Lillehammer

August 16, 2014

Our cyclists came back at about 3:30 am, but they were quiet as they had promised. About 8 am we got up and quietly packed up and left them sleeping. We sat in the lobby and ate our breakfast—hard boiled eggs left over from yesterday’s lunch and some cookies we had bought in a bakery on Storgata yesterday. Our train was scheduled to leave at 10:34 am so we had plenty of time.

It turned out that they were working on the train tracks, so instead of taking the train we would be bussed to Lillehammer. This must happen frequently because the system was very organized. We were a bit unhappy about that, because train travel is somehow nicer than bus travel, but at least our bus went direct to Lillehammer. The route was a bit slow because the road workers were in the midst of a huge construction project on the E6. They were in the process of building massive tunnels, at least four of them as far as we could see.

Lillehammer hostel

Upon arrival we didn’t have to look far for the hostel because it was located directly above the skysstasjon. Our room had an excellent view over the bus station, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds because Oppland Trafikk seemed to have only brand-new buses. When we had originally planned our trip we had booked the hostel in Oslo before meeting Rosemary’s relatives, because the hostel in Kongsberg was fully booked. That was inconvenient for everybody, but we had found out that the Kongsberg hostel now had availability on the days we wanted. So we booked that, un-booked Oslo, and e-mailed Hanne and Kjell to let them know about the change in plans.

Sigrid Undset

It was now mid-afternoon, and our next task was to buy groceries for the next few days. We bought most of them at the Rema 1000, which wasn’t far away, and then bought veggies from the market stall which was set up in the central square. We headed back to the hostel to unload our purchases and then went out for a walk. When we had left Oslo this morning it had been raining, but now we had sunshine and it was very pleasant. As today was Saturday, the shops were all closing at 4 pm, so we went into a few to look at outdoor clothing before walking along Storgata to a park.

Birkebeiner

Back at the hostel we went down to the kitchen to make dinner. It was well-stocked with pots, plates, and utensils and we had the place to ourselves so making dinner was quite simple. The kitchen even had a dishwasher, but we didn’t know how to use it or even whether we should use it, so we washed our own dishes in the sink.

August 17, 2014

When we looked out this morning the rain was pouring down on the bus station and the clouds were down over the mountains, so we decided it was to be a laundry and museum day. We inquired about a laundry room and found that the hostel did have one, behind the unmarked door next to room 29. But the machine was already full of somebody else’s stuff. So we “borrowed” some towels from the room-cleaner’s cart and rinsed out various articles of clothing in our sink. We strung up our clothes line to hang most of them and used the coat hangers for the shirts.

Pink tractor

By the time this was all done it was almost noon, so we had lunch at the hostel. After lunch the rain had finally stopped so we walked up to the Lillehammer Kunstmuseum. The main exhibit there was “From Dahl to Munch”, a collection of paintings spanning about a century of Norwegian art. The earlier works, by Johan C. Dahl and other artists, were in the Romantic style and were quite amazing. Many of them depicted natural scenes with or without people, and these appealed to us quite a bit. At the other end of the century were several works by Edvard Munch, including “Portrait of Ida Roche” which was a tall painting of a woman dressed in a beautiful pink suit.

In another part of the gallery was a large and varied exhibition of photographs, mostly by American photographers including Ansel Adams. They were an interesting bunch but mostly they made us reflect on how digital photography has totally changed the art form.

Lake Mjosa view

By the time we were finished the weather was still okay so we walked around town a bit, looking for a place to do a little food shopping. We were a little surprised to find that almost everything was closed because it was Sunday. So we had to settle for the Norwegian equivalent of Kit-Kat bars from a convenience store.

Mjosa close-up

About 4:30 pm the sun came out and we actually saw blue sky, so we decided to walk down to the lake. The trail along the Mesna River was not far from us, so we headed down that, past the old woolen mill which was now closed. Before we reached the bottom, though, we had to climb up to a road and follow some side streets down the hill. Once down we followed the trail to the lakeshore and along for quite a while. However there wasn’t much to see along the shore, only a few people camping and picnicking. There was a nature reserve but perhaps the birds had already flown south. So when we reached the city waterworks we turned around and headed back.

Manhole cover

Just before we reached the river mouth we could see a rain squall heading our way so we hoped we would make it back before it hit us. Luck was not on our side, though, so by the time we had worked our way through the parking lots of the big-box stores and found the trail we were rather wet. Back at the hostel it was dinner time, so we had our usual dinner. While we were eating it there was a thunder and lightning storm so we were very glad to be inside.

The laundry we had washed this morning was mostly dry, so we washed a few more things, figuring they would dry quite nicely overnight. We hoped for better weather tomorrow because we would like to visit the open-air Maihaugen museum and do some walking in the local hills.

