Scandinavia (part two)
Before you begin reading this post I must warn you! My enthusiasm for Norway can be contagious, and most likely will be reflected in what you’ll read and see here. And as a legal footnote I must add the following: “I will not be held responsible for any decision you make to move to Norway” 🙂
We woke up early, and when I say early I mean 7am. When you’re on holiday any time before 10am is early, so we made every effort to arrive in Norway by daylight. In order to get to Norway from Denmark you have to go through Sweden and you have two options: you drive over the Øresund bridge via Malmö or you take a ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg. We took the ferry, we like ferries, our daughters like fairies ( did you notice the amazing word play?)
After a 5 hours drive through rainy Sweden, we arrived in Norway. How did we knew that ? Well, check out the sign !
Moose priority. Think of the moose first
The traffic around Oslo was pretty much similar to every european capital, crowded. But we didn’t mind, we were only 50 km away from our small little cabin in the woods.
We finally arrived at Monica’s house, our host. Now it’s time to tell you a little bit about our cabin and Monica. After the decision was made to come to Norway, we thought that we didn’t want any fancy hotels with all included meals and room-service, but rather we would love to experience Norway in a more close-to-nature way. Therefore, we activated our google searching skills and looked for something secluded, peaceful, surrounded by nature, and boy were we happy when we found Monica’s cabin. We found it through aribnb.com, and we loved it right away. As we read the reviews from fellow travelers we found out that the cabin has no electricity or running water, but it has a fireplace and a lot of candles (water from barrels). Two clicks later , it was booked.
And here we were 3 months later, at Monica’s door steps waiting for her son to bring us to the cabin. Here you see a picture of Jens and his buddy showing us the way to the cabin
into the woods
..driving to the cabin..
In all fairness and in order to be objective, here is how one traveler describes their experience in Monica’s cabin:
“ We are speechless about the cabin and the place around. The cabin is very cosy and there is a fireplace that makes it warm and romantic. But the most important thing is that the hostess is very friendly and helpfull and she are willing to provide you with all the staff you want when staying in the cabin. It was an experience we will never forget!!!! (Mandi via AIRBNB) ”
And that is absolutely true and even more. The cabin is amazing, situated in the middle of the woods it gives you the feeling that you’re in a fairytale. Even as we approached it, the forest track seemed to be from Lord of The Rings
“..this is the path just before arriving to the cabin…”
The cabin was getting bigger..
And here is a panoramic view of the cabin and its outbuildings
Our place for 1 week
We settled in, and after we unpacked we went shopping, for food of course. Norway is expensive, nod doubt about it, except the salmon. I recall we paid around 5€ for 1Kg of salmon, which is pretty amazing. We soon found out that KIWI has the best prices, and since we didn’t came to Norway for culinary reasons, we made our retail therapy at KIWI’s.
The first night in the cabin was amazing, we grilled, we made a fire and we sat by the fireplace telling our kids bed-time stories. This was to be an awesome Norway experience
...me & the kids...
There’s nothing like being surrounded by loved ones
Oh, I forgot something important. This is Monica…
Monica Harmens Liaker
One amazing, loving, beautiful woman
…and her dog Felix…
Felix Harmens Liaker
Size don’t matter. This is a daredevil
The next 1-2 days, we stayed around the cabin, we made long walks through the woods looking for mushrooms and berries.
But now it was time to make preparation for the wedding. It takes 4 hours to drive from Eidsvoll (cabin location) to Sudndalen (wedding location) but if you make a short stop in Lillehammer obviously it takes longer. It was Friday, and again we left early. We didn’t stay to long in Lillehammer, just walked around a bit, had lunch and drove onward
The trip between Lillehammer and Sudndalen was amazing, we had sunny weather most of the time, we made short stops along the way. It seemed that every where we looked there was a photo opportunity. Actually we developed our own lingo during our stay in Norway, for example when we saw something interesting we just yelled “photo moment” 🙂 And we stopped
somewhere in Norway
There is a certain calm and peace about Norway. We spent a lot of time on the road but there is so little traffic, now and then you’ll see a car. Maybe that’s why sheep are so courageous 🙂 Here’s one not worrying about us.
quality wool = relaxed wool
We kept on driving, but only after everyone in the car touched the sheep. The scenery was getting wilder and the open space around us was getting bigger. You must understand, we live in Austria, we are not used to open space 🙂
Just before dark, we arrived in Sudndalen.
Sudndalen is a small village in the southern mountains of Norway (and I mean really small – it has around 70 people), but again size doesn’t matter because these people are quality people 🙂 Two of them are my bride and groom of course, Niklas & Hilde. But besides these two, Sudndalen is also famous for its snow-park Winter Paradise which was developed in cooperation with X-Games gold medalist Andreas Håtveit.
