Trouble In Copenhagen and On The Road In Sweden

Denmark and Copenhagen truly captured my spirit, curiosity and especially my palate—the food is so good.

Yet this morning we had to bid farewell to Copenhagen and Denmark. Though we had quite the drama leaving Copenhagen. Like most cities the parking can be difficult, expensive, and questionable secure. Neither of the hotels we stayed out in downtown offered parking, but all pointed us to various lots in the blocks surrounding the hotel.

The lot we chose to park our bikes took up nearly a whole city block. The building is massive. The upper floors were shared by a hotel and offices. Yet unlike so many parking operations in the USA, there are no attendants. Everything is automated. When John and I returned to the parking garage after three days, we found ourselves locked out. We could not enter the garage. The tickets we had wouldn’t open the doors. And we tried all of them. We banged on the doors, called the two phone numbers listed, and even tried waiting for someone to emerge, or go in.

I felt like my bike Doc, was being held hostage. This was deja vu, too. We had the same issue trying to get out of the parking garage—on foot. We managed to trigger the car entrance door manually and escape. But there was none of that getting inside.

We were losing time, too. We needed to check out of the hotel by 11am, but more importantly we had a long ride heading to Stockholm.

With the aid of hotel personnel, we were finally inside. Yet, we couldn’t get the gate to open as the automated system didn’t recognize that there was a vehicle ready to pay. Through a little creative maneuvering we were able to get the garage door open, but the gate wouldn’t budge. With no other option, we just rode past the gate—we wanted to, but we were unable to pay.

As we navigate our way out of the city to the Øresund Bridge, the temperature begins to soar. Spanning some five miles across the Øresund strait between Denmark and Sweden, the massive bridge also takes railroad across the straits. It’s the longest road and rail bridge in Europe. The bridge was officially opened in 2000, and passes through an artificial island, Peberholm. I try to stop on the island to grab a few photos, but signage is very clear—keep moving.

We skirt the Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmo and stick to the main road to make time, hoping we can make it to Stockholm by nightfall. As I’m navigating a ring road, get lost on a rural road, and seem to pass over the main road twice before I can figure out how to get back on, my temperature light flashes on—and holds.

Shit.

After a few minutes of riding, I have to pull over. There is no shoulder, and John has no idea what’s going on. I explain I’ve got to wait. Let the engine cool. My plan is to get off the busy road, find a gas station where I can look at the cooling system and see what’s going on. I fear the fan might have failed. That happened to me in China on Wong Doc (the surrogate bike I used in China, while the right Doc sat in the port of Ningbo).

At the gas station outside of Ästorp, I check the fluids, they seem good. The fan, I’m not sure. I figure if I can keep up to speed, there will be enough air passing through the radiator, I would be okay. I just have to watch it when in traffic, or slow moving roads.

My theory and plan fails. The bike heats up at speed. Something else is wrong. Maybe the thermostat? I can ride the bike for about 5 minutes before it heats up and I have to pull over and wait about 20 for it to cool down.  I need to find help.

Thankfully T-Mobile is offering LTE speed, unlimited and FREE throughout Europe this summer, so I’m able to find a BMW about twenty miles away in Ängelholm in Skåne. It’s already late, and there’s no way I can ride the bike for twenty miles.

The gas station attendant guides us to a motel, just 4 miles down the road. I can do that—barely.

When we get to downtown Astorp, a small settlement with just 3 hotels—all of them are booked. Not a room. After much talking and negotiating with our new friend Ossama at the Hotel Milano, Ossama lets us pitch our tents on the fine manicured lawn outside the cute cottages that make up the Hotel Milano. One catch though: there is no bathroom. The only food is a pizza restaurant that is set to close in an hour.

I’m more worried about the twenty mile trek to the BMW dealer. If I try to push the bike and the engine is under siege of constant heat, I could damage it. That would bring this trip to a quick end.

At the restaurant, we befriend a group of locals who continue to lubricate themselves with beer. One of them is such a huge fan of John Deere, he keeps yelling at me with the little English he knows—John Deere, fuggin the best. I joke with him a bit and ask him about Massey Ferguson. “That’s shit,” he screams, “John Deere, fuggin’ the best.” We are in Swedish agricultural country.

I explain my dilemma to the English speaker of the group and ask if anyone would be willing to truck or trailer my bike to the BMW dealer. After several phone calls and talk about money, one of the group agrees that he and a friend will meet me at the hotel at 8am the next morning.

