I have read and heard about the natural beauty of Lofoten in the north of Norway. Beautiful scenery and quaint fishing villages as well as a beautiful road snaking itself between the islands of Lofoten over bridges and trough tunnels.
I have read and heard about the natural beauty of Lofoten in the north of Norway. Beautiful scenery and quaint fishing villages as well as a beautiful road snaking itself between the islands of Lofoten over bridges and trough tunnels.
I am currently residing in the Åre vicinity in Sweden. I packed my Yamaha Tenere 700 with clothes and stuff such as tent, sleeping bag and air mattress, I only plan to use these in an emergency where I can’t find any accommodation. The distance to the ferry to Lofoten is around 700km so after some trepidation I set off.
I decided I could not go the whole way to Lofoten in one day so the first day I would go to Mosjöen, a distance of around 400km.
The first 55 kms goes through Sweden via Skalstugan on a nice flowing and twisty road with beautiful views over the nearby mountains, before going into Norway through a narrow valley towards the Trondheim Fjord. On the Norwegian side I stopped at a narrow bridge crossing the river and walked across. It turns out this path leads to defense fortifications that were built to defend against the Swedes in 1905 at the Sweden-Norway union dissolution. It’s a convoluted history going back to 1814 when Norway came into a union with Sweden after Denmark was forced to “give” Norway to Sweden as a result of Denmark being on the loosing side in the Napoleonic wars. Before 1814 Norway had been a part of Denmark for hundreds of years. In 1905 the Norwegian “storting” (parliament) decided to dissolve the union with Sweden and Sweden did not fight the issue and Norway became an independent country.
As I get closer to the fjord the landscape opens up and there are a lot of green fields and smell of farm as I ride past farm houses – nice! Once down by sea level the road connects to the E6 and I turn north. The E6 is the north-south artery of Norway, stretching through the country from the Swedish border in the south to the Russian border in the far north east, with a total length through the country of 2628km! I pass through the town of Steinkjer and a bit further north I stop at a pretty rest-place for lunch. I had packed some sandwiches and filled a bottle of water that work nicely to fill me up for the rest of the day.
As I’m having my lunch I strike up a conversation with a German biker and it turns out he is also going to Lofoten and that is as far north he is going.
Lunch by the E6
I continue to Mosjöen and reach the town around 5 pm. I have booked a room in a dog pension that got good reviews and was reasonably priced. I hadn’t checked the location of the pension carefully and it turns out it is 25km from the town. The road to the accommodation is taking me along the main road to Sandnessjöen along the north side of a fjord and I turn off up towards a hill along a gravel road and as I turn in to the property I see 4 other bikes parked along the building and I know I’m at the right place. Later on there are a few rooms taken by people with dogs but the dogs are well behaved and not allowed in the common rooms.
I find in general there are a lot of bikers on the roads in Norway. Adventure biking has really taken off big time and a lot of the bikes are BMW GS models. Kudos to BMW for making a good bike and marketing it well.
The following day I get away at 9 am and am soon back on the E6, after a while I stop when I see a sign for sight seeing. The site in question is of two old vault bridges built of local rocks in 1926, beautifully built with a wild stream running beneath. These were the last bridges built with this method in Norway, later bridges were built using concrete and/or steel. The views over the fjord and mountain are breathtaking and I can’t get enough of the view.
The first town I hit is Mo i Rana where I stop for petrol and some chain TLC, as I’m doing this, a group of motorcycles arrive and I start talking with a biker, they are all from Vietnam and has joined a tour that provides bikes and a guide and are on their way to Nordkapp. Interesting!
I’m soon on my way and after a while I arrive at the polar-circle center located (yeah, you guessed it!) on the polar circle. I meet the German biker I met at lunch the previous day and we decide to ride together towards Lofoten.
Bikes at polar circle
As we go further north we go on the south side of the Skjerstad fjord instead of the faster north side via Fauske. The south side road is more motorcycle friendly with twisty mountainous passes and not much traffic, it turns out there are a lot of sheep on the road as well making for an interesting passage.
At the end we get on “riksvei 17”, the scenic road from Steinkjer to Bodö, and we pass a magnificent bridge over Saltstraumen. Saltstraumen is the narrow inlet to the fjord and as the tidal state changes there are very strong currents, hence the name, “straum” means current in Norwegian.
We decide to try and reach the next ferry from Bodö to Moskenes on Lofoten. We reach the port 15 minutes before the ferry is sailing and after paying the ticket we are waved onboard.
