My Norwegian Family Adventure: A Stay by the Fjord
This year, Ivy decided to take a deep Norwegian breath, a deliberate step back and explore a lesser known part of Norway, someplace where most Australians, like her husband and kids, had never been before.
Going home to Norway normally means two frantic weeks spent in Oslo in my parent’s inner city apartment, dragging 3 kids and a husband around from early coffee-dates to local favourite sights back to Mum’s delicious lunches followed by BBQs with old friends finished off with an occasional cocktail or beer. Most of all it’s about madly catching up with friends and family, never seeing more or less than the last visit; rushing through and promising to be back soon, all over in the blink of an eye.
This year we decided to take a deep Norwegian breath, a deliberate step back and explore a lesser known part of Norway, someplace where most Australians, like my husband and kids, had never been before. We opted for the scenic slow-mode of travel with ‘Sognefjord in a Nutshell’ towards Aurland, a tiny town on the edge of the Aurlandsfjord, the much less busy neighbour of Flam.
We decided to omit the transfer from the Aurland ferry-port to the countryside lodge, opting instead to walk the scenic 3 kms into the Aurlands-valley. We had the sun and blue skies in front of us with afternoon rainfall and dark grey clouds heavily threatening above the mountains behind us; promising a dramatic walk against time before the downpour hit. We found the lodge without problems, and checked into what resembled a warm and cosy living-room, complete with pots of herbal tea and homebaked organic sourdough cinnamon buns. Look at us, living the Norwegian dream!
We left the luggage in our spacious room, and set out to explore the area with bikes provided by the lodge. The river running through the valley is crystal clear and surrounded by soft, mossy rocks. The joyful exclamations from my 7-year old daughter as she jumped on the spongy moss, the thrill of reaching the very worthwhile view from the top of the waterfall, and seeing the kids quenching their thirst from the mountain springs (“This is the best water I have ever tasted, Mum!”) felt like those hallmark family holiday-moments we all desperately chase except it felt effortless, natural and easy. Norway is a bit like that.
As a child I spent two years in the neighbouring valley from Aurland, in a tiny town called Aardal at the very end of the Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. My mother and I never got used to the surrounding mountains, feeling a bit claustrophobic at the lack of sky vistas during the dark autumn- and winter months. Staying in Aurland brought back the memories, but as the owner of the lodge told me: You have to think of the towering mountains as your friends, watching over you and your family, keeping you safe.
The fresh air combined with climbing, biking, hiking and an exceptional seasonal dinner prepared by a Swedish chef had us sleeping like babies, waking up refreshed and ready. The morning was spent on more countryside adventures, this time venturing into the charming town-centre right on the edge of the fjord: Standing on the town-bridge looking at the river rushing past, strolling along the pier, people watching, enjoying the quiet Saturday go by in the local bakery; eating the most mouth-watering freshly baked chocolate custard buns with a side of coffee and Norway’s most iconic orange flavoured soft-drink, Solo.
Our little family-stay in Aurland reminded me of the simple joys in life: No screens or TVs to distract us, the high-pitched laughter of kids playing chasies with the local farm-dog, the wind in our hair as we rode our bikes along a quiet country road, the taste of wild strawberries picked straight out of the garden-patch; the taste, sounds, smells and flavours of the Norwegian summers I was lucky enough to experience as a child. Some things really are priceless, and I am glad I could share the experience with my own family.
Image credit: Aurland 292, Jordi Rivera and Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com