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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Norway, Ex-Machina Hotel, Italian Race Cars and the Dalsland Canal.

Art Nouveau city.
Big fire in 1904 and whole city rebuilt by 1906. 

For those of you who follow my blog, 
remember the Art Deco porn of Napier New Zealand?

Well get ready for Art Nouveau porn. 
Found a great Airbnb right in the city center.
Red building. 
Ground floor.

Alesund is at the end of a peninsula. 
Yes. Traffic. Lots of it. 

What is distinctive is the central part of each building has a small peak like this one.

Most of them had the year they were built on the top.

The shape of the windows is relevant to this style as well.

Some ornamentation. 
Not as opulent as Riga but then this was a humanitarian effort of large scale and pressing need for people to have a place to live and continue their lives. 

It was raining lightly so not many people in the streets.
And I was getting hungry so we found an expensive steakhouse by the water.
We were both sold when we saw the menu slogan.

You fill out this little card of what steak you want,
how you want it cooked,
and what sides. 

The steak was so-so, it was overcooked a bit.
I used to obsess with finding the cutest place.
Something special that had amazing food.
Now I know better. Food is food.
Sometimes you eat an amazing meal.
Sometimes not. 
It's just important to eat. 

Dramatic clouds. 
Lot's of rain. 
But I'm OK with rain.
Spotted some jellyfish in the harbor water. 

This city was just so cute. 

And another awesome owl!

So one thing over the years that I look for in cities are the manhole covers.
Seems like a weird thing I know but they are pretty interesting and sometimes even beautiful.

This was the stairwell of the red building we were staying in.
Thank god we didn't have to go up any stairs. 
We were on the ground floor.

The next day, we went through some beautiful fjords.

Pictures don't really convey the beauty. 
You just have to see it in person...but here goes. 

The clouds were so amazing.

So if you've not seen the Ex Machina movie, 
none of these photos will look familiar. 
I tried to get a reservation, 
didn't care how much it cost, 
but they book six months in advance. 
This was the manager. 
He walked us around the place a bit.

This is the convention/common space.
It was at the end of a fjord with a spectacular view of the valley.


I could imagine a small wedding ceremony here. 

Here is one of the rooms. The river below is gorgeous. 

Another one higher up.

But the check in building with the restaurant was that familiar red again.
Two Tigers.
Having a happy time together. 

Another pretty high pass and valley. 

Lots of awesome view platforms. 

Don't look down if you get dizzy.

See that spaghetti down there?
Lots of switch backs with hairpin turns. 

Next on the list was Kviknes Hotel.
1877 historic timber hotel on a fjord. 
We walked up to the lobby desk and the rooms were $250+ a night.
Very expensive. 
I decided to just chat with the desk clerk a bit.
After 10 minutes, they found two twin rooms at $169 each.
Right on!


The inside had many different comfortable rooms to lounge in.

View of the hotel from the marina.
Was so happy to stay here. 
There was horrific rain on the forecast for the next day...we didn't get far. 

45 miles later the next day, with my face-shield nearly impossible to see through and one ferry later...I found something special.
Leardalsoren Hotel. 1880. 
But with a twist. 
Yep you are seeing right. 
Those are some expensive Italian sports cars....
I was pretty nervous when he said to park in front of them. 
We were soaking wet after only an hour of riding and I just gave up.
Glad I did or would have missed this awesome place. 

Turns out the owner made some offshore money and bought this historic place.
He's from this town. He was just a delight to talk with.
He gave me a 'sad, wet, kitten discount'. 
I don't think Bob got that. TeeHee.

Here is a great photo of horse and buggy in front of it back in the day.

After I understood how much this man loved machines and that he also had a motorcycle....
 I told him that we needed to change the oil on our bikes.
He said, no problem, you can do it in my warehouse with my 'other cars'. 
Yep, more amazing machines. 

Not everyday you get to change your oil next to one.
And of course the minute we finished it stopped raining. 

My room, at the end of the hallway.
See on the right of that wall? 
It had an open trap door in the floor.
He said it was the worlds smallest hotel bar.

You open the door and lower the box on the rope for your cocktail to the bar underneath the room!

Here is the bar...behind the light is the opening.
So cool!
Too bad I don't drink on these rides.
At all.
I can feel it the next day...even if it was only one beer.
And I don't like beer anyway....

Turns out this town is quite historic.
It was the salmon town where the kings came to fish.
But everyone here pronounces it 'salomon'. 

View from my window.

'Stave' is a medieval church.
I love how the two tombstones lean towards each other. 

This church is famous for it's dragon carvings.

Every trip I try to find a special souvenier.
This time it's a T shirt. 
But not just any T shirt.
It's a T shirt that he made, each with a number, for your place in line of having ridden or driven a specific local route with hairpin turns galore. 
Here is the route on the hood of his Lamborghini. 

Beautiful valleys. 

Decided to stop for lunch at this gorgeous hotel at the end of the fjord.
Enjoyed the luxurious common room overlooking the water.