Leaving Bodö behind
We’re concerned it might be challenging to find accommodation on Lofoten, it being a very popular tourist destination in the summer. Michael, my German biker friend, gets on the phone and finds accomodation around 70 km from the ferry port. It seems like quite a long way but the landlady assures us that it won’t be a problem, we should take it slowly and admire the views as we go along.
As we get closer to Lofoten and view the jagged coast-line and mountains for the first time, I can feel the anticipation growing, there are a lot of people standing with views of the islands and I can almost hear their gasps at the amazing views!
First views of Lofoten
The ferry ride is between 3 and 4 hours so we have time for food and a nap before arriving in Moskenes. We don’t go directly towards the accomodation but go the other way to a place with the short and sweet name “Å” which is close to as far south you can go on Lofoten.
View from Å
View from Å
We turn north and start our trek to our accomodation, Anne Gerd’s guesthouse. We pass through quaint fishing villages, narrow single lane bridges and tunnels as the road winds it’s way across the islands.
It takes a couple of hours with all the stops for photo opportunities, but we finally reach Anne Gerd’s guest house around 9 pm. It’s been a long day and I’m pretty knackered so after a quick shower I hit the sack. The day’s route:
The following day, after a good night’s sleep, Anne Gerd, the landlady, insists that we hike up to higher ground to get the postcard view of Lofoten. With her convincing we decide to stay another day and Anne Gerd drives us to the trail head where she declares the hike to be an easy one. It turns out it’s not so easy, very rocky and steep, but we manage to hike up to an altitude of 350 meters. On the way we pass a ski lift with an adjacent alpine hill with light-posts, it starts at sea-level and ends at around 350 m above sea-level so quite a nice steep hill. Later I hear that it’s not every year there is enough snow for skiing. We continue to go higher and we must admit our landlady was right – the views are really quite amazing!
Stamsund hill towards Sennesvik
Stamsund hill towards north-west
Stamsund hill towards Stamsund
Stamsund hill towards south
In the evening we rode to a small quay side restaurant in the Sennesvik village. We were told the whale beef was so tender it was like biting into butter, Ok – it wasn’t that tender but very nice!
Whale meat for dinner
The day after the hike we start the trip back south, the weather is not so nice with light rain, fog, temperature around 10C and wet roads.
Gloomy start of the return trip
Single lane bridge to Hennigsvaer
We first stop to explore the Hennigsvaer football pitch shoehorned in between cliffs on a small island. And it’s not a cheap installation with artificial grass. Quite amazing!
Hennigsvaer football pitch
The plan is to take the ferry from Lödingen to Bogenes on the main land and take the E6 south. The ride to the ferry goes without problems and we literally reach the ferry just as it is about to leave. As we board the bow visor is shut and the propellers start to spin. It is a short ferry ride and we’re soon on the mainland and ride south and as we reach Fauske we stop for the night.
Anne Gerd’s to Fauske
We stay the night in a motel at Lundhögda camping, it is a small room but with shower and toilet and a comfortable bed – who needs more? I wake up early next morning and have some leftover pizza from previous night’s dinner for breakfast before we set off south. My plan is to get “home” doing close to 700 km. At the junction of E6 and the road to Sweden in Verdal, Michael carries on a bit further while I do the last 100 km to reach Åre…
It was with great relief that I got to the Kazakh/Russia border! The last 50 km in Kazakhstan had been on horrible road where old broken tarmac was mixed with new road construction. It was dusty and sandy in places – perhaps the worst surface for a motorcycle.
We made the optimistic plan to start at 5 am from Atirau so I got up at 4.45 and started to get ready, however, it was still dark and wouldn’t get light until closer to 6. The “Green hotel” served breakfast early so we had a bite before leaving a bit after 6. The first 150 km of the road wasn’t too bad (but with deep tracks from heavy trucks) and we could keep a good speed. As we got closer to the border the road got worse to culminate in the terrible conditions of the last 50 km.
Horrible road leading west out of Kazakhstan to Russia.
Road under construction.
“Donkey head” oil pumps. Must be oil under ground.
Lots of free running horses along the road.
Since we gained an hour in Russia we were at the border around noon. My entry into Russia was straight forward but Mike’s took some time. He had a general entry into a number of countries, including Russia, and the immigration people at this entry point had not seen this before. After an hour we were in Russia! The road was now beautiful asphalt and it felt like heaven!
