A spectacular and memorable Norwegian Road Trip
Pictures by David Marks and Åsmund Lindal
Last year we (Rob Jenner and Letitia Mace) went to Shetland, and David Marks brought Åsmund Lindal from Norway as his co-driver. We took Åsmund on a tour of Shetland and as a result we were invited back to Norway for the Norsk Jaguar Klubb Annual Assembly, which this year was held in Ålesund.
To put it into context, here are the relevant links:
Day 1 – Weds 6th June
Rob and I flew from Edinburgh to Gardemoen Airport, and from there we took the bus to Drøbak where Åsmund and David were waiting for us with Åsmund’s Series 2 XJ12 ready to take us to the home of Åsmund and Aleka – a beautiful Norwegian style house in a stunning position overlooking Oslo Fjord. David’s XJ40 was parked outside, which reminded me of a similar picture of Åsmund’s own XJ40, seen here on the right, which appeared in Xclusively Jaguar News Round Up: March 2019
David had arrived in Drøbak the day before, having driven his prototype XJ40 D38BRW from Nottingham via Holland to Germany to collect Sue, his girlfriend. During the journey he had experienced problems with the XJ40’s fuel pump, so we had taken a fuel pump and filter with us, and when we arrived at Åsmund’s house, D38BRW was stripped down and ready, waiting to accept the new fuel pump. Fitted and tested before dinner, D38BRW was pronounced fit for the long journey on the morrow.
We were introduced to Åsmund and Aleka’s son, Alex and Aleka’s sister who were both staying at the house, the interior of which, due to Aleka’s Greek heritage, is a subtle blend of Greek and Norwegian styles. In the late evening sun, overlooking the sea, I had to keep reminding myself that we were in Norway, not Greece!
The long table in the dining room was laden with Greek and Norwegian delights, including fresh caught fish, salads, sauces, artisan breads and Brunost (my favourite Norwegian cheese!). In acknowledgement of Rob’s background, the food was accompanied by a selection of Norwegian beers. Before the end of the evening fresh cherries from the garden were served with ice cream and we toasted our forthcoming journey with Aquavit!
It was the most amazing experience – everyone was in excellent humour and the delicate balance of Greek and Norwegian food and drink, along with a mixture of 3 languages at the table, made for a unique atmosphere.
We sat talking and eating for hours not realising how late it was, as darkness was slow to arrive, and finally Rob and I floated down to the hotel at 2am on a sea of Aquavit, having taken full advantage of the fact that on this journey we would not be driving! Åsmund had very kindly booked us into the only hotel in Drobak, at his expense, as he had no rooms left at his house.
Day 2 – Thursday 7th June
The hotel was excellent and situated on the road which runs more or less alongside the fjord at sea level, and after a hearty breakfast we walked back up to Åsmund’s house, once more admiring the beautiful Norwegian architecture and landscape. Very soon, that morning, the two XJ’s were loaded and we were ready to leave!
Åsmund considered that a quick tour of Drøbak and a look at the museum and harbour were essential before commencing our journey, which started with the awe-inspiring tunnel under the Oslo Fjord, which was to be the first of many. Forget the tunnels in the UK – most of the Norwegian tunnels go on for miles!
Rob and I were travelling with Åsmund in his stunning Lavender Series 2 XJ12 which is maintained by David Marks. Aleka was travelling with David and Sue. This meant that Åsmund and Aleka could act as travel guides during our journey.
After a few of what Åsmund referred to as ‘boring roads’ we got onto the scenic roads of Norway and began our journey in earnest.
|For lunch we stopped at the side of a fjord and munched on delicious Pike fish burgers.|
Then the roads began to rise up into the mountains and all the while Åsmund gave us a running commentary on our route and all things Norwegian …. the culture, geography, history, food, people etc.
The scenery was varied and dramatic, with huge bare rock escarpments and raging waterfalls followed by fjords and green valley’s dotted with traditional wooden houses and farm buildings – the weather matched this assortment with bright sun, heavy rain, thunder and fog …. and huge banks of snow left over from the winter!
We saw a large herd of reindeer in the mountains and drank fresh water from a mountain stream, gathered by Åsmund as it tumbled down through the valley. Then we drove back up to the Rondeslottet hotel at the top of a mountain via a steep road with hairpin bends.
Day 3 – Friday 8th June
From the hotel we took a leisurely drive, with photo-stops along the way, to the home of Gier and Kari Folke-Olsen. Gier is a huge fan of Jaguar and has been an avid collector for the past 40 years, having amassed an enviable collection of Jaguar memorabilia as well as a few interesting cars along the way! He and Kari live in a cosy (but spacious!) ‘log cabin’ up in the mountains. They made us very welcome with venison pie for lunch followed by homemade ‘Danish’ pastries, coffee and an exchange of Jaguar stories!
