Monday, 21 July, 1997

Time to leave
 Final preparations...

At 9:20 am this hot and sunny summer morning it was time for the second trip in two years to Norway for myself, my brother Niklas and our cousin Claes. Our bikes were the same as last year's: myself on a Yamaha XTZ 660 Ténéré, Niklas on a Honda NX 650 Dominator and Claes on a Suzuki GSX 550ES. This year we had no intention of spending as much time on the roads as last year, but were rather looking for some adventures. Therefore the goal of our journey was the great mountain range and national park Jotunheimen. Here you can find Galdhøpiggen - the highest mountain peak of northern Europe. If it would not show to be a too strenuous hike, then we were hoping to be able to climb it, all the way to the top.

But before we would be able to enjoy these views we had to do a very early stop to buy ourselves some decent cameras. This trip was going to be well documented! So at the local photo shop we found the perfect choice for the traveling motorcyclist with a very limited amount of storage space: a Canon Ixus. An extremely compact yet full featured APS-camera. After this unnecessary long stop for an whole hour we were finally on our way to Norway. Soon we were in Uddevalla and on to the heavily trafficked E6, which would lead us towards our target.

At 1.30 pm we crossed the Swedish-Norwegian border at the bridge over the Singlefjord. Since none of us had any norwegian currency, we wanted to take care of this as soon as possible. In addition some of us needed to fill up with fuel, so 50 km after the border we took a detour into Moss, a city we hoped would provide for both our needs. And it did. With full fuel tanks and 1000 NOK each in our pockets, we continued further north towards Oslo, the capital of Norway.

About 50 km later the traffic got considerable heavier as we got closer to the biggest city of Norway. We had now changed from the E6 to E18 to round the tip of the Oslofjord, and then in the western outskirts of the town turn to north west to change to the E16. Unfortunately we didn't get a closer look of Oslo this time either, but that can be saved for another time. Of course it is quite impossible to work your way through Oslo without getting stuck in any of the road tolls scattered about. That is if you don't drive a motorcycle! :) Then you get to use the season-ticket holder line or a specially narrowed line just for motorcycles. All for free, without the hassle of having to stop and without spending a single dime!

After about 30-40 km on the E16 the time was close to 6.00 pm and we thought it was best to try and find roof over our heads for the night. Just before Hønefoss we found a manned tourist information at a larger lay-by. Here we booked a cabin at Strandefjord Camping in Leira, some 120 km up north. With this day's march it would not be at all difficult to reach the mountain range Jotunheimen the following day.

At 8.00 pm we finally rolled into Leira. Here we found a gas station and so we filled up to prepare for the next day's drive. At this place we bumped into three norwegian girls on motorbikes. One of them had some trouble with her very old - not to say antique bike! :) This bike had not been in use for many, many years and now she said it was bouncy in the rear so she wondered about the correct tire pressure. After we gave our points of view we then continued to the camping site. We should have been there and checked in before eight o'clock so we were already a bit overdue.

 Our first stop overnight: a cabin in Leira.

For 410 NOK we had ourselves a good size cabin with running water and a separate bedroom. It was a bit on the expensive side and a lot more comfortable then necessary, but when you book a cabin as late as we did today there will not be much to choose from. Normally you get away with about 250-300 NOK for an adequate cabin for 3-4 persons.

Now there was only one problem left to solve: we had three very hungry stomachs to feed. It was after 9 pm and the camping restaurant had closed over an hour ago. So we drove back into the small village to look for a place to eat that was still open. But we couldn't find anything. Luckily we ran into the girl with the old bike again. She sat on a bench waiting for a ride home since her bike had now totally given up on her. She recommended a couple of places in Fagernes, a slightly bigger town less than ten minutes away. So with renewed hope we took off and soon we all had a hamburger in our hands. Super!

Not so good was that on our way to the hamburger joint the first little mishap occurred. The headlight of Niklas' bike gave up. Luckily Claes had anticipated such a thing and had brought a spare bulb, so it was fixed right away. Fagernes was a very small town, but yet people were out on the streets even after 10 pm. Satisfied with the hamburgers we drove back to our cabin and went to bed. Well needed after a long day of driving... but more were to come.