The next morning, we left our hotel at 9 o'clock. The weather was again perfect: sunshine and a blue sky.
From Burkhard's map we already knew we would have to pass several longer tunnels, an idea which Dwarf wasn't too fond of, to put it mildly. When Dwarf saw the sign of the first tunnel saying "Åkrafjordtunnelen 7,400 m" he began - trying to imitate a low and dark voice - reciting: "Beyond all nightmares I met my fate, an ancient passage surrounded by hate, scared I was but with a hand on my cross, I went into the Demon's gate " (The introduction of the song "Demon's Gate", to be found on Candlemass' debut album "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus", a Doom Metal classic! - Miss Loona) "Drama dwarf!", said Bjørkisen. "Hey, there's no reason to make fun of me, always remember the size proportions! Imagine a human being entering a tunnel about 300 m high and 340 km long - that would also be scary!" Burkhard said that even the actual size of this tunnel was enough to give a human being a somewhat uncomfortable feeling. By the way, what's creepier than driving through long Norwegian tunnels? Driving through long Norwegian tunnels with your sunglasses on!
After we had cleared the Åkrafjordtunnel, which was the longest tunnel on our entire trip, Dwarf sighed and said: "These must have been the heebiest jeebies I've ever had!" Still there were some more to come. To spare you the "peanuts", I'll just mention those tunnels longer than 500 m we crossed on the E 134, so here we go:
Markhustunnelen (2400 m)
Glymjetunnelen (818 m)
Langfosstunnelen (728 m)
Fjæratunnelen (1518 m)
Rullestadtunnelen (2920 m)
Seljestadtunnelen (1272 m)
Røldalstunnelen (4657 m)
Austmannalitunnelen (903 m)
Svandalsflonatunnelen (1053 m)
Haukelitunnelen (5682 m, its highest point is 1085 m above sea level !)
Vagslidtunnelen (1647 m)
Now you do the math! OK, I'll do it for you, all together it's about 31 km travelling underground, without counting the "peanuts".
While we drove through the Markhustunnel, Dwarf suddenly said: "I wonder if the song 'The Creeps' by Saint Vitus (an American Doom Metal band - Miss Loona) was perhaps inspired by a trip through Norwegian tunnels - at least the title and the first line 'It'll give you the creeps!' seem to fit very well." I replied: "Who knows? But the words 'tunnel' and 'Norway' don't appear anywhere in the lyrics. And I don't know if they have ever been to Norway." "Well, it was just a thought."
After we had passed the Langfosstunnel, Burkhard decided to have a little pause at Langfossen, a waterfall which runs into the Åkrafjord, to take some nice pictures.
View over the Åkrafjord (well, just a small part of it)
Do you spot our car?
A few tunnels later, we were approaching the Røldaltunnel.
Look into the rear mirror to the left and to the right
And that's what it looked like on the other side of the tunnel.
After passing the Røldalstunnel, ahead of us lay - you already guessed it - the road down to Røldal.
The long winding road down to Røldal
Another waterfall/Same place, view upwards to the left
After passing Røldal, the road went up again and we were on our way into the Haukelifjell.
On the way up again - the lake in the middle is called Røldalsvatnet (does make sense, in a way)
Still some remnants of snow at the beginning of July
On our way over the Haukelifjell
Nice view into left rear mirror
When we crossed the Haukelifjell in 2010, it had been raining nearly all the time and the mountain tops had been shrouded in mist. This time, it was the total opposite - absolutely perfect weather with a clear blue sky.
Clear blue sky over the Haukelifjell
Burkhard would have liked to make more stops and take more pictures, but we simply didn't have enough time.
I don't remember exactly where the following picture was taken, but it was about 45 minutes after the last picture and we had already left the Haukelifjell behind us by then.
The following pictures were taken another hour later in Seljord where we had to leave the E 134 and take the road to Skien.
What made driving in the mountains on that day a bit difficult was the fact that there were a lot of cyclists on the road and with those winding roads in Norway you never know what might await you behind the next sharp bend, which made it dangerous to overtake the cyclists.
