Friday, September 23, 2016

2017 Lofoten Calendars available

Calendars with photos from my Scandinavian bike adventure for 2017 are now available:

English calendar:

English calendar - For more information click on the photo

German calendar (Deutscher Kalender):
Deutscher Kalender - Für mehr Informationen bitte auf das photo klicken

These calendars are available in online bookstores as well as in your local bookstore (they might not have them in the store, but will be able to order them for you). To avoid confusion: I do not sell these calendars directly.

Of course you know that there have been Lofoten calendars last year as well. For 2017 I have changed the layout and I have replaced and/or improved the photos presented in the calendars. The photo-captions are now always on the index page and the photos of the calendar pages are a little larger than the photo on the cover page. Of course the GPS coordinates are included in the captions of the photos and, in case you haven't seen it yet, you can find the story behind the Norway and Lofoten photos on here on my blog too.
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Friday, September 16, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Trondheim

(Sunday, June 29th 2014)

Today’s first task was not, as one might think, to get breakfast. No, we actually had to do the laundry before that. First after our clothes were clean and dry we had the chance to go to town to find a place to have a rather late breakfast at 2p.m.—not because we started the clothes washing so late but rather because it took half an eternity to dry our bike clothes.

Well, we finished the washing adventure eventually—unfortunately by then the nice weather of the early morning had changed into a grey and rainy sky—and found, on our way to town, a nice cafe which offered some tasty baguettes and a nice cup of tea.
Unfortunately we did not have the time to really take it slow, because we had to meet up at the railway station to get our train tickets. Yesterday evening I had been able to get someone of the Norwegian Railway service to reserve some tickets for Solo and me, but—since we did this via chat and not via phone—we had not been able to pay for them. Had we done the reservation by phone we would have gotten our tickets from the conductor of the train. But now we had to go to the railway stations service point and actually get them ahead of our ride. Of course this being a Sunday we were rather lucky they had opened at all, because we still wanted to leave town early on Monday.

After all the vital chores were done we were finally ready to do some sightseeing. If there is one thing Trondheim is well known, for except its University—the NTNU—it must be its cathedral, which we were heading for now.

Trondheim Cathedral (Nidarosdom)
Nidarosdomen — the Cathedral of Trondheim

The cathedral is said to be built on the grave of King Olaf the Holy—the king who was the first to adopt a christian legislation in Norway in 1027 and who died, just a few years later, during the battle of Stiklestad on June 29th 1030. This did not grant him the title „the Holy“ though. What did that was more what happened after the battle. First of all the dead body of King Olaf had to be smuggled away from the battlefield so that it would not fall into the hands of his opponent. It was then buried on shore of the River Nid. A solar eclipse was connected to the battle—one of the most famous battles in Norwegian history—which was defined as a message of heavenly disgust and a wound of a follower of King Olaf was said to have healed after some of the King’s blood touched it. About a year after the battle and King Olaf’s first funeral the grave was opened again and it turned out that not only was his body unharmed but his hair and nails had grown and he was red to his cheeks. Today, of course, at least the latter is scientifically explainable, but at the time it was most certainly enough for King Olaf to be declared a saint and a martyr by bishop Grimkjell. The body of Saint Olaf was then put in a shrine and put on the high altar of Clemens Church.

Forty years after the death of Saint Olaf, King Olaf Kyrre built a church of stone over the grave of the saint.—Yes you will find many Scandinavian kings called Olav or Olaf, which is quite confusing when you are reading books like the tales of kings by Snorre (Snorres Kongesagaer), as they are in one sentence just little children playing with each other and in the next one adults in some war against each other…—
This was the beginning of the building of the cathedral, which was finished in 1300. Unfortunately it burned down multiple times in the following years and centuries, so that in 1869 the church was pretty much lying in ruins. But the upcoming national consciousness of the 19th century also started the idea of rebuilding and restoring the church as a national treasure.
The restoration has taken part continuously in 130 years and is still ongoing…they say that whenever they finish restoring one part of the church they have to start another one.

We had spent some time inside the cathedral—unfortunately we had arrived too late for any guided tours—before, on our way out, we saw a sign indicating that we could climb the cathedral’s tower for an additional fee. Despite the weather we decided to get the tickets for the climb and enjoy as much of the view as we could get.
There is only a restricted number of people allowed at each time to climb the tower as the staircase is narrow and slippery, so we had to wait for about half an hour before we could start our tour. We decided to spend a little time, constantly watching the clock, at the bishop’s residence.
Too sad we had been this late down at the cathedral, as the exhibitions in the bishop’s palace seemed interesting enough to capture one for a couple of hours and by the time we would have climbed down from the tower again the other parts of the area would be closed already.

