At two o'clock in the morning we moor in Kristiansand. Zoë is sleeping under the chairs, while Olivier slept with his head on the table. With sleepy eyes we see the twinkling lights of Kristiansand. It looks modern and much bigger than we imagined. When we boarded the ferry a few hours ago, still in Denmark, we immediately saw a big difference. Expensive Audis, BMW's and Teslas entered the boat. We know that Norway is a rich country and that is noticeable from the first moment.
We were the first to enter the ferry, where our trailer are parked against a blank wall in the belly of the ferry. As the last ones, we can get off the ferry and walk into the night. "Where is the ferry terminal?" Zoë asks one of the employees. “There on the right, but the terminal is closed in the night” says the young man. The train station and bus station are also closed, as are all other buildings around the ferry. “Then we will just walk, we are awake anyway” says Zoë, who does not feel like sitting still on a bench for two hours. It is still too dark to skate so we walk the first meters in Norway. We're not city dwellers, especially in the middle of the night, but we like Kristiansand. The silence on the street, everything is clean, the white wooden houses, the well-maintained infrastructure. “That's a great start to Norway” laughs Olivier. Through the twilight we see the silhouettes of the mountains in the background. Every minute we see a little bit more, as if a photo is being developed very slowly. A fjord extends to the mountains, in perfect harmony with the city. Although we are still walking in the city, we are already in nature. You just have to open the back door and you're in the mountains. Our heart starts to beat faster and a few butterflies appear in our stomach.
At five in the morning we eat our breakfast at a small marina. The sun has already risen and the sky is turning bright orange. Yesterday evening we used up our Danish crowns in the supermarket in Hirtshals. Norway is very expensive, so we thought it would be smart to buy food for the first days in Denmark. Olivier eats his muesli with a banana. Zoë eats a rye bread with cheese like a bird. "I hope they have better bread here". We have been eating sourdough and rye bread since Germany, the taste of which we can only cover up with a thick layer of toppings. When the three slices of sticky rye bread are finally finished, we get on the skates for the first meters in Norway. On our watch it is six in the morning, but it feels at least eleven. Zoë rubs some sleep from her eyes, yawns and we're off.
One steep climb after another follows each other. The road surface is wet from the rain and our poles have trouble finding good grip. We stumble up, swearing when the stick shoots away over the asphalt again. Down we have to brake fully, which is just going well on the wet road surface. Our legs are splashed with water that slowly drips into the shoes. In Norway they apparently use a very dense asphalt that is impossible for water to penetrate. That is good as protection for the roads in winter, but for us it means wet feet. Norway might seem disappointing on the road surface for the first few meters, but that's just a crease in the whole paper. It is unbelievably beautiful with the red houses, the green mountains and wild rivers. The transition from the Netherlands to Germany and then Denmark was very gradual. The ferry to Norway has brought us to a completely different country.
We arrive in Birkeland at eleven in the morning. We are exhausted and almost fall asleep on the skates. On the map we see a walking path along the river. We find a perfect place for the tent and half an hour later we are sleeping like a bear. In the afternoon Olivier explores the area and walks up to the village. He comes back with good and bad news. The good news comes from the supermarket. It's expensive in Norway, but not over the top, and they have normal bread that doesn't smell sour. The bad news comes from the weather forecast. They predict a lot of rain all night and morning. "Maybe we should stay here for a day" says Olivier, a bit disappointed. It Zoë doesn't disappoint at all and she immediately comes up with a project to work on. "If the daily rains keep chasing us, I will make my own mud guards," she says.
It rains a lot at night, really a lot. Olivier has dug ditches around the tent, but sits upright half the night to keep an eye on the growing mud pools around the tent. In the meantime, Zoë continues to sleep peacefully and only awakens when the flood has turned into light rain. Olivier is already outside, looking surprised at the river. Yesterday there was a small island in front of us in the river. Several fishermen came in the evening to fish for salmon. The island has almost disappeared under water. Our tent is still safe for the time being, if the water level does not rise more than two centimeters per hour. During the day we have to move the tent pegs from the tarp a few times because they are under water. It only occasionally rains a short shower during the day, but the water level continues to rise. Olivier calculates that we will just make it in the morning, but we should leave too late. The tent is in the trailer at half past eight the next morning. The river is already carefully crossing the edge and there is just half a dry meter where we can walk. The forest path on the right is completely submerged. Fortunately we can still leave on the left. The asphalt on the road is still wet, but with Zoë her pale orange mud guards we keep our feet dry this time.
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