When a wife that dreams about an exotic family getaway in Bali, agrees to a 10-days camping trip around Norway, she better make sure to get some of her own wishes granted as well. Meaning = one night at a luxury, historical hotel!
Day 4: After driving through stunning Sognefjord, birthplace to our national stars Tone Damli and Eva Weel Skram, we arrived at Kviknes hotel.
Oh la la! Even if mommy had started to get into the camping life groove, and especially after spending some nights sleeping in a camper van, it made it even more fantastic to arrive to a hotel. And not just any hotel, the Kviknes Hotel is a modern hotel with an old-world charm and atmosphere, situated in a stunning little village called Balestrand, right on the waterfront.
We had eaten all our meals “van-cooked” so far, so joining the hotel guests for an a la carte for the evening after a proper power-shower and upgraded wardrobe change, we felt like we walked around with stars in our eyes. Hands down, we can say it`s one of the better meals we´ve ever had, with salmon prepared in every way possible. With the dining area facing the water, every table had an ocean view to die for.
Good night camper van! We don´t miss you at the moment..
Day 5. Can´t say the breakfast view was any worse. Cheers for morning coffee!
This hotel is just WOW. It has been family owned by the Kviknes family since 1877. The hotel is graced with an extensive collection of artwork and antique, which gives it its unique style. We were a bit scared that our son would brake some expensive old furniture, so we kept him in the MiniMeis whilst touring around inside. 😉 Afterwards, we played maybe one hour climbing up and down the stairs… He never seems to tire of that 🙂
Outside the hotel is a huge grass area with apple trees and beautiful flowers. There were two apple trees in full flowering when we were there, and they were stunning to look at. It might be that everything looked rose-red stepping out of the camper van, but it felt little piece of heaven to stay there! Thus our recommendation to other new campers on the block are – you don`t have to go for only one type of accommodation, mix it up a bit!
After breakfast and looking around inside, we spent the day relaxing in the gardens, playing in the water, and did a little tour around town. Balestrand is set in beautiful Norwegian national romantic scenery between mountains and fjord, thus strolling around the area can get anyone in a romantic mood, and mommy and daddy walked around hand in hand with Leon in the MiniMeis. We found a little beach where Leon made some friends, visited some must-see red dragon-head villas on the lane skirting the fjord, and a yellow and brown stave-like St. Olaf’s Church.
There are amazing tracks to be done in the area, but to be honest we were just happy to spend time around the hotel and the heat was so overwhelming that we didn’t want to stray far from the water. If we do another road trip we really have to step up the game hiking wise, and hope for colder weather. Which is guaranteed in Norway at any given time 😉
Day 6. The next day we got back behind the wheel of our van, and continued our journey as down to earth campers. Quite a steep fall, but but if you wanna see something in life you gotta keep on moving. We passed some beautiful waterfalls and made a stop so Leon could play in a stream where there was also a cute little (white!) sandy beach.
In the afternoon we made our way to Ullensvang, which is a famous fruit farming area, and in springtime thousands of fruit trees are breathtakingly white during blossom. Fruit blossom in Hardanger is an experience people never forget!
Oh we haven’t forgotten….. that we missed it! Usually the time of blossom happens around the 15th of may, but due to the hot weather it had happened earlier. What can you do? Look at pics other people have taken.
Anyways, along the road we stopped in Kinsarvik, at Mikkelparken ferietun and had a swim with Leon in the kiddies pool there. They have a full on kids park there, Mikkelparken, but it was closed on the weekdays when we were there in May.
When messing around in the pool area, a local mother gave us a tip to drive up to Lothus for the night and stay at Lofthus Camping. It’s always nice getting local tips along the road, because that tip was priceless! Lofthus Camping is situated on a mountain top containing a big garden with apple trees, with views of the fjord, mountains and glaciers. “With us you can really enjoy your holiday in peaceful and scenic surroundings,” it says on their website. Yes please!
Initially we were off to a bad start as mommy was obsessed to get the best spot in between the many apple trees with perfect views over the fjord. A tired and frustrated daddy almost crashed into every apple tree there was, stroking the branches as he went. it’s really not easy to maneuver such a big van between 20 trees!!! It actually got to the point that we were so embarrassed that we almost fled the crime scene, but decided on swallowing our camper van pride as we couldn’t miss out on staying in such a beautiful place for the night!
Hot tip! If you arrive by car here, the cabins actually has the best spots with the nicest view, and they were almost all available in May.
Day 7. We did a bike tour around the area with the El bikes that we had brought along, and long-fully looked at all the threes without flowers.
There was a lot of good, local apple cider to be bought though, and we did a hike by a beautiful waterfall near by. As the MiniMeis shoulder carrier packs up super small, it was easy to bring along in our backpack when biking and Leon was happy to switch between exploring on his own two feet, and sitting high up on daddies shoulders with the best view. Afterwards we took a little swim in the ice cold glacier water. Brrrr! A great family day out!
