Thursday, 18 July, 1996 -- Granvin - Lysebotn

When we woke up this morning the sun was shining, but in the raw of the morning we had to wipe off lots of dew from seats and mirrors on our motorcycles. After a quick cleaning of our cabin, we started today's stage - the longest one on the whole trip. But we started out with a short trip to a ferry that would take us across the Hardanger fjord. Over on the other side we follow for several miles one of the fjord arms as we travel south on road 13. This road is winding along the east side of the fjord and the scenery makes it hard to keep focus on the road. We eventually stop at a gas station to fill up on gas and to get something to eat - hot dogs this time. As we sit down over looking the fjord, a small sea plane is about to land. The sun is shining and we just enjoy the moment.

Where the fjord ends the city of Odda appears. Here we stop at the tourist information in order to try to get somewhere to sleep the coming night. We wanted something as close as possible to Lysebotn, or if possible actually in Lysebotn which is located at the very end of the narrow and very scenic Lysefjord. After some calling around, the tourist information staff manage to find an apartment we can rent. It would cost us 450 NOK per night and that was a bit more than what we had hoped for, but since Lysebotn is a rather inaccessible little village with not much more than a tiny little camping and the nearest neighbor village far away, we think that amount of money would be well worth it so we made a reservation. A very good choice it would later show.

Nice view...

 Rather an old winding mountain road than a
 newly blasted tunnel.

After a while we turn left on to road E134 which would take us east for a while. This road is a relatively new road where they have taken the road through a couple pretty long tunnels. After having gone through both of these tunnels we realized that the old retired mountain road, that people had to use before the tunnel, was actually still there. So we just had to turn back to take the proper and much more fun road. :) At Haukeligrend we turned right to get on to road 9 instead to continue south. We had already put many miles behind us today and we could feel that is our legs, not to mention our butts! But we had to keep going without any unnecessary stops if we were to make it all the way to Lysebotn before it got too late.

After a couple hours of nonstop driving Niklas drove up beside me motioning that he wanted to stop and rest. He over took me and turned off at a rest area that was just ahead. Claes and I followed him and we parked our bikes close to a ditch. And there is a certain reason why I mention this ditch: I was about to have a close encounter with it. When I was getting off my bike my right foot gets stuck on my luggage on the back of the motorcycle, so I somewhat annoyed try lift my leg even higher in order to go clear of all the stuff on the luggage holder. As I do this my left leg folds under me and I fall backwards down into the ditch, complete a full backwards somersault and end up standing on my legs at the bottom of the ditch. Astound with what had just happened I realize that my bike is lying flat on the ground. I run up and try lifting it up, but it is not all too easy to lift 250 kg's (550 lbs) standing half way down a ditch with feet slipping all the time. When Claes and Niklas had finally regained composure after their laughter attacks, they come over to help me and together we manage to lift the bike up. First I get mad at Niklas since he was the one wanting to stop, but when I realize how stupid it must have looked I get more mad at myself instead. I assume that my legs had went rather numb from sitting on that vibrating motorcycle for hours. Eventually I could even laugh at the misery myself, even if it meant a slightly scratched side cover, a broken plastic bracket (which I actually did not see until months later) and a bent blinkers. I could not do much about the scratches at the moment, but the blinkers was quickly bent back into position. After all the commotion we could finally go buy ice cream to enjoy in the sunshine.


 Lysebotn with serpentine
 road and the Lysefjord

We continued for a while longer on road 9 before we in Hylestad turned west on to a smaller road that would take us to Lysebotn. The first half of this road was nothing too special, but then... then came the fun part! The last 30 km (18 miles) to Lysebotn were the most fun I have ever driven! This part of the road was a true roller-coaster! It was narrow but with a perfect surface, and you just sat there on the bike with a big smile on your face as you pushed on for some really active driving. Not a straight part of the road as far as you could see. It was up and down and left and right all the time! The road ends with a 27 hairpin serpentine road taking you from 1000 meters (3280 ft) above sea level down to Lysebotn and the Lysefjord. At the end of the serpentine road you go through a tunnel that screws itself 340 degrees through the mountain and as you come out of it (slightly dizzy) you have Lysebotn in front of you. If you ride a motorcycle in Norway, then this road is something you simply can not afford to miss!

Before you hit the serpentine road to descend down to Lysebotn you have to make a stop at the Eagle's Nest - a restaurant and fjord-overlook. This is also the starting point for those who want to take the pretty strenuous hike to the Kjerag rock. Between the sheer
walls of a crevasse, an elephant-sized boulder is wedged in a smirk against gravity. If you are brave enough you can take a daring leap out on to the boulder, but if you slip you have a 1000 meter free fall awaiting you. To hike to the Kjerag rock - or Kjeragsbolten as it is called there - was something we had planned to do the following day.

During our stop at the Eagle's Nest, or Oygardstol in Norwegian, we bumped into fellow Swede and motorcyclist Henrik. He had nowhere to sleep that night other than to pitch his tent at the campground down in Lysebotn, so we invited him to stay with us. After all we had a whole apartment for ourselves, so there would most likely be room for him as well. And with four to split the bill, it would be cheaper for everyone as well. We drove down to Lysebotn and quickly located the camping where we picked up the key to the apartment and have an evening meal... hamburgers of course. :)

The residents of Lysebotn are often times of a somewhat strange breed. This due to the fact that this place is very popular among BASE-jumpers. Lysebotn is a favorite spot for these daredevils with its relatively easily accessible vertical rock cliffs measuring a 3,200 ft drop from exit point to ground. It is also one of the few places where this "sport" is actually allowed. As we were eating our evening meal in the campground cafeteria we could hear these jumpers tell one another about their jumps of the day or how they were excited and getting ready for their first jump the next day.

After trying to understand the directions given to us by girl with a very heavy Norwegian accent, we surprised ourselves with actually finding the apartment we were supposed to stay in for the night. It was a really great place! Very big with a separate bedroom with two bunk beds, a huge bathroom with shower, and a big combined kitchen and living room with two big couches, a fireplace and a tv! Here we could all four live as kings for a night, being used to the small simple cabins as we were. We relaxed with some Norwegian tv before we took showers and went to bed. We had to get up early next morning to hike to the Kjerag rock.