Soon what little time we had, had passed and we made our way back into the cathedral to meet up with the guide and the other participants of the tower-climb. I have climbed a few places like lighthouses and church towers before, none of these had ever included a security briefing like we went through here. Well, it wasn’t a long one, but those suffering from fear of height, heart conditions or asthma were asked to go in the back of the group so that they could turn back, should they feel incapable of getting all the way up. Had they gone in front it would have been impossible to pass the remaining upwards going group. None of our group had to turn back though. But yes, the staircase was really narrow and instead of a balustrade you enjoyed hanging onto a rope—as the guide had pointed out it was not built according to 21st centuries building standards. It was well worth the climb, and if the weather had been any better we would have been able to enjoy a really beautiful view over Trondheim.

Back down from the top of the tower Solo and I decided to head back to our room as there was not much sense in getting cold and wet in town anyway.

Traditional Storage houses along the Nidarelva
Traditional Storage houses along the Nidarelva

In the evening Solo decided to find a pub to sit down and write some of his travel stories to be published on his website and since the weather hadn’t improved too much and I would be—if I was sitting next to him—more of a hindrance than anything else he went alone, while I stayed behind in our room and tried to plan our route for the next day.
We hadn’t booked railway tickets from Trondheim for Tuesday, but from Levanger some 80 kilometers north-east, because we wanted to use the Monday for another bike ride. Unfortunately I had some serious difficulties finding a route that would not have us cycling on the E6 along side with trailers and caravans without knowing if there was a shoulder for us to ride on or not.
Eventually I found one that looked as if it would work out. And by the time I had finished plotting it into my GPS the weather had improved quite a bit too.
Now I would have liked to go out for a short walk, maybe take some photos in the evening’s light. But unfortunately, with Solo, our only key for the room had left too. So not only would I not have had a chance to get back into our room, but I wouldn’t even have had a chance to get it locked behind me…
If only I had noticed that earlier on…
All I could do now was to try to fall asleep to stop me from getting really p… about it.
I cannot say that it improved my mood a lot that, when he finally returned, Solo told me how nice the sky had looked when he walked back to our room. Of course, by the time he told me, it was too late to get out again…
Lesson learned: if you share a room with a friend during a bike ride, make sure you both get a key to it…

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Calendar photo of the month: September 2016

This month's calendar photo is from my German Lofoten calendars and planners. It shows a part of the Sundstraumen coastline as seen from Flagstadøya. The story behind this photo is going to be told here in November 2016.

Sundstraumen coastline - Flakstadøya
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Friday, September 2, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Kristiansund — Trondheim

(Saturday, June 28th 2014)

When we woke up this morning, we found our tent covered in bugs — again — somehow we really must have had a clue about how to find the area in the campground with the most bugs, remember this had happened during our first night in the tent in Vikersund too.
Well, what was it they told me all the time: those things that do not kill you will only make you harder.
Of course we got through that too, even though this time the bugs came like a cloud over us and we rushed our stuff out of the tent to pack it, in a less buggy area, into our pannier bags.
The cafe that had those nice burgers last night also offered breakfast, which we enjoyed very much.
Our plan for the day was to see if we could get our bikes on the ferry to Trondheim early, so that we would afterwards have a chance to walk around in Kristiansund without having to worry about them. Not only did that plan not work out but the ferry that I had believed to leave at 12p.m. did actually not leave before 2:30p.m. Yes we had checked it yesterday, but unfortunately I had completely forgotten that today would be a Saturday…
Well, it didn’t matter too much since we wanted to spend a night in Trondheim anyway, and now we had a couple of hours to kill in Kristiansund.
We were lucky though, as the day was chilly but sunny, so it did not matter too much to stay outside.
With some visits to bookstores and grocery stores for supplies, where one of us watched the bikes outside while the other one went inside to get what we needed, those hours were gone fast.

Soon we had boarded another ferry.
The distance between Kristiansund and Trondheim is only about 197 km, so it would have been doable in possibly two days of bike riding. But when I researched this part of our ride I could not find a safe road to travel on. I was not certain the E39 would offer us a shoulder to ride on, and all roads that would possibly have allowed us to stay away from that European Road were dead ends at some point. So the only way I saw to make it to Trondheim was to take a ferry. We could even have re-embarked on the Hurtigruten last night, it would have left at around 2a.m. to arrive in Trondheim early in the morning. But with the experience from our last embarkation on a Hurtigruten boat fresh in our minds and knowing that it would mean we would not get a cabin unless we were eager to break our budgets, I didn’t like the idea too much to start with, so I never suggested it to Solo as a real option. If we still had been behind our schedule, maybe I would have considered it.

