Norway by ferrari
No camping, sleeping rough or couchsurfing required, because a girl needs the occasional bit of comfort!
Returning from a big rally is always a bit of an anti-climax and after three and a half months on the road from the UK to Singapore life at home was feeling dull. I longed to be on the road again but knew I wouldn't be able to afford another trip for a long time, then the phone rang. It was my friend Bachi, he wanted a video making for his driving tour company, in Norway. It was a supercar tour so Pedro wouldn't be able to keep up, instead he would go to the garage for some much needed tlc.
Ten cars would be taking part in the Viking Tour, 5 Ferrari's, a Porsche, a Lotus Elise, a VW Golf R32, a Ford Focus RS and a BMW E46 M3. Bachi would be driving his red Ferrari 360 Spyder and I would share the BMW with Petrolhead Nirvana tour manager Pete. There were no direct ferries to Norway so from Harwich we took an overnight crossing to Ejsberg, Denmark. A couple of hours of driving and we were on another boat, this time a small car ferry, which took us to Kristiansand in Norway. It was a rough crossing which sent us reeling around the cabin like drunks!
From our hotel in Kristiansand we drove north, through tunnels and alongside lakes as blue as the sky. The previous days stormy sea crossing had cleared the air and left behind a perfect summers day, perfect for the winding mountain roads! I'd swapped into Bachi's Ferrari for the day but he was having trouble with his gear changes. The car had a new clutch before the tour and he was struggling to change gear. At lunch he and aussie ex-pat Mick topped up the clutch fluid and made sure there was no air in the system but the problems persisted. Bachi had to double de-clutch every time he wanted to change gear or risk crunching the box. Pete led the group and we dropped to the back, trying to change gear as little as possible.
After lunch progress was slowed slightly by sheep blocking the road. We parked and waited while they were herded past before winding our way over the mountain tops and down to the first of many small fjord ferries. Despite his failing clutch Bachi still couldn't resist the urge to drop a gear and make some noise in the many mountain tunnels.
Day 4 and we abandoned Bachi, not because of his poorly clutch but because there wasn't room for him on the little fjord ferry we boarded! Fortunately for him the ferries ran every 30 minutes and we found lunch and a little shop to explore while we waited for him. Fortunately for me I had swapped cars again so was not left behind. I was travelling instead with Amit in his Ferrari 348 while his dad swapped into the M3 with Pete. Tax on supercars is prohibitive in Norway so we were surprised to pass a locally registered Lamborghini on our way to the Laerdal tunnel. At 24.5kms Laerdal is the world's longest road tunnel. Eerily lit caverns are carved out along the length of the tunnel to provide drivers with a rest stop.
Our hotel was close to the entrance of the tunnel and far enough north to experience the midnight sun. The next morning instead of going through the tunnel we drove over the top. First stop was a look out hundreds of feet above our hotel with the best view from possibly any loo in the world. The campervans we got stuck beside only diminished our enjoyment of the road slightly as we amused ourselves with Monty Python quotes and songs over the walkie talkies. After another game of musical cars I spent day 5 in the Lotus with Matt. It wasn't as fast as the other cars in the fleet in a straight line but on the twisty mountain roads we held our own.
A lunchtime stop for reindeer burgers at The Christmas Shop resulted in some interesting additions to some of the cars and bets on who would be the first to have a toy moose bouncing off their windscreen! A length of road works didn't delay us for long and we were rewarded on the other side by one of the most beautiful roads yet, alongside a frozen lake. We stopped for photos and built little stone towers as seemed to be the tradition in the area. The roads just kept getting better and better and if the view from the roads weren't enough to take the breath away then the boat trip that wrapped up the day certainly was. The ship took us along the gerainger fjord, between sheer rock walls with waterfalls tumbling down to join us.
The next day I was back in the M3 with Pete for more fjords and then the amazing Atlantic coast road. Twisting bridges defied physics to link rocky outcrops of coastline together. It was the only overcast day we experienced but the day was about to get brighter as an ambulance yellow Mercedes SLS passed us in the opposite direction. They must have been as surprised as us to see other supercars on the road as we pulled into a car park and they swung in to join us. The SLS was fairly new to the market and we had never seen one in this colour. We sensed there was something different about this car, it was quiet, too quiet! The Mercedes support vehicle and camera crew should have been a clue to. It was a prototype electric SLS; they'd brought it to the Atlantic road as they thought it would be good spot for a secret photo shoot, they hadn't counted on us!
Heading south again in Amit's 328 we'd saved the best for last. We arrived at the Trollstigen early to beat the tourist crowds and have what is reputed to be one of the best driving roads in the world to ourselves for a while. Once we'd driven up and down a few times and enjoyed the views from the lookout points it was approaching lunchtime and tourist coaches were starting to appear. Next stop Dramen for the spiralen tunnel, spiralling up six floors through volcanic rock.
Then on to the party boat from Oslo to Copenhagen. This was larger than any of the fjord ferries, more like a cruise ship, with night clubs and bars on every floor. Next morning we disembarked, once again in Denmark.
We spent the day exploring Copenhagen and dining out at the exclusive St Gertrude's Cloister. The evening at the exclusive restaurant began with a lesson on how to open a bottle of champagne with a sabre sword. The champagne was then used to wash down the oyster starters. Mike and Barbara had a treat in store for me, the keys to their Ferrari 575 for the final days drive across Denmark to Ejsberg. Barbara swapped into the VW Golf. "Don't you mind?" I asked. "It's just a car," she shrugged. "I prefer our Range Rover, you can fit lots of plants in the boot." Just a car maybe but it was a LOT of fun to drive and a great way to end what was an incredible road trip!