Cycling Berlin - North Cape

The breakfast invitation and a can deposit competitor

After passing over the snowy heights of Valdresflya I arrived in a little town called Vågåmo. I carried two bags full of cans with me as the road down from the mountain pass had been very rich in valuable trash. But unfortunately I hadn’t considered that it was Whitsunday and all supermarkets were closed. The same applied for the next day and I was already very short on food. So along the E6 highway I browsed around for an open petrol station or a kiosk or anything that would sell me a bit of milk to go along with my muesli. I came passed a guesthouse/motel that appeared to have a little shop, too and went to the adjacent parking lot to check it out. It appeared to be closed and I was about to cycle off again as a woman came out of the guesthouse restaurant and to my surprise asked me if I wanted to come inside to warm up. It was one of these numerous cold Norwegian May days and so I happily accepted her kind offer. Once inside the woman kindly offered me some tea and as soon as I sat down at a table with my cup of tea, she also offered me to take anything I wanted from the rich breakfast buffet. I was stunned by her generosity to the complete stranger that I was, but since it was Pentecost and I was so short on food, I carefully made my choices around the many meaty options and took two slices of bread, some jam and a bit of potato salad. The woman turned out to be the owner of the place and she and her family were very interested to hear about my trip and my experiences, traveling for so long on a bicycle. It was very nice talking to everybody and they invited me to eat more and more and even to take some food with me. I felt a little abusive to be honest, but it seemed as they were happy to see me well fed. I was very, very grateful as I left, thanked them many times and continued my trip.
A while later it came to my mind that my two plastic bags full of cans were probably making me look slightly indigent, like a modern pilgrim one should offer help to. I got a bit worried that I had given a wrong impression.
The day brought me a lot of rain and as I arrived at the town where I had planned to search for a camp spot, I was thoroughly soaked. To my surprise, there was a supermarket that wasn’t closed, so first I could return all my cans, then buy some food supplies and finally sit down in a little room with a bench at the side of the supermarket to warm up and attempt to dry my clothes. After a while a man in his late 40s with a very long beard and some sturdy clothes joined me and asked me questions about my bicycle. He was from the little town but had done some extensive cycling, too and so we kept talking (in English) about traveling and other things for a long time. When it came to the financing of such long travels, I admitted that I had started to stretch my budget by collecting cans. “Not in this town!”, he suddenly interrupted me. This was his town in terms of can and bottle deposit. I assured him, that my bags had been full long before I had arrived and so we could continued on a normal level again. He told me that it was quite a common thing to do for long distance hikers and cyclists in Norway, since the country was so expensive and the cans so numerous. Sometimes he wished for some local competition though, as it got a bit dull / too easy. “But that doesn’t me that I want you to stay”, he added. We talked about can deposit in Germany and agreed that the deposit in Norway was too low.
When the rain had stopped and my clothes had dried, we both left the supermarket and I went off to find a camp spot. A weird feeling came over me. Here I was, cycling around in Norway, discussing can deposits. What level had I reached? But then I regretted that thought. It’s actually a pretty good experience!

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