In the afternoon we headed to Voss, where we initially tried to find a place to camp which was not a camping site. We took some back roads and tried really hard, but failed miserable and ended up staying at Voss Camping in town. When you read this, it might be nice around the camping area, but at the time it was a lot of construction work at the lake and what could have been a really idyllic place was just not. The camping site itself was nice though, with a lot of vegetation and the location was superb near city, lake and forest.
Day 8. We woke up and played around at the playground at the camping site. Afterwards we did a long bike ride with Leon around the lake, and this was really enjoyable. He slept for one hour when we were bicycling, and when he woke up we stopped at a spot we found recommended on TripAdvisor called Bordalsgjelet Gorge. This is a truly spectacular attraction where you can follow a purposely-built path that guides you to the gorge. Here you can experience an impressive view of the potholes that have been formed by the ice and river over a period of many thousands of years. It was seriously cool, as we haven’t seen any like like it before. + it was deserted, only us! We had our son in our MiniMeis babycarrier when walking in there as the path was pretty rough , and he though it was really fun to touch the walls and sit on daddies shoulders in this fairy tale landscape!
In Voss there are tons of things to do for adrenaline seeking people, (which would normally be us), but with our one year-old we just had to close our eyes to that and keep on driving.
We drove that evening when Leon was sleeping and did a ferry and a skip and a hop to Jæren. Late at night we arrived and was a bit surprised by all the sign reading: “no camper van allowed” at all the parking lots by the sea. The camping sites were all closed for the night so in the end we had no option but to park illegally and hope for the best. Luckily we woke up in the morning well rested with no police outside our van door.
Strangely enough Leon slept very well in the camping bed between us, and also in his car seat whenever driving. Sometimes all the worries we have about how difficult and stressful it will be traveling with kids is just not the case. Leon never slept better and driving in the evening and shifting him to the bed was really not a problem either. Even though life changes a lot when you have a child and you feel very limited in what you can do, sometimes it is also the other way around, that you find out that there is also a lot you can do, and when trying and failing, you are not only failing at all. We did not know if our child would enjoy a camping trip at all, but it turned out that his curious nature was perfect for this kind of trip, as long as we did not drive too long when he was awake.
Day 9. The morning was spent at Borre beach, making sandcastles and messing around in the shallow water. Leon was just over himself of joy to be playing in the water and sand. A true “merman”.
Borre beach is just incredible with almost white sand and turquoise water. The whole area of Jæren and Stavanger is renowned for its beautiful beaches – but terrible weather. We have a dear friend who married a woman from this area and they spend every summer here. In 8 years summer he has not seen the sun. NOT SEEN THE SUN! After many years of bad experience they were off course not there that summer, but “freezing” their butts of in southern Europe. Off course we had to send him many pictures of us bathing in sunshine in the tropical heat of summer 2018! 😉
When it was time for Leon´s nap, we had to drive into Stavanger city for some shoe shopping. Somehow we had managed to loose both of his shoes along the road, but Stavanger is anyway a super charming city, so nothing to loose to go there! Visit “Fargegata” if you want to walk around in a really sweet street with tons of unique cafe’s and some really cool local shops.
For the evening we went back to the beach to find a legal place to camp our car. None of the camping sites had a sea view and we really wanted one! In the end we found one spot that didn’t have a sign and we were extático!
After Leon fell asleep we had a romantic meal on the grass with a view of the crashing waves and sun setting at around 11 pm. A romantic moment with daddies wan-cooked food and good vine!
Day 10. The last day of our camping adventure. I think we both felt a bit grumpy about our holiday being over, so we started the day with sad faces and just started to walk along the coast on a whim. Slowly we realized there was a path a long the ocean on grassy sand banks and we walk up and down and far far, passing rocky beaches, sandy beaches and enjoying a secluded swim all by ourselves on a small beach hidden in between rocks.It actually turned out to be one of our favorite walks of the trip. There is just something about the water and sea breeze that just hit our hearts every time. Walking along the coast of Jæren is something we dream about doing again!
We spent the rest of the day and night, driving back to Oslo when Leon was napping and sleeping for the evening. We arrived late at night, a bit fed up of all the driving, but happy to the core after experiencing all these natural wonders of our own country as a family.
Will there be another road trip? As it is so expensive to rent a camper van in Norway, we think maybe no. Ironically, this was one of the most expensive holidays we have ever been on 😉 You can actually save half of you budget driving with your own car and renting cabins at the campsites. As daddy was the one who convinced mommy to do this trip, he promised to do most of the driving, cook all the meals and pack the van. Dear daddy, thanks for your hard work! (He is actually the one who says he does not want to do it again. Hence the title: “Breaking dad” 😉
For foreigners that can rent a camper van abroad and bring food and drinks from there, camping life in Norway is not so bad on your economy actually. But for us, next time around we will probably go just for a long weekend. Then we can drive with a car, and rent cabins or sleep in a tent for two nights and then take a night at a really nice hotell.
Anyways, we were really glad about our experience, and will look back at this holiday with smiles on our faces for years to come!
Did you enjoy this blog post? Are you considering doing a camping trip with your own family but not sure how to go about it? Don`t hesitate to leave a comment with some questions!
If you missed the first part of the trip, here it is: Breaking dad – 10 days road tripping Norway!