There was a lot more rain overnight, pummelling the roof, drenching the campground and leaving us with an overcast and grubby sort of morning. In a way its easier to end a holiday on a note like this, rather than being mocked with sunny gloriousness that only makes you ache a little more about being unable to stay on the road.
Those of us condemned to returning to the real world ate a hearty breakfast. We finished nearly all of the cereal and the last three eggs. The rest of the bits and pieces from our larder we left on the shelf in the campground for people to take from or add to as they required. Then we stumbled over each other trying to track down lost stuff-sacks and lego pieces and cram things into bags. After the packing came the cleaning, and then later than we had planned (of course) we were back on the E39 and following the signs for the airport. I rang the Touring Cars rep in Oslo who said the person who was going to pick up Thor was just landing at Bergen airport and that we should head for the short term parking lot. This we did, but discovered that Thor was too tall to get in so we parked illegally around the corner and the representative found us there. She was from the Helsinki office and was going to drive Thor back to Oslo today. As we were sitting in the airport bus waiting to go into the city, we saw Thor pull out in the rain and we waved farewell to our home for the last month.
Norway is a country which seems to have got so much right. I doubt that people anywhere are more civilised in their behaviour to each other. They are constantly polite and helpful and they do everything beautifully – whether its food or picnic-stop toilets. There is precious little shabbiness here; no litter and barely any graffiti. People don’t talk too loudly in restaurants or keep everyone else awake in camp-sites. They drive carefully and with a marked lack of aggression. We’ve encountered nothing but friendliness – and not artificial Customer Service friendliness, but a genuine warmth. And the landscape of course, is truly splendid. More gorgeous waterfulls in any one day than we could count, mountains that were by turns razor sharp, lofty and forbidding; beaches that were positively Caribbean and water that was unreally blue-green. Even the bits of landscape that the guide books didn’t bother with were stunning.
So that’s that. After almost three thousand miles, we are sitting in a cosy cafe/bar in Bergen while the rain pours outside. We’ve all been chosing our favourite moments. Tom loved being in the cave near Mo-I-Rana, and driving the motor-boat of course. Philippa remembers the lovely bit of golden beach by a long bridge-road in the Lofotens. I think of the Sami fishing village near Abisko in the Arctic which had such otherwordly-light, and a lovely peacefulness to it. But there were so many great moments; from the walk over diamond-tracked glacier, to the lovely docents who told the stories of the cathedral in Trondheim and the stave church in Lom, the extraordinary Stryn Mountain Road, heart-stopping drops in the mountains, wild-camping places where we had the landscapes to ourselves, the really good food we had everywhere (even in Thor!), but especially, the three of us cosy in our camper playing cheat or laughing at a movie, or looking through our window at some epic view, amazed that we are lucky enough to have been a part of it.
Thanks for joining us. I hope you have enjoyed the view too.