I love this tour!!! It’s the third time I’ve guided it and even now while I’m writing this I have a stupidly big smile on my face. It’s that good!!

My ride to Harwich was uneventful as you would hope, but I picked up some strays along the way. John joined me in Cornwall while Dickie and Darren arrived at the services in Reading like a whirlwind. Clearly very excited about the tour!

Harwich was wet so a quick fuel stop at Morrison’s and then it was into the cafe for some food and shelter and who do we happen to meet there but Ronnie and Shena and Les and Sheila. That made eight of our crew, meaning we only had another 10 to find and the group would be complete.

Having caught up with the rest of our crew we got through passport control and in to our ferry cabins and after settling in we all met in the bar for a well earned beer before bed. The crossing was uneventful although some thought we had possibly been in a Force 10 gale, we hadn’t…

Leaving Holland we got on the motorway for a short stretch to get us out of the port and heading for our first coffee stop, which turned out to be closed! Finding another route is always difficult, however we did find one with a coffee stop to boot, just outside Arnhem. The only problem was that was closed too! But with a bit of flattery and some willing hands we opened the cafe for the waitress and quickly set up all the outside tables and sun umbrellas so all was not lost.

Riding through Arnhem, with a brief stop at the famous bridge you can’t help but be impressed with how clean Holland really is. Our stop for the first night is at Oldenburg where proper introductions were made over a nice meal and a beer.

Day three and we are riding to Flensburg on the danish border but to get there we have to cross the Elbe River. The ferry is always very busy but nobody seems to mind motorbikes jumping to the front of the nearly 1.5 mile long queue. Before we jump on board lunch is taken at the Lands End cafe. It’s nothing like the Lands End I’m used to in Cornwall although it’s almost as busy! Some of us had been on three ferries today while others only two, but let’s not split hairs some folks are on a Tom Tom adventure… 😉

Continuing our ride north we finally get to Hirtshals at the end of day 4, which is our launch point for Norway. After a hearty breakfast we find ourselves waiting in another check- in room while it buckets down outside! The ferry is late due to bad weather on its crossing from Norway but it eventually turns up and after a chaotic loading sequence that doesn’t seem to have any logical reason we set off at 34 knots (39mph or 62kph) to Kristiansand in Norway. The sea is a bit lumpy but at those speeds what would you expect?

The rain was slowing down a bit as we disembarked but that was quickly forgotten by the unbelievable roads we found ourselves on within twenty minutes of leaving the port. The afternoon coffee stop by the harbour in Flekkefjord was awash with talk of the roads we had just covered and skeptical faces as I assure them this is only a warm up as Norway just keeps giving…

Sandnes quickly passes in a whoosh with a lovely stay at the heritage hotel – Kronen Gaard, from here it’s onwards to Ulvik for our first two night stay. The sun had definitely got its hat on now and the temperature reached 31 degrees! Norway is known for it’s seemingly never ending tunnels and it’s seriously cool when you come across a blue lit roundabout in a tunnel you have already been riding in for 11km! There’s a very surreal moment as you approach the junction while trying to process what you are looking at and deciding which way you need to be turning. Just as you get used to the idea you are thrust out into bright sunshine only to find yourself a few hundred feet up on a suspension bridge over a huge fjord before being pushed back into the semi lit world of yet another tunnel, I need a lie down.

We passed huge waterfalls, steep drops, gorgeous vistas and the HardangerFjord looking its most stunning. Then when we are all but emotionally drained we reach the hotel in Ulvik and find when we open the door to our rooms there is an unadulterated view of mountains and fjords so big the window can’t fit it all in, I really need a lie down now!

So what’s to look forward to now with our two night stop you ask? Well the hotel gives free taster sessions of kayaking if you are so inclined or there are a couple of ride out options. Dickie Jennifer, Graham and Clive all rode to the Flam Railway, 134 miles away but worth the effort to see this stunning railway while others chose to stay in Ulvik and have a wander. For me one of the highlights of this trip is the Secret Bikers Road. Eight of us took this option and nobody was disappointed! Mr Les and Sheila did it on their RT while Gareth and Lorna did it on their Triumph 800’s so just about any bike can compete this route. Lorna had been seriously worried about this road and had almost talked herself out of doing it, but with a bit of encouragement she did it. The smile on her face as she got off her bike at the top was only matched by her huge bear hug, there could even have been a tear!!

