There is nothing noble in being superior to your frown man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ” – quote by Ernest Hemingway
Being superior to your former self, exactly what Hemingway quoted, is what we have taken away from Lillehammer with its extreme love for literature, books and written word. There’s a sense on ownership in all literature events we observe happening in the Lillehammer; an ownership that feels everybody involved in their own confident world.
One fine Saturday we visited, the Literature Festival, Norsk Litteraturfestuval, is being celebrated and there were a lot of book readings and discussions with authors almost at every buildings. We visited the Public Library and there’s an ongoing event with an author, a great event to have observed, while browsing the library, even though the discussions were in Norwegian.
This festival, the Norwegian Festival of Literature is the biggest of its kind in the Nordics. Words is the main weapon to stir emotions and provoke actions in this Festival.
Lillehammer is one of Norway’s most important cultural centers and has a status as a UNESCO City of Literature.
Lillehammer is a charming town at the entrance to the Gudbrandsdalen valley. Coming from Oslo, it’s a huge change of scenery from buzzing wide streets to picturesque pedestrian streets; from high dense of people to not so much, having only 27,000 inhabitants.
After exploring the town and it’s literature events, we head on to Maihaugen Open- AirMuseum, a blissful environment depicting how it is to live a life like it was the old days with the Viking.
The Maihaugen Open Museum has more than 200 historic houses and buildings as far back as the 13th century to the present day.
We have visited houses from each decade during the 20th century. We also visited the childhood residence of Norway’s Queen Sonja.
Quick Triva: Lillehammer is the location of the American-Norwegian television series in Netflix, Lilyhammer. Our traveling dad watches this.. for travel planning purposes. It’s semi-crime, semi-comedy series set in Norway, what’s not to watch?
What a fantastic spot for kids looking back and knocking on the generations past.
We also experienced Norway’s important postal history at the Norwegian Postal Museum at Maihaugen.
Storgata, lined with idyllic wooden houses, provides the framework for a modern and friendly shopping experience and an experience already in its own right. We were able to shop for some very expensive brand at very low prices, a.k.a we visited a semi-flea market as it is in a fancy shop.
Hoarding on books from UNESCO City of Literature at Storgata, Lillehammer
The train view
We could easily fill this blog with lots of train view as we took a loads of photos. The lake view, the fields and mountains views, the houses and landscapes views – everything seems to have come out of a perfect masterpiece.
The train back and forth form Oslo to Lillehammer has jaw dropping view we didn’t want the journey to end 🇳🇴
Did we give you enough reasons to visit Lillehammer? Hope we did.
“I think the main task in life we all have received, is to become the best version of ourselves, no matter how difficult life can be. ” King Harald V of Norway
Det kongelige slot, or simply, Slottet is the royal residence home to HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja. Slottet is located at the top of Karl Johans gate, completed in 1849.
The Royal Palace Park surrounds the palace on all sides and features grassy areas, majestic trees, small ponds and statues. These grassy ares are perfect for a quick picnic/ hanging out in front of the castle while admiring the majestic neo-classical style with the facade of stuccoed brick.
Beyond hanging out during sunny days (or any cold days!) there are tours in summer, changing of guards every 1:30pm and service in the Palace Chapel every Sundays at 11am.
Our family believes the King Harald of Norway is THE coolest monarch. He is a champion sailor; he represented his country three times in Olympic Games; he support all genres and religions.
Not so long ago, he quoted Love Actually, in comparing Norway with United Kingdom,
“We may be a small country, but we’re a great one…”
He is certainly has more right to state this than Hugh Grant.
Once upon a time in 1950s…. so the real fairy tale starts King Harald saw a commoner, love at first sight, chased after her, courtship of nine years! King Olav V disapproves of the Prince not marrying another royalty from Sweden, a country of alliance. They defied all odds and eventually got married and live happily ever after ruling a great country… making it greater every day…
It’s a lot better than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s story, right?!
Obviously, lots of positive energy around The Royal Palace that our family wishes to absorb. And really, it’s a fine place to visit!
Don’t miss passing through The Royal Palace when in Oslo, Norway!
“That two bodies press convulsively together, man and woman, he fertilizing her, he giving her a budding life, or he planting a seed, a seed of life in her womb – Oh God. I think this God-given idea is so enormous, so eternal, so endlessly wise – that people should not be allowed to depict it in art!”
– Quote By Gustav Vigeland
One may find this quote inappropriate for a family travel blog, but this really relates to what radical unschooling or radical family lifestyle means. There is no taboo in art, so there should be no taboo in nonconforming to school, religion or any society’s institutions.
