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Old 04-08-2017, 12:25 AM   #1
zoidberg444
 
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England to the Nordkapp and back in my Yaris

Thought someone might be interested in a Yaris roadtrip. I took mine on a pretty crazy one last September.

So i had been sort of toying with the idea of this trip for several years of driving to the Nordkapp (North Cape). The most northerly point of Europe at the tip of Northern Norway, more than 1000KM north of the arctic circle. I had considered going over to Europe and getting a hire car. All that seemed kind of expensive though. So i had a crazy idea... Take my 10 year old 3 cylinder Yaris on this crazy trip... What could go wrong eh?


A rough outline of the route. Leaving Birmingham, taking the ferry from Harwich to the hook of Holland, then driving through the Netherlands, Germany and most of Denmark to take the ferry from Hirtshals to Langesund in Norway and then making my way north stopping in Stavanger, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim and then onward to the cape through Mo I Rana, Tromsø and Alta. Then back down through Sweden (no road tolls, higher speed limits, petrol is a kroner cheaper) and then seeing Stockholm and crossing the Øresund bridge to Denmark. Visiting Copenhagen and then back to the Netherlands to get the ferry back to England.


Waiting to load onto the ferry, last sight of England for 21 days.

It was fun taking the Yaris on the unrestricted sections of the German autobahn. Sadly she seemed to top out at around 175-180km/hr. It is sort of hairy being in the overtaking lane and seeing black BMW's and Audis in your mirror approaching at more than 250km/hr.

After a night camping in Denmark i headed for Hirtshals after repairing some damage to the front of my car after a freak accident leaving the campsite.


Heading for Norway. It turned out to be an unseasonably warm weekend for September. After landing in Langesund i made my way along the coast road to Kristiansand and picked up the E39 to Stavanger.

At the campsite in Stavanger. The tent was a little big for just me, on the other hand my friend lent it me for free. My old tent was ripped. This was much nicer.

It really was a lovely weekend. Stavanger is quite a nicer city (around 300,000 inhabitants i think). I went on a boat trip up the Lysefjord to see the pulpit rock.

Almost 2000ft up and sticking out from the cliff almost 30ft.

The weather was stunning the following day and i drove to make the hike up to the pulpit rock or Preikestolen in the local tongue. The view is incredible at nearly 2000ft above the Lysefjord. Sadly i didn't have the time to go to Kjerag.

After descending and getting some dinner i left Stavanger and drove along the lovely E39 to Bergen. The drive was very pleasant. It takes 3 ferries (one of which is a 40 minute crossing) and several tunnels to reach Bergen. Tunnels would be a source of some nervousness on my trip. With only 3 cylinders and 69hp from the factory my car isn't fond of gradients and certainly not when fully loaded (tent, camping gear, nearly 3 weeks of clothes and other consumables). Several times i ended up in 2nd or 3rd gear absolutely hammering it to get up the hill.

Bergen is also a very pretty city. I got in after 11PM the night before. The weather had decidedly turned in the morning when i woke. I journeyed down the E16 through the mountains to Flam and saw the Nærøyfjord which was stunning even with the terrible weather. Somehow i forgot the Lærdal Tunnel was only 20 minutes drive from there and missed the chance to drive the worlds longest car tunnel.

The journey there and back to Bergen also consisted of one of the most worrying diversions i have ever done. Dropping what i estimated to be nearly 1000ft in a series of hairpin bends at Stalheimskleiva. I changed my brake fluid a few months before but i could definetly feel my brakes fading near the bottom. The way back up was even more worrying. The gradient must be at least 20% in places. But if it wasn't the little car that could.


Bergen as seen from Fløyen.

So it was time to leave and head north. I had booked some accommodation in Northern Norway in advance. The rest of the trip i just went with it. I headed up to Ålesund. Intending to see Trollstigen and Geiranger.


At Trollstigen (Which translates to Trollspath i think). It was a stunning drive up the valley and no where near as bad as Stalheimskleiva Sadly a bit to congested to get a good pic of the Yaris on there. It was then a stunning drive to the even more stunning Geiranger Fjord.


It was utterly breathtaking.

On the ferry cruising Geiranger Fjord. As luck would have it i made it in time for the last ferry connection. Which enabled me to travel a different route with the use of 2 other ferry's across stunning wilderness. It was really a pain because i kept wanting to pull over and take pictures.

The scale of it was breathtaking.

I left the following day to drive to Trondheim via The Atlantic Road.

The Yaris at The Atlantic road. It was quite tame when i went but i understand it can be very stormy out here. It was a stunning bit of coast. I reached Trondheim that evening and spent the night. It was quite a stark contrast considering back in England it was still summer and in Trondheim it felt like late October and the trees were loosing their leaves. I departed in the morning for what is considered the north of Norway.

A shipwreck.

Yaris entering the North of Norway on E6.

Stopping for a rest on one of these stunning and very scenic Norwegian diversions.

