was quite dim I woke up and I saw three young men taking a bath in the lake, taking advantage of the summer night full of light and the warm water.

Day 6

In the morning, we were in need of a bath and thought that the lake was a great place to have one. It was really nice and refresing after a few days of not having one! The slope was really not steep so it was very comfortable to get in. But I have to say that I had a bit of a fear of an ick, of stepping on some kind of a worm or a mollusk so I went in with my crocs on.

After I refreshed myself, I colected some semi disattached pieces of birch bark which I plan to use for some type of a craft. Soon after that we ate and headed onto the road again, as the weather wasn´t that great anymore. It seems like in the North the weather changes quickly and there are many cloudy days in the summer, much more than we experience in Slovakia.

The country was slowly turning into one with lots of moss and very small trees. The navigation system we were using tried to lead us to some small weird roads all the time as we tried to avoid them. One thing we didn´t avoid though was a pretty long part of a road that was currently being repaired, so we had to drive incredibly slowly in order to not damage our car with the gravel stones. It looked like a cool place though, like a place at the end of the world. The other place we didn´t avoid was getting near a mining locality in the middle of nowhere – that was also cool.

I also took this photo of the swedish „nothing land“, which inspired my painting „Greetings to a grey lake“.

In this absolute wilderness, there were some random lone houses and at times we saw some cool old cars which the swedes seem to have an afinity for. We were heading towards the norwegian border and the views above the lakes and foresty hills were becoming more vast, and they were continually higher and higher, until we found ourselves at a mountain pass. We drove over the mountain pass and a little bit lower from it, we found a store and a gas station. Weird, isn´t it? A store in the mountains? We shopped for some groceries there and it was pretty much filled with people. One other thing I noticed about Sweden is that they have a large variety of candy in their stores, some entire stores are even wholely dedicated to just candy.

After we crossed the Norwegian border, we saw these sharp, peculiar shaped mountains. I felt like I was in a fairytale.

In the evening we drove through some majestic wide fjords and through some settlements among round hills. I was thinking to myself: This is a different world. It looked so breathtaking and vast, and totally different from where I live. All the houses were relatively small and wooden. There was a quietness in the air. 

We drove through the town of Bodø and then arrived in a camping site that was located on the „Midnight sun road“ (Midnattsolveien). We were lucky to see the beautiful low sun over the ocean and the peculiar shaped Island rocks. We set up our tent very near the sea in between some small birch trees. The place was pretty protected from the wind, given that we were near the ocean. We set up our tent without notifying anyone, but we planned to simply pay in the morning when someone arrives to the reception.

We also saw a different area for tents, but it was further away from the sea and the midnight sun view, which some people may very well like if they don´t sleep well with sun shining on them. It was a place with beautiful, long, dry grass.

That night we stayed up until midnight to see and take a picture of the midnight sun. It was a truly special view.

Through the night I had a bit of a trouble sleeping because I don´t like the light at night. I pretty much prefer pitch darkness to sleep in. A sleeping mask helped me a bit though.

Day 7

On day 7 we decided to take a chance at swimming, because the camping had a little dam with water that was significantly warmer than the chilling ocean. But I probably didn´t last in it even for a whole minute. I love swimming though, because my skin can be in direct contact with nature and that´s an amazing feeling.

Then we did a pretty light hike. The sky was milky but it cleared up later. We hiked up the Keiservarden mountain which gave us a beautiful view over the town of Bodø, the carved coast, the small islands and the surrounding mountains. We could even see a part of Lofoten to the north-west.

The mountain started off with a nice forest which turned into blueberry and other bushes with occassional small birch trees. We also saw several small lakes. It was the same type of lakes as these we saw in Sweden. With dark water, probably colored from soil. And very warm, also shallow.

On the top of the mountain it was extremely windy but there was a little tourist „hut“ which I hid in.

In the evening we still had energy, so we went to another beach and then hiked up a small hill looking over the ocean. I noticed these amazing „goat“ clouds, as a tag on the path called them.

At night we wanted to kayak, but as we were inflating our kayak, we noticed that it was cracked. Well, it´s lifespan has obviously ended. Later we put it into the trash. Unexpected things happen. So, instead we had a little walk around the coast in the orange midnight sun and saw these breathtaking sceneries while celebrating my birthday with some beverages while hearing only the gentle breze in the grass. I saw this beautiful red hut. On the road back, which we didn´t take through the coast but by a road, we saw these adorable cows.

I love sitting at cafés, but the thing was that in Norway, there were almost no places like that. It was just us and our tent. That is strange and in a way brings a feeling of freedom and not being crammed, but one might have a feeling of missing comfort as well. Also, some nights my nose was really freezing and I also slept with three pairs of socks on. Well, that´s the north of Norway.

At this time I noticed a strange phenomenon of hot and cold air. As we were walking on the road, there were sudden changes in the air temperature. It was as if there were these air masses. Sometimes the air was nice and warm, but the other moment it was chilly and cold. It was very interesting. If only that warm air mass could sit on our tent.

Day 8

On day 8 we went for a walk to a small waterfall, but we didn´t manage to get there because there was no path leading up to it. We went through an interesting dark pine tree forest. By the houses and the road, there were beautiful, gentle looking pink wild roses.

Later we went to see the Mjelle beach. We had to drive over a mountain pass to get there. It was very exciting seeing the steep, totally rocky mountain.  It was an overall easy walk, a bit through a meadow and a bit through a birch forest. There were also quite a few people there. The sand had a distinct white color, actually mostly it wasn´t even sand, but gravel made of crushed shells and strange coral shaped things. That´s why all the beaches in north Norway are white.

Then we drove around a bit till we came to the end of the road where the only way to continue was to take a ferry, so we turned back. We saw more majestic sharp stony mountains.

In the evening we had a bit of a barbecue outside.

Thanks for reading my blog, part 2 will be in the next blog. If you are not yet subscribed, please subscribe to my newsletter so that you know when I write a new blog or create a new artwork.