Archive for July, 2016

Dordrecht & de Hollandse Biesbosch

Earlier in July I went to the Netherlands to attend the wedding of a high school friend. It finished early in the evening, and I made plans with my sister to go camping and visit an area neither of us had ever been: National Park De Biesbosch, a freshwater tidal wetlands area. We found a nature camping called De Kleine Rug, located on a peninsula that could only be reached by boat. So when we arrived at the parking lot, we called them up, and they came to pick us up by boat – so cool 😀

The jetty where we waited with our luggage for the boat to take us to the campsite

My sister on the boat

The campsite was really nice, and we made hamburgers and drank wine 🙂 the only thing we hadn’t counted on: MOSQUITOS. Hmm yes, should have guess they like wetlands. They drove us a bit crazy. We went for a short walk in the evening, but quite quickly decided it was better to retreat to the tent 😉

The next morning we took the boat back to the parking lot. The boat was called Heen en Weer Wolf, after a character from a famous Dutch children’s book that I love. A direct translation would be There and Back Wolf, but in the English translation he’s called Tell me Wherewoulf which works better as it keeps the joke about the werewolf 😉

Laura getting on board the next morning. The boat is called Heen en Weer Wolf, a character from a children's book. In English the character is called Tell me Wherewoulf

We drove to the visitor center of the National Park and had breakfast there. Then we paid to take a solar powered ferry to the other side, where we went for a nice walk.

The solar powered ferry that took us to the start of our walk (for a small fee)

Nice views along the way… we could have gone kayaking or canoeing here, but we had booked a beaver safari (by boat) for late in the evening, so we would see the area from the water later.

Pretty views on the walk

We did a walk that was partly like an open air museum. This area was used for willow cultivation, and we saw several huts, houses and boats used by willow workers in those days. Must have been a hard life, especially since they mainly worked in the cold and wet winter when the willows didn’t have leaves. It was hard work and they stayed in the area for a week, only going home for the weekends.

Example of a primitive hut used by willow workers

Inside a typical boat used by the willow workers - two people could sleep here, even though it's tiny!

A willow toilet, flushed twice a day by the tides...

At some point the government decided the circumstances for the willow workers were too primitive, and they built stone houses for them to use.

A house used by the willow workers, after the government decided the primitive huts they used before were not suitable

After this nice (but slightly muddy) walk we took the ferry back to the visitor’s center, and we drove to Dordrecht to explore the city. It’s a very old city, and really nice to visit 🙂

The town hall in Dordrecht

Outside cafe in Dordrecht

The market in Dordrecht

The church and part of the harbour in Dordrecht

We had dinner outside on one of the squares, until it was time to drive back to the visitor center for our “beaver safari” 😀 We first went for a walk with a guide, who told us all about beavers, also because they don’t want to shout those stories while on the boat (better to be quiet while on a wildlife safari 😉 ). It was a really calm evening, and the boat trip by itself was really nice!

Views from our beaver safari in the evening

With pretty views in the soft evening light…

A reflected windmill

Soft evening colours

But it didn’t take long before we actually saw a beaver swimming near the shore! We ended up seeing three, though we were on the wrong side of the boat for one of them. I took a photo, but without a good zoom it’s hardly worth showing. So instead a photo of the beaver cookie they served us with a hot chocolate – much easier to photograph 😉

Cookies and hot chocolate - this beaver was easier to photograph than the real one!

We drove back home after the boat tour, as my sister had a race to run the next day. We both really enjoyed being tourists in our own country, and decided to do trips like this more often! 🙂

Midsummer Night Ride

Last weekend I did something crazy: I took the train to Grua and cycled all the way back to Oslo through the forest, nearly 60 km – in the middle of the night! It was beautiful: sunset at nearly 23:00, an orange moon rising, a sunset melting into sunrise, with beautiful twilight colours. I hardly saw anyone (except for a few people camping in the forest), but I did meet two big moose and heard the eerie call of the loon echoing over mirror-calm lakes. Oh and a billion annoying little flies, but let’s forget about that 😉

From Grua I cycled a long uphill to Mylla, where I took a short break to enjoy the views…

Evening views at Mylla

Perfect reflections

Mylla panorama

I cycled along the south side of the lake (Mylla), never far from the shore and pretty views…

A rowing boat in the forest

After leaving the lake and climbing up through the forest, this view suddenly opened up – magical!

Suddenly this view opened up - magical!

Moody skies around midnight. There was a lot of rain on the way, and I kept thinking it would start to cloud over, but it actually cleared up after this 🙂

Moody skies around midnight

I stopped very often, as I couldn’t resist taking photos of views like this…

The skies kept changing, but the colours were beautiful all night

The whole route was along forest (dirt) roads, but one small part went on a narrow track with boardwalks through the forest – fun 🙂

I mostly cycled on dirt roads, but there was a short part that went through the forest on a narrow path with boardwalks

At the end of that path I reached Gjerdingen Dam…

Gjerdingen

There were a couple of cabins here, and the light was on in the house. There were also two tents used by cyclists at the shore of the lake.

A couple of cabins at Gjerdingen Dam, and if you look closely there are two tents in use by cyclists

More pretty views…

Such fantastic views...

And some really magical views at Hakkloa. If the little flies weren’t driving me crazy, I would have stayed here much longer!

Magical moments at Hakkloa

After that there were some gruelling climbs up from Bjørnsjøen (I skipped Kikutstua as I was getting tired by now and wanted to get home), but after that it was mainly downhill all the way home. I finally got home at 4 in the morning. I met a lot of people on their way home from a night out, which is always surreal when you’ve been in the quiet forest for hours.

If anyone is interested in this route, it’s described here: Til byen fra Grua. Recommended! You need to book and pay to take your bike on the train from Oslo to Grua, but this is easily done online, even last minute.