Exploring Norway, june 2004.

Friday june 11 2004. 8400-9064=664km.

Even though I owned the Transalp for just a few weeks I decided to use this bike to explore the southern part of Norway. Everything was ready for this trip except for the insurance papers, so I had to rush myself to the postoffice to find out if the mail contained the 'green card' I needed for this trip. Fortunately it was there so I could leave, be it a bit later than I planned. After packing the bike it looked like a camel, it seems you need more and more stuff as you get older... The target of the day was Haderslev in Denmark, so at 9.30 I pointed the bike that way. The first 400km were uneventful (except for a ghostrider I met) and in good weather conditions. Cruising at 110km/h the Transalp used 1 litre every 19km, which was good considering the load it had to carry. Near Hamburg it started to rain, but half an hour later I had passed it and continued to Danmark under a sky that was no more than cloudy. The youth hostel in Haderslev (arrival 18.00) was unavailable so I put up the tent in rather windy conditions. After getting some Danish money in town I had a burger at McYouknow, returned to the tent, called the wife and went to bed at 21.00 with an entertaining book about King Arthur.

Saturday june 12. 9064-9414=350km.

I woke up rather early: 04.00! Birds were singing and as I wasn't able to catch my sleep again I made coffee, had breakfast, packed up the bike and set out to try and catch the morning boat from Hirtshals to Kristiansand. The sun was shining when I left at 5.30 and after some minor roads I returned on the motorway where it gradually got colder and wetter. One pitstop for coffee and petrol, and at 9.30 I arrived at the Colorline office to learn that the morning boat was completely booked. Fortunately the sun shone again so I could sit outside, have lunch, make notes and simply wait until 13.45 when the boat was supposed to leave.

The trip across to Norway was relaxing, sitting on deck in the sunshine, watching the waves. Left a note for Eugenie on our MC club's website and got myself some Norwegian currency. After disembarking I entered a country more beautiful than I ever saw before. From Kristiansand the [405] north, and after some 30km I noticed a campsite sign. I decided to call it a day and entered the campsite, welcomed by thousands of little mosquitos. Thank God for DEET! After the very necessary shower I cooked myself a meal, informed daughter Savitri about my whereabouts and had some (Dutch) drinks. Spent the rest of the night (until 23.30) in the pool room reading.

First campsite in Norway.

Just a few minutes after the days ride began.
Crossing one of the many wild rivers.
Picknick on a rock alongside Lake Nisser.
Sunday june 13. 9414-9844=430km.

Woke up at 09.00 after a good night's sleep (without bugs, thanks to DEET). Quiet breakfast because there was noone else around and left at 10.30. Took the [405] further north, then the [42] and the [415]. Stopped to make pictures. Even a blind person can make perfect pictures here, it's just too beautiful to believe. No matter what road you take, it's always scenic. Even the weather was great today.

The [41] took me along lake Nisser where I had lunch and took another picture. Onward to the [E134]. The name suggests a major motorway, but in fact it turned out to be a 2 lane road through the mountains and forests and it was quite quiet, perhaps because it was sunday. Wild lupines in all colours alongside the road, freshly painted wooden houses (usually green or red) now and again and villages consisting of a few houses scattered in a forest. Compared to busy western Europe it seemed like another planet. Hoping to get some rough roads (so far every road I took had perfect pavement) I took the [361], but this had the best turmac so far! In fact, when a local rider passed me on what seemed to be an old British twin, I couldn't resist following him for a while through the nice sweepers. At speeds way over 95 km/h this was no child's play ;-)

I came to the [40] going north, again tried to get some bad backroads, again failed, then got back to the [40] for fuel. Upward it went, both on the map and as far as altitude was concerned. At 1000 meter it was a fair bit colder, and even though I left the south in summer this was definitely spring. Small lightgreen leaves where just beginning to grow, and the trees were much smaller as well. The first snow of this trip came in sight, just a bit higher than the road. After a last stop I carried on to Geilo, where I wanted to spend two nights to be able to make a hike in the national park Hardangervidda.

Geilo itself is not anything special. A wintersport resort in summersleep it seemed. After some searching I found the campsite, and given the choice "cabin or tent". I choose the latter. Just like the village the campsite wasn't much, but at least I had a place to stay. Went for dinner to a chinese restaurant and almost had a cardiac arrest when the time came to pay the bill... Weather forecasts were bad, but I planned a hike anyway.

Monday june 14. 9844-9872=28km.

Here I am sitting on the top of a mountain in Hardangervidda! Higher than the trees, a cold and fierce wind blowing from the northwest, trying to find shelter behind a big rock. It's great! This morning I got up at 8.30 and it was dry. Had breakfast and went to the supermarket for bread, cheese etc. Then I rode about 10 km to the west where I found a small gravel/rock road leading south. I took that (hurrah for the Transalp!) until it ended and parked the bike. I made a cunning plan how to find the bike again after the hike, took out the compass and started off. The hike took me over swamp like terrain, over hills, through bushes, through snow and up the mountain where I'm resting now. Fantastic.