Gorgeous deck outside but raining on and off. 

Fish n Chips and mashed peas. 
So yummy!

Then went to the cafe next door where they had taxidermy with humor.

This was particularity eerie. 
I liked it because it looked stuffed just as it did in life. 
Or at the end of life.

A friend was adamant that we avoid the 24 km long tunnel.
But then I read it had some cool lights.
So after taking the mountain pass, entered it from the other end,
to see what all the fuss was about.
Well it was pretty cool.
Just needed a Starbucks. 

Yet another mountain pass, due to a road that was closed and found another neat structure.

Next Airbnb where Grindle had a buddy to hang with.

It was an amazing place.
Difficult to find though. 
Google maps doesn't always know...
and a great view.
Nice kitchen where I cooked up a storm.
Lamb chops.
And a frittata the next morning with lots of veggies.
And some left over food because we were going to stay in a remote area the next day.
I didn't want to worry about whether we would find food.

Woke up later to snap a photo of the moon rise through the clouds.

The next day we caught the ferry to a special place on the same fjord as Pulpit Rock.
There was a spinny thing rattling like crazy.
Bob finally started to try and fix it. 

We took a lot of ferries.
But we also rode over many beautiful bridges. 

And the famous rock jutting out above the fjord. 
Three hour hike to get there? 
Nah, view it from below on the ferry. 

Booked a cute cabin with two rooms.

Living room facing the poor schmucks camping in tents.
In the rain.
In the cold.

This was my room. 
The bunk was so uncomfortable and narrow.
Kept kicking or banging my head. 

Then we rode by this gorgeous place on the way to Oslo.
Thor Hammer, my friend insisted we stay here.
It was very expensive and only noon.
We did stop for a meal on the back patio.

This is the kind of insanely gorgeous place you just want to wrap yourself up with a good book and glass of scotch and forget there is an outside world. 

Upstairs area with books.

Nope. Luxury accommodations weren't for us that night. 
Rode around the Oslo municipality and found a cheap Airbnb overlooking a lake.
I took the bedroom this time. 

Gorgeous view. And our host brought us wood for the wood burning cast iron stove.

And it wasn't red!
I had a few days before my flight home from Oslo and I really don't like big cities, 
nor does King Bob so I convinced him to go back to Sweden to a special place.

So the next day we crossed the border back into Sweden to the Dalsland area. 
My hostel room had a nice welcome sign with my name. 

It was a horribly uncomfortable foam mattress that is two years past its expiration.

King Bob stayed in well, a kingly place. 

One of the common areas. 

And another. 

Welcome to the Dalsland Canal. 

We had dinner at the only restaurant in this area that was still open.
This steak was incredible. 
I'll put it right up there with being the 3rd best steak of my life. 
It was so good, I told the chef, a Spanish girl and we came back the next day for the same thing.
When she gave me two steaks on my plate and no cucumbers. 

It was the 150 year anniversary of the Canal so there were all kinds of special festivities.
The Crown Princess was going to come that very weekend. 
We missed the rush but did share a crowded boat the next day to experience it. 
Captain Nancy.
Special Agent Nancy, 
Dangerous Goods Specialist (Vancouver Airport), 
Professional Saboteur (Gruto Park), 
Captain (Dalsland).
Right. Too long.

View from the bottom. 
What's amazing about this particular lock is the train bridge (green) and the vehicle bridge (tan) are both right over the canal which also has a water bridge. 

That's the water bridge that we took three locks going up to float across.
I feel like Disney got the idea for the water rides from this kind of place. 

Many of the locks are hand cranked 
by the energetic staff running 
from gate to gate to open and close. 

Moody clouds. 
We rode just ahead of the rain the day before.
Today it was just overcast, perfect day for our cruise. 

When the gates would open, the flood was impressive.
And according to some, 
disturbing if you were below decks. 

We had to take a horrible tour bus back. 
They stopped the historic train just the week before.
Or we would have gone back over that same green bridge earlier. 
Heck yeah, I'll have a martini. 
Hit the button. 
No one came. 

The next day we got up 
and rode the last day towards Oslo.
I was so melancholy. 
It had been a month, 
and I did miss home,
and loved ones,
but wow, what an adventure.
I was so grateful to have met Bob. 
He was a great riding partner. 
My bed in Oslo.

View from Thor's place. 
I met him on ADV rider too. 
His name really is Thor Hammer.  
He lives right smack in the middle of the waterfront.
We also saw Pan's Labyrinth in a park one night.

Hybrid, moose/motorcycle sculpture. 

The King's Ship.

And with the ride officially over, I had dessert.....

and a well overdue G&T. 
With salad in it.
A ridiculous amount of garnish that absolutely ruined it.

So I tried again, later that night, back at Thor's condo.

Drinking Harahorn Gin and Tonic. 

Wearing my new helmet. 

With a straw. 

Another successful ride.
Pretty sure I'm over 40 countries now.

New Zealand March 2019.....