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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The wonderful Elvester Hotel

Several days later, at the wonderful Elvester Hotel in the mountains in the Jotenhiemer National Park.
How nice to lose track of the days and not be worried about it. (as long as we remember to get back to Oslo, and our next and last reserved stay, and then to the airport at the right time.

We chose our stays beforehand, except for one day, tomorrow night, which we have still not planned, and will stay somewhere between here and Oslo.

I’d originally chosen this hotel, the Elveseter, where we are now, because of both location and description, but then was disappointed to find out they were fully booked. So I asked if we could be put on a waiting list, not expecting much, and booked another place, also old, but which sounded more like a base camp for hikers and skiers, without the charm of this place. Happily, a couple of days before we left home, they came thru with a cancellation, and I couldn’t be happier.  Of course, the other place may be wonderful too, but we’ll never know.

The Elveseter was a farm for many centuries, and in the later centuries, the family began to take in guests. In a way, not so different from the farm on the fjord where we’d stayed the previous two nights, but on a much grander scale. The same family has owned it for “just “ the past six generations. When the woman at the desk was telling us about the history, she began to say it had been since the seven… and I thought she was going to say the 70s, ie 1970’s. But what she was actually saying was from the 1700’s!

There are 100 rooms here, and many of them, at least last night, were filled by the occupants of three large tourist busses.  There were dinner seatings at 7 pm and 8:30, and although I’d originally booked the earlier one, when the desk person suggested it might be quieter at the later, we switched. And were glad that we did. At 830 we were one of only five tables.

It was a set meal. The first course was a delicious tomato soup.brought to us in a tureen for us to serve ourselves.  I detected but couldn’t identify something else in the soup, perhaps peas?  I was reminded of the mashed peas in Oslo that looked and tasted like an extremely thick split pea soup. And also of one of my mother’s few recipes, which I now wonder where she got, which consisted of a can of Campbell’s tomato and a can of split pea, which I always liked and had made several times years ago. 

I asked the waiter, a cute young man who reminded me of Michael Cera, if he knew what was in the soup beside the tomatoes, and he said, he knew there was something else, but he didn’t know what it was.  He didn’t offer to find out, and I didn’t ask. But I think I’m going to try a homemade tomato soup with a bit of pureed peas, at home, and see what I come up with.

The rest of dinner was some kind of beef, like a well-cooked roast beef, in a gravy, with potatoes, and something that tasted like pureed parsnips, but pink, and some chunks of eggplant. Kind of an unexpected combination. Quite good. And, for dessert, a delicious flan. 

This morning, there was a breakfast buffet, and the place was bustling with all the departing tour busses and the other guests, mostly families. I heard a little British English, and another bit when some Scandinavian looking and sounding family used English to communicate with the waiter.  No Americans that I noticed.
The breakfast was quite a spread, scrambled, hardboiled and fried eggs, all kinds of meats, fish, and cheeses, jams and yogurt and granola, and watermelon.  Not quite as wonderful as the one at the Broneset Hotel in Alesund, but wonderful enough.

There was something that looked sort of like peanut butter, but in a block from which people were slicing thin pieces. It was near the jams, and I assumed it was peanut butter, but now I’m not sure. When I tasted it, it had more of a cheese flavor. I made a sandwich with it and jam for lunch, and just now ate it before I began writing, and am still not sure!

Today I am spending at the hotel while Loring has gone for a hike, probably a longer one than he did at the farm. Which is fine with me. I’m quite content sitting here reading, and writing, and basking in the sun.  There are a few guests around, and a few new ones arriving, and I am guessing that we will have another few busloads arriving later today.

It is warm enough that I am down to my last layer, a short sleeved blouse, having shed my two warmer layers earlier.

This place is beautiful, as were the other places we have been and driven through. Yesterday’s drive here provided scenic views after view interspersed with tunnel after tunnel some of the as long as 4 or 5 kilometers. And then the light at the end of each tunnel revealing each stunning view.  

WE spent two wonderful days at the hotel Elvester, with half board. There is room after room of public space, several with fireplaces, all replete with antiques and art.  I managed to spend at least a little time in most of them over the course of the two days. One, though, was my favorite, with several sofas by the window, overlooking a brook.

The day that Loring went for his several hour hike, I read and wrote. When he returned it was still early afternoon. And the days are long here at this time of year. The sun doesn’t set until 830 or 9pm, it doesn’t get dark until after 10 and never gets completely dark. The sky starts lightening again about 2 am.

The town of Lom, when we first came upon it on our way to the hotel, was a startling sight. After hours of pristine vistas it suddenly burst upon us, hillsides covered with cabins and hotels, and the center filled with shops and restaurants and people.  Loring described it as North Conway on steroids. It wasn’t, really, but did in fact seem like a smaller North Conway.  

When we returned, the following day, after Loring's mornng hike, Lom didn’t seem quite as startling. But it had certainly been jarring, coming suddenly upon it after so much quiet countryside.

There was a small geological museum there, which consisted of several rooms of gemstones from various parts of the world, and, of course, a gift shop. The shop had lots of stones from around the world, and a good number from Norway, especially the local area. They were mostly polished cabachons and pendants set in silver.  I purchased several small cabachons. Hopefully I have the cards to tell me what the stones are. They are mostly of a pinkish color, nice although I would have preferred the raw unpolished stones.

At the hotel we had half board, breakfast and dinner, and made sandwiches for lunch. The breakfast was a buffet, traditional Norwegian, with an assortment of breads, cheeses, meats, eggs, pickled fish, salmon, some fruit. It seemed like everyone, at least the folks we could see at the tables around us, made and packed up sandwiches. At the counter were large sheets of paper to wrap them in, as well as small sandwich size papers to separate the sandwiches, and brown paper bags to package them all up in. There was a sign that said to pay for the bags (not the food) at the reception.  We didn’t, and I wonder if anyone did.

Norwegians are fond of open face sandwiches, and I think the small papers were meant to separate each open layer, not each double bread sandwich, as we did. Either way, it worked. 
I did finally find out that the brown stuff I’d thought was peanut butter was actually a cheese, what they call brown cheese.  It did taste pretty good with jam, anyway. Now I wish I’d had the chance to taste more, knowing what it actually was.

The suppers were a set meal each night. The first night it was the meat I’ve previously described. The second night it was baked fish over sauteed spinach, and buttery mashed potatoes with tiny dark lentils. Delicious. And crème brulee for dessert.

The food was on the expensive side, as we’d expected. But not as expensive as we’d expected. The drinks were definitely expensive, about $10 a drink, including beer. ( on the contrary, a six pack in the grocery store was amazingly cheap, about $3.)

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