Yaris at the Arctic Circle. The Norweigians who served me coffee at the centre looked at me like i had grown another head when i told them i drove here. A few bikers is all they get from England. It was barren and windswept and the weather was awful here. I have never driven through wilderness like this. Even in the mountains of BC and Alberta it was more populated.

After spending an hour at the arctic circle i headed north. The arctic circle represents halfway in Norway. Half the country was still left to do and i had to get to Tromsø. This was a very long days drive. I left Mo I Rana about 9AM and i seem to remember i didn't get to Tromsø until nearly 11PM. I was well and truly fucked when i got in.

Ferry's are very numerous in Norway. I must have taken around 20 during my trip. Every now and again you run into giant bridges in the middle of nowhere and wonder how they raised the finance to build them.

Thats a glacier up there. It took me back a bit that i had driven my 1 litre shitbox from Brum to where there are glaciers.

Tromsø is the most northerly major city in the world. More than 50,000 people. They have an ikea, an indoor shopping centre. An airport. The city itself i built on a hillside. Rather cleverly they buried the main roads in a tunnel network inside of it. Not so good if you are relying om GPS to find your hotel after 10PM at night.

The weather was dire. After some meatballs at Ikea it was onward to Alta.

The weather did clear off to an extent after another rather worrying diversion. I had read the roads in Norway were fairly decent. Imagine my surprise when the tarmac of the E6 disappeared and turned to gravel and then fairly large rocks.

I think the person in front had the right car... There were several miles where there was no road and giant bulldozers and excavators were working all around while we followed the escort vehicle.

Stopping off on a diversion to stretch my legs.

On the home stretch into Alta.

This is a very weird building...

Alta isn't really near anywhere...

In the morning it was onward to the cape. Probably one of the most insane days of driving i have ever done. I started in Alta. Drove to the cape. Spent an hour there taking it in. Then headed south for Kiruna in Sweden.


There were reindeer everywhere. Frequently in the road which was pretty much completely devoid of traffic. Driving to the cape was a little remote. I was a little nervous as to if there was a petrol station up there as i was running on half a tank.

A tanker in one of the inlets. Not much else up there.

Closing in on the cape.

Single track with passing places.

Finally at the cape. After more than a week of driving. The most northerly point in Europe at 71ºN. I finally felt in some sort of company at the cape as there were Italians, Swiss and a French guy there as well. Having said that the entire time i was in Scandinavia i didn't see another UK registered vehicle.

I couldn't get a picture with the Yaris and the globe because of the way the car park is laid out. It might be possible to crawl over there when the snow is more than 10 inches deep.

Brutha from another Mutha. Spot the battered old 90's Honda.

For a laugh i asked my Satnav to plot a course for home.

It was at this point that i started to shit myself thinking what have i done. I drove my beaten up old 1 litre shit box to the remotest part of Europe and now i have to drive 3000 miles to get home.


It really is stunning up there.

Refueling at Honningsvåg. Luckily there is a city only about 30KM from the cape. (with a whopping 1600 people in). They have a shell petrol station and a Rema supermarket. Indulging my snapple addiction in one of the remotest parts of Europe when i can never find this stuff in England.

The day was already half done and i still had another 650KM to drive to Kiruna in Sweden. The drive was spectacular. I drove back to Alta and then across the wilderness. Stopped for a petrol station burger and then carried on into Finland and then Sweden chasing the sunset the whole way.

Sweden was a welcome change of pace. The speed limits in Norway are very low. Most of the rural roads are 80km/hr. Where as in Sweden they are 100km/hr like in England.

I actually made it to the hotel before 10. I found a brotha from another motha on the car park there too. My aunt used to have one of these. Booze in Scandinavia is very expensive. I celebrated my trip with a very expensive glass of beer at the hotel. I seem to remember it being at least 70 or 80 Kroner.

The trip down to Stockholm was very long and boring. I drove from Kiruna to Sundsvall and then onto Stockholm. Sweden is just endless miles of trees. Like Quebec or Ontario. It was very flat. After leaving Kiruna i came very close to running out of petrol but i made it by doing the last 30 miles to a petrol station at 45mph.


After an insane week of driving i camped for 2 nights about 40 minutes drive from Stockholm at a very nice camp site. I actually passed through Stockholm to get there and i came to the realisation that the traffic there is awful. I'm not sure if i will complain about the M6 ever again...

I had a nice day in Stockholm. I recommend it.

Drove to Malmo and then crossed the Øresund bridge to Denmark. Cost me €48.

But was quite spectacular. The sun was against me trying to get a picture though...

Onto a campsite about 40 minutes from Copenhagen. I had two nights and spent the day in Copenhagen. Which i also recommend.

It was time for the last leg the following day. I set off about 10AM and crossed the Storebælt bridge at a cost of 240 Danish Kroners. I noticed that a lot of the Danish countryside smells like pig shit. But the roads are very good. 130km/hr before crossing into Germany and several sections of unrestricted.

I crossed into the Netherlands as the sun was setting and arrived in Rotterdam and checked into a hotel and had my first relaxing morning in 2 weeks. Then it was the ferry to Harwich and a 200 mile drive back to Brum.

