Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650

Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

July 19, 1999 -- Sitting in a lakeside cabin watching the rain fall

Latitude: Fairbanks, Alaska
Location: Norway

--Story by Erin --

When we arrived in Kristiansand, Norway it was approaching midnight (July 10th) yet we could still see light on the western horizon.  After we cleared customs we searched for our friend Harald, who was kind enough to meet us at such a late hour.   (We also met Harald on the internet and he invited us to visit him and his family.)

Harald plans to ride his moped across the US in 2001

Harald met us on his moped and he said it was not far to his home but that he could not drive very fast on the moped (about 40mph max.)  We said it was no problem for us, especially since we did not know the road and weren't eager to drive fast in the dark.  Well as it turned out 40mph was just fast enough for the twisty-turny roads on the way to Harald's house nestled in a pretty little valley.  As we drove we noticed many moose-warning signs and clinched our grips hoping not to see any eyes reflecting back at us from the side of the road!  It was a surreal feeling driving while there was still the hint of light in the sky and it helped to illuminate the many little lakes we passed on the way.

When we arrived at his house it was 1:00 a.m. and we were all so eager to talk to that we didn't get to sleep until 3:00 a.m.  The next day we were formally introduced to the rest of his family, his wife Astrid, oldest son Kjartan, middle son Bjarte, and youngest son Tormod.  That day we spent relaxing and enjoying a wonderful mid-afternoon BBQ.  Later that day, Harald and Astrid took us on a drive through the countryside to show us the local lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and mountains.  It was just beautiful and very tranquil.  The pace of life is definitely slower here.

Astrid brought stale bread for the swansOn Monday, Harald and Astrid again took us on a tour and this time we saw the beautiful south-eastern coastline.  In Lillesand we stopped to look at the boats in the little harbor and to feed the swans and ducks.  Lillesand is a stopping point for many cruise ships so I couldn't help but noticing all of the American-English speaking people there.  We met one Norwegian family on their holiday on a sailboat.  They had lived in New Jersey for many years and wanted to talk with us about it. After Lillesand we headed up towards Lyngor, a small community of islands populated with tiny traditional style houses.  Until the early 1900's this was a thriving fishing community.  Now it is a thriving summer getaway for wealthy Norwegians.  Lyngor is still very beautiful and feels untouched.   UNESCO has honored it as a World Heritage Site and worth preserving for the future.

Tuesday morning came and it was time to hit the road again and head further north, along the western coast.  It was hard to say goodbye to Harald and his family as they made us feel so welcome.  But, Harald had stayed up late the night before (until 2 or 3 a.m I think) to help us work out some good routes to take and highlighted the sites and towns to see.  We were set to take on the fjords!

As usual, we departed later than planned and had just 2 hours to make it to the 1pm ferry boat at Lysefjorden.  If we missed that boat it would be another 6 hours until the next one.  But, it was a beautiful day and we could drive a little faster on the roads.  On the way, we passed tranquil lakes reflecting the 1,500 feet above sea levelsurrounding mountains and pastures full of sheep and cows.  We also climbed up passed the tree line where we saw what I can only describe as a tundra plain.  It was full of snow, bits of green grass here and there, glacial lakes and sheep everywhere!  The sheep obviously own this territory in summer time and they don't pay any attention to cars, caravans or trucks.

On the road down the other side of the mountain we encountered many twisties, almost like Stelvio in Italy.  It was 1:01 when we began our decent.  We were late now for the ferry and we thought we had missed it for sure.  But, we pressed on anyway just in case.  On the way down the twisty road we encountered one very nasty tunnel.  It was dark (no lights!), steep, was one lane in width (if that!), wet because the melting snow seeps through the rock ceiling, and had a hairpin turn right in the middle of it.  I thought, "Oh God, what do we do if we meet a car coming the other direction?!?"   Well of course that's what happened and we had to squeeze over to the wall of the tunnel, not knowing if we were on pavement, gravel or about to fall into a ditch because we couldn't see anything, and let the car pass.  We survived, obviously, to tell the tale, but we've heard stories from other locals that there are other tunnels like this (and maybe worse!) throughout Norway.  Yikes, where were these warnings in my guide book?

Well, believe or not we made it to the boat just in time as it was 12 minutes late from its scheduled departure.  We boarded the ferry with several other motorcycles, all of us "heading north."  View to Lysefjorden from the ferryWe spent the two and a half hour ride talking to folks and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.  The ferry boat captain also served as a tour guide and talked most of the trip (in Norwegian and English!)   On this trip we have met other world travelers like our selves.  I met a nice couple from Santa Barbara, California (David Bourgeois and Christine Barre) who had quit their jobs and were traveling until they decided it was time to stop.   Ha, imagine that!