So a day spent in Vigeland Sculpture Park may be equivalent to any “normal” art or any lessons day in school. Or more. Kids running around in more than 200 naked sculptures depicting life, of course!
On a more serious tone (the previous tone was made in pun but no way less serious!)…. the Vigeland Park is one of Norway’s most visited attractions and the world’s largets sculpture park made by one artist, Gustav Vigeland, contains no less than 212 bronze and granite sculptures
Gustav Vigeland (11 April 1869 – 12 March 1943), né Adolf Gustav Thorsen, was a Norwegian sculptor. Gustav Vigeland occupies a special position among Norwegian sculptors, both in the power of his creative imagination and in his productivity. He is most associated with the Vigeland installation (Vigelandsanlegget) in Frogner Park, Oslo. He was also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal.
The park was completed between 1939 and 1949 and all the statues are centred on the Human Condition theme of the park, illustrating relationships between men and women, adults and children.
The park can be divided into 5 main units that are located along the 850-metre-long main axis: The main gate, the bridge with the children’s playground, the fountain, the monolith plateau and the wheel of life. Norway’s most famous boy, the angry boy, is located in the middle of the bridge together with more than 50 bronze sculptures where the artist wanted to display mainly young people and show the relationship between men and women.
The popular Angry Boy sculpture shows a naked little boy crying and about to stamp his foot.
Not shying away from naked sculptures and artistic interpretation of the human bodies and its “activities” , we have explored the Vigeland Sculpture Park three times for different seasons, (two actually – cold and very cold!), and it was always an eye-opener experience, both literally and figuratively!
Fall season with family is the time to explore Vigeland Park!!!
and on to almost summer in Oslo!!
Have you explored Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway? Did you like it?
Opera House is at very close proximity at the harbor . It’s angled, white exterior looks low its rising from the wage. Climbing the roof is fun on its own, not to mention the panoramic views of Oslo and fjord, at all seasons.
And of course, our traveling family climbed up and enjoyed the sunset and the view!
The opera is designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, and has received several prestigious awards. The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet offers a rich and varied programme from three stages: The Main House (1369 seats), Second House (400 seats) and the Studio (200 seats). The Opera roof and foyer are also used for concerts.
Enjoying the view of artistic glass sculpture “She Lies” from Oslo’s Opera House.
This art installation lies in the water just beside the Opera House; it’s axis turns with the wind and tide. Like the Opera House, unique experiences is guaranteed every time.
We have yet to visit the inside of the Opera House. There are tours available. Large-scale windows at street level provide the public with glimpses of rehearsals and workshop activities. The building’s interior is mainly oak, and the main hall is shaped like a horseshoe, reminiscent of classical theatres of the past.
Wishing, thinking of watching a performance in the Opera House during our visit to Oslo this time around. Any recommendations?
So you think Norway is expensive? Maybe. Maybe not.
In Oslo, yes, dining in is expensive. With the tax added in plus the table fee, of course, we think it is insanely expensive.
However, eating in Oslo (or in Norway, in general) doesn’t have to be expensive.
Case in point, food trucks! With food trucks, there are a lot of relatively cheaper food options with greater quality at accessible and convenient locations.
The lower operation cost of food truck industry while providing high quality service and food options may be the most obvious rationale why there are a lot of food trucks in Oslo. The perfect choice for travellers looking for quick-stop convenient access to food without the super excessive cost!
Staying in Aker Brygge area, these are the food trucks available with the view.
Late afternoon, these 4-5 food trucks will line up and open right at the Promenade leading to Aker Brygge. Perfect for hungry stomachs craving dinner/ snack/ very late lunch after exploring/ doing business/ enjoying Oslo city!
Stay tuned. We are still in Oslo, Norway for ten days or so and really intend to hunt more food trucks! If you are also in the city and knows of food trucks to check out, give us a shout out!
The Akershus Fortress was built to protect Oslo and had successfully survived many attempted sieges, most of them from Swedish forces.
Fast forward to present date, the central location of the Akershus Fortress makes it the number one tourist landmarks in Oslo. The city’s landscape with the sea view can give anybody and calming and relaxing experience.
Akershus festning or the Akershus Fortress was built in the late 1290s under King Haakon V.
The fortress protects the fabulous medieval castle completed in 14th century, in its strategic location at the tip of the headland.
The fortress close proximity to the sea played a strategic naval power in protecting the interests of early Norwegian trade which was mainly sea-based during the period.
The fortress has also bee used as a prison and now houses The Norwegian Resistance Museum.
