May 12 - Trip round SW Norway

I had a really pleasant (and in fact, moderately relaxing) couple of weeks off, travelling round SW Norway over 28 April to 10 May 97.

On the Sunday 27 April, before I left, I went out cross-country skiing again, this time from the top of Bymarka, to the west of town. It was a lovely sunny day, just marvellous being out. I took the bus up there, and then skied out to Elgsethytta first (which was another of the hytta's in the region I had yet to ski to). Then looped round the side of Storheia, the highest peak in Bymarka. Whilst there, I met a father and daughter out skiing when I asked them to take a photo of me. They invited me to sit and have lunch with them, which was very pleasant. They cut a shelf out of the snow, put as mat down, and we ate lunch, drank tea, and chatted for a while. After lunch they took off (I can't keep up with the locals :-), and I looped back to where I started. Then I took the track weaving down the mountain toward town. Got a long way down before finally running out of snow, conveniently close to a bus stop. In all about 14km I think. Whilst I fell over quite a bit (lots of downhills where its hard to keep control), I was pretty happy overall with how I went. One of the professors here at work saw me speeding by, and was quite impressed!

Then Monday evening on 28 April, after going to the study group, I took the night train to Oslo. I had a cabin to myself (costs, but nicer) and got a reasonable amount of sleep. Arrived at 7am, but sat having breakfast till we were kicked off at 8am. Then switched onto another train to continue on to Arendal, on the south coast of Norway. There I was met by Martin, one of my former students. Went to a very nice waterfront pizza restaurant for dinner with him and Per Magne, another of my students. They're both working in Arendal (Martin with a security consultancy - System Sikkerhet; and Per with Ericsson). I stayed two nights with Per and his wife Anne whom I'd not met before. Unfortunatly she had to work late both nights. I spent Wed just walking around Arendal and the island of His°y where Per and Anne live. Some nice views of the surrounds.

On Thurs 1 May, Martin and I drove to Stavanger (yes I did actually drive some of the way). On the way we stopped for a cup of tea at his family's mountain hytta (about 1 hour from Stavanger), high up the side of a valley. It was a simple, solid, 3 room wood cabin - would be very pleasant. In Stavanger we stayed at his parent's house (though in fact they're in Australia - his Mum's on her sabbatical in Melb!) The tenants very nicely let us use the place though. Was rather wet both Thurs & Fri, so took it easy and just did a bit of walking in town.

Sat 3 May dawned lovely and fine though, so Martin drove me out to where we could walk up to Preikestolen (the Pulpit), one of the major attractions in the region. Its a large square, flat-topped rock on the side of a cliff, hundreds of metres over Lysefjord. It took 1 1/2 hours drive/ferry to the carpark, then another 1 1/2 hours hard walk to reach it - but it was really worth it!! The view was magic. The fjord is very long and narrow, with quite high mountains either side, some snow visible on the higher peaks. Like most people, I got my photo taken standing right on the edge!!!! Spent about an hour there admiring the view, then it was time to head back. A tiring but most enjoyable day.

Then on Sun 4 May we drove to Martin's family's seaside hytta - which is actually a former tenant farmer's residence, on the shore of the island of Karm°y. We drove a bit from Stavanger, then took an hour car ferry trip to the island. Along the way we were joined by a Russian family (Nicholai, Masha, and their young daughter Julia), friends of Martin's in Arendal, who were staying with us on the island. It was a very comfy place. Got the wood fire up to start heating the place (it'd turned cold and wet again). Was well renovated with a couple of bedrooms upstairs, and a living room, kitchen and main bedroom downstairs. Toilet was an outdoor dunny (complete with pit :-) and no running water, so it was sponge baths all round. The weather stayed miserable, so we mostly relaxed and read (and ate, drank tea, and talked). Did go into the local town of Skudeneshavn a couple of times. It had a lovely old town area with white weather board houses on narrow cobbled streets. Martin showed us his grandmother's house (now used by his aunt). It was a wonderfull, seaside wooden house, including a magnificent formal lounge room, complete with many antiques. Martin says that the room was only rarely used for special occasions, and it looked it. The russians left on Tues, but Martin & I stayed on. Went for a nice walk over the rolling hills over the family property.

Wed 7 May I caught the fast ferry from Kopervik (on Karm°y) to Bergen. It really moved - but got some nice views along the way. In Bergen I ended up in a private accomodation room, arranged by Tourist Info. It was great - 2 single rooms with a shared kitchen/lounge/bathroom, right in town. I ended up sharing it with a Swiss girl, Antonia, that I met on the boat. We both walked to tourist info together, and ended up booking accom one after the other. I'll certainly try to stay there again when Robyn comes over in Aug.

Thurs was a wonderful, sunny day - and the Resurrection Day holiday to boot. So I decided to go walking up in the National park above the town. Took a while to get up the Fl°ibanen cable railway - as hundreds of others had the same idea. Up top the view was as good as remembered. I walked a large loop up to a hill top, about 540m up, with some marvellous views of the surrounds on the way. Returned via a path that took me down round a number of small lakes. All up about 8km I think, and 4 1/2 hours walking. Was ready for another quiet relaxed evening. Antonia went to visit the composer Grieg's house, which she was very impressed with, very peaceful. As I haven't been there, will try and go with Robyn.

Then on to Oslo by train on Fri. Started fine and sunny in Bergen, and turned wet as we crossed the mountains. Ah well - still some nice views. Spent the night at the Youth Hostel in Oslo - was very busy. Spent much of Sat walking round a rather damp Oslo, in particular, several hours at the Vigeland sculpture park and museum, which I remembered from previous visits. Its very impressive - hundreds of sculptures arranged through the park. Mostly groups of people, with exquisite attention to detail, celebrating facets of life and human interaction. It really appeals to me, was just a pity it was so damp this time. Ah well. Also visited the Stenersen Museum - art gallery actually, with lots of Norwegian artists. Some I liked, some not. My taste in paintings is pretty traditional, I like the landscapes. Finally it was time to jump on the evening train back to Trondheim, arriving just before 11pm, home by 11:30.

I must admit, whilst I really enjoyed the trip, I was glad to get back home, and be able to stretch out and get everything back into order. Sun 11 May was quiet, dropped into work, and then went for a nice walk in the late afternoon. Since the snow has finally mostly melted from around town, I was able to walk from home, down to the river to the lower falls. Then along the track to the upper falls, and a wide loop out and back to home. Both falls are dammed for power generation, but the gates were open to let the snow melt through, so they were pretty active. Took about 2 hours, and was nice to see them, after being told about them by several people.

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Lawrie Brown / 26 Jun 97