August 18, 2014

We woke up to find rain pelting down, so we did a bit more laundry and also some shopping. Rosemary bought a cross-stitch pattern which was a map of Norway featuring many of the places we had been and the things we had seen. By the time we finished our shopping it was nearly noon, so we went back to the hostel for lunch. We can tell that we’re not the only ones using the kitchen, but we’ve pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Stave church

After lunch the rain had stopped and we could actually see some blue sky. Our plan was to spend the afternoon at Maihaugen, which was a large open-air museum at the edge of town. There are several such museums in Norway but Maihaugen is the largest and probably oldest, having been founded by local dentist Anders Sandvig over a hundred years ago. We bought a combination ticket which allowed us to go to other museums in the area, so along with the 25% discount coupon we had picked up at the Tourist Information we saved quite a bit of money.

Maihaugen in the rain

Sandvig had started Maihaugen as a private collection in the early 1900’s so that a history of architecture in Norway would remain intact. Most of the buildings were farming-related, because that was the primary land use for most of the area’s history. The oldest buildings dated back to the 1400’s and they were all pretty well preserved. There were very few repairs with modern wood to be seen. There was also a stave church and some more recent buildings from 19th-century towns and 20th-century residential areas, many of which had been moved from Gardermoen when the new airport was built there. It was quite odd to see houses from the 1950’s and 1980’s and compare them to our own recollections.

Fishermen’s huts

There were also a few interpreters who were ready to explain things to us, and also some farm animals. In one area was a family of goats with the large male looking exactly like the goats in the Three Billy Goats Gruff. And there were a few buildings with two-minute audio recordings for us to listen to. The whole site took us over three hours to cover, including the postal museum which we just skimmed through because it was only in Norwegian. All in all it was a very worthwhile visit and a great way to spend our afternoon.

Billy goat

By the time we got back to the hostel it was 5 pm, so we headed down to what we were now calling our “private kitchen” for dinner. We had pasta yet again for dinner because it was the easiest to prepare.

August 19, 2014

As usual when we woke up this morning it was raining, but after we had breakfast the rain had let up and the clouds were starting to clear. So we got organized and walked up the hill to Bjerkebæk, which is the museum and home of Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset. On display in the museum were her Nobel Prize medal and also the Order of St. Olav medal which she received from King Haakon 7 for her work for occupied Norway and Jewish rights. There were also copies of her books translated into all kinds of languages.

Bjerkebæk houses

Normally the tour of the house is given in Norwegian, but since the museum wasn’t busy the lady gave us the tour in English. The house was actually two houses, a modern building (early 20th century) with a large 17th-century house attached to it. The latter had been moved from somewhere up the valley; because of the success of Kristin Lavransdatter, Undset had enough money to do that and to have an indoor bathroom installed. Both houses were preserved to look pretty much the same as when she lived there. The tour was done very well and we both enjoyed ourselves. And really if you only look at the garden and the outside of the house, they tell you very little about the owner, so taking the tour is really mandatory if you visit the museum.

Sigrid Undset’s meeting room

For lunch we walked down the hill to the hostel, and then we marched back up the hill again to visit the other museum we had already paid for, the Norwegian Olympic Museum. It was now 20 years since the Olympics had been here in Lillehammer, but there were still signs of them. The museum was in the big building which was probably the ice-hockey arena for the Olympics.

Olympic mascot

This museum was very interesting because it showed the history of the Olympics from the first games in Greece up until modern times, ending with the London 2012 Olympics (and no doubt a section for Sochi was already under construction). Each display gave a brief summary of the Olympiad in question, with pictures of its heroes. (Or should we say “prominent figures”, such as Ben Johnson in Seoul?) Besides that there were samples of equipment used and clothing worn, such as Birger Ruud’s ski boots from the 1930’s.

Mailbox with trolls

Upstairs was a hall of Norwegian sports heroes, which wasn’t that interesting to us. But we wandered around the arena and watched some young people doing dry-land training for ski jumping. Outside the museum we walked up the hill to see the ski jumps at a closer distance. Unfortunately nobody was training on the jumps, but we noticed people climbing stairs between the jumps so we headed over to begin the climb of 936 stairs. At the top of the 90-meter jump you could look down the take-off hill and our thought was that we wouldn’t even want to ski down that hill, let alone land on it from a height. And that was only the small hill!

90-meter jump

At the top we had some options to get us down. We could walk back down the steps, pay for a chair-lift ride, or follow the “Lillehammer” sign pointing away down a trail. We opted for the latter, which led us down a ski trail and then through the woods to the Mesna River, which we followed back into town. There were some interpretive signs to read (this was the Culture Trail which we had followed down to the lake some days ago) and also some lovely waterfalls.

Mesna River

Back in town we had another look at the sporting goods stores, but the sale merchandise didn’t come in the right size. So we headed back to the hostel, arriving in the nick of time because the heavens opened and the rain poured down. We bought our train tickets for tomorrow morning, and then went in for dinner. Just as we sat down to eat dinner, some other people came into the kitchen to make their meal, which was a first for us. After cleaning up we headed back to our room to organize our stuff for tomorrow.

Next: Kongsberg