Friday, 27 January 2017

By bus and boat to Stavanger


Between Haugesund and Stavanger the original North Sea Cycle Route has been diverted.  This is because the ferry which used to run between Skudeneshavn, just south of Kopervik, and Kvitsøy, north of Stavanger, has been replaced by a tunnel.  Wikipedia tells me there are over 900 road tunnels in Norway with a length exceeding 750km.  In most of those tunnels you cannot ride a bicycle, though even if you could, you probably wouldn't want to.

I had been wondering what to do about this diversion when Gunther, who I'd met in Leirvik, told me he'd simply put his bike on a bus in Stavanger and it had taken him to the tunnel exit just north of Kopervik.  I'd then had a conversation with an English cyclist who had been unconvinced about the existence of a ferry between Nedstrand and Stavanger.  This persuaded me to take the bus, and even though it cheated me of a nice ride and ferry trip it was an interesting experience. The fact that it poured with rain all day and I didn't get wet was a bonus.

To an English person it seems remarkable that you can wait at a lonely bus terminal where the bus arrives on time, and then the driver takes your money (credit card no problem) and helps you slide your fully loaded bike into the luggage compartment. It's all pleasantly surprising.

The bus plunged directly into the tunnel, and what a tunnel!  There's a whole network down there, under the sea, with junctions and everything.  I even thought I saw a roundabout, but I was dozing and I may have dreamt it. After the tunnels there were bridges linking islands, then a ferry.  There were wide sweeps of sea, but it was dark and wet outside. Stavanger was full of tourists browsing the shoe shops and fashion shops and shops full of lovely things in the narrow streets.  Luckily there were supermarkets too to buy food.

And there was an old town, the model, apparently, for the village in the Disney movie Frozen.  The old town was dominated by a massive cruise ship that towered above the white-painted wooden houses.



Later I met people who had cycled via Nedstrand.  There is a ferry and it's an enjoyable ride. The map of the short trip to the bus terminal is here.

Tips:

  • you can often put your bike on a bus in Norway
  • treat with caution information about ferries gleaned from Google Maps
  • when you find a Tourist Information which is open (and many don't open until 'summer')  ask them to print out timetables for as many ferries as you think you might want to use.  


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