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Richard, July 1971

Richard's diary for the tour of Scandinavia - July 1971
(5430 miles, including UK mileage, in 19 days in John's VW 1500cc Beetle)

Despite the arduous itinerary we set ourselves, the time spent preparing meals and the obligatory youth hostel chores to be completed, Richard somehow managed meticulously to maintain his detailed diary throughout the tour. These are his exact remarks for those exciting and happy days we spent together on the Continent so many years ago:

Saturday 10.07.71 (676 miles)
Ferry docked at Ostend about 1.30am. We drove off at 1.45am. I laid on back seat, trying to sleep. Went through Belgium in darkness; I saw nothing. Woke up in Holland. Did navigating while Mick drove. Passed into Germany. I started driving about 8am. Had breakfast at services on autobahn. Set off again at 9.15am. Next stop in afternoon at Schleswig in north Germany. Stopped for 2 hours to shop, walk about and have picnic, overlooking lake. Mick took over driving. Passed into Denmark. Stopped briefly by lake at Silkeborg. Went on to Viborg. Found hostel after a search and enquiring. Did meal at 8pm. Hot day.

Sunday 11.07.71 (233 miles)
Up at 8am. Had hostel-provided breakfast. Left Viborg at 9.30am. Went north to Frederikshavn, arriving 11am. Got in queue for ferry, Boarded ship at 12.30, sailed at 1.10pm for Sweden. Hot, sunny crossing, fairly calm. Had our own food on board. Docked at Gothenburg at 4.15pm. Dull by this time. Drove north through Sweden on main road to Oslo. Stopped at Strömstad, found hostel but it was full. Went on to Lommeland. Hostel full but got put up in house next door at 8.15pm. Did meal. Went walk at dusk. Found a toad.

Monday 12.07.71 (303 miles)
Did our breakfast. Left Lommeland at 9.30am. Soon crossed from Sweden into Norway. Stopped at border to take photos of ship from high bridge. Stopped for lunch by water near Minnesund. Cloudy, warm sun, chilly wind. Many mosquitoes about. Mick got bitten. By-passed centre of Oslo, continued north on E6. Got to Dombås at 7pm. Found hostel after enquiring. Did meal. Walked down to town, looked round.

Tuesday 13.07.71 (255 miles)
Had a good hostel-provided breakfast. Left Dombås at 9am. Continued north on E6, crossing high, wild country in mist and rain. Went through deep gorges. Came down to lower ground arriving Trondheim at 12.00. Looked round shops, took photos of trams. Went a few miles further north for lunch by shore of Trondheimfjord. Continued north in rain. Stopped at Snåsa hostel at 5.45pm. Did meal. Long walk to town and back in evening. Chatted to a local youth.

Wednesday 14.07.71 (286 miles)
Had a good hostel-provided breakfast. Left Snåsa at 9.15am. Continued north on inconsistent road surfaces. Stopped briefly for photos of snow-capped mountains. Stopped later to photograph the Laksfors waterfall - spectacular. Did shopping at Mosjøen, then had lunch at roadside table in lay-by. Chased a train north, passed through Mo-i-Rana, kept on chasing. Got ahead of it and photographed it at a crossing just south of Arctic Circle. Stopped at Circle marker post and souvenir shop for postcards. Quite cold. Stopped at Bleiknesmo hostel at 6.30pm. Wrote postcards and did meal. Walked to a stream later.

Thursday 15.07.71 (183 miles)
Did breakfast. Left Bleiknesmo hostel at 9.15am. Stopped at Skjerstadfjord to photograph a boat. Did shopping at Fauske. Waited about 2 hours at Sommerset for ferry across Leir Fjord. Took many photos. Had lunch while waiting. Chatted to folk dance enthusiast on ferry. Raced to next ferry at Bognes to cross Tysfjord. Not too long a wait. Cold, wind, mainly dull for this crossing. Continued on bad road surface to next ferry at Skjervik. Crossed quickly. Stopped to help a Belgian VW Beetle having trouble; couldn't do much. Short run to Narvik. Found hostel easily. Had a good hostel-provided dinner. Walked into town.

Friday 16.07.71 (159 miles)
Had good hostel-provided breakfast. Went into town shopping. Bought films, 'kofte' (cardigan), knife for Dad, box for Mum, seal for Pam. Left Narvik at 10.30am, with John lying on back seat, feeling ill. Continued north in fine weather. Stopped at a roadside table for lunch, then Mick and I did an oil change on nearby rough ground. Went to Lyngseidet and joined queue for ferry across Lyngen Fjord. I went over on my own to reserve beds at Olderdalen hostel on other side. Talked to an American and a Dutchman at hostel. Walked about watching ferries come in. Our car finally came over at 9.45pm. Did meal.

Saturday 17.07.71 (289 miles)
Up at 9am. Dull day. Mick and I did breakfast, John still not eating. Shopped for food, left Olderdalen at 10.30am. I drove for 3½ hours, doing 145 miles (nearly hit a car soon after starting off). Stopped near water for lunch - mosquitoes around. Continued north-eastwards over bare, unattractive land. Stopped at Alta, looking at some new VW Beetles at a garage. Passed most northerly point of tour. Stopped for photos, chilly wind, dull. Stopped at Lakselv hostel, small and primitive. Did meal. Went to local shop (open late), then climbed cliffs to see midnight sun, only partly visible through clouds. Bed at 12.30am.

