Monday, September 19, 2011

Norwegian Experience: Day 4, 5 & 6

It has been a busy couple of days for Norwegian Experience winner, Nancy Madson, but it sounds like she is loving every minute. Last time I spoke with Nancy was on Thursday, so we had quite a bit to catch up on this morning. Since then Nancy has visited six stave churches, the emigrant museum, the historic Kvikne's hotel and the Flåm railway and more. So here goes!

In Lillehammer we visited the ice arena for 1994 Olympics. The arena roof is shaped like an upside down Viking ship. We didn’t go inside but it was interesting to see the building. The most notable part of that day was the emigrant museum in Hamar. We had traditional rommegrot and dried reindeer and sausage with flat bread. The curator at the museum was wonderful too and very interesting. He dispelled so many myths about immigration! One myth was that traditionally we think of Norwegian emigration happening beginning in 1825 but many left prior to 1825. He also talked quite a bit about the number of emigrants who returned to Norway. It was also interesting to hear that the most Norwegians emigrated in 2010—30,000 last year. Which is the most ever in absolute numbers. The curator was very thought provoking, a bit of a philosopher, it was very educational.

Later we drove through the Gudbrandsdalen Valley.
I know everyone thinks of Norway for the fjords but this valley is a real contender to the fjords, it is so beautiful!

So far we’ve been able to see eight different stave churches in various stages of remodeling, reconstruction and restoration. When the churches were first constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries they were very basic and dark, changing to be more ornate during the Catholic years, and then changing again after the reformation. It was wonderful to see these churches and hear about the changes they went through over the years. On Sunday we saw the Borghund stave church in Lærdal, which is currently undergoing a restoration. We were able to climb the scaffolding and actually see many of the areas being repaired in detail. It was the best. I can’t imagine having a better tour of the stave churches!

We had a wonderful time in Undredal on Sunday evening as well. We had dinner at a goat cheese factory. We enjoyed a delicious course of cheeses as well as my favorite brown cheese, geitost. I love that cheese! We also participated in some Norwegian music and folk dancing.

When I visited in 2000 I didn’t participate in any organized tours. However, I can’t stress enough how wonderful this tour has been. I have learned so much more. Linda McCormick and Borton Overseas have done a fabulous job putting this together. If Sons of Norway decides to do another tour, I would so highly recommend it, not only because of the things you see but also because of the camaraderie with tour members. I’ve made quite a few connections with members I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It is a totally different experience than when our members get together for the convention, a tour like this helps you meet those everyday members. It really is a fabulous tour. I just hope Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas does this again!

Don’t forget to check the blog later for more updates, and be sure to visit the Sons of Norway website if you’d like to be the lucky recipient of this amazing contest for 2011!

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