When they show up, I’m taken back. The trailer is tiny. There’s no way my bike will fit. Yet, it does, as they decide not to close the back gate, so my bike barely squeezes on, diagonally.

At the BMW dealer in Ängelholm, they’re busy. No guarantee that they can get to the bike today, but they’ll try. Just the sight of our two bikes brings out the curious locals. We meet an adventure riding couple, Mats and Ana. Before we leave to grab lunch, Mats has found a copy of my book in Sweden and shows me the order that it will be shipped in two days. Amazing.

John and I walk the small pedestrian mall and try to pick up some of the language—and some local food.

Later at the dealer, my bike is still sitting in the same spot. I worry that we will be spending the night in Ängelholm. Soon enough other locals pick up their bikes, and mine rolls into the service bay.

After about 30 minutes I wander inside. “Look,” the technician points to the hose that feeds from the water pump to the radiator. It’s crimped behind a spaghetti wad of electrical cables, all held together with a couple zip ties.

Could this be the problem? What about the fan?

These cables provide power to my PIAA lights and the GPS unit. It seems that between the two recent services—one in California and the other in Metuchen New Jersey, when the bike was put together this wad of cables was pushed in and forced on top of the hose.

I haven’t touched the cables or hoses since the bike arrived in Iceland about a month ago. And I certainly had no issues with overheating in Iceland. Then again, it was so damn cold.

We check the fan, it’s working. All good. Now here, with rising temperatures the failure point is a simple human error. I didn’t even notice when I pulled the side panels off at the gas station—looking for a bigger problem, this simple fail missed me.

It could have been worse, and costed so much more. In the end, this little debacle cost us a day, but along the way we made many friends, new connections and more ideas of what to do along the journey ahead.

 

Copenhagen & Christiana

I arrived in Copenhagen slightly sweaty and eyes wide open to understand and explore this Scandinavian city that has become a culinary capital beyond belief.

Summer is tourist season. As such, many of the higher-end restaurants decide to take off—holiday on some of the local islands or elsewhere in Europe.

To take advantage of this very bicycle friendly city, I decide to park Doc, my bike, and don a bicycle-an electric bicycle with pedal assist—to explore the city. The electric bikes are available for pick-up and drop-off all over the city.

Realizing that just two days is not enough to truly get a sense of the city, I try to extend a night at my hotel. Sadly, there’s no availability. I scramble and find a place in the neighborhood that will accommodate me and my bike—but it’s going to cost me. Oh well. This is Scandanavia—I knew it wouldn’t be cheap.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of this grand city is Christiania—perhaps the San Francisco of northern Europe. In the 70’s a group of adventurous squatters and hippies crashed age-old military barracks here. The buildings were vacant and equipped with (free) electricity so the originals created a ‘freetown’ with a very hippy and laid-back way of life. And yes, plenty of weed to go around. Today, Christiania represents alternative thinking and, like San Francisco’s hey-day, a bit of a hippie culture and thriving movement. Don’t take pictures here, I was told. Outside the gates, I did get a few shots and met a wonderful lady who tends to many of the gardens. She showed me around.

There is plenty of “street art” graffiti and cozy  cafés, and certainly open-minded people and an abundance of nature and openness.

The Hot Ride to Copenhagen

Everything Is Old

Our bikes were nestled in a small courtyard below our room at the Hotel Dagmar, built in 1582 and the oldest hotel in Denmark. I make a point to cover my bike with the amazing compact and lightweight Aerostich bike cover. It blinds the temptation of wandering eyes, though we weren’t worried so much about the kitchen staff who use a side door in the courtyard.

The sun blazed and burned hot, so much that my bike cover was hot to touch. When I pulled it off, the thermometer on my dash revealed the hot truth. It was 112 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 45 degrees Celcius).

Sweeping grasslands lead us to the Øresund Bridge to Copenhagen

 

To The Oldest Town in Denmark

More riding through pastoral farms as we headed southwest into Jutland, a small peninsula where we hoped to delve into Denmark’s medieval past. More grazing land and long fields and bogs of peat added to the aromatic wonderland swirling inside my helmet—pungent.

Motorcycle riders get it, the full sensual experience of being open. To all the elements, temperature, precipitation, panoramic views, a true sense of speed as the ground moves so close below. And then there’s the smell.

