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  Norway Travelogue
Vøringsfossen: 182 meters high Introduction
In the beginning of the 90's, I applied for a job as European air-traffic controller with Eurocontrol.  I was invited for a selection in Hamburg, Germany. This selection was not very successful for me. I could leave on the second day due to a negative recommendation. I was not the only one who could leave after two days of testing. Among them was Berit Averstad from Norway. We got in contact and decided to use this opportunity to spend our last night in Hamburg together. We had a nice evening and a friendship started that lasts until now.

In the summer of 1997 Berit spent her holiday in The Netherlands. During the summer of 1998 I traveled to Norway.  While I was in Norway, Berit also celebrated her birthday. She reached the age of 25 years. After the celebration of her birthday, we left for a trip around Norway with her new car. This turned out to be an experience someone never forgets in his life. I will try to give a report on this unforgettable vacation. It takes a while to read the report, but it's really worth the time. Especially when you are planning a trip to Norway.

Averstad farmOn July the 30th 1998 I flew with KLM to  Oslo. At the end of the afternoon I landed on Fornebu-airport in Oslo. Berit picked me up there and we drove to a village called Kløfta. Kløfta can be found on the map 30 kilometers north-east of Oslo. The parents of Berit live in Kløfta and run a farm.
At home I got a warm reception by her parents and Berit's two sisters. I was invited to join a Norwegian dinner they prepared for me.  It was a stew of elk meat. This kind of meat was completely new to me. But it tasted very well, especially with the nice glass of red wine. I can recommend elk meat to everyone.

The view I had when I woke upDuring the first night at the farm, I had to get used to the silence. Being a city boy, I was not used to complete silence. Also  the sound of mooing cows in the morning was strange to me. But I got used to it very quickly. And waking up in Kløfta was not a punishment at all. When I opened my curtains I had a wonderful view. After a nice breakfast with fresh milk from the cow, I was ready to face the new day.
The first day in Kløfta, we hadn't planned to much. The next day was Berit's 25th birthday and was planned to be celebrated big. So a lot of preparations had to be done for the party.


Picture of the diner On August the 2nd the party started. A lot of family and friends were invited. The living room was changed to a big dinner room and in the kitchen a big meal was prepared. When the evening started everybody arrived and could join the huge banquet. 
I was happy that almost every Norwegian is able to talk English. Because the Norwegian language is hard to understand. Although it can be learned quite easily.

 

Berit's parents

After the meal everybody thanked Berit's parents for the banquet. They worked hard to make this banquet a success. After the meal they left the house to get their deserved rest and to 'flee' the coming party. The house was used to party all night until sun would rise again.
During this party I learned about a good Norwegian habit, drinking alcohol and have a lot of fun. Luckily the neighbors of the farm live quite a long distance away. The neighbors didn't suffer from the party noises. 

 

Berit, Edvard's girlfriend, Edvard and PaulAugust the 4th it was time to discover Norway by car. We had an appointment with friends of Berit (Edvard, Paul and Edvard's girlfriend) in Oslo to drive to Bergen from their. Edvard and his girlfriend live in Bergen. They decided to travel on a nice route, which I can recommend to everybody who wants to travel from Oslo to Bergen. Coming from Oslo one can take the E16 to the north. Near Hønefoss you can take the RV7 in the direction of Gol. This route takes you through the wonderful Hallingdal along the Krøderenlake. Here you experience the first time the beautiful nature and landscape of Norway. After Gol you travel on the RV7 to Geilo. This a favorite village to go skiing. Geilo can be found near to the Hardangervidda. This is a plateau looking like a tundra landscape. The Hardangervidda is a national park and is positioned south of the RV7. I recommend you to wear a sweater. Although it is summer, the temperature feels like it's winter.

Vøringsfossen: 182 meters highAfter leaving Geilo we traveled on the RV7 to the west coast. On the way we passed a big storage lake. This lakes provide the Norwegians on their electricity. Near Maurset we reached the highest point on the plateau. This is marked by a statue of a big Troll. We got out of the car near the Troll  and had a nice view on the Hardanger Jøkulen. This is a big glacier. After we threw some snowballs, we traveled on through the Måbødalen to Vøringsfossen. This is a large waterfall. The water falls down 182 meters into the Måbødalen. An attraction which you shouldn't miss. After Måbødalen I saw the first time a fjord in front of me, the Eidfjord. This is a side fjord of the famous Hardangerfjord. Somewhere near Brimnes we took a ferry to cross the Eidfjord. After the cross we traveled on westerly to Bergen. On the way we got out of the car once more to see the  Steindalsfossen. Another special waterfall, because you can walk behind the waterfall.