According to a map Burkhard had printed out and which he had found on the website of a well-known search engine, we simply had to follow the road we were on and it would lead us to our hotel in Skien. When we already started wondering why it took a bit longer than expected, we suddenly noticed a sign saying "Porsgrunn" and it began to dawn on us that the map might have been wrong. So we drove back and eventually managed to find the way leading to our hotel, the Thon Hotel Høyers, where we arrived a few minutes past four.
As the parking lot right beside the ground floor of the hotel was already full, the lady at the reception told us to simply follow another guest who had just arrived and who would lead us to another parking lot higher up which was on a level with the third floor. In Norway, the ground floor is called first floor (første etasje), thus the third floor is called fourth floor (fjerde etasje). Since our room was no. 428, it was on the third floor.
The guy who had led us to the parking lot told us we could use the separate entrance to the hotel there. Outside were a bunch of smokers lingering. It was a rather small entrance and when we went through the door we entered a big conference room filled with people playing cards - we later found out it was a bridge tournament going on - which felt a bit weird. So, fully packed, we went through this room and then down a few steps and started looking for room no. 428. What followed now reminded a bit of a Spinal Tap-like episode. Since we couldn't find any numbered rooms there, we went along a corridor and reached a staircase. There was only one way to go, namely down. On the floor below we got a bit puzzled, because all room numbers started with "3", so we went back from where we had come and started looking again - maybe we had simply overlooked our room. Yet there were no numbered rooms to be found. Luckily, the guy who had led us to the parking lot suddenly appeared. Burkhard told him (in Norwegian) that we couldn't find our room. He said he wasn't really sure, either. We all went along the corridor again to the staircase and down the stairs to the floor where all room numbers started with "3". However, this time we went a bit further on this floor, turned a few times left and right and eventually reached another staircase which was also going up. So did we, and - surprise, surprise - we finally found our room!
Burkhard quickly took a shower, changed his clothes and then we drove off to Ulefoss, which was about 30 kilometres back in the direction from where we had come. We reached Ulefoss Hovedgård where the concert was to take place at half past 5. When we got out of the car, we could already hear Kari's sound check. It was an open air concert and when Burkhard showed his e-ticket at the entrance, he could pass and go to the seats. Since the sun was shining right down onto the stage, Kari, Tor-Egil and Helge were all wearing sunglasses. Especially Kari looked a bit different from how you normally get to see her on stage, wearing blue jeans, a pair of orange sneakers, no jewellery and her hair open.
She was beautiful as always. Hard to believe that this year, she will celebrate her 40th birthday already for the 18th time!
After the sound check, we also wanted to see what the building in front of which the concert was going to take place looked like from the other side.
Ulefoss Hovedgård/Same position looking into the opposite direction
Posing in front of Ulefoss Hovedgård
On the way to the other side of Ulefoss Hovedgård, we also came past an old wooden storage building.
Old wooden storage building
Other than at the three concerts before, there was some kind of opening act this evening. It was a young local singer who, as we learned, had been among the audience the last time when Kari played at this venue in 2009 and who now had switched the sides, so to speak. Her name was Elly and she had just released her second album.
Opening act Elly during her performance
It was just her voice and a keyboard, on which she was accompanying herself. Unlike Kari, she was singing in English. We all agreed that she had a nice voice, but Burkhard said that her music wasn't exactly his cup of tea, no offence meant. Well, apart from his general pickiness, his impression might also have been due to the fact that it was just vocals and keyboards, whereas he prefers music where the vocals are accompanied by more than just one instrument, and that there are lots of singer/songwriters singing in English, whereas there are far less singing in Norwegian or a Norwegian dialect. So I think anyone who is less picky than Burkhard and has a soft spot for female singer/songwriters playing keyboards and singing in English should give Elly a try.
Since the stage was a lot higher than at the previous concerts, Burkhard decided to follow Asle's advice for once - and sat down right in front of the mixing desk. The setlist was the same as the one in Rosendal with one difference: they only played one encore, this time "Alle vet jo det".
Here are some of the pics Burkhard took during the concert, this time (mostly) without any comments from my part:
"På trommer: Helge Norbakken!"/"Bass og vokal: Tor Egil Kreken!"
