After Ängsbacka it was time to hit the road and have some quality me-time. I got my van to a garage with the help of Jo, a Norwegian friend from Ängsbacka. The bolts of the engine needed to be tightened after 1000-2000km with the new cylinderhead. It turned out to be nearly impossible to arrange an appointment at a garage. Everything is closed (or at least not making new appointments) in summer, for about 6 weeks in Sweden and Norway. And once they start, they have so much work to do that it still doesn’t work. So, yay for knowing people! He was also great company. He showed me around the places where he grew up, we played some guitar together at his parent’s place, where I was invited for dinner and he got me to some beautiful and quiet parking spots in Norway. At one lake, Fjellsjøen (mountain lake, with pretty cold water) I spend some time with a Norwegian couple who took me out fishing and invited me for proper outdoor camperlife dinner with the catch of the day. It was also packed with blue, crow and lingonberries around Fjellsjøen, so I could barely stop eating (mainly the blueberries).
This overeating had been a thing for a while again, after having been able to eat so much at Ängsbacka. I just always felt full. My poo was also affected, I didn’t have diarrhea, but I was really ‘letting go’ and gassy (very, very bad combo…). I’m not a diet or fasting person (only tried that when I wanted to gain weight, which never worked). But as Jo and I were talking about how, during fasting, emotions are being digested, I wanted to change my gluttony. I didn’t start fasting, cause I’m not thát motivated, but I skipped lunch and just had 2 small meals. For me, that is really not much. Before, when I was at my old job I had to eat 5 times a day (working with a microscoop and shaking hands is a bit of an issue). During my ‘balanceday’, my belly started making noise again, which was really nice to hear and feel. And after 2 weeks my poo also becoming normal again. Still, it really was a challenge to get out of that rhythm of eating whenever my mind was in the mood. Lucky for me, Maayke came over to join me in vanlife! She has a normal eating pattern, which really helped me to not listen to my head.
I had really been looking forward to her joining the journey. We’ve been on surftrips together to Morocco and those were always great fun. Living together in a van is a bit different though. But we’re both really laidback, enjoy nature, have a sense of humour (we’re both labpeople, a bit ‘special’ :’)) and are open to each other’s opinions, which worked really well. She had also thought of places that would be nice to see and visit, so we had this whole optional travel plan.
After picking her up from Oslo airport and settling in a bit, we were off. First stop: Peer Gynt vegen, an unpaved tollroad (I keep finding that a funny combination) in the mountains that goes along moss covered rocks and is said to be a beautiful drive. On the way up there, we drove straight into the clouds (it was that dreamy…), entering a driving bubble with a vision of about 20 meters, so not much to see. Just before the tollroad, there was a big parking lot where we stayed the night. Hoping to actually be able to see the beautiful surroundings while driving, the next day. The drive was beautiful, with the autumn colours slowly appearing, everything just gets that much more pretty.
Our next stop was the Atlantic Ocean road, which was quite the drive. As I started Lotje, somewhere along that drive, a rattling noise started, not from the engine, but more the alternator or ventilator or something. That immediately kind of freaked me out, but no lights went on and no smoke coming out of anywhere, so off we went. After about 200 km I was still uncomfortable so we went to a garage. They told us they weren’t going to have time with all the work left from the holidayperiod. I figured, ‘well nevermind it’ll be ok, nothing can be done now anyway’. Maayke continued the drive… into a 6km long tunnel. That’s where my battery light started going on and off. That was a good freaking out moment… but, we were in a tunnel (a very long one…) so I decided to keep on driving and to pull over once we were out and check the alternator. Both my alternator and battery had been replaced the past year, so I figured something must be loose and not broken. In the end I called a garage (at 15.00 on a sunny Friday afternoon, awesome timing). The mechanic told me they might have time Monday, but Tuesday for sure. He also didn’t think driving would be a serious issue, after hearing what was happening and said we could camp out near the garage if we wanted to. Since that sounded too depressing, we found a spot really close by and stayed there for the weekend. There would be enough time to sleep at a garage in an industrial area…
The whole spectrum of shitty emotions came by. It’s interesting to notice after having been in a really good place for a long time, where I could choose to put myself into more challenging situations (at Angsbacka with workshops and people), how it all just fell apart when I lost control again. I felt so insecure because of not knowing what to do and not wanting to mess up the engine again, a failure for having a broken van and thus ruining Maayke her holiday, angry, frustrated, sick, sad, and just generally not wanting to be in the moment I was in. Luckily, Maayke was pretty relaxed about it. We talked about it, realised there was nothing we could do now anyway and to make the best of it. Sunndal was going to be our hometown for almost a week.
We really did make the best of it! During the weekend, the weather was beautiful. It felt good to not be on the road, to relax, enjoy the view, read a book, start our binge watching of Borgen and continue our RummiCup competition.
Monday arrived, time for the garage. We were up on a hill, so if Lotje wouldn’t start we could roll down, but she did fine. The only thing was the 6km tunnel we had to drive back through, which we véry uncomfortably managed. Then, the waiting game began, which was sometimes really frustrating because of hope and not knowing.
