Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Norway in a Nutshell: Part ONE

Just returned from a wonderful 2 week (1 week for Scott) adventure in Norway with good friends, Anne and Stig.  I met Anne 6 years ago while doing a veterinary externship and we became instant international buddies.  Her and her boyfriend Stig have both visited me in CA (even stayed with my parents) and I have visited them in Norway, working on a goat farm with Anne during the summer of 2008. Then in 2010, Scott and I joined Anne and Stig (and some of Scott'sGerman friends) on a Scottish road trip/ World Cup pub watching adventure.   So, of course Scott and I knew we had to plan a visit to Norway while we were living in Denmark.

We have so many beautiful pictures from this trip so will make it into 2 posts.

Aug 19-22:  The trip started out when Anne and Lotta (Anne and Stig's Alaskan Husky) picked me up at the Oslo airport.  I was greeted with a big hug and some wonderful news---Anne and Stig are having a baby!!!  So happy for them and can't wait to meet my 3rd favorite Norwegian in the world!  From there we headed to her parent's mountain cabin in Budalen (near Geilo- a small ski town).   Anne's parents Olav and Bjorg took such great care of us for 3 days.    Their cozy cabin is tucked away in the mountains, surrounded by sheep and cows and cloud berries (delicious berry that looks similar to a raspberry but tastes quite different).  It was wonderful to go hiking right from the front door of the cabin, and just relax in the sun and mountain fresh air.  

Bjorg, Anne, Olav and Lotta in front of their beautiful cabin.

On the hike with Bjorg and Olav behind their cabin.  Forgot to mention that Anne's parents are the most FIT parents I know.  They are in better shape than most athletic 20 year olds!

Cloud berries!  Often served in cakes, as a jam or mixed with whipped cream.  YUM!

Hike at Budalhogda with Anne's parents.

Anne visiting with the local dairy cows.  They graze the mountain sides and then are trained to come down to the barn for milking twice daily.

My afternoon post- hike refreshment.  Local beer from Anne's home town, Drammen. 

Lutefisk- dried Atlantic cod.  Bjorg's favorite snack.  You beat it with a hammer and then small pieces come off, which you eat.  Like fish jerky!

Me and the fish. 

Anne's parents beating the fish.  Don't worry Mom, it was already dead!  They are caught in the winter and then hung out to dry in the cold.  

Local mountain traffic. 

While staying at the cabin, Anne and I took a day trip to Flam, the town where the goat farm we worked on is located.  Flam is a gorgeous little town at the end of the longest and deepest fjord in Norway (3rd longest in the world).  We stopped by the goat farm (very nostalgic, just as I remembered it from 5 years ago!) and visited Sturle and Geidt (owners of the goat farm) and they invited us over for lunch.  Then we made a pit stop in Undredal, small town famous for their brown goat cheese.  Has anyone else tried the Scandinavian brown cheese?  It is AMAZING!!  Kind of like eating a block of savory dulce de leche!

View of Sognfjord, on way to Flam.

Goat farm in Undredal.

The buck with his ladies.

Aug 22: Anne and Lotta and I hit the road.  We visited some lovely towns on our journey.  First stop was Laerdal, an area known for growing fruits.  We bought some road side plumbs!  Then we stopped at Jostedal glacier. My pictures don't really do it justice at all.  The glacier was so white with blue streaking from the sky, and the water rushing down it was this crazy powder-blue color.  We stayed the night with a vet school classmate of Anne's in Styrn.  

Norwegian road tripping.  Can't beat the views, even from the car!

Old Norwegian home in Laerdal.

More cute homes in Laerdal.

One of the many ferry rides involved in driving across Norway.

Fjaerland- small, adorable town with this outdoor, honor system book store.

Beautiful boat on the fjord.

Me @ Jostedal glacier- so much more majestic in real life.

Driving into Styrn.

Typical site at the local gas station.  

