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Sunday, August 14, 2016

A spectacular drive through the mountains and Jotenheim Park, the town of Fagernes, and the open air museum.

We left the hotel for a several hour long, stunning drive through the mountains. The road was narrow, and if a car approached from the other direction, one had to back up to the nearest pullout. There were incredible waterfalls all along the way. Loring’s photos and video from his hike the day before were amazing, but I have to say I think the views from the drive were almost as impressive.
We kept exclaiming at waterfall after waterfall, falling from enormous heights, and counting how many we could see at each wonderful vista. After a while, we stopped exclaiming, not because it stopped being amazing, but because it was constant!

The night after we left the Elveseter,  before we returned to Oslo, was our one unbooked night. We'd assumed there would be plenty of opportunities along the way, cabins if not hotels. We passed the Turtura, where we’d originally booked because the Elvester had been full. And when we eventually saw the turtura we knew we’d made the right choice in going for the Elvester.  

For one thing, as we came around the bend before the hotel, the hillside was covered with orange tents.  And the hotel itself was very modern, more like a ski lodge, which I guess it is, in winter. It was one of the original hotels in the area, but had burned down some years ago and was rebuilt in modern style.  And it was mobbed. There was a canopy and some people with a speaker system. I It appeared there was some kind of race going on, although we never did see any sign of the racers. I am guessing it was a bicycle race.  We didn’t stop to see the inside of the hotel,  It may well have a charm of its own. But I don’t think anything could compare to the ambiance of the Elveseter.

We drove the four or so hours we’d planned to without seeing much in the way of accommodations. Finally, in one town about 20 kilometers short Fagernes, we saw a sign for a bed and breakfast. I went in, and called out several times, but no one appeared.  A sign on the counter said that check in began at 4pm, and it was about 315. So we drove on, into Fagernes, thinking if we found nothing there we could always go back the 20k. 

There were two hotels in Fagernes..The fancier one, the Thon,  was, to our surprise, full. The clerk suggested the other hotel or “the camping”. The campgrounds usually consist of dozens, maybe hundreds, of RVs and some cabins.  We went to the hotel, which looked like it had once  been fashionable but had, as they say, seen better days.  The room was clean, but tiny and without much charm, and had two single beds. The bathroom and shower were in the hall and shared. Not my first choice, but we didn’t really want to backtrack, especially since we didn’t even know if the b and b had rooms available. And it was just for one night. So we took it.

We’d seen, on the way into town, a sign for a folklore museum, one of those open air museums that consist of a number of relocated old buildings. We walked over to it, at the edge of the town, only to find that it had already closed for the day, at 4pm. But, it was open the next day at 10am.

The campground abutted the museum. It  was kind of amusing to see the sea of campers adjacent to the  reconstructed old village.  We stopped to ask e if they had any cabins,  as we'd not yet payed for the hotel. They had only one cabin left, and said it was quite cozy and charming, and had room for four, plus a fireplace. Again, the bathrooms were outside, but adjacent to the cabin. So we took a look.  Loring had to duck down, because the headroom in the doorway was probably only about five and a half feet. And it was, indeed, cozy and charming. It had four bunk beds that looked like the bunks on a small navy ship. I couldn’t imagine Loring even fitting in one, much less spending the night in it.

So, as you might have guessed, we stayed at the hotel. And it was fine. Although I never figured out what the curtain that went halfway around one of the beds was for. It was reminiscent of the curtains that separate the beds in a hospital room. Privacy? 

Breakfast was included, and it was surprisingly good. Not quite as good as the two previous hotels, but plenty good. And, to my surprise, there was a large salmon fillet as part of the buffet. Seems to be plentiful in these parts.

The next day we visited the museum, which had  a few indoor exhibits, a permanent collection of costumes from the various regions, as well as a doll collection all made by one woman. Although as orders for her dolls increased, she had taken on several assistants to help create the embroidery on all the traditional garments, and one silversmith who made all the dolls jewelry. Jewelry was worn by both men and women, silver filigree brooches, necklaces, and more. The other exhibit was about a Norwegian  wooden stringed instrument called a langeleik.  What caught my attention were a couple of small marionette type puppets, with strings attached, that the musician would wear around a finger while playing, making the puppet dance. Later, we heard a young local woman play the instrument while a young man, both in traditional costumes, danced. 

After our visit to the folklore museum in  we hit the road, heading back to Oslo for our final stop and last two days.  

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