A Yankee?!….Why are you here ? Says the lady at the Den Gamle Major in Oslo. Pause pause pause….good question? I have few answers.
Whisked away again at the lure of ‘no reason’ travel. My preferred way of traveling on a motorcycle is not for everyone but there is a reason….its to RIIIIDE! What’s your preferred method?
After almost 4 months of being on the road in 2016 traveling from California to Finland, and now about a year later it’s become familiar and I’m comfortable with it.
Where do I sleep tonight? Where do you get coffee/food? Where is your local electronic store for my electronics? Do I need cash or can I just use my card? How much did I just pay for lunch? 😳 These are simple answers, but I prefer answering the why are you here one. 🙂
Both the woman and man (Shit I forgot their name) behind the bar seemed intrigued that I was there on my motorcycle. More importantly she seemed to be inspired. Her eyes started to wander and she said, “I think I need to go to nursing school like I’d been thinking!” I thought how cool is that? To inspire someone to think different, just by what your doing. It felt good! That feeling is the reason I like to teach. To be able to inspire at home with my martial arts school and now as I ride is very satisfying.
Both of them were very curious and it was that curiosity that has fed my curiosities all across the united states and throughout Europe, and now in Norway!
This isn’t a new thing, motorcycle travel. Go here to www.horizonsunlimited.com and you’ll find many people just like me living and traveling this way, if only to just fulfill our curiosities or to inspire others to fulfill their dreams, I’d say it’s worth the ride.
Stockholm to Oslo
I left my cousin Kirsi’s near Lahti Finland and headed to Turku where the overnight ferry is. The plan is to meet up with some long time family friends the Nousianens and Levanens! The road to get to Turku was mostly straight and mostly farm land. A two way street with many speed cameras that couldn’t catch the right picture of me or my license plate. Just a few of me posing!:) Flipping the bird if you will!
The speed limit in Finland isn’t meant to get you around in a hurry and most people in Finland are not. Things tend to move slower here.
It turns out these family friends from back home were celebrating a 70th birthday on the Viking line ferry from Turku to Stockholm. So I arranged to spend time with them before heading off to Norway. Marjatta who’s birthday it was and her family I’ve known since I was a weeee lil lad! It seemed fitting to start the Moto trip off with a birthday celebration with family I know and hangout with in the states.
There is something special about experiencing the world with people you know, love and care about. If I had it my way my whole family would come with me. Of course not all would appreciate my way of traveling.
After an overnight ferry of entertainment and spending most of our Saturday in Stockholm………
Marjatta and the family went back to Turku on the ferry. I stayed the night in Stockholm in the best hostel old town. Not sure it was, but it did the trick. It actually was a decent place. No real complaints. Great location.
The next morning not feeling my best but determined to hit the road I packed up and left. The weather was gloomy but I was excited to get to Oslo.
The E18 out of Stockholm wasn’t that difficult to get onto from old Stockholm. Use google maps all over the world and your in decent hands. It was the weather that was turning that had me thinking. Should I really ride in the rain? You quickly get used to it though. The rain with the right gear helps with the comfort level. Revit Gear has been a good choice as its held up to all the heat, cold, rain, dirt, and mud with relative toughness since I bought in 2016!
Since it was raining I was more interested in getting to Oslo then site seeing in Sweden. The E18 highway was mostly farm land. Aside from that, getting gas was proving to be a difficult issue.
My Credit Card for some reason was not excepted at every gas station. A mild irritation and delay that took me off my google maps and around the back roads to find the right gas station.
Other then that I made it to Oslo with the sun shining on the beautiful city. It didn’t take me long to find my air bnb in the north west region of the town (Majorstuen). It was a decent location just a couple miles outside the city center.
The night I got there the interaction in the prologue took place in the Den Gamle Major. It set the tone for what would be a relaxing and enjoyable stay, yet, an eye opening one with a $45 dollar fish and chips with a beer!
I decided to spend a total of two nights and a day in the city. That first morning after my 12 dollar coffee and yogurt I rented the street bicycles to burn off the booze and that grogginess you can only get from indulging…. AHEM! Stockholm!
I left the Camel locked up. A pretty good strategy in my opinion. Sweat it out!
Side note: I like to park my motorcycle next to others, for some reason I feel like there is less of a chance it will get stolen.
Beyond wandering around the city on the bicycle, the only major sight seeing I did was the old town Oslo! (Oslo’s old town was established with the urban structure around year 1000 and was the capital of Norway’s dominion in 1314.)- Wikipedia
It really was a beautiful city but as I stated before expensive. Even the transportation for buses or taxi’s was on the high side. I couldn’t justify staying in the city much longer. Not that it would be cheaper anywhere else in Norway but I thought at least I wouldn’t have as many places enticing me to spend when traveling out to more remote areas.