This way we had a good night’s sleep in the tent — well at least I had — and an enjoyable ferry ride in the afternoon.

This photo is also published in Lille Ulven Photography's English Norway calendar.

Since we hadn’t pre-booked any hotel or hostel, our first task in Trondheim was to find a place to stay. So we stopped at the first hotel we saw on our way toward the city center, and learned that we were this time not — like in Bergen — outrun by foreign tourists. No, this time Norwegians from all over the country had come to Trondheim and booked their rooms far ahead of us.
But at least we got a little tourist map and an indication from the receptionist where we might have a chance to find a room for the night. First we wanted to try the tourist information though, maybe they had other ideas of where we could stay? Well, it turned out much more difficult to find the tourist information than what we had expected, and once we got to where we believed it to be it was closed. Of course. It was a Saturday evening with beautiful weather. The best reason to close an office early in Norway during the summer months: sunshine.
Well, this actually goes much further than this.

In the winter of 2004 it had rained continuously for more than 60 days in a row in Bergen, when the weather forecast finally predicted a day of sunshine. The Bergens Tidene — one of the two local newspapers of Bergen — had the following headline about it (from my memory): „Parents please warn your children before tomorrow, so that they don’t get scared. Because that big yellow thing in the sky, which we will get to see tomorrow morning, is not a UFO or some other dangerous thing, it is just the sun coming out for a couple of hours.“
People were advised to enjoy the sunshine with a breakfast on the balcony. And on the actual day the papers news editorial staff closed the office and published not a single update for an hour so they all could go outside and enjoy the sun.

So expecting a tourist office to be open on a sunny Saturday evening…well your chances of winning the lottery were bigger.
I knew that close to the cathedral of Trondheim there was a so called Pilgrimshjem — a place to stay over night for those who had followed the old pilgrims route from Oslo to Trondheim — so we found that and had to find out that also here was no bed available. They even had placed a sign outside that they had no room left, so no one would have to come in and be rejected.
Somewhat prepared for further rejections, we made our way toward that hostel that the receptionist at the first hotel had pointed out for us. Following what must be one of the steepest climbs I had ever made on a fully packed bike — as we did not dare to try the bike-elevator.
Yes, you read it right. Trondheim has a bike-elevator, where you place your right foot on some sort of track and have your left one on the left pedal of your bike, which rolls next to you on the street while you are pushed up the hill. But it seemed that one would need some training with this before attempting to use the elevator with packed bikes like ours.
Eventually we arrived at the hostel and I went inside to ask for a room. They had none.
So we took another look at our map when I discovered hidden in the corner an advertisement for a youth hostel. Since they had given both an address and a phone number, yet I had forgotten to bring my cell phone with me, I went back inside the hostel, which just had to give us the bad news and asked if they could call that youth hostel for us. The girl at the reception was so nice to do so. And after I confirmed that it would not be a problem for Solo and me to share a room, we had secured the probably last available room in all of Trondheim!
Solo was at the time already fully prepared to walk around in Trondheim through the entire night and to catch the first train out of it.
But sometimes one gets lucky after all.

Upon arrival at our accommodation we asked immediately if we could keep the room for two days, as we knew we would have to wash some clothes on the next day and so not be able to leave Trondheim too early. Luck had it that this was no problem.
So we moved into our new room and started getting ready for the evening. Now that we knew when we wanted to leave Trondheim I could try to secure some train tickets for us…
On Monday morning we would take the first train out of Trondheim with the direction of Mo i Rana, or so we thought.

Again we had failed to consider the Norwegian cyclists into our equation. Without a phone I could not call the Norwegian Railway Service (NSB) but had to rely on their chat, which took a while before it was my turn in the queue. And the first thing I was told when I asked for tickets including bikes for Monday morning was that there were none available for Monday at all. Ups.
But there were some for the earliest train on Tuesday. I discussed it with Solo, who was eager to get back on the bike by Monday, so we changed our plans and booked the train on Tuesday. Yet…you cannot pay your ticket — when it includes the fare for a bike — via chat or the internet page of the NSB. You have to call them.
Well, I explained to the lady I was chatting with that calling was a bigger problem for us as we had no phone. Thankfully there was a solution for that one: we could just go to the NSB office in Trondheim early on Sunday to pay and pick up our reserved tickets. Sometimes I love it when things work out after all.

After this new adventure included in our little adventure we had become hungry and went out for dinner. Finding a pub which served us some food was at least easier than finding a room or train ticket today…

What a day!