At one point we crossed a part of the river Volga that makes up the delta of the river as it enters the Caspian and it was a pontoon bridge made of metal, it was kind of weird as the tracks in the metal was pulling the bike in one direction. Before entering the bridge we had to pay a toll and we had no Rubles, however, Mike’s visa card worked without problems! Back to civilization were credit-cards and, later, ATM’s work! A big relief after the problems in, particularly, Uzbekistan to obtain cash. Surprisingly, “Pay-wave” works where you can make payments by waving the card close to the detector machine. Amazing!
Astrakhan 25 June, 2019
I wasn’t feeling great so I mainly stayed in the hotel but went out to see the sights and get something to eat. I found a burger place called “Kotleta” spelled with the Latin alphabet and they served me a very nice burger. As it happened one of the staff had a birthday and I was invited to join the celebration with tea and cake. It was very nice and they were very curious about my trip.
Astrakhan is a nice city with lots of green parks and the “Astrakhan Kremlin” which is very close to our hotel.
Lots of green parks.
Astrakhan to Volgograd (420 km)
We’re heading towards Moscow and the first leg was to Volgograd. Of course, Volgograd used to be Stalingrad where the most decisive battle of the 2nd world war took place with the Soviets beating the Nazis. It was the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare with close to 2 million casualties.
Coming into the city, it looked like a grimy industrial town, but as we got closer to the center it started to look nice. We’re staying in the center within walking distance of the Volga river and we went there for dinner and have a look around. There’s a park along the river with lots of activities for kids and adults and there were a lot of people around.
By the Volga river.
Kids playing in the water park by the river.
Volgograd June 27, 2019
Mamayev Kurgan is a dominant height fiercely fought over in the battle of Stalingrad, now it’s a large memorial park that commemorates the battle. It is very impressive with the big statue “The Motherland Calls” being 85m high. It was installed in 1967 and was under renovation at our visit but the scale of it is still clear.
The Motherland Calls.
The eternal flame with the walls showing names of soldiers that died during the battle.
Changing of the guards.
Murals depicting the street fighting nature of the battle of Stalingrad.
Volgograd to Tambov (520 km)
We’re getting further north and the temperature kept a pleasant 20-25 C for the duration of today’s ride. The road was good but many stretches of road construction slowed us down a bit. The vegetation is changing and there are a lot more birch trees and also pine trees which we have not seen before on the trip. The road goes straight for pretty much the whole stretch over very open land and to stop the wind being too strong on the road birch trees are planted along the road to break up the wind. The road goes in the middle in a wide swath of close to 100m with the birch trees being the boundary to the enormous wheat fields and steppe to the sides.
Birch trees planted on both sides of the road to stop the crosswind.
Finally some fir trees. Looks almost like Sweden!
The total distance traveled so far is 13964 km and around 4000 km since leaving China.
Tambov to Ryazan (320 km)
The weather turned cold and rainy when we set off. The plan was to go to Vladimir, 180 km east of Moscow, to attend a blues and bike festival but after 150 km in the miserable weather and worn road I decided to turn along M5 towards Moscow and stop in Ryazan while Mike carried on to Vladimir for the festival and to meet his friend. I figured the festival would not be much fun in the inclement weather and I saw for myself a muddy field with bikes falling over in the wet terrain which also might have meant the end for my clutch..
I thought M5 meant motorway 5 but as it turned out for most of the distance it was no motorway so I believe the M stands for Moscow. After 150 km along the M5 I turned off to Ryazan leaving around 200 km to Moscow. It’s continued raining all day but I think tomorrow is going to be better.
Ryazan to Moscow (220 km)
It was a Sunday and the traffic was light, there were some holdups in a town 50 km from Moscow but nothing major. My hotel is in the center of town and I rode past some of the buildings I’ve seen in the news. Later on I walked to the red square and admired it’s buildings and the sheer size of it. The centre of Moscow is very impressive!
The Moscow white house.
Moscow Jul 1, 2019
I spent the day sightseeing and in the afternoon I joined a Subway tour since I’ve read the subway stations are beautifully decorated.
Karl Marx monument on the Revolution square.
Our subway tour guide, Alina, took us to several stations and explained the art in them and the history behind and since we were only three in the group we had the chance to ask a lot of questions. The subway system was started to be constructed during the 1930s while Stalin was in power. The reason, we were told, to make such beautiful and elaborate stations was to motivate and make people happy while going to work in the morning. I’m not sure if it worked but it certainly made the Moscow subway a tourist attraction today!