Oslo to Beitostolen
After the two nights and recovering from the stockholm adventure, I was ready to get to the fjords. Where?! I have no clue. Just pick a town, thats my motto!
Yet I didn’t follow my motto this time, I just ended up leaving with a nose for the coast. I couldn’t decide where to stay I just knew where I wanted to end up. Near the Trolstigen pass.
As I left Oslo, once again the clouds were lurking, they looked darker the farther west I went. I rode for 3 hours trying to reach those ripply mountain sides on my map.
As I climbed the mountains and hit the twisty roads, tall farm houses caught my eye. Looking more like fancy warehouses that could store airplanes, then your average home. It became a nice distraction from the pounding rain at my helmet!
The temperature started to drop and my helmets windshield wouldn’t stay clear. It was fogging up and smeared with bug guts. No matter how many times I wiped it with my puffy moto glove it only seemed to make it worse.
I ended up heading straight into nooowhere until I hit my first point on the map above…… the highland lodge in Geilo, Norway.
I needed too regain some warmth to my bones. After stopping I used the hotels Wifi to re-load my directions and I realized that if I end up continuing in the same direction its going to take me a lot longer to head north to the Trolstigen pass. It will set me back a day.
Western Norway is known to have many tunnels and ferries which require a lot more time to travel. I can do what I want but there are some points of interest I want to ride and I don’t have 3 months to do it. So I made the move back east.
It bummed me out because I just started to see the cliff sides getting higher and the valleys getting deeper. For some reason back tracking makes me feel like I’m wasting time. Not to mention the sun started to get lower and air colder! Google told me I was 5 1/2 hours away from being near the pass. It was 7pm so darkness was a concern before finding a spot to sleep, I really didn’t need to get to the Trolstigen, I just wanted to get closer.
Before I made the turn off the main highway, I stopped for gas and noticed three motorcycles parked off to the side of the gas station. It was a father, mother and son.
I briefly spoke with the father and he told me they were riding east, to go clothes shopping for their son who was starting his first year of college. How many of you would do the same? Ride motorcycles as a family? I thought it was absolutely awesome. After that brief interaction and a high five. I took off into the rainy mountain and found my self once again in the middle of noowhereway!
As you can see it was still damp and rainy and of course getting colder. Fortunately, the sun was setting later, but I had reached my point of saturation and I was shaking uncontrollably. My tent was with me and if the weather was better I would of used it.
Instead I stopped in a town called Beitostolen. The cosy, family-friendly resort of Beitostølen is located on the edge of the Jotunheimen national park. It turns out one of my students back in Petaluma,Gro, had worked in the same town when she was younger. Coincidently she had messaged to ask where I was the same night I was there. What are the chances? Not only was it the same town but it ended up being in the exact hotel where she worked.
The hotel had plenty of character. The town is known as a winter sports destination.
When I arrived I wasn’t quite sure how much it would be as most of the hotels seemed to be going for $200 a night and above. Surprisingly it was about $150 and worth every penny with a warm shower and bed.
I woke up the next morning to beautiful skies. Still chilly but I’ll take that with the sun any day.
Beitostolen to Nooowhere (Trollstigen)
As soon as I left the comfy resort town, literally a mile down the road, the scenery started to make a dramatic turn. The night before it was dark and raining and you could barely see five feet in front of you. As I looked around I started to realize the beauty I was riding into. I took a deep breath and was in a pretty euphoric state.
I rode about an hour and started to hit some out of this world terrain.
All I could think about was whats down that dirt road?! Or how about that one?….and that one? The area is really serene and even though its a national park there didn’t seem to be too many people.
Instead of turning down the dirt roads I made it a point to get to Trolstigen. Whats the big deal with Trolstigen?! You ask? I wasn’t sure, its just one of the countries point of interest.
It is part of Norwegian County Road 63 that connects the town of Åndalsnes in Rauma and the village of Valldal in Norddal Municipality.- Wikipedia
Isn’t it funny how windy roads are revered. We have one in San francisco. You know the one.
Either way Trolstigen it is………….
Have you ever had to pee bad but didn’t want to stop riding or driving? I was enjoying the high mountain roads so much and I didn’t feel like stopping, and I didn’t want to ruin my progress towards the pass.
But when duty calls….you should probably, Stop! No need to cause an accident. Lol….I’m not sure why add this in there with a picture, its just funny to me.