Sunday 18.07.71 (344 miles)
Up at 9am. Did breakfast. Left Lakselv at 10am. Took southbound road for Finland. Sunny and cloudy; very bad road surface with much dust. Stopped at Norway/Finland border to buy postcards and later for petrol. Saw a British 1200 Beetle. Had our lunch by a lake; mosquitoes about. Road surface improved later - cruised for many miles at 65/70 mph. Stopped at Rovaniemi hostel at 6.30pm, having gone to another hostel first. Did meal. Went into town in car. Saw all the local youths standing and driving about - odd!

Monday 19.07.71 (294 miles)
Did breakfast. Left Rovaniemi hostel at 10am and found we had a puncture. Went to a garage, then to the VW dealer, then to tyre-dealer next door where we soon got attention (had a tube put in). Left Rovaniemi at 11.45am, headed for Swedish border at Tornio. Sunny morning, bright and clear, good roads. Passed into Sweden, stopped for shopping then had lunch by river. Took air cleaner off to examine it. Continued south on E4. Shopped at Skelleftea. Failed to find hostel, went on to Lovanger for the night. Had a small chalet to ourselves. Went in car to seashore.

Tuesday, 20.07.71 (267 miles)
Up at 9am. Had a good hostel-provided breakfast. Quick game of table-tennis. Left Lovanger at 10.30am. Continued south on E4, a good road. Weather warm and cloudy/sunny. Stopped at Örnsköldsvik for cash and food. Stopped later for lunch by a river, did omelettes! Stopped at Sundsvall, made enquiries, found hostel but it was full. Continued to Gnarp, found hostel after enquiring. Did meal. Played with TV and radio. Went walk afterwards. Walked back to hostel via tightly curved railway (main line). Met 4 young Swedes at the hostel. Sat round kitchen table talking, drinking wine and beer, eating cheese and biscuits till 11.15pm.

Wednesday 21.07.71 (218 miles)
Up at 8.30am. Had hostel-provided breakfast. Left Gnarp at 10am. Weather sunny and cloudy. Continued south on E4 to Gavle. Did shopping, then went down to deserted timber quay for lunch. Warm sun, chilly wind. Continued on E4 but then took Route 76 south-east to Norrtalje. Heavy rain on the way. Found hostel fairly easily - early arrival at 5.30pm. Rain stopped soon after arrival. Did meal. Walked round town. Saw aircraft and ship used as restaurants. Chatted to 2 English guys. Saw 2 big Silja Line car ferries. Walked in shopping area. Back to hostel at 10pm.

Thursday, 22.07.71 (142 miles)
Up at 7.30am. Did our breakfast. Left hostel at 9am, went to nearby harbour, took photos of boats and two big ferries. Went to Stockholm. Parked car in big underground car park. Looked in shops, went to Central Station, looked at model train exhibits, took photos on platform. Mick went off on his own. John and I walked to river, then to more shops. Heavy rain started. Bought food and ate it while sheltering. Went on river cruise 2-3pm, mostly sunny, very enjoyable. Met Mick by chance. Shopped for food. Left at 4.15pm. Took ages to find route out. Went to Nykøping on E4. Found hostel at 6.10pm. Did meal. Went to Oxelosund. Looked round harbour at dusk.

Friday 23.07.71 (308 miles)
Up at 8.15am. Did our breakfast. Left Nykøping hostel at 9.15am. Had good run on straight road E4, south-west. Went past Norrkøping and Jønkøping. Stopped at Granna on Lake Vatern. Did shopping then sat by harbour in warm sun, having lunch, watching ferries coming and going. Continued on E4 to its end at Helsingborg. Found hostel after consulting map in town, arriving 6.15pm. Did meal then went out in car to the port - very busy with many ferries in and out, also passing ships in narrow channel between Sweden and Denmark.

Saturday, 24.07.71 (98 miles)
Up at 7.45am. Had hostel-provided breakfast. Left Helsingborg hostel at 9.15am. Drove down to the port. Got on car-ferry at 9.30am for short crossing to Helsingør in Denmark. Went straight down to Copenhagen, arriving 11am. Walked through Tivoli Gardens and along pedestrians-only shopping streets. Did shopping, then walked to river. Had lunch in small park then took photos of the 'mermaid'. Walked along quay to see a US aircraft carrier and another warship. Long walk back to car. Dull and warm. Left at 4.30pm. Went to Naestved hostel, arriving 6pm. Did meal. Went to a canal, then into town. Went into a pub.

Sunday 25.07.71 (319 miles)
Up at 8am. Had mediocre hostel-provided breakfast. Left Naestved at 9.15am, went south to Rodbyhavn. Got ferry to Germany, sailed at 10.35am. Listened to foreign folk-singing on board. Arrived Puttgarden at 11.30am. Continued south-west across Germany and on to autobahn. Stopped off at Lübeck for lunch by river. Continued on autobahn, passing Hamburg and Bremen. Left autobahn and went to Lingen. Found hostel at 6.45pm after enquiring. Had small hostel-provided meal. Heavy rain in evening. Went into town, walked about.

Monday 26.07.71 (273 miles)
Up at 8am. Had rather poor hostel-provided breakfast. Went into town for shopping. Hoped to buy whistles but none in stock. Left Lingen at 10.15am. Continued south-west, soon passed into Holland. Brief stop at Zutphen to look in music shop. Stopped at Tilburg for lunch by canal. Hot and sunny. Continued into Belgium, running easily on good roads. Arrived Ostend at 5pm. Went to car ferry terminal to enquire about booking, then to hostel. Hostel full but we booked a meal. Sat on promenade till meal at 7pm. Left car in queue at 8pm. Walked about then sailed at 10.25pm.

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