This dude tastes really goodBecause it started to get dark and late we traveled to Bergen without any rest. In fact one can't see anything in Norway once it's dark. Because it's really dark in Norway after the sun is taking a rest. By the way, before I forget it.... it's nice to look for all the salmon-breeding grounds one can see often in the fjords. I haven't been able to visit one, so I can't tell anything about it. But you can recognize them on the big round basins in the fjords.

 

Bergen fishmarket seen from Fløyen mountainThe next day Edvard's girlfriend had to work again. Together with Berit, Edvard and Paul we went to see Bergen. It rained in Bergen, as it does almost 365 days a year. This is because of the position of the town. Bergen is surrounded by high mountains... so the rain clouds are driven against the mountains. So bring an umbrella while you visit Bergen. In Bergen a lot of things can be seen. First you can visit the local fish market. It's next to the harbor of Bergen. All the kinds of fish and the smell makes you really hungry. I also noticed that you can buy parts of whale-meat. Well I like to eat new things but this meat I didn't try.

Old trade quarter called: BryggenNear the fish market you can find Bryggen. This is an ancient part of Bergen where in the early days German merchants lived and worked. They told me that they called it in the past Tyskerbrygge (=Germans quay). A part of this quarter was unfortunately burned down in the past. But luckily a lot of the old Hanze-houses were still intact. The houses which were burned down were rebuilt authentically. You can recognize the rebuilt houses quite easily. The new ones are straight as an arrow.
In Bryggen you have to visit the bakery 'Baker Brun'. You can buy some very special pies called Skillingsboller. These are spiced little breads with a size of a little dish. Especially the boller spiced with cinnamon and sugar are very nice. A local treat you don't want to miss.
After visiting Bryggen we took Fløybanen to the top of the mountain Fløyen. This is a steep cable-railway, which connects the center of Bergen with the part of Bergen build on the mountain Fløyen. On top you have a fantastic view on Bergen, the harbor and the little islands near the coast. If the weather is having a good mood of course. Otherwise you will see nothing but clouds. but you have to know that the weather is changing very rapidly in Bergen. At one moment it's clouded and the next moment the sun is shining.

After a walk in the inner-city of Bergen we shopped and went home. We were treated by a homemade pizza made by Berit. This pizza tasted very well together with the Norwegian beer. In the evening we stayed at home. We drank some alcohol, had fun and we listened to a CD of the Norwegian pop group called Postgirobygget. Even though I didn't understand a word of the lyrics, I liked the music a lot. I bought myself a copy of the CD and I am still trying to find out what these guys are singing about.

The next day we planned drive on to another place in Norway. We had an appointment with the aunt and uncle of Berit. Before going there Edvard wanted to show us the house of the famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Along the way to this house we passed the Fantoft Stavkirke. This church can be found 6 kilometers out of Bergen nearby RV1.  In 1992 a pyromaniac put this church on fire. But the Norwegians rebuilt it in a original way.

Edvard Grieg ... little dude!

After seeing the stavkirke we drove on to country-seat Troldhaugen. On this country-seat the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg has lived and worked. Grieg, famous about the Peer Gynt suites, has lived here for 22 years. Grieg studied abroad for years, but his heart was with the Norwegian folk music. On this folk music his work is primarily based.
His house and working room can be found on the bank of a lake and is fully intact. You can also find a concert hall and a museum and a real-sized statue of Grieg. I can say he was not very tall. But he was a genius and I can't say that. 




Waterfall on VikafjellThe same day we said goodbye to Edvard and Paul and we drove to a little village near the Sognefjord, called Vik i Sogn. We drove in north direction passing Voss. Because we were a bit late we didn't stop in Voss. After passing Voss we drove over the Vikafjell. During the winter this mountain is closed for traffic because of the amount of snow they have on this mountain.
By the way, I was very happy to see some wildlife on this mountain. In fact, I thought I saw some wildlife. Because I saw a reindeer eating the juicy grass. I got out of the car immediately to get me a picture of that. But Berit showed me the chain that was around the reindeers neck and I noticed it was a domesticated reindeer.
After driving up all the hairpins you arrive on top of the mountain. Here you have a magnificent view on Vik i Sogn and the Sognefjord. Right behind the mountain you can find Vik. There we arrived at our next stop, the house of Berit's aunt and uncle, the family Riiber. They own a hotel in Vik called Hopstock. 
We were given a warm reception and we could join the diner right away. Berit's uncle, who was able to speak English very well, told us a lot about Norway and also about the fjords. So the evening passed before we even noticed. 