The Norwegian Military and Armed Forces still in operation in the fortress, playing around with the fortress defense “attack cannons” was then main thing to do for our peace-loving little travellers.
All those things, above all, the view and family bonding in a relaxed setting!
The view is majestic, to say the least. The landscape, the luxury cruises and yachts make the Oslo horizon perfect when viewed from the fortress.
With this fortress gate, those Swedish invasions never stood a chance!
Dating from 1299, this medieval castle and royal residence developed into a fortress in 1592 and was rebuilt into a renaissance castle between 1637 and 1648.Akershus Castle today contains banquet halls, the Royal Mausoleum and the government’s reception rooms, and its small, historic church is the home of the royal sarcophagi.Norwegian name: Akershus slott
The medieval castle is perfect for our knight-loving traveling little man. Just see how proud he looks by the castle entrance.
The medieval castle serves as the Mausoleum for Norwegian Royalties including King Sigurd I, King Haakon V, King Haakon VI, Queen Eufemia, King Olav V and Crown Princess Martha.
Knowing the actual royalties are buried in the castle, somehow, makes it cooler for our traveling boy!
Not to mention, real live knights protecting the castle! Well, live knights – yes! Real? Am they are working towards being awesome knights by practice, not by being anointed.
Truth be told, we chance upon the knights club practicing in the castle square which took up most of our time exploring the medieval castle and it was very well worth it. Watching the knights in semi-costume fight is amusing in itself.
Exploring Akershus Fortress easily took a full day for us. Top with ice cream after, it was a perfect family day in Oslo, Norway!
Love knights and medieval castle? Consider exploring Oslo’s Akershus festning or the Akershus Fortress!
By baking the country’s popular pastry! This time around, as we can’t contain our excitement for Norway, the traveling dad baked us no less than the world’s best cake!
Kvæfjordkake is popularly referred to as ‘the world’s best’. The key ingredients are meringue, vanilla cream and almonds. This sponge cake is known and enjoyed throughout Norway and can be considered as Norway’s national cake.
Imagine fresh eggs white used to make the delectable, chewy, almost crispy, almond flavoured meringue. The fresh egg yolks are then used to make the sponge base and custard filling.
The key ingredient is eggs. The whites are used to make the crisp, chewy almond meringue, and the yolks to make both the sponge base and the custard filling.
The cake originates from Kvæfjord, an area close to Vesterålen and Lofoten in the north of Norway. Despite much of the area being mountains and fjords, it’s known for agriculture and farming, strawberries and eggs come in plenty!
So, how did our Kvæfjordkake fair with actual cake we got from Drøbak ,Norway? Well, not far and it didn’t disappoint. We have the becoming of a great chef in Norway! Hospitality recruiters, hear ye! Hear ye!
Have you tried Kvæfjordkake? Well, did that slice of heaven live up to the hype?
One fine day from Oslo, after the Constitution Day, off we went for a day trip to enjoy the impression of Norway’s most northerly “Southern” town. Drøbak is one of the Oslo fjord’s historic summer resorts, popularly known as A Pearl By The Oslo Fjord.
Drøbak is situated at the narrowest point of the Oslo Fjord. From about the middle of the 1700s and onward, this tiny coastal hamlet developed into small town, supported by the timber industry and shipping. The town obtained its own Trading Charter rights in 1842, prior to this it was controlled by Christiana (Oslo). From 1850 until 1900 the export of fresh water ice to the Continent and England was very important trade. Drøbak may be a typical small town they have capitalized on industries and Nordic models (which our family thinks work!) but as we see this town now, is a pearl city with a fantastic view.
Drøbak may mean “Drøye bakke” in Norwegian words which literally means — for a man and his horse– an every lasting hill, a hill that drags on and on.
Drøbak was also used as an outer port for Oslo. In the days of sailing vessel the inner regions of the Oslo fjord were often frozen during the winter months and ships were unable to reach the city. The water around Drøbak was ice-free for most of the year. Cargo intended for the capital, Oslo, would then be returned back in Drøbak and transported over-land and the frozen fjord by horse-drawn sledges. Some of the ships that were registered in Olso were often laid up for the winter in Drøbak in order to be rapidly commissioned at the start of the new freight season. Ships were laid up at the Kaholmene (Oscarsborg) and in Vindfangerbukta (literally means,”Catch the wind bay.”)
Recommended Tour 1 – The Whisper of history, the rumble of war.
Recommended Tour 2- Bathing Huts and Artists
Recommended Tour 3 – Hills, Commons and Quays
From the tour titles alone, we can infer that that this pearl city island has everything to offer! We’ve done a mix and match of tours at our leisure and we had a blast.