Day 8 is a special day for all of us as we head to Geiranger and the UNESCO site it sits in the middle of, wonderful weather and a final hour long ferry ride in what has to be the most stunning area had us all delighted! Unfortunately only one ferry was working so we had to wait for the last ferry of the day but who cares when your eyes hurt this much from taking in one view after another? Our hotel for the next two nights is 3km outside the town of Geiranger and to get there you must ride the 15 hairpins up the hill, but to be honest the view from the hotel is one of the best views you will find anywhere, even the toilet in the room has a spectacular view down the fjord, a poo with a view you might say…

The second day in Geiranger was spent wandering up and down the waterfalls via walkways that lead you into the town below. Geiranger is very much geared up for tourists so there is plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs. There was an optional ride out today up the eagles road but nobody took it preferring to lounge around and relax, also we ride this road the following day anyway.

The following day we set off for Havstuer Haholmen Island which is an idyllic fishing village on an island right next to the iconic bridge that typifies the Atlantic Highway. Before that though we had to navigate the Eagles Road followed by yet another ferry and then the Trolls Ladder or as its known locally Trollstigen. The weather has to be said was not perfect at the top with a descending cloud base obscuring the view for a while, but riding down the other side towards the coast made up for the poor views because the road is stunning!!! Switchbacks, hairpins, steep slopes, waterfalls! The Trolls Ladder has it all and then to top it off, we get to spend a night on an island which we are ferried to in a Viking longboat!! It almost makes you want to grab a longsword, put your viking horned hat on and do a bit of pillaging. Or just buy a beer and admire the amazing tranquility of the island, which is exactly what we did!

Onwards and upwards towards the Arctic Circle means after our brief stay on the island we ride over the amazing bridge that features on so many photographs of Norway towards Verdal and another fantastic hotel. From Verdal its off to Mo-I-Rana and our two night stop and ultimate ride to the Arctic Circle the following day.

Mo-I-Rana is only a short ride from the Arctic Circle but as with all Magellan tours there are always other things to do on the way, such as the Arctic Circle Raceway. The world’s most northerly raceway, which unfortunately was closed but nevertheless we still got to meet Benny who runs a small motorbike museum just four kilometres away. Benny is passionate about restoring old bikes from WW2 and has a few in his museum as well as lots of military artefacts to do with the occupation of Norway during WW2. From here it’s on to the Arctic Circle Visitors Centre where we had the now obligatory males shirts off picture, which was enhanced by the attendance of Wonder Woman courtesy of Lorna who wore the Wonder Woman outfit all the way from Mo-I-Rana and Dickie in a bear suit!! Dickie was carrying out a request from a family member to wear the suit at the Circle, it’s far too complicated to explain…

Leaving Mo-I-Rana the following day we set off across the Norwegian plateau into Sweden. There were moose and deer in abundance and most people managed to see at least one of them, although photos are really hard to take because the animals are so elusive.

Our hotel in Stromsund went above and beyond to provide Jennifer with two birthday cakes to help her celebrate her birthday which allowed Dick her partner to sneak a couple of extra pieces past security (his words).

Riding south we visit the meteor Center outside Ostersund before another two night stay in Mora. This ‘rest day’ gives folks the chance to ride the internal circumference of the biggest meteor crater in Europe. Unfortunately the weather was a bit showery so only a few did this ride, while others watched the hundreds of mountain bikers that had invaded the town for a series of bike races throughout the weekend.

From Mora it’s straight to Gothenburg and the afternoon ferry to Denmark, then we start to make tracks back towards the Hook of Holland but not before some of the group became geographically displaced and found themselves on the other side of the river looking at our ferry! Mr Graham expertly navigated his group back to the correct side and they eventually made it to the check-in for our ferry.

So that’s it really, we came, we rode, we laughed, a lot! Met great people, stayed in some fantastic hotels, rode through so many tunnels we all lost count after three, crossed bridges both physically and mentally and laughed even more but isn’t that what a Magellan tour is all about?! Adventure and meeting new people, I think so!

Here’s to the next one! Mr. Mark.

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