"Gitar og vokal: Hallgrim Bratberg!"/"Tangenter og vokal: Bengt Hanssen!"
"Lyd og angrende synder: Asle Karstad!" (not to be seen on this pic)
During her introduction to the song "Skrik", Kari explained that Edvard Munch had not only been a painter, but also a writer. While he originally wanted his manuscripts to be burned after his death, he decided differently and bequeathed them to the society of Oslo, writing on them "To be opened after my death by freethinking men". When the freethinking men (or those who thought of themselves as freethinking) of Oslo eventually opened Munch's manuscripts, they immediately closed them again and put them away in the basement of the Munch Museum. I think it was at the concert in Ulefoss when Kari at this point of the story added: "He should have bequeathed them to the Lofoten instead!" (For those who don't know: Lofoten is the place where Kari comes from. - Miss Loona)
After the concert, Burkhard got the chance to take a picture of the entire band and the most important man in the back, sound engineer Asle Karstad, who otherwise is seldom to be seen on concert pics. You should always remember: The best musicians in the world couldn't save a concert, if the sound engineer screwed it all up!
Helge, Tor Egil, Kari, the world's best sound engineer, Hallgrim, Bengt
Burkhard also had another short conversation with stand-in bassist Tor Egil and showed him some cool pictures he had taken during Midnattsol's concerts at the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium 2011 and the Ragnarök-Festival in Lichtenfels this year and which he - accidentally (cough!)- had brought along.
Some of the pics of Midnattsol Burkhard showed Tor Egil
The pictures and what Burkhard said about the music got Tor Egil interested in the band and he said that he would have to check them out. (I don't know if he has already done so and what he thinks about the music, though.)
Then it was time to say good-bye and thank you for four excellent concerts to Kari, her musicians and sound engineer Asle. All got a little present, well, Kari's was, of course, a bit bigger - and then we eventually drove back to our hotel.
The next morning, we left Skien at 9 o'clock and arrived in Kristiansand 2 ½ hours later. Just like the day before, the weather was absolutely perfect. Our ferry - the Fjord Cat - left at half past one, actually a bit later, and we arrived in Hirtshals at 4 p.m.
Fjord Cat approaching
Good-bye Kristiansand, good-bye Norway!
Since the sun was shining, there was always a little rainbow to be seen in the spray caused by our ship.
Do you spot the rainbow?
A beautiful sight, isn't it?
From Hirtshals we had to drive another 390 km to our hotel in Wanderup (Germany), where we eventually arrived at 8 p.m. The hotel's name was Westerkrug and we all agreed that if we should need a hotel in the northern part of Germany on future trips to or back from Norway, we would most likely book this one again! Our room was big and so was the bathroom. Breakfast was very good and it was the cheapest hotel on our entire trip - Burkhard paid just €52.00 for one night (including breakfast), which is a very moderate price, even by German standards.
The next morning, we left Wanderup at about 9 o'clock and about another 540 km and 6 hours later we finally were back home again.
After we had returned home from our trip to Norway in 2010, Burkhard had said that those holidays had been the best he had ever had in his life. When I asked him about this trip he said he couldn't say, if it had been better than the one three years ago, but he thought it had been at least as good. I agree with him on this point, and so do Bjørkisen and Dwarf.
It surely was a very intense trip, driving about 3,200 km in 8 days all on your own with only one day in between where we stayed at the same place and four concerts in a row. Yes, it was tiring, but it definitely was worth it, well, Kari's concerts are always worth it!
One thing is for sure: Rosendal is such a special place that in case Kari and her band should play there again next year or in 2015, it is very likely we will try to be there again - if time allows.
The stuff Burkhard bought on our trip in Norway
To those who aren't already familiar with the official live video clips of Kari you find on the net, I recommend to check out this clip of "Tidlig", performed at a Norwegian TV show:
And also check out this older clip - I think it's from 2000 - about Kari and her brothers travelling with the MS Lofoten, which contains live performances of "Sang til byen" and "Hurtigrute" (today's version sounds, of course, a bit different).
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Text: Miss Loona
- August 2013 -