All tours start from the Tourist Information Office withe the view of this marina.
Starting our family walk from the harbour, which was established early in the 1920s, passing through Fiskerkroken between small wooden houses from 1700s to 1800s. The first building standing so beautifully we saw when we arrived at the market is the Julenissens postkontor- the post office of Santa Claus right after admiring the town’s library. (we love love books!) The library is built in the style of the late 1700s, with a rococo curve to the roofline and with a Louis XVI main door opening to the market place.
Behind the tiny park with the statue of a fisherman catching a famous Drøbak cod is Tregaardens Julehus which was originally a chapel and now the House of Christmas where the festive season of Christmas can be experienced all year round.
The market is the centre point of Drøbak which was renewed by world renowned architects, Snøhetta, way back in 1977. Life in the market square seems to be very active despite being in the spring season when we visited. There are cafes in the center wherein beautiful classic Norwegian houses can be seen. Along Storgaten, we noticed a merchant’s house from 1800, which was a secondary school for many years and prior to that, a hotel. It has been in the possession of ship owners, timber merchants and exporters of ice as well as the Consul for The Netherlands, Henry Parr Samuelsen.
The large timber merchant houses are good illustrations of how Drøbak was built; a centrally placed main house surrounded by smaller buildingsfor the labourers, the sawmill staff and sea-farers. We know that in 1800, these properties were comprised of several buildings. In addition to the main house, there was an outhouse for the stable boys and there were stalls, pigsties and boatsheds, in all, some 12 buildings. Bankløkka, the large open area towards the church, was pasture and gardens belonging to the property. According to the people of Drøbak, Christian Magnus Falsen drafted the Norwegian Constitution in this house.
Kirkegatan (Church Street) with its avenue of trees which, when they were cut down provoked public outcry but fortunately they were re-planted again in 2013. The avenue leads to the town’s church, built in 1776. The writing above the door informs us that the entire building was a gift from Niels Carlsen, a merchant and a shipowner, and his wife, Martha Zacharuasdatter. This is one of the only churches in Norway donated to a community by a husband and wife. The interior is very interesting. The altar board has the same motive as the altar board in Our Saviour’s Church in Oslo. A curiosity worth noting is that the church clock has only one hand.
A bust of Niels Carlsen is situated close by, in the garden, by the path. Niels Carlsen (1734- 1809) was a rich businessmen and one of the country’s most powerful shipowners at the end of 17001s. He owned a large part of the property along the seafront as well as the small islands where Oscarsborg fort is now situated. He was the district’s most powerful and important citizen and benefactor, and demonstrated this by, among other things, his donation of the church.
The inscriptions over both the main door and the entrance to the north door tell us much about the spirit of times. The Carlsen family grave is a plot raised above the other graves in the churchyard.
By the church an entrance to Badeparken (Bathing Park), an area of smooth rock, paths and beaches for swimming and walking.In the park, we can see the old bath house from the time when there was a very active spa situated in the park. It was then possible to have a Roman bath or a mud bath or other facial treatments. Here, as in other places along the coasts, efforts were made to attract visitors and develop tourism at the time when sailing ships had to give way to steam-driven vessels and the timber trade and export of ice were no longer the same importance.
Some small distance to the east of the church is a characteristic square, wooden building that was also a donation to the community from the Carlsen family. It is called Drøbak Hospital, and a board over the main entrance (facing east) tells us of the donor’s intention for the house, for the benefit of impoverished widows.) This became the town’s first Old Peoples’ Home, but today, it is used by the church and for Senior Citizen activities such as canteen, a hairdresser, a chiropodist and numerous hobby activities and contact personnel for senior citizens.
In the middle of the park is the statue of Colonel Birger Eriksen. It was he who gave the order to open fire on the German cruiser, “Blucher,” on 9th April 1940. The statue of the Colonel shows him gazing out across the fjordto his fortress form where the cruiser sunk. This action helped to delay the German occupation of Norway by one whole day, making it possible for members of the government and the king himself to escape Oslo and avoid being taken prisoner by the Germans.
As we step out onto the breakwater with the view, we passed a bronze statue of three very attractive mermaids, a work by a local painter and sculptor Reidar Finsrud. Returning from our walk from the mermaids scuptures, we keep being amused by the gorgeous collection of small houses surrounding the small strip of coasts that many years ago was used for fishing boats (1750 – 1850)!
Would you like to explore Drøbak like we did? The Pearl By The Oslo Fjord… a stone’s throw way from Oslo. Well, figuratively of course.
