We finally get to visit Brugge the so called Venice of the North. It certainly lived up to its Hype. It is a wonderful town of beautiful buildings and canals and of course Chocolate, Beer  and tourists.
We walked for miles around the lovely leafy lanes surrounded by water. Windmills line the banks of the canal and the whole scene is splendid. The aire was pleasant if a little crowded and there was a Pop Concert going on next door which failed to keep us sleepy heads awake. A good place to visit.

These two young girls were playing flute and harp and were very good and obviously enjoying playing, it just showed in their happiness.

 The old man feeding the birds, just summed up the tranquillity of the place

On through Denmark

Next day we continued south and the roads were getting busier, so after a couple of nights by the roadside we decided to spend some time on a campsite.     

  The children here seem to be on Summer holidays already and the two campsites we had planned to stay on were so full Rob again refused to stop. We drove out of town along a lovely lane lined with lakes on both sides and found a pull in where we stopped for the night.  

The lakes abounded with water lilies and all was well. The next day we returned to a Nature reserve that Sarah had spotted the day before and found a lovely little parking spot well off the road with lots of trails to walk and birds to spot. Black woodpeckers abound and we just missed seeing an Elk in the woods.

Trollhattan locks

Next day took us to the old locks at Trollhattan and another Aire, this time still operating. Rob refused the first Aire as it was a motorway rest stop, not our scene.
The old lock system dated from the nineteenth century and was still very complete. The new system bypassed it with much deeper and wider locks and we could not believe the size of one ship coming into the system, we doubted it would fit in but were obviously proved wrong.

Lots of leisure craft,  going in both directions, made for a busy exciting scene and a pleasant evening stay.

Hogsbyn rock carvings

We left the city behind and crossed over into Sweden. Using our Aires book we stopped at Hogsbyn to see the rock carvings only to find signs saying no camping allowed. They have obviously closed it for overnighting as with many other parking places. We spoke to the girl at the little museum who consulted her father and were told we could stay if we liked, but that we would have to move if any one complained. As we were in the middle of nowhere we took a chance and had no problems.

The rock carvings had been highlighted in red so were much easier to see. They were quite extensive, over forty slabs covering a large area by the lakeside. They date from 1500 to 500 BC or as far back as the early iron age.

Akershus fortress and Oslo

We spent the night at the Marina and the next day we took the bus into the centre of Oslo .
We started with Akershus fortress which has been guarding the city for over seven hundred years.
It still today, houses the headquarters of the Armed services.

We walked up the main street, Johans gate which was tree lined with fountains and looked very nice in the sunshine with its ornate buildings.

We had a quick visit to the Museum of history and returned to the marina and our van.

Oslo Folk museum

We competed our day with the Folk museum which is a collection of original houses and farm building from around Norway. These have been set as far as possible, in the same hamlet style from where they came.  A lot of the houses were open with displays and activities and manned by very knowledgeable and friendly young students. We enjoyed a cup of coffee made over the open fire in a traditional eighteenth century farmhouse by a young lady in traditional costume. They had also remade an area of old town house from Oslo which again gave us an insight into life in the late 1800’s. Many people were living in one room with no kitchens, bathrooms or toilet facilities much the same as Britain of the same era. It made us realise how lucky we are and how much we have progressed in the last hundred or so years.

Kon Tiki museum

Our next stop was the Kon Tiki exhibition. This started with a film of the trip in 1947 all filmed at the time with a clockwork movie camera. It was a very complete record of the journey. A very young Richard Dimbleby did the opening remarks and made it clear that they were unlikely to survive the voyage.  For those not old enough to remember this adventure, it was made by a young Norwegian  Thor Heyerdahl  and his five man crew in a balsa wood raft using designs from early South American civilisation. He wanted to prove that they could have made this journey across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia hundreds of years  before the Portugese and Spanish ever sailed to the New World. The journey took them 8000 kms and 101 days using the trade winds and sea currents as there only means of direction and propulsion. They miraculously survived and he made his subsequent trips in Ra 1 and Ra 11, which were reed boats, again using designs from the times of the Pharaohs. Ra 11 crossed from Morocco to Barbados, a trip of 6100 kms in 1970.  The Kon tiki raft and Ra 11 were both on display and it made you wonder how they survived.  This was a very worthwhile visit.