It was a pretty expensive trip although not as costly as i was expecting. I think i spent around £650 in fuel. £400 for ferry's all told. I saved quite a bit by camping and i picked the right time of the year as far as hotels go. What a trip. Its made me even more attached to this 4 wheeled turd.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:27 AM   #2
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Amazing adventure. Take me next time.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:36 AM   #3
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WOW! JUST...WOW!
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:02 PM   #4
scratchpaddy
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Wow! I really enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Amazing pictures! It looks like a place I would love to visit someday.

I think the Yaris is a perfect roadtrip car. They never break down, and they're easy on gas. I'd gladly take the 3-cylinder version if they sold it here. Even better on gas.
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYC-SE View Post
Amazing adventure. Take me next time.
Not sure i'll ever get up that far for a long time mate. I'm thinking of driving to the rock of Gibraltar or Sicily this year after i fix my car.

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WOW! JUST...WOW!
Thanks mate. I try.

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Originally Posted by scratchpaddy View Post
Wow! I really enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Amazing pictures! It looks like a place I would love to visit someday.

I think the Yaris is a perfect roadtrip car. They never break down, and they're easy on gas. I'd gladly take the 3-cylinder version if they sold it here. Even better on gas.
I can really recommend Norway. It is a stunning country with all sorts of landscapes from mountains and Fjords in the south to barren wilderness and forest in the north with yet more Fjords. Its also mostly empty. Only 5 million people in the whole country and a million of those live in Oslo.

Norwegians are fairly friendly and all speak very good English, especially younger people. I only encountered one person who didn't. The Swedes seem to speak English almost naturally, i couldn't tell it was a second language with a lot of them. The Danes also speak very good English, probably better than Norwegians. I really liked Scandinavia. Except for how expensive it was.

The only other smallish car i would have considered doing this trip in is the Honda Jazz (known as the Fit in the North American market). You really can't beat the Yaris for space (for its size). I don't know if its just me but i have never driven a more comfortable car, i wasn't all that sore after driving 12 hour some days.

3 cylinder does have its downsides. Some of the many road tunnels are several miles long with long gradients of say 8-12%. Which means reving the engine really hard in 2nd or 3rd to make it out. Every time i was telling my car out loud it better not fucking quit on me.

On the other hand with the low speed limits (and insane fines for speeding) she was getting very good fuel economy. I think i was hitting 55-60mpg for several legs of the trip.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:35 PM   #6
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I've never been outside the country before, but maybe one day I'll go. I do love seeing new things.

That far up north, weren't the days really long?

I've driven three different Yarii on the 1300-mile trip to Oregon or back, and never got sore, except in my leg on the one without cruise. I agree that the seats are really comfortable. I thought the high seat and having the wheel so close to the pedals would be an issue, but it's really not, and I'm 6' tall.

My car before the Yaris was an old 3-cylinder, 50hp Geo Metro, which you'd know as a Suzuki Swift. I took it all over the canyons of Arizona and Utah, and the mountains of California and Oregon. I'd have it floored in 2nd or 3rd gear for minutes at a time going up some mountains. Much to my surprise, it never blew up on me, not once.

The mpg you mentioned is in imperial gallons, right? That's about what I got in my Metro. Definitely the best part of that car, besides how easy it was to work on.
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Old 04-09-2017, 12:28 AM   #7
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Norway is good place to start in Europe.

Well the area around the Nordkapp is known as land of the midnight sun. The 6 weeks or so around the summer solstice are very busy with tourists for precisely that reason. Anywhere at the arctic circle or north of it will experience no darkness around the solstice and no sunlight in the depths of winter with the duration increasing further north. Even further south up in the north of Scotland and the Orkney Islands at 60ºN it barely gets dark in June. Its like a weird twilight between midnight and 3AM.

Mine doesn't have cruise and my leg doesn't really start to get sore for hours. I'm a big guy as well. I've driven a lot of different cars over the years and the Yaris is by far the most comfortable.

I had no idea they sold a vehicle with that engine in the US. I'm sure there were some Suzuki's and Dihatsus sold in the Japanese and Australian market with 600cc and 800cc 3 cylinder engines. Somehow i don't think the engineers designed the 1KR engine for driving across mountainous terrain in the wilderness. They were designed for the Toyota Aygo for old ladies to zip round town and get their shopping.

Yes. Imperial gallons. So it would have been 40-45 in US gallons.
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Old 04-10-2017, 12:44 PM   #8
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Others summed it up perfect in a single word - wow.

A true epic adventure.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:38 PM   #9
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Kinda reminds me of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, one of my favorite recent movies...
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Old 04-15-2017, 11:32 PM   #10
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Others summed it up perfect in a single word - wow.

A true epic adventure.
It really was probably one of the most amazing trips I will ever do.

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Kinda reminds me of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, one of my favorite recent movies...
Haven't seen that one mate, but it was pretty awesome.
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