Aug 23: Today we did a LOT of driving.  Started out taking a very long, but very scenic detour over an old mountain road.  Saw beautiful views of glacier lakes and tundra.  We then drove down some extremely steep, ridiculously windy roads (one road is even called the troll's ladder) down to the famous Geiranger fjord.  We eventually made it to Kristiansund, where a wonderful home cooked meal was waiting for us at Anne's former bosses' house (Hans Kristian and his wife, Mojca).  Stig joined us here!  I will always say that NOTHING beats traveling with locals!  They know where to go, what to do, how to do it cheap, and you can always count on their many friends cooking delicious meals for you and putting you up in their cozy homes.  I am so thankful to all the wonderful people who made us great food and gave us somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep!  

Glacier run-off on old mountain road.

Cow chewing her cud on the mountain.

Glacier lakes.

View coming down on Geiranger fjord. 

Troll's ladder coming down into Geiranger fjord.

Aug 24:   Scott joins us today!  We picked him up at Trondheim airport and then hit the road.  We had to change our plans here a bit because of the weather.  Since the rain was coming in a few days, we drove further today so we could do a nice hike the next day while the sun was out.  Drove many hours and then eventually found a wonderful camping spot on a small beach at a lake in Nordland county.  We had the beach all to ourselves and had an American feast of cheese burgers and beer!

We arrive in Nordland county!  This sculpture is imitating the Northern lights.

Anne and I at the campfire.

Ready for our cheese burgers!

Good morning, Scottie!

Was really foggy when we first woke up.

By the time we ate breakfast, most of the fog had rolled away.

Stig needs his morning coffee!

Catching the last of the fog.

Good morning stretch!

Fog rolling away on the lake.

Aug 25: Day of the Sisters!  Drove a couple more hours today and made it to the Seven Sisters, seven continuos mountain peaks that are popular for hiking.  We hiked the Northern most peak, Botnkroner.  She is 1,072 meters (3,650 feet for you Americans) and 12.4 km.  The hike took us 9 hours, well, really it took me 9 hours.  Anne, Stig and Scott could have finished much quicker!  Many parts of the hike involved climbing very steep rocks and even using a rope to pull yourself up and down.  I was on all 4's for the steepest parts near the top.  I only made it to 1000 meters because the last bit at the top scared me to death!  Couldn't have made it even that far without the help of Scott, Anne and Stig- always there to help pull up some giant boulder!  Although I am slow and apparently very afraid of heights, I am still very proud of myself for accomplishing this adventure!  One memorable part of the hike was meeting this very fit, young Norwegian woman who crossed our path going up the mountain, as she was on her way down from hiking all SEVEN of the sisters.  That woman is my hero!  She climbed all 7 peaks in 2 hours longer than I did one!  She was kind of enough to tell us that we choose the longest and tallest sister to do.  The views of the fjords, ocean and many islands around us were stunning and well worth the burning I felt in my thighs, calves, buns and triceps (from "crabbing" my way down!) the next day!!!  That night we stayed in a cabin and ate a delicious reindeer stew for dinner.  

A bridge we crossed on our drive to the Seven Sisters.

Start of the hike.

Note Scott and I looking small as ants next to the giant boulders, and hiking on all fours!

Onward and upward!

First of several ropes we had to climb up.

Mountain-side picnic.

Wearing our CSU hats- go RAMS!

Scaling down the mountain!

Came across many small ponds with fresh water. Another great thing about hiking in Norway- you can drink from the small ponds and rivers.  No Giardia!!

Lotta, the mountain goat/dog!

At 1000 meters, this is where I said "hell no" and stopped!  The others continued and I waited, cautiously clinging to the nearest rock.  They even tried to tempt me to keep going with food.  You know I'm really scared when even food motivation doesn't work!

Scottie @ the top!

Anne and Lotta @ the top!

Stig @ the top!

View of six of the Seven Sisters in the morning from our cabin.  We climbed the one most to the North (very left of the picture, can barely see it because it was also farther east than the rest).

Our cabin, with our trusty vehicle and the first sister in view.

1 comment:

  1. It was fun to road trip with you, and it was so good to see you again! Come back any time Jessica and Scott!