When I first moved to California in the 80’s I rode a small Suzuki 450cc bike between West LA and Orange County. In the morning I’d pass through Torrance on the 405 freeway where the intoxicating smell of sweet bread wafted across the freeway from King’s Hawaiian Bakery. I never stopped, but the smell of that bread that so many other commuters trapped in traffic simply miss inside their cars, windows rolled up.

Nothing sweet about the smells of the ride to Ribe, Denmark’s oldest city settled in the 8th century as the Roman empire fell and gave rise to Celtic and Germanic kingdoms.

Like many of Europe’s old towns, the historic part of Ribe is closed to vehicular traffic. With a useless GPS and complete lack of direction, we soon found ourselves riding where we shouldn’t. We came across a small gathering of people led by a man cloaked in a long black double breasted peacoat with a large gold medallion dangling from a chain around his neck and carrying a torch and what looked like a medieval weapon, a barbed iron ball atop a pole, his walking stick.

John and I joined the group on the following night as we wandered and winded our way through the old towns cobblestoned streets and dark alleys. While this tourist walk enlightened us to the cast of characters that walked the streets and created the town from yesteryear, I was more fascinated by the young and sweet bartender at our hotel. No, and not in that way.

She spoke very good English and was currently studying at the local university. As our conversation turned to pop culture then politics, she asked me why there were so many school shootings in the United States. She knew about so many. She revealed that in Denmark’s equivalent of high school, called gymnasium, academic study and not sports, every student must take a class in school shootings. That’s right, in Denmark they study school shootings in high school.

She told me that she doesn’t know anybody who owns a gun in Denmark. Yes, they sell guns in Denmark, but like a car one must get a license to own and use one. These guns, she admits, are for solely for hunting, and that she is unaware of shooting ranges or other non-hunting recreational use of firearms in Denmark.

 

If you somehow miss seeing it, you will certainly hear the bells. The Ribe Cathedral “The Church of Our Lady” is the oldest cathedral in Denmark. It is a mix of architectural styles as the structure has undergone many revisions since it was built by King Valdemar in the 13th century, including the addition of the Maria Tower, which rises some 150 feet above the plaza and shops circling it below.

Hello Denmark! Hello Europe!

Nearly two days passed before I spotted land. The European continent. Scandinavia. The group of about 15 bikers slowly congregated on the vehicle deck. Tie downs were tossed away and everyone started donning riding gear. It took me some time.

Even in motorcycle heavy Scandinavia, Doc attracts curious passersby with the odd assortment of flag and other global stickers.

My bike sits quite high. The BMW Dakar was never meant to have a center stand, though I fitted Doc with one from Touratech. It’s not new, I have always been aware of the problem, and frankly always apprehensive about it. Because of the height of the bike, the angle of the center stand when dropped doesn’t provide enough leverage. One almost must lift the 500+ pounds of the bike to get it on the stand. This usually means two people. In Sudan aboard the ferry from Wadi Halfa to Aswan Egypt, it took three people.

Getting off the center stand is equally amusing. I usually just ask someone to push me as a rock the bike back and forth. A fellow rider from Germany pushed me.

I’m in Europe, again. This time far away from where I landed last time—in Istanbul.

The ride to the Northern most point of Denmark and the point where the turbulent waters of the North Sea and the Kattegat (Baltic) Sea meet, on a sandbar peninsula a few miles north of Skagen. The ride here passes through farmland and tiny villages, often the pungent “fresh” air of methane infused fertilizer violates me inside my helmet.

Of course I had to wander to the end of the sandbar and straddle the two great northern European seas. Marching through nearly a mile of sand in motorcycle boots isn’t so fun. But the feeling of water swirling around my feet was nearly heaven.

While the temperature was very comfortable, if not hot, I noticed blankets, usually branded with a beer logo such as Carlsberg, draped over the backs or sitting in a pile outside cafés all over town. Nice touch, if the evening chill is a bit nippy, grab a blanket—certainly more cozy and sustainable than those heaters we typically find on restaurant patios in the USA.

After a “light” lunch of traditional Danish Smørrebrød at a small outdoor cafe where Johnny A and I chowed and watched the people wander the pedestrian streets of Skagen shopping, eating, and watching street performers. I encountered these guys performing a spectacular illusion. I broadcast my amazement on Facebook Live. You can watch it here.