Lenin. Alina told us there used to be a lot more pictures of Lenin previously but a lot of them had been taken down. Of course, Stalin, has been totally discredited and it’s difficult to find a single picture or statue of him.
The station where the motive was related to intellectuals.
Station depicting people of all walks of life, including soldiers, students, parents and athletes.
Moscow to Velikiye Luki (460 km)
I wanted to get out of Moscow while the traffic was light so I started a bit after 6 and was soon on the M9 highway leading to Riga. In the beginning there were 5 lanes diminishing to a normal highway after around 120km. I had booked a hotel at the halfway point to Riga and reached there soon after midday. The weather was sunny but cool and I was wearing the cold weather gear. The hotel turned out to be a motel with lots of big trucks parked and idling their engines making for a slightly noisy place to rest.
First Motel of the trip. Characterless but very practical!
Velikiye Luki to Paldiski – ferry port close to Tallinn (640 km)
The weather was gray, windy and rainy for most of the time to the Russia/Estonia border crossing which I reached around noon. The Russian official took a long time to figure out how to clear my bike out of the country and in the end his boss, a stern looking woman in a green uniform, came out and gave him an earful and soon after I was cleared to go to the immigration counter. The woman there looked at my forms and asked me which city I lived in and I told her Singapore. She asked; where is that – in Spain. I explained it was in Asia and it was it’s own country and after a while she said OK, you can go.
Miserable weather on road towards Tallinn!
So finally, in to Europe and Estonia where the immigration and custom formalities took all of 10 mins! Amazing! After all the long border crossings in Asia it was nice to come to a place where they really knew what they were doing and being very efficient at it. The weather also cleared up and gave me a good welcome to Europe and the 300 km to the ferry port went by pretty quickly.
I had to wait a few hours before I could board and found a nice restaurant nearby after I checked in to the ferry. Paldiski is right by the baltic sea and was very windy and I was afraid the bike would blow over so had to be careful how I parked it.
While waiting for the ferry I saw this home built vehicle based on a Ford V8. The couple riding it had been brave to take it to Russia.
The ferry arrived around 8.30 pm and they started to unload it. There were very few passenger cars but hundreds of huge trucks and I was impressed to see them reversing these juggernauts from the ferry. The ferry was emptied in about an hour and I was waved forward to board.
Bike tied down on the ferry to Sweden.
Kappelskar to Eksjo (400 km)
The ferry arrived early morning at Kappellskar, the port in Sweden which is about 100 km north-east of Stockholm. Riding the bike off the ferry posed no problem and I was soon on my way south. I stopped after a while to get some breakfast and had the classic Swedish Sibylla grilled sausages with mashed potatoes.
Swedish fighter jets displayed along the road in Linkoping. The one on the right is the “Draken” and on the left is the “Viggen”.
It was another windy day with some rain as I was getting closer to Eksjo but I arrived without problem at my sisters early afternoon.
Eksjo Jul 5 – 8, 2019
Spent several days in the lovely town of Eksjo. They were clever in the 60’s and 70’s not to demolish the old wooden houses in the center of the town and it’s now a tourist attraction. On the Saturday a marching band was playing in front of the church with a lot of people attending.
Well kept wooden houses in the center of the town which has kept it’s layout for centuries.
A stream runs through the town.
Every Saturday the marching band plays in front of the church and while marching through the town.
Eksjo to Goteborg (200 km)
I left my sisters place around noon to catch the ferry from Goteborg to Kiel leaving at 6.45 pm. Gray skies to begin with that gradually lightened up as I got closer to Goteborg. The road was great as it was snaking it’s way through the hills but not enough turns to make it interesting on a motorcycle. No jams until I reached Goteborg where I was stuck in traffic for a bit before getting to the ferry terminal where I was able to board the ferry pretty much immediately. There were around 20 bikes on the boat and I chatted with some of the riders. One couple had spent 6 weeks riding through Finland to North cape and back and the guy said he started on a Harley but was now standing by a very new RT 1250 and I asked him how the Harley could have transformed into the very new BMW. He said the Harley developed problems with the bearings and there was none available and somehow his insurance got him a BMW to continue his trip. Sounds like a great insurance! I had a cabin and after dinner I went straight to bed.
On board Stena Germanica, quite a few bikes on the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel.
