Watch Your Wallet
July 19, 2002
a good nights sleep in our tent, hidden behind bushes and trees, we continued
the trek north. First stop was at a gas station to fill up Über-Pot, as he got
named. Welcome to Norway: while in Sweden we could get the liter of diesel for
mere $0.80, here it's more like $1.10. All this whining about expensive gas in
California must sound like a joke to all Europeans -- and Norwegians in
particular, since they have the most expensive gas in all of Europe. But Über-Pot
is happy with less than 8 liters per 100 km, which is about half as much as
Silver-Pot, so the pain is not so bad.
But it's not just gas that's expensive here, the ferries are, too. Quite frequently the road disappears in the water, and you get to wait for the next ferry, which sometimes takes a bit. Then you get to pay, about $15 per trip that lasts 20 minutes at most. At the grocery store it feels very similar.
The funniest chapter must be the restaurants. Something is really odd about the whole restaurant business here, and I still haven't figured out what it is. First, they are hard to find, or I am just looking at the wrong places. Once you find one, you get either a pizza or a burger. Essan's whining and wishing for traditional Norwegian food is answered by a menu that doesn't even have fish on it, in a fishing town, mind you. From a friend of a friend I once heard that the Norwegians have really horrible food. While this may be completely wrong as it's based on a sample of one, it would explain some things: If a Norwegian goes out to eat, they sure don't want to be presented with more of the same, but rather something exotic, such as a pizza or a steak. So we picked the two dishes from the menu which were not pizza and which we could more or less understand - a chicken and a Mexican steak, mostly out of curiosity what the local interpretation of a Mexican steak would be. Since I am not too up to date on Mexican food I can't really tell, but in all the years in California I have not come across a Mexican dish like this - if I did, I would probably dislike Mexican food far less.
Since lunch soup was cancelled due to rain and substituted with chicken and steak (for a total of $30) as noted above, we continued heading north on a less traveled road, until we hit yet another ferry. This ferry brought us to a very beautiful peninsula just around the time when one should start looking for shelter. We just frown on people camping in designated campgrounds, that's for wusses, real people set up their tent where it's nice and quiet. This is particularly easy in Norway since camping is allowed anywhere you want, as long as you are at least 400 meters from the nearest settlement.
The Norwegians are known for their skills at Nordic skiing - we see quite a few people "skiing" on the road, properly dressed (less the hat) and running on skis with wheels, with poles and all. The younger population seems to be really enjoying trampolines. In quite many people's yards are fullsize trampolines with kids jumping on them and performing quite some tricks.
We found such a perfect camp site - right by the sea, beautiful blue water and grass and sandy beach and water close to freezing. But, as things go, also with wind so strong that setting up the tent would have been challenging, forget about cooking dinner. So we left and found a somewhat less romantic but also less windy site in a thicket some 200 meters from the water. After some fried rice we were ready for tent, but I sneaked a look at the sunset around 23:20 local time, which was quite spectacular. The decision was made that tomorrow we shall camp somewhere with direct view of the sunset, and to actually view it.