Moving on from Mandal, the E39 hurries west, proceeding over the hills to workaday Lyngdal and then Liknes, the latter an inconsequential village at the foot of Kvinesdal and the head of the slender Fedafjord. Thereafter the highway offers a rare glimpse of the ocean as it travels the western shore of the Fedafjord before turning inland again to snake over the hills to FLEKKEFJORD, 80km from Mandal. With a population of 6000, Flekkefjord is the big deal hereabouts, the old and picturesque timber houses of its tiny centre strung along the banks of a short (500m) channel that connects the Lafjord and the Grisefjord. Flekkefjord boomed in the sixteenth century on the back of its trade with the Dutch, who purchased the town's timber for their houses and its granite for their dykes and harbours. Later, in the 1750s, the herring industry came to prominence, along with shipbuilding and tanning, but the Flekkefjord economy had pretty much collapsed by the end of the nineteenth century when sailing ships gave way to steam. Recalling the Dutch connection by its nickname, "Hollenderbyen", the oldest and prettiest part of Flekkefjord lies on the west side of the channel. It only takes a few minutes to explore, though you can extend this pleasantly enough by visiting the nearby nineteenth-century period rooms of the Flekkefjord Museum (mid-June to Aug Mon– Fri 11am–5pm, Sat noon–3pm, Sun noon–4pm; 25kr) at Dr Kraftsgate 15–17.
Buses pull in on Lvikgata, about 200m east of the central waterway, while the tourist office is on the west side at Elvegaten 15 (mid-June to mid-Aug Mon– Fri 9am–5pm, Sat & Sun 10am–3pm; mid-Aug to mid-June Mon– Fri 9am–4pm; Tel:38 32 21 31). There's no pressing reason to overnight here, but if you do want to stay, the best bet is the unassuming Maritim Fjord Hotel (Tel:38 32 58 00, Web: www.fjordhotellene.no ; Price: Kr1000-1200), overlooking the east side of the waterway at Sundgaten 15.