Finally we set-off again, now joined by Gier and Kari in their E-type. We made several stops along the route to capture the fine scenery on film!
By the end of the trip I think David Marks alone had taken over 1000 photos …. far too many to show here!
The weather was looking pretty grim as we passed over the mountains, heavy and brooding in keeping with the scenery, then, relatively close to Ålesund we came out of a tunnel into bright sunshine, which happily lasted for the rest of that day and the following day!
Soon we arrived at the Scandic Hotel where the event was being hosted. Everyone was very friendly and the Jaguars were all of a very high standard. This is in contrast to the UK where you will find Jaguars from Concours condition to little more than scrap, in some cases. In Norway Jaguars are expensive to buy and to maintain, and clearly they are appreciated as their owners put that bit more effort into keeping them in prime condition – inspecting them all closely over the weekend, we found that there was not a bad one among them!
|You could argue that there was one exception, the “Cheap Race” car, seen here parked on the quayside at Ålesund on the Sunday ….. but even that was mechanically sound!|
After freshening up we all met in the hotel reception and were ushered into a ‘Theatre Workshop’ on the quayside. Here, all participants were treated to a ‘Welcome Dinner’ of Cullen Skink and a glass of wine served by an eclectic band of waiters and waitresses who all belonged to the theatre company and blended their performance into serving the evening meal. This performance included a tune on the bagpipes in our honour and generally picking on Rob Jenner. After the meal we sat on the quayside, drinking and chatting, till almost midnight when the sun finally set!
Day 4 – Saturday 9th June
All of the Jaguars had been allocated secure parking in a small multi-storey car park alongside the hotel. In the morning, they were all driven a short distance to the quayside. Sue and I decided that on this warm sunny morning we would walk and we were able to take pictures of the Jaguars as they passed through the picturesque streets of Ålesund.
Apart from the Concours d’ Elegance entrants the Jaguars were randomly placed, creating an interesting visual mix.
The weather was perfect, many visitors and onlookers enjoyed seeing the Jaguars on display. This form of event is worth considering as it gave the Norsk Jaguar Klubb far more publicity than if the cars had all been in a field away from public gaze!
Afternoon events included a ‘Carkhana’ or a selection of Car Tours before members returned to the hotel for their club AGM.
I was pleased and relieved to hear from Åsmund that it was a full house and everyone had listened intently to my presentation, which he said was unprecedented. Many people congratulated me, saying how much they had enjoyed my presentation. The ladies in particular appreciated my conquests in what is still predominantly a male domain.
Day 5 – Sunday 10th June
Sunday came round all too soon, and time to say goodbye, which I found very difficult, and emotion got the better of me. I’d had an absolutely wonderful time and knew that I would miss the people I’d met and the places I’d visited.
As time was against us, we left Åsmund and David to drive, with their passengers, back to Drøbak while we boarded a plane from Ålesund to Oslo and another from Oslo to Edinburgh. We all arrived at our respective destinations at much the same time.
|Despite Åsmund and David having the harder journey, I envied them their long drive back through the mountains in their Jaguars, none-the-less!|
Rob and I were very impressed with Norway. Admittedly we did not visit any cities, but you would be hard pressed not to encounter any litter, pot-holes, run-down areas or badly behaved drivers in a 400 mile trip through the countryside of Britain.
To own a Jaguar in Norway you have to be a real enthusiast, and this shows in the condition of the Jaguars we saw – there was not a bad one among them! Norwegians pay more to buy a Jaguar and maintenance is more difficult and more costly, as they are away from the hub of the marque. In many ways they put us to shame – both as citizens and Jaguar owners.
During the trip I met some of the people who I have been in correspondence with for many years, and never met, and some whom I have met briefly.
I met Frank Sagvik, whose Daimler Century has been on my register for a long time and Gunnar Brun whose legendary antics with a Jaguar bra at Spares Day a few years ago were recorded in my newsletter under Brucie’s Diary: March 2015
Many, many thanks must go to Åsmund, Aleka, David, Sue, Gier, Kari and the Norsk Jaguar Klubb. Were it not for David’s longstanding friendship with Åsmund this trip would never have come about, but the biggest thankyou needs to go to Åsmund and the Norsk Jaguar Klubb for all their continuing hospitality throughout the trip, and to Aleka, Gier and Kari for the most amazing food, and to all, for their genuinely excellent company.
To sum up in Rob’s words …
‘But it was more than just a visit, it was a truly memorable trip, the scenery, the driving, the food, the hotels, the hospitality, the friendship and the people made the visit one to cherish for many years to come.
With heartfelt thanks Rob and Letitia’