After saying our goodbyes we left Kristiansand Bus Depot with what felt like a new bus; CharlieBrownVan had transformed over the past few weeks !
Glenn in his blue synchro followed us in convoy as we made our way east out of Kristiansand on the E18 to before deciding it was too boring and got onto some smaller roads! Spotted firewood along the way and loaded it into the vans . After having a detour round Tromøy island we eventually found somewhere for the night back on the mainland near Eydehavn. Spent the eve cooking (salmon, corn on the cob and baked potatoes) and keeping warm round Glenn’s ‘boiler woodburner’. Had a fair few drinks and also introduced to Underberg…Definitely expected a headache in the morning but woke up to a great view surprisingly fresh!
Pancakes and bacon for breakfast set us up for some more driving; again taking the smaller roads including the 410,363 and 411. Glenn led the way and found a track which could’ve been a pretty awesome drive… If it wasn’t for us getting stuck on the first bit! Synchro to the rescue we were pulled out in no time and even made a new “memory mark” on the van- broken tailight!
Visited old church ruins before stopping off at ‘Telemark Porten’ for some lunch tried Lapskaus (traditional Norwegian stew dish).
Picked up a ski-box for extra storage and ratchet strapped it to the van – looked like a rocket ship! Spent the night next to some Viking burial mounds; with the awning up we managed to block out some of the wind&rain! Another drink and food filled evening soon made us forget about the weather though!
After a brief walk round the burial mounds and a wander along the beach…
….we arrived in Horten and were introduced to Steinar – a very friendly,hospitable, inspirational man! After admiring his awesome van we spent the day with a like-minded, travel-loving crowd in awe of Steinars photo exhibition of his journey not only to Nordkapp once…but TWICE! In summer and in winter! If that’s not inspiring enough he’s also traveled America in his T25/T3! All of this being done in his early 70’s – what a legend. You can check out his adventures here – http://www.steinarontour.no
If the evening wasn’t eventful enough, Glenn also managed to get Steinars other bus running again! Was a dirty job involving a clogged fuel filter and draining the tank but he got it started in the end! We were then up late chatting with Steinar, Glenn and Bo (t4 owner who recommended island hopping to get to Finland- sounded great!) eating hot dogs and finished the night with an Irish coffee- great day/evening with good company :)!
Had an amazing breakfast cooked by Steinar and he also kindly gave us not only a replacement taillight but a heater too for chilly nights in the van!(thank you very much again!). Left late morning to pick up Glenn’s brother Kim and his girlfriend in Tønsberg before heading to ‘Verdens Ende’ (The World’s End’. Clambered over the rocks to watch the sun set over the sea. Not a bad view for the end of the world…!
Went back to Tønsberg for dinner in a Turkish restaurant and went back to the flat for coffee and spent the night in the visitors carpark!
Turns out a VW meeting taking place in Drammen was actually the following week however Glenn decided to stay and joined us to visit Oslo for the day! Had an early frosty start to see a full scale replica of the Oseberg Viking ship under construction along the waterfront in Tønsberg… Amazing craftsmanship!
Took the monotonous E18 to get to the capital. Once in the centre we met some ice which we skidded up a hill on before parking along the edge of the famous Vigeland park.
After more than an eyeful of the human form(!) we came to the Royal Palace before taking a walk into the centre of the city.
Visited the Akershus Fortress before attempting to walk up the icy Operahouse roof- we were rewarded with a view!
Made our way back to the vans late afternoon to find they were already beginning to frost up! Hit a bit of rush hour traffic as we headed south out of Oslo on the E18. Picked up some bits to cook and searched for a spot for the night. Came across an iced over carpark/ playground for Glenn! After watching him we decided to take our van for a spin too and that was when we realised our tyres really weren’t cut out for winter! Found home for the night with a beautiful view of Oslo lit up along the water. Cooked up chicken and sausages for dinner followed by; you guessed it, another fun drinking session ;)!
Seemed so bright in the van when we woke up…white light peering through the blinds! The crunchy footsteps outside confirmed our suspicions that it had snowed overnight! Despite it being like “icing sugar” to most Norwegians, it was more snow than we’d seen in years!! Ended up spending the day in the same spot(!)making a snowman and took a walk where we discovered some old sawmills…
We had to make a decision that evening whether we were going to brave it to Finland with our under equipped van or follow Glenn back to Kristiansand to then get a ferry to Denmark… Call us wimps but we chose the latter, we’ll island hop and visit Helsinki another time!
Made the most of the journey back spending a day at the Science and Technology museum north of Oslo and had a frosty night(-5 degrees!) off the E134 outside Notodden.
Our last day of convoy started back on the E134 heading west where despite the snow and ice, the roads were clear. Stopped to see the impressive Heddal stave church …
Glenn also suggested to stop in Dalen to take a walk round the gardens of the yellow(much to Zo’s delight!) hotel…
After an interesting,icy drive up what we can only describe as a mini Trollstigen on the 38, we turned onto the 41 before Glenn took us down windy, narrow country roads to get back to Kristiansand!
We were embarrassed about our return to the depot but we were greeted with smiles and “I told you so” expressions which we all joked about! The next day was full of puppies and more VW’s…
before spending our last evening with Glenn eating kebabs and popping studs out of the 2 winter tyres they’d kindly let us have! Over 150 studs in each tyre… Screwdriver in hand and straddling a tyre each we got to work! After a few laughs, a couple of blisters and lots of swearing the studs were out and we got to have go with the tyre fitting machine.
Had our last breakfast together the next morning after having the tyres balanced and despite knowing we had to get back on the road, reluctantly booked our ferry tickets to Denmark and said goodbye once again to everyone at the depot… We will definitely be back!