September 11, 2012 - Halden, Norway

It turned out our politically correct Danish doctor, got it right when he said "you can tell this b&b is run by a bloke. It's clean but not that clean." disregarding the blatant sexism, I could sort of see what he meant, there was the remains of breakfast from a few weeks back in the fridge, rotting food in the sink and a general untidiness about the place. It wasn't until we went to bed that I realised even using the word clean was a gross overestimation. On first glance it appeared we didn't have bed linen, on second glance it was bed linen which had nutured at least one other dark haired person before me. Evidence of human cells in your bedding is really a little more than I could take. Fortunately also being run by a bloke, the lax security meant that it was possible to help ourselves to his laundry cupboard (in the same way we had already abused the breakfast material), and overlay the current bedding with clean sheets. Deciding that there was something slightly wrong with the bloke running the b&b (probably Munkedal fever) we decided not to completely abuse his set up and all take individual rooms too.

After a predictable breakfast, and some intensive IT band massage we moved on. I think speaking for all of us there will always be a special place in our heart for Munkedal, talk on the ride has already been of returning, perhaps an annual pilgrimage will help sooth our loss.
Fjord was the word of the day, we followed 3 totalling 70km of water, the back drop was stunning in a different way to yesterday's island ridden coast. Today was of forests and still water bodies- convinced we were in moose and bear territory clearly we were devastated that we saw neither.
The norweigan border was relatively anti climactic, in the hope of evading another border patrol, it was revealed that the only defence the Norweigans had stumped up were a couple of traffic police who took no interest in our presence. The final Swedish town was not one to be proud of although the first ten of Norway's houses bore the Swedish flag- making a clear statement.  Our first Norwegian settlement was again not much to write home about, all closed except for the toilets.
Halden is a small Norweigan town well aware of its greatest asset, Fredrikstan Fortress. The fortress looms over the town with stunning views of the beautiful Noweigan coastline and industrial centre. On the approach, huge puffs of white smoke generate hopes of a hot water spa or steam railway. The factory units were somewhat disappointing, I thought this was Norway, the super advanced, rich, model country, how does it have room for such inperfections.
Our stay similar to the vast majority revolves very much around the fortress, as the bearer of the beauty, history and cheapest accommodation. Unfortunately it was effectively placed and as such is located at the top of a large hill. Having scaled the hill twice already in cycling shoes, I'm questioning the wisdom in our decision. My bike is in melt down mode, taking over on today's ride from my IT band as biggest risk to the trip when 85% of my gears wouldn't hold. Our first job on arrival to Halden was to ensure Pontus could make his train, the station also housing a bike shop meant I had little excuse for fixing my problems. Reflecting that my bike enjoys being serviced exclusively in the worlds most expensive countries. I'm left to wonder what the bill will be. I was pleasantly surprised to note that a similar service to Australia (replaced chain and rear cassette appears to need replacing every 8000km) cost about 1/4 of the Australian price! On collection of the bike Dani, realises there's an opportunity to fulfil her week long desire of pumping her tyres to bursting point (essential as not to loose any efficiency riding next to the 18-wheeler truck). This is exactly the treatment she receives as the bike mechanic explodes her front tyre, perhaps the reason my bike service is so cheap! Dani having found another inner tube perhaps unwisely allows the mechanic to change the tyre but wisely pumps the tyre up herself and only to 80psi.
Following the location of our fortress cabin we discover that Norweigan coins were required for hot water. As we had managed to spend Swedish krona in every Norwegian shop so far, it was a cold shower.
After exploring the fortress we descended once more into Halden. Here we finally discover not just one but two international shopping centres and a Mc Donald's - free wifi is abundant (even if it's 500m closer to sea level than our accommodation)! Whilst quietly minding our own business abusing the free Internet in one cafe, we are alarmed to be overtaken by a fowl aroma. We look up to note that the rest of the cafe users are also in the process of migrating to the north of the cafe as a bloke smelling like a urinal spoils the atmosphere.
On the way to initiate ourselves in Norwegian cuisine, we spot the same old man emerging from a skip to cross the road and let himself into his house! Not exactly the Norwegian lifestyle I'd envisaged.
In line with the Norway I'd been warned about were the £30 pizza's but the £13 big Macy's were a shock, so we find ourselves in Butt's bar and bistro eating some kind of curry. One thing to be said in favour of Butt's despite its suspiciously low light levels was free tap water. A first for Scandinavia.



Dr Gill:
September 11, 2012
80 psi I call that a puncture and why not daily pumping?
Joan L:
September 11, 2012
Was wondering how life as a construction manager was going and thought I'd search for Charlitte R on the web. I see the construction site has been abandoned :-).
tim johnston:
September 12, 2012
Well, I warned u in Oz that chain has to be replaced regularly. Failure to do so means you destroy the cogs too, especially if you're pushing a big gear. Sometimes the chain-rings as well...

Tried to contact an old friend in Oslo - runner, hasher, ironman - who would have been happy to accommodate you both. Discovered he died 2 years ago! Are u planning on passing thru Stockholm? Still got accommodating friends there, who, as far as i know, are also still in the land of the living.

Stella has cleaned the house from top to bottom. My niece, Miranda, moves in on Sat. She has sworn she'll charm/force the boys to keep it that way (iron fist in velvet glove). Yeah, males lack the cleaning gene, passed on with the mitochondria from mum to daughter. Your room awaits you...


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