Anders and I are back from a visit to Norway, revisiting places from our last visit to Norway and revisiting my roots.
Our plans took us straight west, from the eastern coast of Sweden to the western coast of Norway, then around the southern coast of Norway, almost to Oslo, and back to Stockholm again.
I have been admiring the work of talented designer Linda Marveng for quite a while. When I realized that we would be passing right by her house, I brazenly invited myself and my husband in for a cup of coffee. Linda and her husband Michael, generously invited us to dinner and we had a lovely afternoon at their beautiful house in Ørje. So much so that none of us thought to take any photos despite both Michael and Anders being photographers.
The next day we visited the stave church at Heddal. The church has three towers and is Norway’s largest. It was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century and restored, first in the mid 19th century then again in the mid-20th. Anders took a photo of the copy of the medieval painting that is kept in the church, with Jesus looking like a laid back hippie saying “peace, dude”. The church has details at the top of the the staves depicting, according to the guide, Norse gods. Talk about hedging your bets.
Then on to a reprise; the Raven Gorge. This is a steep cliff, 350 m, almost a 1000 ft, that boasts updrafts that will lift even large branches if you throw them over the edge. The view is absolutely breathtaking and returning on a hot summer’s day was an absolute treat. The perfect spot for a picnic.
On westwards and upwards, and suddenly, exiting one of the ubiquitous tunnels, a landscape so unexpected it almost blew our minds. Haukeli, at 1100 m or 3600 ft, a stark landscape of barren rock with grass, mosses and patches of snow and ice floes on the water. And yet, the temperature was in the around 21C/70F. Absolutely gorgeous and surrealistic to move around sleeveless in these surroundings.
Then, on to the final leg of this day’s travels, to Åkrafjord where we spent the night. After dinner, and after viewing half a dozen of spectacular water falls, a final glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the fjord.
The next week was spent revisiting family, my aunt and uncle and cousins I hadn’t met for a long time.
First a couple of days with my cousin Gro at her fantastic house. She and her husband are restoring an old general store and turning it into a gem. She photographed me and Anders in our Viking garb, dressed for an outing to Avaldsnes where a Viking market coincided with our visit.
Then a trip down along the coast, which is very beautiful and varied: flat coastal areas and farmland as well as mountainous areas, some lush and green and others almost barren.
On the way we passed Helleren, an awesome cliff overhanging two houses built in the late 1800’s. They are now a tourist attraction but were once lived in; hard to imagine. The surrounding landscape is a UN world heritage site. It has a unique geological history, which explains the fairly low barren mountains, barely more than 600 m / 1600 ft, yet with very little vegetation.
We also visited a Bronze Age site with an unusual sculpted head called Rosselandsguden, the God of Rosseland. The site also contains a stone altar and two stone troughs. It is believed to be a sacrificial site, probably connected to the norse God of fertility, Frey.
Then, on to Flekkefjord, a small town in the typical western Norwegian style, to spend a couple of days with my uncle and aunt.
An interesting note, which I was unaware of: this stretch of the coast, from Haugesund to Flekkefjord, is so close to the amphidromic point at Egersund that it has almost no tide. Considering that the east coast of England has tides up to almost 8 m / 26 ft, on the other side of the same North Sea, that is quite mind boggling.
The following day my uncle and aunt took us to see my family roots, we visited Lavoll (modern spelling with two ll’s instead of ld), a sleepy (just barely) village. We passed through the Lavoll tunnel (373 m/ 1224 ft) and went up the Lavoll hill. Finally a photo of me at the Lavoll train station (quite grand, isn’t it?). The line is now discontinued but has been revived as an historical railroad, and you can travel it on a draisine or railbike.
Finally we visited my cousin Kirsti who now lives in my grandfather’s old house. It is located at the southern end of a long narrow lake that pretty much looks like a fjord. The view up the lake is always beautiful but the last evening treated us to one of its most beautiful moods.
Our final stop in Norway was a return to Mølen – a place of sea and polished rocks full of bronze or iron age cairns and of magic. No wonder it is now a UN world heritage site. The bad part about that is that we didn’t have it to ourselves. Last time we visited, which was almost thirty years ago, the UN hadn’t discovered it and we were able to go to sleep and wake up with the fairies. This time we had a light drizzle and the place looked more stark but the magical feel was still there.
Homeward bound, a final dinner with friends and then as always, several days of rest and recreation – time to process all of the impressions from a wonderful vacation.
Photos by Anders Rydell except the one of me and Anders which was taken by Gro Lavold.