As I said the roads were windy, the weather was warming and I was feeling good. I hit some small towns along the way and immediately started to make a climb through the mountains. The road started to shrink and asphalt became dirt and hard rock. Traffic subsided and then BAM! I was in front of a crossing gate! The gate keepers were a few cows that made me feel like I was trespassing. I suppose I was as the foreigner. But for some reason there scowl and mooooo wasn’t the friendly kind.
No matter, I made my move quick, paid my toll and I was off. The air was getting colder but the serene scenery, was getting even more serene.
I rode through some pretty beautiful dirt roads and continued to climb, then the world just opened up!
I rode off this mountain side and rode an hour through some huge canyon sides and arrived to the TROLLstigen pass. I didn’t put the name together but its obviously named after trolls and I figured it out, of course, after I saw a huge wooden troll in the parking lot of this cafe.
It was a beautiful ride up the windy road, but at times I was more focused on avoiding the on lookers in their cars and the big tourist buses trying to navigate the narrow street. Having a motorcycle did provide me the freedom to maneuver and see the Trolstigen views from a 360 degree view however.
I made it up to trolstigen and enjoyed the view before heading back down the pass.
Once again the views were stunning! The crowds?….meh!
Trollstigen to the Atlantic ocean road
Where I lay my head for the night is still unknown but I want to get to the coast and at least ride, which has been stated, one of the most dangerous roads in the world!
The Atlantic roadway!
The Atlantic Ocean Road or the Atlantic Road (Norwegian: Atlanterhavsveien) is an 8.3-kilometer (5.2 mi) long section of County Road 64 that runs through an archipelago in Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. – Wikipedia
I passed through some inlet Bay town’s before taking my first ferry in Norway. It was quick 15 min float from Afarnes to Solsnes-Afarnes.
I was thinking I might end up staying in one of those bay towns but found them it to be to commercial. I guess I was looking to be in an area where it felt more authentic. Although I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like or meant.
All of it is authentic Norway really!
Arriving to the Atlantic roadway, I expected it to be as dangerous as those have stated. Waves crashing over the roadways and windy steep roads that make it tough to cross through. Only the waves and high speed winds only happen in the winter and they were not as high as I thought.
I rode and passed over the roadway, back and forth a few times, enjoying the scenery and the every changing weather.
This picture said it it all. A peaceful, but wet ride over the roadway!
It began to get dark and I was feeling a little soaked. So it became time to find a spot to sleep. My body cold and wet was telling me to find a nice cottage or hotel. My adventurous side was telling me to tough it out and camp. After all your allowed to camp anywhere, Allemannsretten: “All Man’s Right”. Within certain guidelines it is acceptable.
So wild camp I did!
I turned down a dirt road that lead me to a dead end. I passed some billy goats and the big red barn you see in pictures along with a kid waving to me as if he was welcoming me home.
I noticed a huge event tent that was being put up, a beautiful bay with fishermans boats and about half a dozen motorcycles parked. I thought this has to be a camp site.
It turns out its a Averoy motorcycle clubs property and their having an event for the weekend to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a club. The motorcycle club thought I was there for the event.
At first they were perplexed as to why I showed up early, but once they realized I was purposefully lost and not Norwegian, they started to ask questions.
American!? Why are you here!? Answer- “I don’t know” Just cruising Norway and trying to find place to sleep. 🙂
They immediately took me in and told me I was welcome to use the facilities they had put up for there event.
We shared a cup of coffee and once they had finished setting everything up, they said , “The island is mine and I’m more then welcome to stay for the weekend to celebrate!” I suddenly found this picturesque property to myself.
Everything happened so fast!
Hi, here is some coffee…chat, chat, chat! Ok the islands yours, see you later!
What a score! This spot was definitely the authenticity I had in mind!
The property also had some unique points of interest. Including these medieval carvings of whales. A short hike up the hill side.
I think I could of slept for a week straight. The only sound I heard was the occasional bells from the lighthouse and fish jumping out the water that was as still as glass.
Langoy to Trondheim
That morning I felt more rested then I have in the last couple weeks. My camping equipment is absolutely perfect and the subtle ocean sounds and breeze created supreme sleeping conditions.
Trondheim is my next destination. Suggested from a close Norwegian friend and student Gro.
It’s a short ride 4 hour ride to Trondheim. Just the way I like it, so I can stop and explore. My first stop was a ferry ride where I had a had the opportunity to have a coffee and pannekakan (Pancake) before I hopped on.
