Day 9-2. Strömstad to Sarpsborg
Coming into Näsinge we noticed how much the Cykelspåret sign had degraded in two years. This sign had been faded blue in 2005 but perfectly legible without having to stop. In 2007 as the photo shows it was all but white. Standing right in front of it it was just possible to make out the arrrow and the bicycle. They need to fix this and other sign problems, as it takes the edge of an otherwise lovely route. A little further up another sign was also badly weathered but still legible allowing us to follow it. A few kilometres short of Svinesund we stopped for a 'break' at the same place we had stopped two years earlier, on a wonderfully undulating section of road. Now fed and watered we headed onwards to 'the Border'.
Eventually we came to the main road the old E6 and turned right towards Norway. At the crossing we stopped to make and eat lunch, finish off the last of our Swedish Kroner and take some pictures. Any excuse to buy and eat chocolate. In contrast to the last time where we tried cycling along the pavement (too scary for Stan but good for taking photos) this time we cycled across the bridge on the road. This posed no problems for us, and at more than thirty kilometres an hour we crossed into Norway. Then off the road and up the first steep hill, which both of us had forgotten completely. We'd also forgotten that the cycle track was broad and separated from the main road by a substantial steel barrier. Still despite our dodgy memory cells we had a feeling akin to coming home and it was really nice to be back.
It was with great joy that we found the first of many NSCR cycle signs in a friendly brown colour. After cycling beside the main road up and down the switch-backs we had a wonderful downhill which we remembered only when we got to the bottom of it: the route took a ninety degree right turn with no possibility to make use of the considerable speed we had just gained. Pulling hard on the brakes we made the turn OK but rued that we had lost all of that lovely momentum.
We only made one mistake navigating to day, that was to turn right to take the normal cycle route to Ingendal instead of the NSCR to Høysand. Bother! I wanted to visit that wonderful ISI bar again for a toasted baguette but it was not to be. One of the three things I wanted to do this holiday that within a day were not to be. As compensation we stopped at this monument to a Norwegian war hero, paused to consider what had happened more than six decades ago and had another quick snack.
We did however save quite a few kilometres this way and now that the E6 has become the adjacent motorway it was not too unpleasant an experience (in contrast to the comments in he outdated Dutch booklet we had with us). We could well imagine what it would have been like, just by looking at the amount of traffic on the motorway. After a while we returned to the NSCR proper and pushed on through the rolling countryside, we saw much of the same crop damage we had seen in Denmark and Sweden. 2007 was not a good year to be a grain farmer in this part of Scandinavia.
We realised that we were close to Sarpsborg as we saw a very large chimney in front of us. Before we knew it we arrived at the junction where we had problems finding the route in 2005. The road climbed up from beside the railway and after a sharp left turn stopped at a T-junction. It might have been handy to bring one of our NSCR Norway maps with us, although having said that we had the map with us the last time and we still had problems.
In the end we turned left and ended up cycling along a narrow footpath over a bridge. The view I remembered from last time, not one of the beautiful and majestic parts of Norway but it still held some fascination for me. Ignoring the NSCR signs in town we looked for and found the tourist office quite easily. Map in hand we headed out of the centre and found Marianne's place in a slow end of day manner. We were welcomed and fed a wonderful meal of experimental veggie pie and chatted into the evening. In the end she put us up for the night as Damae was not keen on going further, although I'd wanted to go and visit and stay in Fredrikstad again. There's always next time I guess.