The mechanics didn’t have time on Monday, so they checked the problem Tuesday morning. They told me the alternator was broken, so they needed to order a new one. It would maybe arrive the next day, but probably a day later (which it did). In the end, the alternator wasn’t broken, just not assembled properly. That saved me several thousand Kronor, but could’ve been fixed on Tuesday (if I hadn’t told them the part number of the alternator, so they didn’t need to take it out to check it). On the other hand, Sunndal turned out to be a pretty ok place to be stranded. It was a 3 km walk to the village center where they had everything, even a swimmingpool, with a slide, where we spend Wednesday evening and had an awesome long warm shower. Tuesday we had walked 18 km to see Vinnu, Europe’s tallest waterfall. It was a bit drizzly and cloudy, but beautiful and we would’ve totally missed it otherwise.
It was an intense practice of being with what is, while being with someone. There were some proper shitty moments, but I also frequently looked up at the moodboard I had made while I was with my aunt in June. In the centre it says “Ik heb nu een ontzettend mooi leven” (I have a really beautiful life now), which I feel I truly do and made me feel grateful, despite the situation.
We were soooo happy to be back on the road! The freedom, the views, the much quieter sound of the engine… We had to change our route plans, since we just had a week left. It turned out to be an amazing route :). We finally made it to the Atlantic Ocean road, with all its bridges and beautiful coastline. Unfortunately, there weren’t any waves, so no surf, which we had really been looking forward to. On our way there we had stopped at a small parking at Trollkirke, a hike to get to a cave with a waterfall in it. We returned there the next day, figuring we could do this hour hike of about 500m up as a nice stop during our travelday and probably be faster because we’re pretty tough.
We totally underestimated that… There were several cars there, with people with proper hiking gear, we went for a more casual look. The tourist path pretty quickly disappeared and turned into rocks that, most of the time, sort of, looked like a path. And after what felt like an hour of climbing, we came across a woman who told us it was about 30 minutes more. We were so happy we did bring water, knackebrød and Nutella. After complaining a bit, we switched our minds off and just kept going, because it would be silly to go back, even though the sole of Maayke’s boot was coming off. The cave itself was pretty unsafe (as stated on the sign) without a path, just wet rocks, streaming water and pitch dark. We’d forgotten to bring headlights, so as total tourists went in with our phone flashlight. Outside it had been sunny and warm, inside it was about 20 degrees colder, but it was beautiful.
There were 3 chambers, but to get to the second, we had to squeeze ourselves up and climb through some rocks. We decided that it wasn’t worth the risk (also because Maayke’s phone and thus light, was dying). The descent actually was about an hour. We returned tired but happy, it was an amazing hike and the cave was something we both hadn’t ever experience. Also feeling grateful for all the walking practice we’d had in Sundall the past days.
After a late pancake lunch, our journey continued south. By the time the sun started setting we arrived at Trollstigen. A road going up with 7 hairpin loops and 2 waterfalls at the top. The view and the mixture of autumn colours and sunset lights were incredibly beautiful. It was getting quite chilly up in the mountains though. After this intense day it was time for some hot chocolate with chocolate, which Maayke had brought from the Netherlands.
The next 2 days were long drive days. We unexpectantly were running out of gas (no hot chocolate…) and the nearest LPG station was still a bit away. The scenery was stunning and kept changing from moss covered rocky mountainous areas with big views, to autumn colours covered forest and lakes surrounded by the typical red and yellow wooden Norwegian houses. As we were driving, we passed some places where big touring cars parked. We figured there must be something there, so we joined in the parking and were rewarded with more beautiful waterfalls. Sometimes, we felt a bit unimpressed and spoiled, because we had already seen such beautiful sights that were much more ‘natural’, without any tourists.
During driving we had seen glaciers several times, but never up close. But on this route, all of a sudden, one appeared pretty close to us. We kept driving towards it and ended up at Almerinden. A massive glacier with a magically blue coloured lake, that is really cold. While we were peacefully enjoying the view a touringcar had apparently arrived filled with Asian tourists. That was the end of the serenity.
The second day we could actually touch permanent snow as we were driving in the direction of Fossli where there is another very impressive waterfall, which we also visited. This is at the Hardangvidda natural park, again, a beautiful scenic drive. It’s just impossible to capture the colours in pictures, so I gave up and just enjoyed what I was seeing. We were in time with filling the gas, although after filling it leaked again at one of the clamps. It was easily fixed, but I will get a proper check when I’m back in Holland.
The last days for Maayke had arrived. We were a bit done with and tired of driving and were struggling to remember when we saw everything we saw during our amazingly beautiful trip. It had been quite the journey and we both really didn’t like that it had come to an end, but it had. It truly had been wonderful.
I didn’t quite feel ready to be by myself again or to leave Norway. Fortunately, the space of being alone was a welcome change and with autumn weather kicking in, it was time to drive south. A few days earlier, I had been asked to come back to the lab for quite some work. The ‘arranging stuff’ mode had been switched on. And Sweden is just… less impressive, after having been totally spoiled by the beauty and diversity of Norway. All kinds of little reason to make driving back a bit easier.
I am truly impressed by Norway, especially with all the autumn colours, which I totally love, and would love to return some day.
Scandinavia has been quite the journey, an incredibly beautiful holiday and a wonderful time together. <3