Sunday, 12 August 2012

fauna, flora, ferries and fjords

We love the coastal scenery as we head down to Trondheim.  At first the land is forrested - with cabins tucked away here there and everywhere.  There are some big climbs across headlands, up to high lakes popular for fishing.  The weather forecast promises us more rain.  We get it.  By the bucket.  But we remain undeterred and more resolute as we meet other cyclists also battling the elements.  Pierre-Eric passes us one day, shoes wrapped in plastic bags, and we catch up with him at his lunch stop.  It's quite reassuring to meet other cyclists because then we don't feel so crazy doing this.  We are only unnerved when the chatty Dutchman who stops us one afternoon, going in the opposite direction, appears to be quite bonkers.  Are we going down the same road as him??

One morning as we are pootling along a comfortably flat stretch of road, the forrest now giving way to coastal farmland, I catch sight of a horse gambolling across the road.   As I get nearer I realise it's an elk (that's a pretentious European moose for any north American readers) - and it has a partner.  They are huge beasts and they stride off across the fields, stepping high, into the woods.  There are signs everywhere along the roads for these animals but this is our only sighting. 

My favourite camping spot along this route is in between two huge wheat fields.  We camp on the track, with a rolling view across a fjord, the wind rustling the wheat, our tent almost hidden by the crop.  Late in the evening we hear a barking sound from the field which freaks us out a little.  When we stick our heads out of the tent there's a young deer pogoing across the field, barking at us as he disappears off into the undergrowth.
the perfect pitch

Anja & Mike looking jolly
The ffjords come thick and fast.  They go so far in land on occasion that it seems to take a whole day to cycle around them.  Every now and again the road ends at a small dock and there's a ferry to take us across to the other side.  We meet Anja and Mike a couple of times on these ferry rides - they're heading in the same direction - but we lose track of them again too soon.  We're not going so fast but we catch up with Pierre-Eric who has decided to call it a day.  The headwinds and rain have worn him down and he's catching a bus.  We take a day off the first time the sun comes out and do a bit of laundry.  We've found what we think of as a perfect pitch: flat, grassy, breezy, quiet and out of the way, but near a small town where we can get provisions, access the internet (albeit in the doorway of a building on a shopping street) and there's water on tap at a small marina nearby.   All mod cons.

The fffjords seem to get longer as we head south.  Along the shore are more and more farms and the roads seem to get less hilly.  It's less dramatic scenery but easier cycling and we're looking forward to reaching Trondheim - Norway's third largest city.  I'm happy to discover that in smaller settlements, where there's just a small supermarket, there's a pot of coffee on a table with a few chairs to sit around.  A slice of cake maybe.  It might seem a little hicksville but it suddenly feels like the height of civilisation.  In one small place where there is no offering, a customer spontaneously buys us a drink and a bar of chocolate.

Matt trying not to look too English
Our coastal route ends with a lovely quiet road along another ffffjord north of Trondheim.  We meet Matt at a picnic bench outside one of these tiny supermarkets - the first English person we come across and a cyclist to boot.  Further down the road we cross paths with a small snake.  We assume it's harmless but are told later that it's poisonous.  

The coast has now dissolved into a series of fffffjords and islands and those small annoying hills that tire you out over the day.  Each evening we eat well and sleep well but if I see one more f in fjord I might cry.  Every time we look at our map of Norway the country mysteriously seems to get longer - it's time we got to Trondheim.

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