Rockin’ The Smyril Line Ferry to Denmark

After bidding farewell to the Faroe Islands, I joined Johnny A and a half-dozen other motorcyclists who decided to stopover in the Faroes, to board the Norröna and tie down our bikes in the middle vehicle bay. The ride to the Faroe Islands was smooth and this time of year the ride to Denmark was just as easy.

On our last night aboard and after another wonderful meal at the Simmer Dim Steakhouse aboard the ship, Johnny A convinced Rani Nolsøe, the Faroese folk singer who had been entertaining passengers in the Naust Lounge during our trip, to take a break and let me bang out a couple tunes for the nearly full house crowd enjoying late night cocktails and entertainment.

I’m typically a bit shy and less confident in my musical abilities—but always happy to get in front of a crowd and speak. That night aboard the Norröna I was a bit nervous and forget words to my own songs. I do think the crowd got a kick out of my performance and enjoyed the rap. Thanks to Rani for letting me indulge a few originals on his stage.

Check out the video below—not the greatest sound, but you’ll get the idea and see WorldRider in action with a guitar, instead of a motorcycle. Thanks and kudos to Johnny A for setting up and recording the performance.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about the Smyril Line service to and from Iceland and Hirtshals, Denmark via the Faroe Islands, if you’re thinking of spending time in Iceland and want to explore Norway, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands, take a close look at the service offered by Smyril Line. I think there’s no better way to make an Iceland, North Atlantic and Scandinavian adventure.

G! Fest — Rockin’ The Faroe Islands

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IMG_0379Now in its 13th year, the G! Fest music experience, referred to the the Woodstock of the North Atlantic, is a three day music festival set in on the beach in the village of Syðrugöta, which has a population of just 400, on the island of Eysturoy. Two of the three stages are built on the beach against the backdrop of the Faroes’ jaw-dropping fjords‚ a landscape dominated by grass-carpeted mountains. According to the G! promoters, the festival is “caught between the peaks and the ocean, in a break between the cliffs skirting the coastline, Syðrugøta is set in an unrivalled natural amphitheater.”

It was here in the 11th century where the legendary Viking Tróndur í Götu confronted the Norwegians who were focused on Christianization of the Faroe Islands. Tróndur pronounced a curse against Christianity, beheading those who got in his way.

Things have changed in Syðrugøta. Now peace-lying and sustainable practices by green-thinking and acting citizens dominate the landscape among an eclectic mix of local and global musicians.

There is even a special beer made for the G! Festival and a unique carrier to take a 5-pack back to your group!

There is even a special beer made for the G! Festival and a unique carrier to take a 5-pack back to your group!

 

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An amazing venue for the Woodstock of the Faroe Islands.

Syðrugøta on Eysturoy and with a population of barely 100 people, hosts the annual G! Festival in the Faroe Islands— An amazing venue for what they call the Woodstock of the Faroes.

IMG_0296-1Sponsors of the festival include local taxi companies who usher festival goers between Tórshavn and other towns and Gull, a local brewery that from the many vendors pouring fresh beer, I was amazed to see the optional 5-pack carriers allowing the ease of transporting multiple beers from tap to stage. Certainly in the USA vendors will demand IDs from anyone attempting to buy more than two beers. Yet here in the Faroes, a five-pack carrier is common and convenient.

IMG_0297As the hot pots are the rage in Iceland and the north Atlantic, festival goers also have the opportunity to enjoy a steaming hot pot and a cold plunge into the arctic sea. Yeah!

Johnny A and I decided to take the local bus to the G! Fest. Later in the evening, after the bus service stopped, we shared a cab with a couple Brits and enjoyed the conversation discussing Brexit and the impending election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Life is interesting, the music fun and interesting. Nothing like landing on a remote island and enjoying the music from the latest music festival in the Faroe Islands. We got to hear several locals and international acts including Lucy Rose, Sakaris, and Faroe Islands favorite Annika Hoydal.

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Lucy Rose from the U.K. plays Faroe Islands G! Fest July 2016

 

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Sakaris plays Faroe Islands G! Fest July 2016

 

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Folk singer Annika Hoydal plays Faroe Islands G! Fest July 2016

Watch Sakaris live with some legendary Johnny A dancing thrown in — an Allan Cam capture from the Faroe Islands July 2016 at the G! Fest.

