Wednesday, July 17, 1996 -- Stryn - Granvin
What woke us up this morning was the rain tapping on the roof. That was not something we wanted to hear. We talked about if we should take a chance and drive up to the Summer Ski Center and check it out, but we decided to drive south instead hoping to be able to get more time to do other things we had planned. The first half of the day brought us miserable weather. It was dark, gray and cold and it rained on and off. Soon after Stryn we turned off road 15 onto road 60 to travel a bit east and round the Nordfjord before we could continue south again. In Skei we continued southeast on road 5 and drove through a couple really long tunnels.
Here in the middle of nowhere we had to stop and pay the only road toll on this trip. That was something we did not expect out here were everything seemed so desolate, but maybe it was because this was the only road going from west to east in a rather big area. Maybe it also was because here you can get a close look at a glacier: Jostedalsbreen, which is the biggest glacier in the northern Europe. That was of course something we had to stop and check out. So we turned off the main road to look at one of the arms of the glacier that had found its way from higher altitude down to where we were now. It was a mighty sight. Just as we were about to leave we heard a loud noise as a smaller part of the glacier broke off and fell down in the glacier pond formed below.
After this little stop the trip continued southeast towards Sogndal. And now we finally got some better weather as the sun came out and the temperature rose. We stopped in Sogndal around 2 o'clock for some lunch. We had pizza again... When we were done we walked back to our parked motorcycles to take a look at the map. Just as I had folded out the map over my motorcycle, I got bombarded from above. Some birds had apparently decided to do their "thing" on me, the map and my motorcycle, much to the amusement of my travel mates(?). I was not equally amused. Saying words not suitable for print, I tore down some leaves from a nearby tree to wipe off as much as I could.
After Sogndal we had to take a ferry to cross the Sognefjord and then we had to climb up another mountain. These continuous changes in elevation makes for very interesting driving conditions with lots of curves and steep climbs and sometimes even pure serpentine road driving. Just like the last part down to Aurland. The road was very tight and at one point we actually had to turn back to make room for an RV heading up the mountain! These days you don't have to go over this mountain, because now you have the choice of going through the longest car tunnel in the world. The tunnel, which was opened for traffic in November 2000, goes from Lærdal to Aurland and is 24.5 km (15.2 miles) long. If you ride a motorcycle, then you should by default take the mountain road, but if you are a driver of an RV, then may I kindly suggest you take the tunnel. :) Down in Aurland one thing we had to do was to fill up on gas. We had been slightly worried up on the mountain as one of us (Niklas) was very low on gas, but we made it... barely. Apart from giving our motorcycles what they needed, we also gave ourselves what we needed: Hamburgers! We also made a reservation for the night at a place called Granvin further down south.
Soon after Aurland we arrived in Flåm where you can find one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway. There you can experience the Flåm Railway - an amazing rail journey between the high-mountain station at Myrdal on the Bergen Line down to Flåm Station innermost in the Aurlandfjord. There are no railway lines of the adhesion type anywhere in the world steeper than the Flåm Railway. You will experience some of Norways wildest and most magnificent scenery on the 20 km-long train ride. You will see snow-clad peaks, the river cutting through deep gorges, waterfalls cascading off steep mountainsides and mountain farms clinging to precipitous slopes. Unfortunately we did not get to see any of this, because we were at the time having too much fun on our motorcycles to be able to concentrate on other things. The winding road and the magnificent views kept us more than occupied.
Soon we reached the road E16 and after a little while we spotted a sign pointing towards Stalheim Hotel. We had heard that you got a really good view from the back yard of this hotel, so we thought it could be worth a little detour. It was all worth it even before we got up to the hotel, because the road up there was a narrow and very steep serpentine road! It was so steep it was hard
Now we had a little race against time. We had to be in Granvin, where we had a reservation for a cabin, before 8 o'clock. So we left Stalheim Hotel and drove basically nonstop the last part. Just before Voss we turned left onto road 13 and then we did not have very far to out waiting cabin which was situated in a valley by a little lake. A small creek just behind the cabin had soon whispered us to sleep. And sleep was very much needed, because the next day we had a long way to go if we were to reach our main goal for this whole trip: the Lysefjord!