In Heather’s first #vanlife post we learnt how she made the bold decision to give up her creature comforts and move into her van and make it her home. In her second post and a year in the van and with plans to study in Norway, we learnt Heather’s van was in need of some renovations. Now in part 3 with the log burner installed she’s ready for life in Bergen
Vanlife part 3
So, Suki and I were off on an adventure. The drive through Sweden and across Norway was stunning. On arrival in Bergen I registered for my course and discovered that I had 10 days until my lectures started… road trip baby! With the freedom of the van we could go where we wanted, stop when we wanted, go out and walk to the edge of summer glaciers, pick bilberries off the bushes (Suki included!), and revel in the beauty of the fjords. We explored far and wide, it was the trip of a lifetime, although I soon learnt to refuel before I got into the reserve tank as it can be a long and nerve-wracking drive to the next service station!
Bergen is a beautiful city, tucked between the coast and the mountains it retches over a wide area. I soon discovered a few nice camp spots although they were often quite busy with dog walkers. I’ve always tried to be discreet when living in the van, but in Bergen this just wasn’t possible. I knew that Norway has “allemannsretten”, a right to roam (and camp) in nature but I was fairly confident this wouldn’t extend to within the city limits. Norway also has a lot of road tolls particularly going in and out of town, finding weekday camp spots outside of Bergen was out of the question. So, I found myself struggling and unsure, I didn’t want to get moved on. I used the same technique as in the UK: a new camp spot every night. I had 5 spots that were ok which gave me a weekly rotation. Somehow, I never got asked to move!
The weekends on the other hand were something else. As soon as I finished lectures I would head off exploring, finding epic camp spots alongside fjords, out on coastal islands, deep in Norwegian woods. Sometimes driving for an hour or two before camping up (it takes about 40 minutes to get out of the sprawl around Bergen).
So, despite difficulties with camp spots during the week, Norway was a bit of a dream. Then summer faded, the leaves turned, and the rains came. And more rain came, and even more rain came, and just when you thought it had to stop, even more rain came. To give you an idea, the annual rainfall in Bergen is double Aberystwyth (mid Wales), triple Exeter (Devon), and is more than half again of Fort William (Scotland). Women in Bergen walk around in dress suits with wellington boots, building entrance halls have sprawls of brollies drying, they sell special ankle high wellies, student study areas have waterproofs hanging to dry off every available chair. It just keeps on coming, day after day. This is not good news for a van dweller. I would get up in the morning walk my fluffy husky in the rain, leave her soaking wet in the van and cycle to Uni. By the end of the day my waterproofs were dry, ready for the cycle home. I would get to the van dripping wet, walk the husky, chop some wood and light the fire, it was then a case of hanging everything out to try and dry it, before getting up the next day to repeat the experience. It soon takes its toll… Weekends became an escape to the interior, away from the coast, away from the rain, towards the snow… I got myself a season pass in the local ski resort and found a back-country buddy for excursions into the wilds.
Before I knew it, , it was Christmas, I’d decided to go on a road trip, I wanted to head North, I wanted to see the Aura Borealis, I wanted another adventure.
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