 

Fjord near BalestrandBerit's aunt and uncle advised us to go and see Europe biggest glacier, Jostedalsbreen. One can go there easily from Vik. In Vik you can buy a ticket for the trip with a ferry and the entrance to the glacier museum (Norsk Bremuseum) in Fjærland.  In Vik you can go on board on a fast ferry to Balestrand.  
In Balestrand you get on a slower ferry which sails via Hella into the Fjærlandfjord. This fjords gets more narrow while you are sailing into it and offers a magnificent view on the mountains around the fjord. I advise everybody to take a boat once in your trip around Norway to enjoy the fjords from the boat.  It offers really nice views on the fjords and mountains. At the end of the fjord you arrive at a village called Fjærland. This a small, really small church village. You will see only 12 houses. During the summer months a bus gets you from Fjærland to the Norsk Bre museum. This bus will also take you to a spur of the glacier Jostedalsbreen. By the way.... take a warm and wind-proof jacket.... also during summertime.
After visiting the glacier we got back on the ferry and went home. There Berit's aunt prepared a really nice Norwegian dinner. A big fillet of Norwegian salmon swimming in a sauce of butter. This dinner was delicious.

Hopperstad stavkirkeThe next day we walked around Vik. In fact Vik consist of the three little villages Vik, Hove en Hopperstad. In Vik we visited the local Hopperstad stavkirke. This church is open for public during the summer months. It's a tiny church built in the year 1150. I noticed the smell of tar in and around the church. This tar is used by the Norwegians for protection against the weather. The inside of the church is very soberly and small, but the sphere is very nice and everything is made out of wood.
I don't know if nowadays this church is still used for religious service. But it's very nice to see this stavkirke on the inside. And the nice thing about this particular church is, that it isn't frequently visited by tourists, what gives this church his charm.


 

Berit and Ann Marie near the old farmBerit's uncle also told about a small authentic Norwegian farm which can be found against a mountain slope in Vik. This little farm is still used by an old lady. She still keeps some sheep. During our visit to this farm Berit's niece joined us. She also stayed with Berit's uncle and aunt.
By the way, I don't know if this farm is still in use by the old lady. One should ask at the local tourist office. If so, it's possible to visit the farm.


 

On the ferry from Kaupanger to RevsnesAfter a  few days in Vik we traveled on. Our next goal was Lillehammer. Berit's aunt and niece traveled with us to Fagernes. Our trip to Fagernes is one I won't forget. We traveled from Vik to Vangsnes to take a ferry to Hella. From there we drove to Kaupanger. In Kaupanger we had to get on a ferry again to cross the fjord. This crossing takes a while, what gives the possibility to enjoy the views you have on the fjord. And we were lucky with the weather. The fjords look even more beautiful when you have nice and sunny weather. When the ferry arrived in Revsnes we traveled on to the Lærdal. You will get there when you travel on the E16. The Lærdal is a valley one have to see. It's to beautiful to miss.

Stavkirke in Borgund
The Lærdal is a valley full of beautiful nature. Through the valley a little river can be found. Berit's aunt told me that especially during the period of the migration of the salmon this river is very spectacular. In the valley you will find only one village called Lærdalsøyri. You will also pass the best preserved stavkirke in Norway, Borgund. This church is built between 1150 en 1180. On the outside this church is very nice. We didn't see the church on the inside.
The valley was in the old days used as an important post route between the cities Oslo and Bergen. It's also called the Kings way. Unfortunately we had not enough time to enjoy this valley much longer, because we had a long way to go. 





View near VangsmjøsaAfter the Lærdal we drove on in the direction of Vangsmjøsa. This a 19 kilometers long lake. This lake is the most southern of an system of lakes at the south side of the Jotunheimen mountains. Although we are not far away from the Lærdal, the landscape changed completely. That is the beauty of Norway. After passing every turn on the road, the landscape looks completely different. Near the lake Vangsmjøsa we got out of the car for a little break. I thought it was near a little village called Øylo where I made this picture. 


After the break we traveled on to Fagernes. There we met Berit's cousin. We have been eating in Fagernes and after that we said goodbye to Berit's aunt, niece and cousin. Berit and I traveled on to Lillehammer. But Berit's cousin told us that an event was going on in Lillehammer and that probably all the hotels would be booked. In fact this was the case so we planned our night in a village called Dokka (near Lillehammer). In fact Dokka is not that interesting, but we had a lot of fun there. But I think we had a lot of fun because of the bottles of wine we bought in the pub of the hotel. 

