Kongsberg

August 20, 2014

There was not so much rain this morning. But we were leaving Lillehammer today, so after breakfast we checked out and went downstairs to the train station. Staying upstairs from the station does have its advantages! Our train to Oslo departed at 10:10 am and followed along the shore of Lake Mjosa almost to Eidsvoll before we started travelling through farming country. It was a very scenic trip, especially as the sun was shining.

Lillehammer station

Upon reaching Oslo Central station we bought our tickets to Kongsberg and sat on platform 8 for 35 minutes, buying a chocolate bar from a vending machine to serve as lunch. Our next train left on time as well and by about 2:30 pm we were in the station at Kongsberg, wondering where to go. But our Lonely Planet book had a small map of the city, and amazingly we were able to navigate our way to the youth hostel, which was only about a kilometer away on the other side of the river.

Art installation

Our reservation was in the hostel’s computer, so we checked in and got our room. This hostel was quite a modern one so we had our own bathroom and quite a bit of space. We dumped our packs and then headed out to look around and do some food shopping. We stopped at the tourist information place to pick up some brochures and then carried on to the Kiwi grocery store to pick up supplies for the next two days. Back at the hostel we labelled our food and found space in the fridge to store some of it. We were both hungry because of the inadequate lunch, but we decided to hold off making dinner until 5 pm. The kitchen was quite small, but luckily we had it to ourselves.

At 7 pm we went out to meet Kjell and Hanne, who are Rosemary’s new-found half-nephew and his daughter. And there they were, waiting for us in the lobby. We sat for a while in the lobby chatting away and looking at old photos, including some of Nordis, who was Kjell’s mother and Rosemary’s previously unknown half-sister. We hit it off right away and it was as if we had known each other our whole lives. After a while we went out to a restaurant for dessert and coffee or hot chocolate. What a great evening we had!

August 21, 2014

This morning we didn’t need to make breakfast because it was included in our room price. The buffet was a good mix of food and even included batter for waffles. Neither of us made waffles but instead had eggs and bacon, fruit, and yogurt. After breakfast we headed out for a day of research.

First we went into the Rådhus (city hall) to inquire whether they could find out where Rosemary’s father and grandfather were living in Kongsberg 100 years ago. The lady at the front desk was a bit baffled by the request but sent us upstairs to the “Geo Data” department. A very helpful man did some research but came up empty, and suggested we come back after 3 pm when one of his colleagues, who had lived in Kongsberg for a long time, would be back. He gave us some nice maps of Kongsberg and the area, and we headed out.

Kongsberg church

Kongsberg church interior

By now it was after 10 am, so the church was open. From the outside the church is a large brick building but once inside it is ornately painted and decorated. The altar is on the long wall with the baroque organ pipes above it. From the ceiling hang three very large chandeliers. We were greeted by a man who handed us laminated brochures in English which described the church and then left us on our own. Standing under the main chandelier and looking up was quite something. The organ, we found out, had been recently restored so it is now playable, and there was a concert scheduled for tonight which unfortunately we couldn’t attend. The walls and ceiling were painted a light grey-blue with detailing in cream and rust-red with gold highlights. All very beautiful.

Chandelier in Kongsberg church

After leaving the church we headed over to the museums. We paid our admissions and then looked around the mining exhibits, coin displays, and the ski museum. In the mine museum we saw the old wooden “Bergmann” statue which had been made by Rosemary’s great-grandfather and donated by her grandfather. There was a mural on one wall, an old photograph of mint employees, and one of the people was Rosemary’s great-uncle Paulus Wigant. And in the ski museum it was amazing to see all the display cabinets full of silver trophies, a few of which belonged to her father. Worth lots of money if melted down!

Bergmann

Paulus Wigant

It took us quite a while to see all the displays so when we finally finished it was lunchtime. We walked back to the hostel to eat our lunch and also to have a look at the map to see where Rosemary’s father might have lived. There were a couple of brief rain showers but soon the weather cleared up and we went out to explore some more.

Numedalslågen River in Kongsberg

This time we went back across the bridge into the main part of the town to look around the shops. Rosemary bought a Hardanger Christmas ornament kit, and Paul bought some walking socks at a good price, to replace some socks at home which had worn out. Once we had walked all around the town we headed back across the bridge to see if we could find the house Rosemary’s father had lived in. Based on vague recollections from the last time we were here, 24 years ago, we chose Bergsbakken, a short street which climbed up the hill. None of the houses there looked familiar, but then houses can change a lot over 24 years. So we gave up and headed back to City Hall to see if the man there was more successful. No luck there either, so we headed back to the hostel.

Kongsberg house

Hanne picked us up at 5 pm and we went off for more visiting. The drive to Kjell’s house didn’t take long. It was a 1960’s bungalow with a big back garden. We met his partner Frøydis, who was very friendly and welcoming. We decided to drive to Nordis’s house first and then go to the cemetery to see her grave. The view from the church at Hedenstad was very beautiful and peaceful; most of the graves are carefully tended with flowers planted in the spring and lasting through the summer. Frøydis tends Nordis’s grave, which was beautiful with bright orange marigolds. Paul had a Canadian quarter so Rosemary buried it in the small garden with the marigolds.

Nordis’s grave

After that we all went back to Kjell’s house, where we were treated to a huge spread of waffles, romme, and strawberry jam plus tea and coffee. Once again we felt at home with the new family we had only just met. Hanne drove us back to the hostel, where we carried on with our research on the internet.

Hedenstad view

Kjell had been searching on the internet for Rosemary’s father (his grandfather) as well, and found a city register from 1910. Later we tracked down that same page, which said that his family lived at “Bergsbakken 270” in that year. So our guess had actually led to the right street! But the house numbers to Bergsbakken only go up to 10 today, so 270 must refer to some other list. So it’s still a mystery, although we stayed up until nearly midnight trying to puzzle it out.

August 22, 2014

Hanne was coming to pick us up after noon, so we had the morning to look around Kongsberg. And surprisingly there was blue sky, so we checked out of the hostel and asked them to store our packs for us.

Just like yesterday we headed up Bergsbakken, confirming that there really wasn’t a house numbered 270 there. At the top of Bergsbakken there was a hiking trail which led up into the woods, with sheep in the fields on either side. Soon the trail came to a road, and just up the road was a collection of crowns which were painted on a large flat rock face. Every time a King of Norway visits Kongsberg his shield is painted on this rock, the earliest being from Christian IV in 1624.

The crowns in Håvet

From here we continued uphill on a loop trail on Storåsen, through a beautiful birch forest towards a lake which was dammed to produce electricity. Coming back along the other half of the loop took us by a viewpoint over Kongsberg. This viewpoint dated from the 1820’s when carriages would bring people up there to enjoy the view and have a bite to eat. The view today was overgrown with trees, whereas back in the 1820’s the trees had all been cut down for fuel.

View from Storåsen

Back at the hostel we collected our packs and then sat outside to eat our lunch and wait for Hanne. She arrived about 1:20 pm and then we headed off to her mountain cabin.

Next: Geilo

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