Where In The World? The Faroe Islands?

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Looking out of my hotel room, there’s an amazing unusual break in the weather. The streets still wet from the pounding rain, but for a brief moment I get this view!

As I reached out to friends and colleagues, I quickly learned that not many people have heard of the Faroe Islands, and even less had any idea of where they were located. t’s a tiny archipelago located southeast of Iceland and north of Scotland, west of Norway. It’s technically under government rule of Denmark, yet the Faroe Islands has its own government, school system, and even flag. Yet Denmark currently supports the Faroe Islands with military and police.

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One side of the port in the Faroe Islands. Fishing rules the economy.

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Turf filled roofs provide extra insulation for the cold climate of the Faroe Islands

The economy of the Faroe Islands is driven by fishing. “Norwegian salmon is no good,” a local tells me. “Faroe Islands salmon is the best in the world.” There’s no question that the locals in Faroe Islands, despite there relative anonymity on the world stage, have a passion and nationalistic pride for their small island nation. Like Iceland, it was the vikings that ultimately settled in the Faroe Islands. Torshavn is a small town and the government is housed in traditional centuries old buildings with turf growing on the roof—serving as insulation and protection from the elements.

Not the best conditions for a motorcycle joyride

Not the best conditions for a motorcycle joyride

Someone in Iceland joked that “there are only 7 sunny days a year in the Faroe Islands,” suggesting maybe I didn’t think through my choice to explore the tiny archipelago nation. Sure, I was soaked and bitten by cold through many days in Iceland, but I had a network of tunnels that connect the islands together to look forward to, at least inside the tunnels I’d find reprieve from the rain.

True to form, my arrival in Tórshavn in early AM was met with misty rain. Our hotel in the downtown area looks over the harbor and, even in this small town, centrally located.

Doc gets soaked in front of our hotel in the Faroe Islands. Thankful we're not camping.

Doc gets soaked in front of our hotel in the Faroe Islands. Thankful we’re not camping.

Waking up to more rain, I’m less motivated to hop on my bike and more eager to walk around. There is a music festival happening this weekend, the G! Fest, so we’re trying to figure out whether we want to ride or take a bus to the festival that’s happening on a beach in one of the other islands. Considering it’s usually apropos to have a beer or three during a music festival, the idea of riding with a belly of beer ih the rain is less intriguing.

We do find a quiet restaurant, “11” that is connected to a night club. After a delicious meal of reindeer for me and locally raised lamb for Johnny A, we retire to the club for a glass of pilsner and a set of cover songs by a singer accompanied by a local guitarist.

Johnny A tastes the Cotes du Rhone wine we'll have with our meal.

Johnny A tastes the Cotes du Rhone wine we’ll have with our meal.

Fresh seared scallop salad

Fresh seared scallop salad

The sappy songs we can only take so much, so we move across the street to another pub where a local and legendary Faroe Islands folk singer, Holger Jacobsen, is performing live to increasingly inebriated locals. Holger seems unfazed by most of the crowd that treats the local legend as mere background music. Though when he charges into a local song where everyone knows the lyrics, the entire bar sings along with him.

As the clock ticks on and chimes 3AM, Johnny A and I are still with beers in hand. As in Iceland, this is no problem. No bouncer forces us to down the beers and march out. Instead, they pour our beers into plastic cups and usher us onto the street.

Welcome to the Faroe Islands. Here, at least, at 3AM the skies are clear—no rain—and it’s not dark, yet!

Faroe Islands Bound: Smyril Lines ferry cruise

When I started planning my Iceland adventure many months ago, I knew that getting my motorcycle to Iceland would be a significant endeavor. Plus, to ship a bike for just two weeks to one island isn’t cost-effective. I wanted to see if I could ship the bike by plane or boat to Europe and have an opportunity to explore Europe as part of a summer 2016 adventure.

It didn’t take long to find an ideal solution for an Icelandic, North Atlantic and Scandinavian adventure. Smyril Lines, a Faroe Islands-based company offers weekly ships on the comfortable Norröna from western Iceland (Seydisfjordur) to Smyril Lines, a Faroe Islands-based company offers weekly ships on the comfortable Norröna from western Iceland (Seydisfjordur) to Denmark (Hirtshals) via the Faroe Islands.