This may be the moment to tell I wanted to do this trip alone. I was a bit uncertain about it, but as the week progressed I concluded it had been a good idea. The feeling of freedom, which I always have on a motorcycle trip, was stronger than ever before. The nights were a bit dull, so I'd better take some more books with me next time, but other than that it was perfect.

Hardangervidda seen from the north.

Tuesday june 15. 9872-10133=261 km.

No more pictures: the single use camera had run out of pictures. Slept well after the hike, the alarm clock woke me up at 07.00. After the usual morning activities I headed to Eidfjord at 8.30. The [7] would take me there, but not without letting me both suffer and enjoy myself. Higher and higher I rode, the perfect road leading me to a wide open plain with green and white rocks, blacks clouds, drizzling rain, spots of sunlight and many rivers and lakes, small and big, with high snowcovered mountains on the edges. Out of this world! Finally I arrived at Eidfjord where I stopped for fuel and hot coffee. Onward, south on the [13] along the Eidfjord, corkscrew tunnels leading me down to the water, the wildest river I ever saw tumbling down, waterfalls coming from either side of the high canyon... it's simply indescribable for me, this is why we need poets I realized then and there.

After many more tunnels and sights I came to the [E134] again, first through high uplands, cold, snowy and sunny, then gradually going down to Haukeligrend where I rented a cabin for two days. I found it too cold and windy for the tent, and enjoyed the comfort of the electrical stove. Whimp. I bought and sent some postcards, prepared food, ate, read my book and tried to call my wife, without success. Then enjoyed the comfy bed...

Wednesday june 16. 10133-10308=175 km.

After breakfast I phoned the Colorline to make a reservation for the Larvik-Frederikshavn ferry. It was to transport me on friday night, so a hut was mandatory. (1850 Nkr instead of the 450 Dkr on the other ferry). I again tried to contact home which went OK: the phone at home had broken down and had now been replaced by a working device. Instead of hiking I decided to make a quiet ride in the region. Haukeligrend [362] Rauland Kramvik (long gravel road!) Rauland Berge Lognvik Oyfell [E134] Mo and back north and west to Haukeligrend. A great ride with numerous breaks lying in the sun or enjoying the scenery. Everything at slow speed, no problem given the lack of other traffic. Again: what a country! After arriving 'home' I planned next day's route, a short ride to Ulefoss or thereabout.

Thursday june 17. 10308-10550=242 km.

Got up at 8. Repacked the bike, paid the bill (400 Nkr for 2 nights), and left. I wanted to cast a few last glances at Hardangervidda, so I started out along the same roads as yesterday. [362] [37] [364] to Rjukan and alongside the eastern banks of lake Tinnsjo. Again a beautiful lake and nice up and down left and right kind of roads. Bought lunch and had a break halfway the lake which I couldn't see as I was high up. Ormenyr, Gransherad and Notodden were next, and the [360] south to Gvarv. Near Norsjo I had a quick look at a campsite which I didn't like: lots of families with caravans. So further to Ulefoss, and before reaching that a gravelroad to Lunde. A small offroad path to the left brought me to the banks, well some 10 meters above it, of a small beautiful lake. I unpacked, succeeded in turning the bike (stressfull work as the next bit of the path was steep and I wanted to avoid riding that) and had a long break before setting up camp. There's one flat spot suitable for that, a few yards further and the slope goes down to the lake. Just the sound of birds and the engine ticking as it cools down, great. Used the lake as a bath and spent the rest of the evening reading a magazine, drinking my Beerenburg and enjoying the silence.

Friday june 18. 10550-10678=128 km.

Slowly broke up camp as I was reluctant to leave Norway. I changed the way I packed the bike to give myself more space in the saddle on tomorrow's long ride. Last offroad bit and to Ulefoss it went. Some showers fell, but they didn't last very long. [36] to Skien, [32] to Siljan and Steinsholt. Even though the south of Norway is agricultural, enough forest is left to keep it natural. A bit Austria like. I made some stupid detours when I tried to find a nice spot to spend the afternoon, and ended up a few miles east of Larvik at a small harbour. Sunshine, small boats sailing the fjord, an enjoyable afternoon. Later I rode to Larvik, took a walk around the harbour, stood on the spot where Colin Archer build his boats, sang some songs (!) and finally went aboard the ship that would take me to Denmark. After a shower I bought a ticket for the 'cinema' and then had some difficulties locating it. I wasn't the only one, a Norwegian woman, Pie, was also looking for it. We had a chat, saw the movie and spent the rest of the evening in the lounge chatting some more. Pie and I had several interests in common, like travelling and spirituality, so time passed quickly. Off to bed at 00.15.

Saturday june 19. 10678-11638=960 km.

Left the boat at 8.30. Looking back the boat trip was a rip off. Instead of 450Dkr you pay 1850Nkr for a distance maybe 10% longer. The ship comes to a full stop at night to avoid arriving before 8.00 at Fredrikshavn, and then waits for hours! It takes 13 hours instead of 4 to make the crossing. Anyway, the ride home was uneventful. Some rain, some sunshine, lots of wind, a few stops for petrol and after buying flowers for my girls I arrived home at 20.00. A great week had come to and end.