What a whirlwind the past week has been, it’s hard to believe that just over a week ago we were jumping on a plane for Norway. We’ve been up to a lot since leaving Bergen, so this may get a little crazy.
After our last day in Bergen, we were invited to couchsurf at the home of the communications manager for our hostel. We had a wonderful evening of good food and pleasant company, and at the last minute we decided to hop on a bus bound for Nordfjordeid the next morning. We have been in contact with a few of Nathanael’s relatives for the past couple of days, and had been invited to stay with a couple of Nathanael’s distant cousins living in Isane, close to his great-grandfather’s homestead in Dombestein, which is a region 300km north of Bergen. The excitement of meeting Nathanael’s relatives in Norway took our minds off the car-sickness as our bus wound around the fjords. The beautiful scenery didn’t hurt either.
After about a five hours bus ride we arrived in Nordfjordeid. We hadn’t heard anything from Nathanael’s relatives about how to get to Isane from Nordfjordeid or the address of their home. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what to do, we decided that we might as well prepare for the worst-case scenario of being stuck for the night in the small town. We set off with our giant hiking packs towards the nearby mountains in hopes of finding a spot to camp. Eyeing a great spot under some spruce trees behind a house up the mountain, we tentatively knocked on the door of the farmers who owned the land. We were answered by a friendly old couple who gave us their permission to camp on their land and cheerfully pointed out the spot we had in mind as being a good pick. After scrambling up the hillside we entered the woods and into something out of a fairytale. It was quiet, the trees kept out most of the rain, and through the moss covered boulders we could hear a stream burbling. Later that night at we found a WIFI signal at a cafe and got a message from Nat’s relatives about how to get to Isane and where they would pick us up, but having already taken the time to set up our campsite, we opted to wait until the next morning and spend the night in our trusty tent.
The next morning we hopped on another bus followed by a ferry and the next thing we knew, we were in Isane. Nathanael’s cousins, Anne Britt and Roar, are such wonderful people. Immediately they made us feel as if we had known them for years; welcoming us into their home and brewing us some much appreciated coffee. Lucky for us, we got to meet more of Nat’s cousins, Aslaug and her husband Arne, that were visiting from Trondheim!
After meeting everyone and having a wonderful lunch together, Anne Britt and Roar whisked us off on an adventure to the end of the fjord (aka Kalvåg on Frøya island)! Along the way we stopped at Hornelen, the highest sea cliff in Europe (an 860m dropoff), and went through a tunnel leading under the water. Kalvåg is a beautiful little fishing town on the sea. Since it’s popular with tourists, there has been a lot of work done on the harbour front to the docks and buildings, making it look like something out of tourism pamphlet. Front and centre in the harbour is the restaurant and hotel Knutholmen, which can trace its roots back to the 1860’s! After a great meal, the owner gave us a tour of the old building and told us about its history, including the original mooring bollard from 1810 found in the front area of the restaurant.
The next day, Anne Britt and Roar brought us to the family home in Dombestein. The beautiful home was built more than 200 years ago, and is still lovingly cared for today, even with no one currently living in it. Family heirlooms have been laid out and arranged, old photographs are tucked away in drawers, the pantry is still stocked with some non-perishables for family members who decided to visit. Anne Britt and Roar took us through the house explaining its history and memories and even about the storm that felled trees onto a portion of the roof while Anne Britt’s mother was still living in the house. As you can imagine, this has sparked a flurry of family history delving in Nat and I, with some exciting and unexpected finds.
Yesterday, Anne Britt and Roar had yet another surprise for us. They took us in the direction opposite of Dombestein, and we found ourselves once again going back in history. We took a less travelled road up into the fjords, into a valley between rocky peaks. Huge boulders jutted out of the streams connecting the lakes we passed (Vasslidvatnet, Uravatnet, Grunneløken). We reached a mysterious end of the rocky road, beyond which Nathanael’s great-grandmother would bring the cows every summer, spending months making butter and cheese that would be brought down the mountain. At the base of the mountain, Roar showed us his family farm where Nathanael’s great-grandmother and great-grandfather had once worked.
Nathanael and I finished the day with a hike up the mountain. Sitting in an empty hunting cabin that we stumbled across, we sat thinking about all that we had been fortunate enough to see so far and began to plan our next move 🙂