While I had been talking to David and Christine, Chris had been talking to a Belgian couple (Rudi and Kathleen) who were both riding off-road bikes.  When we got off the ferry the four of us decided to look for a campground together near Prekestolen, since we all wanted to climb it's famous cliff!  Not far from the ferry and very close to the entrance to the Prekestolen park we found a lovely little campground.  It was 5 p.m. and the weather was still beautiful.  Rudi and Kathleen suggested we climb Prekestolen that evening after dinner to take advantage of the sunlight.  (It's a good thing that we did since the next day turned out to be very rainy.) 

So, off we went at 8 p.m. to climb the mountain!  At first the path seemed easy enough, well groomed paths on small inclines.  We passed many people of all shapes and ages descending the path.  I thought, "If all these people made it to the top and back, I certainly can!"  Well, the path soon turned much steeper and full of big rocks.  It got so steep at one point that I thought I really should have taken a rock climbing course before I left NY.  We soon found out that we had veered off course and into the wilderness, but we soon found our way back, relieved.   But then, the main path turned steep with big rocks too!  It was like this for the rest of the way.  Rudi and Kathleen  trekked fast and far in front of us.   Chris had to wait for me as I gasped for air every 100 meters or so.  But in the end we made it and were glad we did! 

Almost there -- Woa, better watch your step

We were rewarded with the most stunning views I've seen in a long time.  Since it was fairly late (about 9:30 p.m.) were were alone on the cliff for the most part.  It was very steep to look down (about 1000 meters from sea level) and we could see the sea gulls soaring below us.  Almost everyone gets a fear of heights when standing on the edge of this cliff and one must get on their hands and knees to really peer over the edge.  Maybe the pictures in the photo gallery will tell the story.

Rudi planning his next holidayAnyway we did it and still managed to return to the campground before it got really dark.  The next day it rained and we decided to stay and relax a bit in the campground, maybe catch up on writing this journal entry.  At about noon we had met and been talking to another couple, Gherbi and Catarina, who live in Stockholm, Sweden.  Chris and Gherbi hit it off immediately like old time friends.   That afternoon we all decided to take a ride/ferry to Stavanger, a nearby larger town, to get some lunch.  We ate a wonderful Chinese meal (actually the cheapest meal we could find!) and spent the afternoon wandering around the center of town.  That night it rained hard so we spent the evening in the camp restaurant working on the website and eating cold sandwiches.

The next day the weather was better and we started on the road with Gherbi and Catarina.  After two ferry rides we parted ways, but we were both heading towards the town of Bergen.  We had been advised to go one way and their guidebook said to go another.  Before we left them we exchanged contact information and we promised to give them a call when we got to Stockholm.  We then proceeded to island-hop our way to Bergen, taking 3 more ferries (5 in all that day!)

Our friend Court Fisher, who is a bit of a world traveler himself and writes articles about traveling through Europe, recommended that we contact some friends of his in Bergen, Hilde and Siggi.  Hilde is the club secretary for the BMW national club of Norway.  They have 2 boxers (an R65 and an R100 with an S fairing) and two boxers with sidecars.  Hilde and Siggi would be insulted if you don't come byThey don't own a car so they use the sidecar rigs in the winter time!  We contacted them a day or two before we arrived, but definitely on short notice.  They welcomed us to their home to stay while we were in Bergen.  They are terrific people, full of information about Norway and where to ride.  They are very warm and friendly and take in motorcyclists from all over the world when their journeys take them through Bergen.  Just before we had arrived they had gone to the ferry dock to meet another person arriving from Newcastle, England.   While we were there, another British couple had rung them up and were stopping by as well.  This particular British couple happened to be the same couple with a sidecar that we had met at the campground at Prekestolen (Frank and Pauline)!

We arrived in Bergen on Thursday evening, July 15th.   The next day we spent touring the city center, sampling the fish at the fish market (including smoked whale meat), wandering through narrow little streets and checking out the train station.  We also did a bit of shopping but can't mention what we bought because they are gifts for family and friends.

On Saturday, Chris and Siggi worked on the bikes a bit (both Hilde and Siggi are very mechanically inclined) to straighten one of my saddlebag frames (I guess I fell on that side once too many times!) and hooking up our Travelcade heated seats!  We figured we were heading into cooler temperatures so we could use the extra benefit of a heated seat.  I think Hilde and Siggi thought we were crazy!  Well it turned out that we used them within the first hour.  When we left Bergen late that afternoon the weather had turned rainy and cooler.  We rode for about 3 hours and then decided to look for a place to stay.  We spent the night in a room in the house of a local couple.  It is very common in Norway to see signs on private homes advertising rooms to let. 

Sunday we did not have far to go.  We had already arrived in the Sogn og Fjord region (same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska) which was our destination the night before but we wanted to stay a little farther north and camp for a few nights to relax and see some of the glaciers in the area.  It was still raining when we pulled into the area known as Jølster.  Instead of camping in our tent we decided to look into the little cabins you can rent at most campgrounds.  Locks are not necessary, just a force of habit from NYCWe found an adorable little cabin, which is where we are now.  It is still raining today, Monday, but we are thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to take naps, catch up on our writing, and taking short walks while holding hands.  Who knows what tomorrow holds?

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