So at last, this morning, I made Norway!! More about that later.
Sweden is stunning! As simple as that!
It’s the first country so far where there is a large discernible change of culture as you move into the Scandinavian Countries. Travelling through Europe and into Denmark was a bit of a change, in the way that you move from county to county in England.
Sweden however, is clearly another country!
The houses change, no more brick and concrete, now they are bright red or vivid yellow wood, as are the barns, sheds, and outhouses that surround them. The roads are wide and empty, and the landscape is breathtaking.
It’s somewhat disappointing that photos taken with an iPhone in the car do not do it justice.
I very much envisage that I’ll return soon to take a journey around the whole of the country.
One of the things I’ve noticed with the increase in road size, is also the increase in car size. Many large Chevy and Dodge pickups and Wrangler Jeeps are to be seen around plus a lot of Harley Davidson choppers and cruisers. It seems that the easy cruising on the highways suits the bikes, and the long distances from place to place suit the large cars.
Trundling along, I could imagine that some of the places in USA are similar; wide open roads and easy cruising. It clearly helped that the sun was shining again today so everything seems fine!
Unexpectedly a border checkpoint was signified, there had been no signage (that I could tell!) notifying that one was coming up, only a few hundred yards before, I passed a ‘Toll / Customs’ sign. No stopping this time however, the guards just waved me through and I was in Norway to the sound of ‘have a nice day’ by Stereophonics on the iPod.
I was met immediately by a sign however, ‘Automatic Tolls In Norway’.
And boy do they love ’em!
I can’t comment on the taxation system or the full manner in which Norway fund their roads, because quite frankly I don’t have a clue!
I will say that the Toll system they have seems quite smart, I’d read about it before leaving the UK but I did double check again today.
everyone gets charged by the Automatic tolls, there’s no getting away with it! Either you can pre-register a credit card, pay at designated service stations and shops within a day or so of passing the toll, or, simply wait until you get back home and an invoice will drop on your doormat with instructions on how to pay online! There are agreements in place with companies in each country to manage (and ensure they get) the payments.
And there are a lot of Tolls, they seem to range from about £1 to £3 and I’ve been through six already.
If it works, then it works. I encountered my first roadwork hold up today where it seems that a beautiful winding road that follows lake Mjøsa is no longer adequate and a motorway is being built instead. A massive job involving carving tunnels through the mountains. The roadworks lasted about 10 miles and there were at least 4 new sets of tunnels waiting to be opened.
If it’s the tolls that pay for that and the roads and tunnels on the rest of the highways then it’s money well spent (Taxed!).
For some reason however, I managed to take a different route than planned to head north in Norway. Probably due to being a bit early, I decided to skip today’s waypoint, and plugged tomorrow’s into the satnav whereby it promptly rerouted directly to Trondheim via it’s ‘quickest’ route.
This has been fortuitous however, I’m off the main E6 Toll highway, and on a road simply named ‘3’. This must be the back route that doesn’t get seen much, it’s mostly wilderness and forest with small hamlets containing only a handful of dwellings with many miles in between each hamlet.
The road is more solitary here and starting to rise into the National parks. Fuel stations are less frequent, relatively few cars are around but it seems a favoured route by trucks. Probably 2 to 1 in favour of trucks, but bear in mind that maybe 5 vehicles pass in 5 minutes if that.
I’m at about 1000ft as I write this, beside the river Storsjøen a few miles north of Koppang. I can see the last remnants of snow on top of the mountains, but considering how warm it is here I doubt that will last much longer.
This is how I expected Norway to be.