Kiel to Hook of Holland (600 km)
The ferry was a bit late so I wasn’t able to get off it until around 10 am after a good night sleep in the nice cabin. It seems I sleep well on ferries… There had been some discussion while with the group in China that a carnet de passage was required for non-European vehicles entering Germany so I was relieved that there were no checks whatsoever when driving off the ferry and into the town of Kiel. The road layout in the town was good for transiting the town and I was soon on the motorway to Hamburg. There were a lot of roadworks around Hamburg but the traffic was still flowing well with no queues. The autobahn in Germany is fantastic and with no speed limit! I was doing around 125 kph and was being overtaken making me feel like I was standing still!
For short stretches the speed was reduced to 120 km/h!
The weather was very good and I was by the Dutch boarder after 350 km around 2 pm and then it started raining which it carried on doing all the way to the ferry. There was a lot of traffic in Holland and several jams but I made it to the ferry and, again, boarded very quickly. I had a nice shower to warm up and had a good fish and chips dinner. The ferry would take me to Harwich and the start of the last day of my adventure.
Harwich to Feltham close to Heathrow airport(200 km)
The main reason for going to London was so that I could ship the bike back to Singapore. I was not able to find a shipper in Sweden and a couple of international shippers first said they could ship from Sweden but later said no. I also had a quote to ship from Rotterdam but that was close to twice the cost of shipping from London so to London I went, although it meant spending an extra day and ferry to get there. Anyway, the ferry arrived in Harwich on time and I started the ride to Feltham knowing I had to go on the London circular road, the M25, and as expected there were several accidents which meant the trip took a lot longer than it should have. However, I made it to Feltham and motofreight where I was warmly welcomed. It took me an hour to repack and get the bike ready for shipment and then I walked to a nearby pub for lunch.
So now fly to Stockholm for three weeks of vacation before going back to the trip origin in Singapore.
People asked me how I packed and what I brought along for the trip. The picture shows the bike with the two aluminium side bags (on a bike they’re called panniers). Above it is the yellow waterproof bag and on the tank the tank-bag. I packed so that I kept everything I need at the end of the day when not on the bike in the yellow bag such as change of clothes, toiletries etc. I kept my camera and snacks and drinks in the tank-bag so I could quickly access these needed while riding. In the panniers I kept spare parts (bearings, levers, break pads, fork-seals, light-bulbs, fuses), tools, electric air-pump, clothes I didn’t think I would need for a few days, tent, sleeping bag and air-mattress, and rain clothes. Also some medication like antibiotics, altitude medication, stomach upset tablets, band aid patches and some other stuff.
I know now that I should have carried an inner tube and tools for getting the tire off the rim. I was very lucky I was riding with Mike who had these. I should also have brought spare clutch plates (or changed them before leaving).
Summary and thanks
I did 18500 km in 10 weeks and had an amazing experience! It was hard work and worrying at times such as when I bent the rim so badly it did not hold air and for a while I was at a loss of what to do to carry on. The ride through China was far too compressed and I’m at a loss to remember many of the days there while I remember the more relaxed days after China a lot better.
My bike, the Triumph 800 Xrx performed exceptionally well and started every time I pressed the start button. It was among the most fuel efficient of all the bikes in the group through China, while still having great power to go uphill on the serpentine roads. The bike was great for 95% of the distance but for the other 5% it would have been better to have a bike with lower gearing, spoked bigger wheels with inner tubes, and longer suspension travel. The Honda Africa Twin was used by several guys on the trip and that bike is more suitable for the worst road conditions and much more suitable for off-road use. However, I should not complain – the Tiger got me from Singapore to London!
I thank you for having had the tenacity to follow along on my trip and hope you enjoyed my photos and ramblings.
Of course, special thanks goes to my lovely wife who gave me her blessings to go on the trip and supported me morally all along!
I’m planning to ride my motorcycle from Singapore to Europe starting April/May this year, 2019. I will go through Malaysia, Thailand and Laos before joining a group ride through western China. After a month in China riding through Tibet I will enter Kirghistan. Then into Kazakhstan and further towards Europe.
This will be a long trip and there’s lot’s of stuff to prepare. I will be going through many countries and visa requirements will vary from country to country. There are also preparations to do for the bike.
Once out of China the real adventure starts! Kirghistan starts off as a bit of a bad dream, but Uzbekistan through Samarkand is amazing while the route through Kazakhstan is more of a transport stretch.
Russia turned out to be a lot nicer than it’s reputation and I particularly enjoyed Volgograd. Of course, Moscow was amazing and I got to see the famous buildings we often see on the news. After a ferry across the Baltic I spent some time in Sweden before going to London and the end of my adventure.