As I rolled onto the boat I met another family riding their motorcycles on the ferry. Literally the WHOLE family from brazil was there both on motorcycles and caravans. I met the father, sons, grandma, cousins. 4 were riding and the rest of the family were in caravans. They were taking 2 weeks to ride together through sweden and norway. Fookin brilliant!
I ended up riding with them for a couple of hours. It ended up becoming a beautiful ride between coastal islands with the sun and rain providing both a nice warming and cooling effect.
I split ways with them at some point and I arrived into trondheim thinking it looks like the perfect town to hangout and get a hotel.
Trondheim (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈtrɔnhæim]), historically Kaupangen, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. It has a population of 187,353 (January 1, 2016), and is the third most populous municipality in Norway, although the fourth largest urban area. -Wikipedia
I rode into and around the city centre to get my bearings and instantly felt how vibrant the city was. Full of medieval looking buildings with shops and people walking everywhere. It helped that the sun popped out too.
I eventually stopped near a common world wide hotel, the best western, to see if there was availability. It turns out there was a music festival and a tech event. Most of the hotels were full and marked up quite a bit. I could not find one under $200.
What was turning out to be a very frustrating moment instantly became one of those moments I will never forget. Across the street from the hotel I grabbed a coffee here….
I’m sitting in their debating whether or not to shell out the money until I took a sip of my coffee and noticed a familiar face walking passed the window. I took a few blinks as if I was seeing things and as it turns out it was one of my students from back home in Petaluma. “Charles” from our boxing class. He was walking as if he knew where he was going. I immediately ran outside and said his name. “Charles!?” He turns around and says “Scott!!?
I could not believe all the way from Petaluma we happened to be in the same spot at the exact same time. His wife Eve who also comes to the class was not far behind him.
It blew my mind how far we were from Petaluma and how we saw each other in that moment. I only planned to go to Trondheim a couple days prior. His wife and some friends were on a Norwegian cruise and Trondheim was one of their stops.
Honestly what were the odds?!
We parted ways as they head to their ship, and me…..well I found a hotel. $150!!!! Right down the street.
I’m only here for the night, so I walked around while there was still day light, ate sushi for dinner and had a $15 beer at a local bar. Yep that would be all, to rich for me!
Tired from the ride and anticipating riding a full 8 hours to get to Umea, Sweden for the ferry to Finland the next morning, I passed out quickly at 9pm!
Trondheim to Umea, Sweden
I woke up the next morning thinking my idea of leaving at 9am to get to Umea by the 18th hour would give me plenty of time to stop and explore.
But when I woke up I realized I thought the 18th hour on the 24 hour clock, was 8pm in our time. Instead its actually 6pm. Doh!
Which only leaves me 9 hours to get there!
Its definitely doable but the amount of times I stop for gas leaves me no room for error. I can’t get lost or take long visits. Not to mention I’d like to eat.
I woke up in huge rush. I hate having to rush on the bike, but you don’t get refunds from the ferry.
I took the E6 out of Trondheim along the torndheimsfjorden. (their waterway) It was huge bay full of big cruise ships and carriers.
Then out of the city and into the farm land……….
Then the E6 turned into the E14 east… and fast!
The farther I got to the border of sweden the less people there were on the road. So if your looking for a road that has long sweeping turns along with a variety of terrain the E14 highway will give it to you.
I was traveling consistently at 90 mph and as soon as I crossed the border into sweden….Bam!!!! This truck crossed over and hit these trees.
It turns out the driver had been drinking. 15 seconds early I could of been right where it happened. It just reminded me to slow down. Not to mention I have no idea what kind of drivers are out here.
It rained it poured and I was swiftly moving along. Between the rain and getting lost only once, I made it with 20 minutes to spare.
Its not an overnight, its only a 5 hour ferry but I still opted for a room to get a hot shower and a nap. I’m arriving into Vaasa, Finland at 11pm on the 23rd hour 😉 and I have no place to stay. It seemed pointless to get a hotel room so I thought I’d camp somewhere.
Meanwhile I’ll enjoy the cruise…….
I napped for a good hour and took a warm shower on the ferry. All along I prepped myself for riding at night and in the rain.
The mental preparation is important. If I look at the circumstances I’m in, I’ll look at the positives. I figured the positive was I’d never had ridden at night and in the rain. I’ll just chalk it up as an experience. After all isn’t that what were supposed to do. The more we experience the more we learn.
I got off the boat and as advertised its raining, cold and dark. With no destination in mind I thought I’d work my way to Tampere,Finland. I’ve never been, but I heard it was a lively Finnish town.