The Smyrill Lines ship, the Norröna, is a modern cruise ferry built in Germany sailed its maiden voyage in 2003. The massive ship is 165 meters (541 feet) long and 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) wide. The first part of the voyage to the Faroe Islands takes just under a day, while the voyage from the Faroe Islands to Denmark takes about two days. The ship has 318 passenger cabins and accommodates about 1500 passengers and 118 crew members. The ship has ferry space for 800 cars and cruises at about 21 knots.

I had booked a modest inner cabin for John and I and so after the great last supper with the film crew, headed to Seydisfjordur the next morning. The hour-long ride winds its way through a mountain pass, meadows and spectacular alpine scenery. We were about the only ones winding through the landscapes as waterfalls tumbled roadside and rivers rushed by.

The road from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in rugged eastern Iceland.

The road from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in rugged eastern Iceland.

 

The view of Seyðisfjörður as we wind down our way to the lovely Icelandic city where Smyril Ferry brings and takes passengers, vehicles and cargo to and from Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

The view of Seyðisfjörður as we wind down our way to the lovely Icelandic city where Smyril Ferry brings and takes passengers, vehicles and cargo to and from Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

As we descended into the tiny port of Seydisfjordur we were greeted by a large gathering of motorcyclists outside a local café. WE learned that the ferry, scheduled to depart at 10:30am, would be late and depart sometime after 12 noon. Here we met Frank, an aussie in his mid-sixties who has been traveling round Europe for the past two years, on and off between return flights to Australia. Riding a similar bike as Johnny A, Frank called his R1150GS “the pig”. When I asked if he kept a blog or writing on his travels he flatly stated, “No, I don’t get involved in any of that rubbish.” Ok, Frank, tell me how you really feel. Yet he did say he shares a group email among friends. I’d call that a blog-like email journal. Nonetheless, over the next few days sailing on the Norröna, we found Frank to evolve from his crumudgeonly first impression to a man with lots of knowledge, who when pressed would share.

I found all the employees of Smyrill Lines to be friendly and helpful. In the office in Iceland I met Svein, one of management team responsible for seeing that the ship is unloaded and loaded promptly. With no accommodations booked for our two nights on the Faroe Islands, Svein got on the phone and called his wife who manages one of the local hotels near the harbor in Torshavn. She promised we’d have a room and he assured us that it would be easy to find in the tiny town.

My bike is marked, I'm going to Denmark on Smyril, but first a stop in the tiny but legendary Faroe Islands.

My bike is marked, I’m going to Denmark on Smyril Ferry, but first a stop in the tiny but legendary Faroe Islands.

Dozens of bikers patiently await the arrival of Nöronna to take them and their bikes to Europe. The cost of ferrying a bike to or from Iceland to Europe is reasonable and the only way to truly get a sense of Iceland—car or bike.

Dozens of bikers patiently await the arrival of Nöronna to take them and their bikes to Europe. The cost of ferrying a bike to or from Iceland to Europe is reasonable and the only way to truly get a sense of Iceland—car or bike.

 

My new Faroese friend, Svein who manages the loading and unloading of the Nörrona in Iceland and on the Faroe Islands.

My new Faroese friend, Svein who manages the loading and unloading of the Nörrona in Iceland and on the Faroe Islands.

Norröna I’ve never been on a cruise ship. I prefer to ride motorcycles or travel overland. Not that I’m against cruise ships, I just like to have space to move. Yet I was surprised out how much I enjoyed the short cruise to the Faroe Islands and Denmark on Smyrill Lines Norröna. The ship has three restaurants, including a steakhouse, diner and an incredibly impressive buffet. There’s also a duty free shop, two bars and general store. One of the bars is on the upper deck of the ship and just below there’s a deck fired with three hot tubs—or hot pots as they are known in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. What’s more, there is a small movie theater and game room for kids and a few one-armed bandits, slot machines, for those who wish to gamble a bit.

Doc is ready for the cruise to Faroe Islands and Denmark

Doc is ready for the cruise to Faroe Islands and Denmark

With my motorcycle safely tied down in the auto/cargo berth, I had to enjoy a hot pot while cruising the Arctic Ocean. The hot water took the chill out of the arctic air, though isn’t too hot, I would have preferred hotter water. Even so, after a nice toasty soak we enjoyed a couple cold beers, pint drafts from the “Gull” brewery. We later dined in the steakhouse and enjoyed a nice bottle of an Italian Super Tuscan wine before retiring to the bar where live music is played until well after midnight. The cruiseferry ship is very comfortable, the food tasty and with enough options to satisfy any taste and top that with good beer and wine, I would do it again. Keep in mind this is basically a three day cruise. And that’s probably enough for me—especially since the cruise is broken up with two days in the Faroe Islands. Not everyone opts to stay in the Faroe Islands, as the boat departs just a few hours after unloading, the Norröna heads to Denmark.