Before we came to Sudndalen we told Hilde, we needed a place to stay for 1-2 nights. However, we never imagined they will arrange for us a huge luxorious cabin with jacuzzi 🙂 It was very welcomed. Thanks again Niklas&Hilde
our 2nd cabin
On the slopes of Winter Paradise in Sudndalen
We slept like babies! It was Saturday morning, the big wedding day, the day I would finally meet Niklas & Hilde. After breakfast we got in the car and we drove to Hol for the religious ceremony which took place in Hol Gamle Kirke, the oldest church around. It was built around 1200, so it’s really old
Hol Gamle Kirke
and…here they are:) Meet bride & groom: Niklas & Hilde
Niklas Gudbransgård Sveingard & Hilde Gudbransgård Sveingard
After church we drove back to Sudndalen where the wedding took place. Here are a few pictures from the wedding. I will upload more in a special portfolio item dedicated just for this wedding
I had an amazing day with Niklas, Hilde, their families, my family and also with their guests. Norwegians are wonderful people, I don’t know if all of them, but surely the ones I have met. They are also very polite, they thank you for everything, perhaps because it’s so easy to say “thank you” in Norwegian. Try it out, just say “takk”, yes that’s right just “takk” which means thanks, and if you really want to be polite you say “tusen takk” which means “thousand thanks”
As I was heading back to the cabin, I said a short prayer of “takk” for the day behind me, for the new friends, for my family, for the beautiful country I was in, and also for the day ahead me. It was time for bed, but not before I checked the pictures from the wedding 🙂
the cubs already sleeping
On Sunday morning we hopped in the car again and drove to the west coast of Norway to Bergen. Bergen is a seaport with a lot of ship-traffic and is also housing the famous commercial buildings knows as Bryggen ( I’ll get to it later)
The ride to Bergen is dramatically spectacular as we drove over Hardangervidda mountain plateau which is the largest plateau of its kind in Europe. Breathtaking, see for yourself
After descending from Hardangervidda through several tunnels, we came to Hardangerfjord, the fourth longest fjord in the world and second longest in Norway. Truly majestic, and overwehlmingly fascinating.
Norway, or at least southern Norway is full of tunnels, and rightly so if you want to be practical. But what really amazed me was the way Norwegians handled traffic circles in tunnels:) Check it out
Not far away from Bergen there are smaller fjords, but equally beautiful.
We arrived in Bergen at 3pm, there was not much traffic as it was Sunday. Bergen is beautiful, it’s known as the city of the seven mountains who surround it.
If you will visit Bergen then Bryggen is the place to go. The city of Bergen was established around 1.100 and the series of commercial buildings called Bryggen were part of the original city structures. Today Bryggen is made up of shops, museums, restaurants. Believe me, this is a place to see and while you’re there you have to visit the shops
As the weather was getting bad and it started raining, we had to sadly say goodbye to Bergen. We were there only for two hours, but it was really worth to make this trip. On our way back we drove into the strangest storm possible, it was raining and thundering but at the same time in some parts it was sunny. I managed somehow to take a snapshot of the phenomena
We arrived at night to our cabin. Tired, exhausted, hungry but happy. The trip to Bergen was a visual delight. Would love to come again and stay longer, get to know its history and see the hidden places, because every city has its hidden spots. Those are the best!
On the road again, this time back to Monica’s cabin. After we had coffee with Niklas & Hilde we headed back to Eidsvoll. Monday we made a certified bonfire, we grilled and roasted some marshmallows. Mhmm, kids loved it…our kids also 🙂
It’s funny, but when I think about it, Oslo was not even on our “places to visit while in Norway” list. Probably that’s why we only spent 1 hour there on Tuesday ( that’s how long we paid for the parking ticket). I know, I know…I should’ve given Oslo more touristic importance but I am not that into “european capitals”….I mean don’t get me wrong, I like to visit them but it’s not a priority for me. I feel more comfortable at the country side, experiencing the people,customs and traditions. But anyway, on our last full day in Norway, we took a short walk through Oslo
Last day in Scandinavia 🙁 Oh, what a wonderful experience. The people, the places, the road-trips, Bergen, the fjords. Stop me !
We said goodbye to Monica and Jens, and I looked back at the cabin trying to summ up and encompass with this last gaze at this lovely Norwegian cottage, all the visual experience of the past 7 days.
A long way was ahead us, it seemed longer now as we returned home. Driving on the Øresund Bridge from Sweden to Denmark and passing under its high pillars I felt like existing the door of Scandinavia and entering the southern territory
I don’t know if I’ll get another chance to visit Norway, I hope I do. I believe 7 days are not enough, but it’s a decent time to get the taste of Norway. I hope you enjoyed the read, I hope it flamed in you the curiosity to visit Norway, and I’ll also hope you’ll do it. Until you do, if you like this read pleas support me by clicking the Facebook like button and if you wish also leave a comment. Thank you, Cristina