An old Norwegian farm in MaihaugenBecause we had a bit too much alcohol, it was very hard to get out of bed the next morning. But we were just in time for breakfast in the hotel. Feeling a bit fusty we traveled to Lillehammer. There we visited the open-air-museum Maihaugen. This museum gives a nice impression how the Norwegians lived during the history of Norway. Also the history of Norway is being told. Due to the constant domination by other countries, Norway is in fact very young. The museum shows a collection of 150 original Norwegian houses. I noticed the grass growing on most of these houses. In The Netherlands we don't have that. 
It is a nice idea to visit this museum if you want to learn more about the Norwegians and their habits. 

It's also nice to visit Lillehammer. Of course you have to see the Olympic ski jump. Also during the summer you can see people jumping. They train on mats of grass. After having diner in Lillehammer we took the car again to travel back to Kløfta. Of course I had to see the ice stadium in Hamar, Vikingskipet. Our national Dutch speed skating team were in Hamar to train.  But unfortunately the stadium was closed. So I haven't seen them training. After seeing the stadium we drove to Kløfta. 

The Akershus with view on town hallThe last days of my vacation we used to visit the capital of Norway, Oslo. During our first day in Oslo we haven't done much. We started with visiting Akershuset. This is a fortress over viewing the Oslo fjord. Originally this fortress was built for defending purposes against the attacks on the city. Standing on Akershuset you have a beautiful view on the Oslo fjord and Oslo. You can also see the Rådhuset, see picture. The inner side of the town hall is certainly worth a visit. One can see a lot of relief's, paintings and wood carvings. From Rådhuset it is a short walk to Aker Brygge. This is a shop and business center of Oslo. I can recommend the boats fitted up as restaurants. One is inclined to stay on the pavement whole afternoon to enjoy the nice food and the wonderful view. 

 

My favorite statue :-))

Another sight of the town Oslo is certainly the Vigeland park. This is a park just outside the center of Oslo where you can see the collection of statues made by the artist Gustav Vigeland. The Vigeland park is built inside another park called Frogner park. Going by the name "Cycle of Life" sculptor Vigeland made 200 sculptures out of bronze and stone. Each statue shows a mans emotion. These different emotions are represented in statues from child to elderly people. Famous is the statue of the little angry boy. This statue was stolen once.

 

 

The obelisk in the Vigelandpark


You can also see the 17 meters tall Obelisk with the twisted figures of all ages. The park is frequently used by the Norwegians for recreation especially by skaters. So be careful with your ankles.
Before I forget, in the park they sell very tasteful breads with sausages and fried onions.

 


 

The ski-jump in Oslo: HolmenkollenbakkenThe next day we went to Oslo again. We first visited the ski-jump of Oslo, Holmenkollenbakken. Of course, at Holmenkollen you can see the ski-jump but you can also enjoy the view over Oslo and the Oslo fjord. 
The ski-jump is built in 1892 and is rebuilt a lot of times in the years later. The ski-jump is built on a mountain and it's possible to get on the top of the ski-jump by elevator and stairs. In fact the ski-jump is only used during the  Holmenkolweek in the beginning of march. This week attracts thousands of spectators. Later that night I heard that Berit's father once jumped at Holmenkollen. Not even a gold bar would get me of these jump. To high for me.

 

Don't laugh mister





After seeing Holmenkollen, we drove into the city. We tried to be in time  for the change of the guards at the Royal Palace in Oslo. Unfortunately we just missed the change. This change of guards can be seen at 1.30 P.M. when the king is in the palace of course. 

 



 

Royal palace of Harald VThe palace of king Harald V was built in the first half of the 19th century. The style of building is quite sober. It certainly doesn't deserve a price for architecture, but it's nice to see it once.
After seeing the palace you can walk down the Karl Johans gate. These 1400 meters long street is full of bars and street musicians. A lot of fun in this street.



Edvard Muchs' statue in front of the university

When you walk down the street you will the national theatre and the university of Oslo. At the end of the street you will find the Stortinget. This is the house of parliament in Norway.
In front of Oslo's university you can see a statue of the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. I was told that he also painted some frescos in the interior of the university. By the way, I haven't seen them myself.




 

The last thing I like to tell about is a little street called Damstredet. This a part of Oslo (or maybe better Kristiania: This was the name of the city until 1925) built in the 19th century. In this street you can see little old wooden houses which date from the beginning of the 19th century. Nowadays mainly artists live in these houses. The street offers a kind atmosphere.

After these day in Oslo my vacation in Norway was over. In fact Norway is a country that everybody must have seen. But the country is so big that it's almost impossible to see everything in one vacation. I have seen only a small piece of the country, but I certainly want see more. I can recommend to everyone to pay a visit to this country. Beautiful nature and very kind people.

And of course I like to thank Berit, Berit's parents and family and all her friends for giving me a wonderful time in Norway.

 

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