With a five hour moto ride, I started riding towards Tampere on the E12 south. The farther I got the darker it got with no traffic. It was almost midnight and I still haven’t figured out where to stop. I like waking up to water so I tried to look for a body of water on my google maps. With no service and it being almost pitch black out. I had no idea what body of water i’d be camping next too.
Light fog, no street lights, and my body shaking I realized an hour into riding I have to find a place to sleep. With no body of water enticing enough I pulled into a town. The signs said, “Kurrika” Ok….. Kurrika it is!
I pulled into the town and just started searching for an area to sleep. The town was next to a creek/river so I rode along that area for while. At one point I thought I’d had found a place to sleep until 3 elderly folks pulled out of the dark with their bicycles and clothing that looked very outdated.
This is what it looked like…….
Their faces white as a ghost, and the way they were walking their bikes was something straight out of the walking dead.
Now I’m pretty tough but If I told you it didn’t scare me a little I’d be lying!
Yeah I think I’ll find another spot. I had visions of Witch seances.
I rode just outside of the town a little and found a spot right off the road tucked behind some trees. If I need a quick getaway I wanted to jump on the bike and go ;).
I unpacked set my tent up quickly, jumped in and passed out!
That morning I woke up, packed my stuff and headed back into Kurrika’s city centre to get some coffee. All in all after that night time adventure, I slept well and was excited to get closer to Tampere.
So after a morning Pulla (cinnoman roll) and coffee at a small local coffee shop I headed off back on the E12. Only this time instead of looking at my map, I assumed I knew where I was going.
Its 2 1/2 hours to Tampere and 4 hours total to get home to Lahti.
So as I headed out I ended up going north instead of south, and I only realized I was going the wrong direction when I got to a town called Seinjoki, Finland. A slight 30 minute delay. Really though their was no rush.
I arrived to Tampere and it was all that those have said. There was people playing in the park with inside bumper balls playing soccer. What a cool idea!
Not my picture, but an example-
The town was also having a huge music festival! I seem to hit towns when their having music festivals.
Either way I had plenty of time to enjoy the city. I had lunch and met some Finnish folks who were in a band in the concert and on one of the Bar boats along Tampere’s bay.
The boat was slanting in towards the water, like it was sinking. So every time I got up I felt like I was drunk, slipping on the wet deck and trying to balance.
It didn’t really matter that it was raining, their were a ton of people out and about enjoying the music and atmosphere. Although I did meet a Sierrian/Finnish girl that said, “Get me out of here!? She’s sick of the rain!!!”
lol! Finland peeps have serious love, hate relationship!
After lunch I had about a 2 hour ride back to Lahti. I wasn’t super excited to get on the bike but I really didn’t want to spend anymore money on a hotel. It was also raining pretty hard.
I still hopped on the camel, took off back on the E12 and rode slowly back to my cousins house.
I spent another few days in Finland, somewhat helping my cousin with their boat. They’ve been remodeling it since last year. Giving it a complete overhaul.
This beauty was the boat I stayed on at the end of my long moto trop in 2016. Its a beautiful old tree hauler (Haapakoski) from the 1800’s. It was in need of a lot of internal /cosmetic work and a re-built engine.
My cousin Kirsi and her husband Illke were able to get it back into the water. But it still needs a lot of work.
Summer 2018 looks like its going to be back and better then ever.
The Camel once again did not disappoint and I put her away for another day.
The last few days I spent with my cousin and some other friends and family before heading back home.
The very last day, was spent in Helsinki with Jouni, Katsi, and Rainer. Our objective became to hangout long enough to see one of the famous finnish F1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen.
This photo was captured by a friend of mine Allan. Who was watching the Speed channel Network on TV and caught myself and Jouni laughing at the idiosyncrasy of the finnish folks. “Excited to be at the event but only showing it on the inside.” 🙂
The Finns can have a way of making something that should be a fun experience, seem less important, or less of a big deal. As evident by the man himself Kimi Raikkonen who as soon as he got out of the Ferrari could only muster a fist wave to the adoring happy on the inside crowd, before he swiftly made his way into the media tent.
To get back on the bike and explore more of Europe and spend more time in these beautiful yet sometimes isolating nordic countries was refreshing and more remote then last years trip.
You can’t forget though if you ever find yourself in the middle of ‘nowhere’, it’s not far from where your from. Just pick a direction and learn to appreciate all the experiences that come with it. It may sound corny but your home is with you, in heart and mind!
You can take yourself there anytime your feeling lost.
Norway Part 1:
Norway- Trolstigen pass: