During the kids’ last long weekend break from school, we decided to take one last trip in Norway to Lillehammer which is just a 2.5-hour train ride north of Oslo. Lillehammer hosts this famous 54km cross country skiing race called the Birkebeiner which commemorates the heroics displayed by men who escorted the 1-year-old King Hakon Hakonson to safety in 1200. (There is an American version which takes place in Wisconsin and is the biggest cross country ski race in the US.) Evidently, the racers have to carry a 7.7 lb backpack to simulate the weight of the king. Here is a statue commemorating the Birkebeiners in Lillehammer:

Our first day in Lillehammer, we took the children to a Norwegian themed amusement park called “Hunderfossen Fairytale Park.” The park felt like a much lower key Disney theme park based on Norwegian folk tales. There was a huge troll in the center of the park,

fairy tale themed rides, a science center that taught you about hydroelectricity (95% of the electricity in Norway is made from hydro) as you might guess when you pass rivers like this near Lillehammer:

The park also has Norwegian fairy tales rides and shows, carousels, swimming pools, and cars (Maddie and Ada’s favorite).

The girls had a blast and unlike most theme parks I’ve been to in the states, there was absolutely no line for any of the rides. 

The next day we spent visiting Maihaugen, a very neat open-air museum which showcased both rural and urban life in Norway through history through the reconstruction of Norwegian homes and buildings. Maihaugen had a small pond where children could borrow bamboo fishing rods with real hooks. Beside the rods was a bucket of dirt where you could dig for worms to for fish bait. The girls dug for worms but despite Ada’s plea, Maddie decided to save it from the fish hook which was probably a good idea because John and I wouldn’t know what to do with a fish if we caught it. Fortunately, another family used the poles right after us and caught a few fish almost immediately.

A lot of Norwegian homes have green rooms which seems to be a practice in building construction that is hundreds of years ago. Below is a picture of an old mill cabin with a green roof and a demonstration of how they used to make them using wood, birch bark, and soil. The green roofs are quite pretty (many of them had flowers on them when we visited) and as I was reminded in my LEED AP training insulate the home well, help reduce stormwater runoff, the heat island effect and are lower maintenance than other roofs.

Our last morning we spent touring the home of Sigrid Undset who won the Nobel Prize in literature for her book trio called “Kristin Lavrandsdatter” about the life a Norwegian woman in the 14th century. Here is Maddie beside her Nobel Prize medal and Ada beside a picture of Sigrid:

After getting a nice individualized tour of her home (which not surprisingly also had a green roof) and learning more about her,

I decided to read all three books (which I borrowed from the Delaware electronic library.) They were very well written (the newest translation is supposedly much better than the first one) and were historically accurate so you learn about life in Norway in the medieval ages. According to our guide, Sigrid’s father was an archeologist and she worked closely with the person who founded Maihaugen to learn more about life in the 14th century. Evidently, her novel is (still) historically accurate. The trio of books Kristin Lavrandsdatter which starts when she is a young girl and ends when she dies reminded me of Anna Karenina or Ellena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels. I highly recommend the trio.

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