To Northern Norway – August 2017
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 – Sorreisa to Harley Davidson, Ballangen
Distance travelled 190 km
We woke on the morning of what was to be our final day’s riding to a gentle, but steady rain.
We had pleasant breakfast and, even though we really stretched the packing as far as we could, in the end there was no choice but to leave.
It was not as bad, in reality, as it looked but our general dampness discouraged any desire to stop unnecessarily, so we took no pictures at all. At the first stop, I found my feet were pretty wet and Lucie’s knees were quite damp. At first I assumed that the spray had somehow found its way between the bottom of my riding trousers and my hiking boots. Initially, I was reluctant to take them off as I feel they dry better on. However, when I was persuaded to do so, I discovered a hole ! I guessed I must have unwittingly worn them out in South America as they were pretty old. Lucie’s were very similar so it was going to be time for new boots all round when we got home !
The morning was a trifle damp, but otherwise uneventful. Approaching Narvik the countryside is slightly less imposing, but it was very green and lovely. We were not in a hurry and could enjoy the wide, well surfaced curves and stretches of the E6.
The only sad thing was that the inclement conditions prevented us exploring some of the sites associated with the ill-fated British expedition to Norway in 1940.
Then, we came to Ballangen and that was the end of our journey.
We returned the bike to a smiling Reidar making sure to extol its virtues. Then, while we waited for our taxi, we took full advantage of the good (and free) coffee on offer and I bought Lucie a Harley Tee shirt.
Ballangen to BW Budget Rooms, Narvik
We had to use a taxi to get to our overnight accommodation in Narvik. There really was no other way as it was 5 hours to the next bus and there is only so much coffee that even Lucie can drink. The cost was a little alarming, rising all too rapidly to 1,000 NOK (2450 CZK/80 GBP) – but there it stopped.
It might sound a bit self-aggrandising, but I do like to be fair. So, I pointed this out to the driver, who informed me that a local bye-law set the maximum fare at 1,000 ! Fair enough, but I gave him a 200 NOK tip at the end, which was not actually much farther anyway !
Our final overnight stay was in a cheap (by Norwegian standards) dormitory hotel that was next to, but seemingly not part of a Best Western. In the instructions we had in the room, they asked us not to write a review on Booking.com for the Best Western hotel, because it had nothing to do with the BW rooms. This did not seem quite true, especially because it has a common breakfast area, but fair enough.
Sadly, Narvik is not a fun place to spend an evening. It only has a port and an airport which, as discussed at the very beginning, is not even in Narvik.
The Loony did highlight two restaurants.
The first was a very “posey” place called Linkin on the rooftop of the Quality Hotel. Only four of the twenty tables were occupied and yet we waited about 10 minutes for them to release one of them. Well, to be accurate, after ten minutes we were invited to sit at a table that had been free all the time. The view of Narvik was as spectacular as a view of Narvik can be.
Sadly, as soon as we opened the menu, it all went south. There were only two options, a three-course and a six-course set menu. The three-course menu consisted of things we certainly would not choose, The same things were an integral part of the six-course menu. Not for us. For the first time ever, Lucie and I left a restaurant because they had nothing on the menu we wanted to eat. If you consider the astral prices they were going to charge, it was a wise move.
But there was a problem – what to do ? As I said before, the possibilities were very limited. So we went down to the second place which was actually a “brasserie” of the same hotel. It was fairly packed but eventually we captured a table and the waiter brought us menus. Then he vanished into thin air. Service in Norway is usually very good, but nobody was attending to us at all. People around us were getting drinks and some were even sipping them. In the end I went to the counter to order directly. This is when I found out that our “waiter“ was so new he was not allowed to take orders ! Our drinks and our fish, not salmon (!) but some other fish that was very tasty and possibly even better, arrived soon after that. I also had a frighteningly priced beer (remember, we live in Prague). Rather prissily, I never drink when I am driving (Lucie is too precious) so I felt I deserved one. I could not help but notice that other drinkers, including many our age, were nursing their beers for ages. When I decided to have a second beer the waitress was visibly surprised, I wonder if it was the first time it had ever happened. Dinner overall was great though and we got a discount for the initial confusion.
With no planning to do, we hit a supermarket for some chocolate supplies and went to bed while it was still light outside.