From Munich to Sognefjord – Day 2. Eckernförde - Sauland - 700 km
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
We set out on the road early in the morning after only 6 hours of sleep, as the ferry to Norway left at 12:45 from the port of Hirtshals and we had to arrive one hour before departure due to security checks. That meant we had no time for breakfast and coffee as we had to cross the entire Jutland peninsula before noon.
The drive was easy, the road flat as a pancake and deprived of traffic. As we reached the Danish border, the border guard gave a sign to pull over for security control. He was probably surprised to see a Hungarian car but was even more astonished when we told him our destination.
“You know that Norway is an expensive country, right?” – he asked as he was controlling our passports.
“Yes, we know” – we replied laughing.
“Have a safe trip then” – he uttered with a smile after he looked into the back of the car and made the sign to move along.
Without making any negative assumptions with regards to the border guard´s observation, I was startled by something else. If a Danish person considers Norway an expensive country - and we knew what prices to expect, since we had our hotel reservation already -, how expensive is Denmark? As far as I knew, all Scandinavian countries - including Denmark - were considered among the most expensive countries in the world, like Japan and Switzerland. Or was I wrong, and Denmark is not that expensive after all? I guess we´ll need to come back and spend some time in Denmark too…
The sun was shining over the flat Danish fields. It was cold outside, but since we meant to cross the entire country in one morning, it didn´t really matter. I was just staring out the window and was trying to imagine how life is up here in the North, without realizing that there are lands further to the north than this. True to my habit, I started up my good old friend Google and searched for some answers. It turns out Denmark is the 8th most expensive country in the world, with the highest minimum wage in the world, living mainly off wind turbine manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, machinery, meat and dairy products, to name a few of them. Most famous for its capital Copenhagen, Hans Cristian Andersen´s Little Mermaid and the exotic Faroe Islands and Greenland, Denmark is often called one of the happiest countries in the world. Researchers attribute this fact to the high-quality education and health care system. As I was getting familiar with the country´s demographics, geographical and economical data, my attention was diverted when I caught a glimpse of the third rainbow in the sky that we saw since crossing the border.
“Look at that! This is the third rainbow I saw in the course of 2 hours since we are in Denmark. This is the country of rainbows.”
“It´s true it rains often in the Jutland peninsula during autumn, but I doubt it is the country of rainbows” – added Greg, half attentive to what I was babbling, paying more attention to the road.
“But it´s the third one we´ve seen this morning.” – I insisted.
“It rains in spots and it´s clearing up here and there, and the sun light is refracted and reflected by the rain drops.” – added Greg skeptically. – “Nothing special about it.”
“I am telling you; this is the country of rainbows; I bet you!”
“Alright, if we see at least 3 rainbows on our way back from Norway, you win, and I will agree it´s the country of rainbows. But if not, you owe me a pizza.”
“Deal. I am looking forward to my pizza as I´m sure we will see many rainbows on our way back.” – and I laid back in the seat dreaming of pizza and coffee.
We reached the port two hours before the departure. The security check went smoothly, the system detected the registration based on the number plate of our car and printed out the ticket immediately. No further verification was needed; the only thing left was the arrival of the ship and the start of our cruise. As we waited, the torrential rain stopped, and a fifth rainbow appeared in the sky.
The ship arrived, and we were eagerly expecting to finally have a good lunch and coffee and enjoy a cruise on the North Sea for the first time ever. We made reservations for the on-board restaurant called “Catch Me if you can”. This ticket allows you to enjoy a rich, typical Scandinavian lunch with plenty of fish, sea fruits, meat, potato dish accompanied with sauces. There were plentiful choices of deserts, fruits, ice-cream and even cheese for French palates. Ice-cream was the preferred choice for most, and after the bellies were filled, everyone was walking around with a cup of ice-cream. After about an hour the restaurant was deserted and the few left enjoyed the cruise with beers on the table.
Some went to visit the casino, some went for shopping in the duty-free shop, while others went out on the deck for a smoke. The stormy clouds that gathered in Hirtshals when we departed were already left behind and as we advanced, the sun popped out amid the clouds. We´ve been on cruises before, but they were short ones, mostly on Lake Balaton. Being out on the sea was a different feeling. A strong cold wind was hitting us, ready to blow you off the deck directly into the sea for the deep waters to swallow you in the blink of an eye.
We soon lost sight of land and were swinging lightly on the waves for hours until we caught the sight of the Norwegian shores. The sun was setting, and we rolled out of the ferry and stepped on Norwegian land. The words ˝Der echte Norden˝ - meaning “The real north” - came to my mind: here we are, we arrived in the land of the Vikings which has the most Northern point of Europe.
About a 100kms drive was ahead of us to reach the hotel and after a small halt at a gas station we set out on the road again. Darkness fell upon the city, but the road was lit even after we left the populated area. It would have been an ideal situation if the road was lit the entire way, but soon we left the main road and the speed limit went from 90 km/h to only 60 or 50. At some point the GPS got literally lost and directed us to a dead end. Despair grew on us as we searched for a way out in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. We hit the road again, now with the instructions of 2 GPS-es and soon we found ourselves on a road with no railings and narrowing down to one lane. Yet the traffic was going in both directions. Where the speed limit was 80km/h we could barely advance with 60 and where the limit was 60, we were jolting with 40. It looked like we were ahead of a long night and while we could have travelled this distance in less than an hour on a German or Danish road, it took us almost 3 hours in these untamed parts of Norway. We had no idea what was awaiting us the following days…
After 3 hours of creeping along on winding single lane roads, along some unknown fjord and wood covered hills, we eventually arrived at the hotel, where the host received us with a slightly clumsy politeness.
After check-in we fell into the couch relieved and content to have completed the second day of our adventurous journey.