Saturday, 21 January 2017

Boats and holiday homes - Mandal to Arendal

After a night with the nightingales (who were still singing in the morning) I headed off along the coast towards Kristiansand and Arendal.  

Boat in garden - Lillesand

It was a quiet sunny day and there were holiday homes and boats everywhere.  I began to think that there might be more boats than Norwegians. By the time I reached Kristiansand it was feeling like summer.  I wandered around the town a bit and then set off to find the campsite out near the airport.  It was in a massive open field by a main road and was the most expensive I stayed on in Norway – more than twice the price of the excellent one at Sandnes the previous night. The girl on the check-in assured me it was the best in Kristiansand and I believed her because I’d been told the other one was more like a swamp. Map.

The next day I continued on towards Arendal, inland at first to reach a bridge, then back to the coast. Lilac was coming into bloom, and dog-roses, and I kept smelling an intense, familiar perfume as I rode through the woods.  Eventually I spotted the dense patches of lily-of-the valley beside the road. There were willows and poplars too.  Lillesand and Grimstad both had old parts by the sea and large hinterlands out towards the motorway.  Fish were on sale from boats in the harbours and almost every house had a boat in the garden.

This part of the coast is holiday central, but when I was there it was mostly waiting for the main holiday season to begin. In Grimstad I found the first really good tourist information office of the trip, where they printed out timetables for the ferries I was going to take in the next couple of days and gave me free coffee. Everywhere I went in Norway I noticed the apple trees in the front gardens, carefully planted where they'd get full sunlight and plenty of air, and equally carefully pruned.

 
Nicely pruned apple trees


Arendal was full of places to eat, clustered around the harbour, but seemed strangely short of shops until I realised that the big ones were all inside the mall. The town was dominated by a big yellow building and a church on the small hill overlooking the harbour.  The church is the Catholic church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1885.  The yellow building is a Catholic school.  I was surprised to find a kind of Catholic enclave dominating the town like this.

Arendal


Hove camping was a few kilometres outside the town over a massive bridge. The space for tents was vanishingly small and slightly muddy.  Most of it was occupied by friendly Norwegian bikers, of the motorised variety.  Swallows were building nests with the mud next to my tent.  The map is here.

Mud collectors


Tip:
  • Public toilets are inside the malls.  I spent quite a bit of time searching for them before I realised this!

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