Norway is our 13th Country to visit – since then, we’ve come back for more and more and more… if we could sum up why we love this country this much, it’s because of this day – May 17.
We celebrated May 17 in Oslo. The highlight of the day is NOT a military parade but more than 60,000 children, most of them in marching bands, with Norwegian flags or in their national costumes. What a fantastic parade to watch!
Norway is a the ONLY country celebrating anything “National” without the need to show the strength of their military capabilities. They don’t need to. A confident, rich, beautiful person who made it in the world, doesn’t need to flash their big, gigantic, enormous, uummmhhmm, expensive properties to show that they indeed “made it big!” Such is a Norway-no-military parade analogy.
It may not that be, but it’s a big worldschooling lesson for kids.
That and mainly, children being the “hope” of the nation – not military.
Ben & Jerry said so…
A country who values children and ice cream over power and might says a lot!
Although, of course, there are also the traditional magnificent bunads everywhere today, the loyalty towards tradition is also important. Roots before wings, right?
If those are not enough reason to include Norway’s Constitution Day in your travel bucket-list, there’s diversity! You have to be there to experience the common love and respect towards anybody. It’s a great feeling!
It’s not your ordinary parade to watch, trust us. We’ve never seen such a diverse, big crowd so organized and so calm. That in itself is something to show the kids that an organized national event is completely possible, admirable and loveable! Our hearts are warm with happiness being able to observe events in this Norway Day celebration (2019!)
Would you like to observe Norway’s Constitution Day one fine May 17? 🇳🇴❤️
“þetta reddast”- Icelandic wisdom which means, it will work out okay. (Of course, it will – all the time!)
As the cliche goes, If we’d learnt one thing from traveling, it was the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them… and add in that Icelandic wisdom… “IT WILL WORK OUT OKAY!)
So, how do we write about our one-month experience in Iceland which turns out to be THE BEST and THE MOST EXCITING family adventure we had, to date, in one single post?
Iceland is the 35th Country out of our 100 Country Goals, the only “new”country for us for 2018 – where the mom celebrate her 40th birthday, dad’s 42nd and their 10th wedding anniversary! Out there in the very cold summer breeze of Iceland, out in the wild. With only the the three kids, camping tent, winter clothes and blankets. More than enough to realize that “Life” indeed begins.. very happily!
I wish I can tell the stories of our adventures quite elaborately, comprehensively and articulately. But I really can’t. There were mostly moments that we take pictures, make sure it’s capture (albeit barely) and we’ll unplug and be with Iceland nature, be with each other… be in moments with each other together in perfectly inspiring Iceland.
Powerful, magnificent falls and hopefully-not-so active and yes, magnificent volcanoes are mainly the stopovers during the drive around the Ring Road. We stopped sometimes were tourists stopped depending on the queue and the kids momentum about exploring!
Our Iceland Trip Highlights in bullet points – we don’t recommend that families take this as guide -we went around Iceland with carefree, spontaneous, adventurous spirits -no exact plans, no notes whatsoever and we didn’t want to stop!
Vestur til Suðurlands (West to South Iceland)
✅And lots and lots of Puffin Watching and stalking!
Suður til Austurlands
✅ Jökulsárlón-Glacier Lagoon
✅ Endless waterfalls along scenic snowy mountains to glaciers and icebergs in lakes to ocean! Oh ha! Stunning and breathtaking!
✅ Almost Permanent Rainbow and the most powerful falls in Europe, Delfoss and Selfoss
✅ Myvatn Nature Baths and lots and lots of bloopers!
✅ Artic Ocean Wildlife – seals stalking and whale watching!
Norðurland til Vesturlands
✅ More waterfalls every 15 minutes road trip! ☺️
✅ Godafoss (and the history of beginning of Christianity in Iceland!)
✅ Leif Ericson’s birthplace (and a lot of real facts about explorers!)
✅ More waterfalls 😋
✅ Jules Verne’s entrance to the Centre of the Earth
✅ Lots of authors books and literature
✅ Way more family bonding and laughters we will forever treasure! ❤️
✅ Lots of delicious fish and cheap
✅ Second hand bookstores and fancy ones, too! We love books!
There are consequences in traveling to this beautiful, modern and isolated country island. It made us question a lot of countries’ political and economic realities. “Resource Curse” is real for most geographies blessed with natural resources and gorgeous landscapes. But Iceland- what have they done? Everything seems to be prospering – farming, tourism, energy utilization, gender equality? Thinking about Iceland makes our family pause for these questions we have yet to fully answer!