Norway is home to the beautiful fjords, delicious seafood, and magnificent snowed mountains (yes, snowed even during the summer). Oh, and also those mischievous trolls… hehe, what else can I say? Visiting Norway was great, I saw so many charming places and nature is so widely respected there. Sometimes, it felt like we were inside a fairytale~ I’m in fact pretty sure Norway was an inspiration to many tale tellers!
We arrived to Norway on a Saturday night and spent all Sunday visiting the capital, Oslo, like I already explained in my previous post. On Monday morning we started a 6-day road trip with a supermarket visit to stock up. During our road trip, we would be staying at apartments and rented houses, not hotels, so we had to bring our bed clothing and towels. It might seem inconvenient at first, but this way of traveling is great because it saves you a lot of money on accommodation that you will later need for other aspects of the trip (like food if you intend to eat outside).
Our first day on the road was mostly driving. We drove through a huge lake that accompanied us for a good hour and a half until we reached Lillehammer, visited a stave church, and then drove by the Rondane Nasjonalpark.
On the way to our final destination, we stopped by the Ringebar stave church. This would be the first of many we saw, since these churches are very significative in Norwegian architecture. Stave churches were once very common in a number of countries in Europe, but today only 28 of these medieval wooden buildings remain in Norway (plus a couple rare exceptions in Sweden, Germany or England). As usual with churches in this country, there was a small and cute cemetery surrounding it.
Along the Rondane Nasjonalpark there is the Sohlbergplassen viewpoint, where you can stop and enjoy the way Norwegian build modern structures that somehow blend perfectly with nature (pines and a lake, in this case).
After driving for most of the morning and the afternoon, we finally arrived to Hjerkinn, where we’d stay for the first night. The Hjerkinn Fjellstue & Fjellridning is a hotel, apartment, hostel, campsite parking and horse riding place all at once. Many beautiful horses and also a great lake where you can rent canoes for the day (all for an extra fee) make it a great place to stay for a couple days with the whole family.
We booked a room with 2 bedrooms for just 1600 NOK (about 170euro) that could sleep up to 7 or 8 easily (8th in the sofa though). The apartment was very spacious and clean, but as I said before, the downside (or the reason the place is not too pricey) is that you need to bring your own bedsheets, covers, and towels. The reception (resepsjon in Norwegian) was also very cute, with a warm fire and cozy sofas.
Since we had been driving the whole day, we decided to eat a warm dinner at the hotel. Now while the whole apartment we got was pretty economical, the buffet dinner was 300 NOK per person (almost 32e), so a total of 1500 NOK. However, there was fish and meat, a salad bar and other veggies, potatoes, and a cheese & ham corner with a wide variety of crackers and bread. I fell in love with the taste of the snøfrisk (literally fresh snow), which is basically a white, unripened, and easy to spread cream cheese. They go really well with crackers!
Dinner was served early (6 to 7 if I don’t remember wrong), so we went out after dinner to see a very famous viewpoint nearby. This viewpoint is called Tverrfjellhytta, or the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion. We drove pass it at first, and when we finally found it, we felt it was too cold to walk to the viewpoint (some people who had just returned told us it takes about 30-40 minutes to get there). So we decided to go back to the hotel and try again the next day. On the way back we saw a small church and decided to stop by. It was about to close (at 9pm), but we managed to enter and talk to the female pastor in there.
When we told her we came to see the viewpoint designed by Snøhetta but would return the next day, she urged us to go that day, since the next day there was some military stuff going on, and we wouldn’t be able to reach the viewpoint! (We did see a lot of military soldiers around, even some having dinner at our hotel). Lucky us we went back and forth so many times or we would have missed Snøhetta’s Pavilion completely! We drove back to the viewpoint and decided to defy the cold weather.
The path was longer than we had expected, and two of us didn’t have running shoes because they had soaked them into a pond earlier in the day (accidentally), so they were wearing flip flops. I had initially thought of running half of the way, in order to warm up and not feel cold anymore. However, this viewpoint is on some altitude (1200m) and I felt tired after just a couple minutes of running~ big fail. To be fair, it was also cold (barely above 0 degrees), making it harder to breathe well. At some point it also started raining, but as I said, we defied weather anyway because this place was supposed to be worth the effort. And it was.
Alright, we didn’t see any reindeer, as the name could have indicated, but the architecture of the Pavilion was very attractive, and it was warm inside :3