You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

2017 Norway Calendars available

Calendars with photos from my Scandinavian bike adventure for 2017 are now available:

English calendar:
English calendar - For more information click on the photo

German calendar (Deutscher Kalender):
Deutscher Kalender - Für mehr Informationen bitte auf das photo klicken

These calendars are available in online bookstores as well as in your local bookstore (they might not have them in the store, but will be able to order them for you). To avoid confusion: I do not sell these calendars directly.

Of course you know that there have been Norway/Norwegen calendars last year as well. For 2017 I have changed the layout and I have replaced and/or improved the photos presented in the calendars. The photo-captions are now always on the index page and the photos of the calendar pages are a little larger than the photo on the cover page. Of course the GPS coordinates are included in the captions of the photos and, in case you haven't seen it yet, you can find the story behind the Norway and Lofoten photos on here on my blog too.
Read more »

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Scandinavian Adventure: Molde — Kristiansund

(Friday, June 27th 2014)

I woke up at around 4a.m. this morning, some dew had been collected on our tent’s walls, it was still chilly outside and once Solo saw that I was awake he told me to go back to sleep as it was too early to get up. Well that was an advise I could not deny to take. So I cuddled back into my sleeping bag, since I had this time learned to put my clothes underneath it to give me some insulation I wasn’t freezing as much as I had when we first camped in Vikersund — that seemed like months ago now, and went back into the world of dreams.
Until eventually being asked to hand over my cup and teabag, so that I could get the first tea of the day which Solo was preparing on his stove a few hours later.

Soon we were ready to pack our belongings into our pannier bags yet another time and break camp. Luckily the weather was on our side too — the sun shining already to a blue sky with some clouds over some mountains on the other side of the fjord. It looked like a perfect day for cycling toward Kristiansund.
But before leaving the camp I just had to spend some time taking some photos…
One of the almost surprising things when traveling with Solo, he’s the first one to tell me to stop cycling and to take some photos, never impatient, never hurrying me to finish, but always giving me as much time as I need to finish the photography, assisting me if necessary.

Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen in the early morning
Trolltinden, Prosten and Trollstolen

Before the clock turned 7:45a.m. we were back in the saddles of our bikes — as so often before with the first task of finding a place to have breakfast. We considered for a little while to ride back into town hoping to find a neat cafe for breakfast, but that would have meant adding more kilometers to the ride. This time our planned ride to Kristiansund did not seem to offer us a plan B to stop somewhere before Kristiansund and call it a day. So every extra kilometer we had to put into the day’s ride had to be justified somehow. The choice was clear, we had to find our breakfast somewhere along the route that we were traveling on and not somewhere behind us.
In those cases I was reasonably happy to find gas stations that also sell some food, it isn’t the food I would rely on when I am not traveling, but hey the idea of guessing that there might be a better place to have breakfast some kilometers ahead is not something that really keeps you going for a long ride. If there was and the gas stations food — a baguette for me — was not enough then we still had a chance to put in an extra stop.

So we soon were back on our bikes pedaling along the E39 before turning onto the 64. Now the 64 had after just a few clicks a tiny surprise for us. A tunnel some 3 kilometers ahead and a road to go around it adding a few more kilometers to our count of the day.
When I did all the research for this trip I also did some research on tunnels that we could or could not pass on bicycles. Sometimes those tunnels that we could not pass on bikes would have a road around them, sometimes we would be forced to take the bus or a completely different route. When we reached the junction I was uncertain if this was one of those tunnels that we could pass or if it was not.
So we had to decide between going those 3 kilometers and possibly having to cycle them back to where we were or rather taking the road around it in the first place. We decided for the latter option — and we did make a good decision, when I later looked it up it turned out that this was one of those tunnels that are closed for cyclists.
And the road around the tunnel was mostly in a valley without any steep climbs, if we had been hungry we could even have found a place to eat half way into it.
Soon we were back on the 64 continuing our northbound ride.


At the junction where the 64 splits into the 663, 664 and 64 near Sylte we had to make another decision. We could of course stay northbound on the 64 and shorten our route significantly, or we could take the longer routes either all the way around the peninsula reaching Bud on the westbound 664 or taking the one in between and going north again on the 663. Since we were still good in time we decided to go on the smaller roads — the ones with the higher numbers — which now looked much better than the smaller roads we had pedaled along during our first days of our ride. So we had a chance to enjoy more of the coastal view as well. 