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While I didn’t get to try the buffet aboard Norröna, I did get to check out the room and the massive spread of fresh and cooked eats. Next time, I’m going to indulge in the buffet.

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Table service is available aboard Norröna in the steakhouse. I was impressed with its wine list.

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What else would you order from a steakhouse? I opted for the Wagyu ribeye and mushroom pepper sauce—other sauces are available. Tasty!

IMG_0570 Live music plays until past midnight in the bar. A happy hour is offered with discounted drinks.

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While there is an elevator that whisks passengers up and down the eight decks of the ship, it’s nice to get exercise wandering the ship and taking the grand staircases on the major three decks.

 

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Nothing like a toasty “hot pot” aboard the Norröna as we cruise the Arctic Ocean to the Faroe Islands and Denmark

I wanted to explore the little known Faroe Islands, so Johnny A and I disembarked the Norröna and spent the next two days trying to understand and discover the Faroe Islands.

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Disclosure: Smyril Lines did sponsor me for the passenger ticket and ferry transport for my motorcycle. All other expenses were my responsibility and this is a completely honest report of my experience with Smyrill Line’s and aboard the Norröna. 

 

The Last Ride & Supper: Iceland

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I knew the last day would be long and in some ways not as interesting. Pan was hoping we could find remote interior areas to explore, ride and shoot more footage. But the eastern part of Iceland, before you get closer to the coast, is wide, expansive, and desert-like. Open spaces, with wide valleys and towering mountains to the south.

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The long ride to Egilsstaðir can be boring—at least from inside a car. I stop to take photographs and in seconds our film crew tries to catch up on long overdue and long lost sleep!

It’s barren and there are no trees. But bright purple and yellow flowers dot the roadside, and often large swaths meander into the hesitance, often in a random and serpentine manner. The farms of the west soon disappear and we see less cars.

As we get closer to Egilsstaðir, where we plan to spend the evening, the landscape becomes greener, the farms return, and we find ourselves riding and twisting around a river with high mountains and seemingly dozens of waterfalls.

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We arrive in Egilsstaðir around 6pm. Every hotel we try is booked. We wander around the small city, the biggest in Eastern Iceland, for an hour to no avail. Only the most expensive hotel in town had any availability. When we have stayed in hotels or guest houses, we typically get two rooms. With the cost way over our budget, we agreed to cram the four of us into a small double room.

The plan is to consolidate gear, back up footage, and organize all of our “kit” for the next journey. Pan and Jaime to Vancouver, Johnny A and I to the Faroe Islands.

I had been carrying a bottle of wine, a 1997 Shafer Hillside Select, ever since landing in Iceland. Fortunately, this was kept in the film crew vehicle, so it didn’t truly weigh down my bike. Last summer when I was in China with this crew, I brought the same wine from a different vintage. We shared that wine at the airport before parting ways.

So it is tradition, we share one last meal and a great bottle of wine for our last supper. Jamie and Pan must leave at 4am in order to make it back to the airport on the western side of the island. Johnny A and I must leave around 7am to make it to Seyðisfjörður, about an hour ride, to catch the Smyrill Line ferry to the Faroe Islands.

Jamie peruses the menu and decides on the Arctic Char

Jamie peruses the menu and decides on the Arctic Char

Pan chooses the modest but delicious burger.

Pan chooses the modest but delicious burger.

Johnny A and I double down on reindeer.

Johnny A and I double down on reindeer.

It truly didn’t matter what we ordered, but Johnny A and I chose reindeer, while Pan had a burger and Jamie a delectable salmon dish. The wine was amazing, but the company and the camaraderie legendary. The dynamic will change going forward, but that keeps the adventure fresh.

IMG_0187IMG_0183Stay tuned for more on the Iceland episode of Border to Border—and much more from the North Atlantic and Scandinavia while I ride, for the first time in many years, with Johnny A—as the WorldRider adventure continues.