Gulvågen near Bud
Bay of Gulvågen near Bud

Eventually we decided to go for the longest option, taking the westbound 664 toward Bud and follow it north-east-bound from there toward Vevang, where we would eventually turn back onto the 64. Now fully exposed to the coastline we also were fully exposed to some chill wind coming against us. With a temperature of around 12˚C and the chilly wind we soon stopped to put on more clothes.
At some point we had to look out for an opportunity to fulfill some human needs and Solo told me to shout „Photo“ if I saw such an opportunity. Well the next thing I spotted was an opportunity to take a photo instead, so I yelled „Photo“. He turned back and asked me what I had seen, so I told him that I wanted to take a photo…not to fulfill my human needs. :-)

Lacking a cafe or some sort of warm building we had our lunch in a bus stop again. Getting out of the wind was much more important than the view which might have been offered in a different spot. Again our lunch was brief and easy…just some nuts and almonds and raisin rolls that I had bought, following my instincts, at the gas station earlier in the morning.
Getting back outside of our little shelter was a trial…but then we had some road ahead of us, so no chance for cowards, not now at least.
There is a reason I wanted to go on this route in the first place. Not only is it quite beautiful — even though not as spectacular maybe as some other places that I have seen — but it also is part of the well known Atlanterhavsveien — the Atlantic Ocean Road, with some stunning bridges that I wanted to see for a long time. 

Atlanterhavsveien - The Atlantic Ocean Road. This photo is published in Lille Ulven Photography's Norway calendars.
Atlanterhavsveien - The Atlantic Ocean Road

I always believed that the bridges would not be legal for cyclists to cross on their bikes, until I was proven wrong when I started my research for this trip. So now I was finally able to cycle this road for myself.
Yet the wind was still a bit strong, and I seriously wondered if it would be safe for us on our bike to cross the bridge. There was no shoulder on the road which we could have used to ride on, so we had to share the road with caravans and lorries. Solo decided he would try out first, if he could make it onto the top of the bridge I would follow him, if he could not he would turn and we would have to find another option. Not that there would have been much of another option than pitching tent in the wilderness and hoping for the wind to calm down later.
But yes, we both made it over the bridges safely and made it all the way to Kuholmen.
We found a little cafe to take some well needed rest and have something to drink to refill our bodies.
To reach Kristiansund we would have to ride some more miles on the 64 before we had to get into a bus which would take us through the 6km long Atlanterhavsveientunnel from Bremsnes to Kristiansund. I knew we weren’t allowed to enter the tunnel with our bikes — I later found out that this was because the tunnel had a speed limit of 80km/h and was one of the main roads into Kristiansand with no shoulder for bikes to travel on — so I was looking out for a bus stop once we reached Bremsnes. I didn’t quite remember at the time that this was the village where we would have to get our bikes into a bus, but we were both worn out at the time and some instinct told me that we were close to our target. We found the bus stop and soon after the bus to Kristiansand arrived there too. Incredibly good timing. It turned out this was really the very last bus stop before the tunnel, so had we gone on, we would have met the sign telling us that bikes weren’t allowed in the tunnel.
A couple of weeks after we had passed the tunnel in the bus I read about some tourists who actually went through on their bikes. The tunnel is under video surveillance though, so they were soon discovered and the tunnel entries blocked for all other traffic. The cyclists were then guided through by the police.
Considering there was no sign near the bus stop that this was the last bus stop before the tunnel and that cyclists weren't allowed to pass it on their bikes, I am actually not too surprised that someone attempted it. I don’t know if we would have made the same decision or if we would have gone back and rerouted our tour if we would have been in the same position as they were.
The bus ride was short and expensive with 180NOK per person (bike included), so we soon reached the other side of the tunnel and once I spotted the sign for the campground I made us leave the bus at the next stop.
Getting the bikes onto the bus was a challenge for Solo — he took care of the bikes while I paid our tickets — getting them off the bus wasn’t much easier. Having made it with all our stuff out of the bus we found the way to the campground where we would pitch tents for the night.
This time the campground came with a lovely little cafe where we had dinner — the yummiest burgers and fries I’ve ever had — which made up for the rather worn shower facilities. We had asked if there was a chance to do some clothes washing in the evening but were told that the washing machines weren’t working. Well a day more or less wouldn’t matter much.

After dinner we took a walk into town, believing it would be no more than the 20 minutes we were told…well it turned out to take us more like an hour to get into town. But at least we had a chance to check out the timetable for the ferry that we would have to take the next day.

Harbor of Kristiansund
Harbor of Kristiansund

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Calendar photo of the month: August 2016

The calendar photo of this month is from my A-formatted New Zealand calendars: Otago - The Neck. The road connects Wanaka to Fox and leads along the shore of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.
The story behind this photo has been published on my blog in this post: Fox - Wanaka

Otago - The Neck
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