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An island called Bjergøy

 

While Chris’ family was in town our dear friends, Joanna and Johannes, invited us to join them for a weekend at their hytte (a Norwegian vacation home) on an island north of Stavanger called Bjergøy. As soon as Chris got home from his Arctic adventure we loaded up the car and made the gorgeous drive up there.

 

Norwegians LOVE their vacation homes and from what we’ve seen they escape to them quite frequently. Some are up high in the mountains and some are out by the coast. This particular hytte used Johannes’ family home where he grew up when he was a boy and it has remained in the family ever since. In fact their last name, Bjerga, comes from the name of the island (Bjergøy) generations and generations ago. Talk about some cool history in an absolutely idyllic place!

 

 

We swam in the fjord, we kayaked, we gardened, we laid in the sun, we picked raspberries, we played games, we grilled, we made s’mores with Reeses peanut butter cups, we had deep discussions about the intricacies and complexities of life and death, and most importantly we bonded with family and friends.

 

Nemi did NOT like the fact that we were swimming in the water and whenever anyone was out there she would leap in too and swim circles around us herding us together and keeping us safe. Such a good dog :)
Farkle!
Sampling the plums fresh off one of the many fruit trees on their property. Seriously so perfect. 
The growing baby bump! We still hadn’t broken the news to anyone there yet (including Chris’ family!) so I was all about the baggy shirts to try to keep it hidden until we were ready to spill the beans (even though we snuck in this one photo). Luckily no one noticed and I wasn’t so nauseous that I couldn’t hide it, although I later learned Joanna suspected. I suppose it was getting a little hard to conceal by that point! We finally told the Hills the night we got back from Bjergøy with a fun dinner reminiscent of the way Chris’ mom told his dad she was pregnant with Chris with “baby chickens” (aka cornish game hens). We thought we were pretty clever and it was fantastic to finally have it out in the open! Needless to say, they were pretty excited at the news :)

 

We absolutely loved our time with Joanna and Johannes that weekend and were so glad Chris’ family got to know them. Bringing close friends and family together always seems to create treasured memories and this time with the Bjergas will always be special for us. The Hills got a great taste of why we love it here in Norway so much: a peaceful atmosphere, beautiful scenery and truly amazing friends!

 

Aurland: The Quiet Place
Sometimes, it’s really good to just slow down.
Last time we did the Norway-in-a-Nutshell tour, we did the entire trip in one long day, rushing to see as much as we could in a short amount of time. This time around, we (mostly my parents at the time) decided to take things a bit slower and try lingering in one of the quaint towns lining the steep cliffs of the fjords. We decided to stay overnight in Aurland, a tiny little town perched on the edge of the Sognfjord with a population barely topping 1500 people. After doing a bit of research (i.e. a Google search of “What to do in Aurland”), not much came up and I was quite worried we were all going to be bored out of our minds an hour after disembarking from the ferry.
I really need to learn not to judge small towns by their Wikipedia pages. Aurland turned out to be fantastic! It was quiet, peaceful, and absolutely GORGEOUS, settled right there in a crook of the fjord. We spent the better part of our time there just wandering around the winding streets, checking out the darling neighborhoods, admiring the scenic views, eating ice cream, sitting on the docks watching the occasional ferry pass by, and just enjoying a place where time seemed to pause for a bit. No stress, no obligations, nowhere to be except present right there and then, enjoying our time together.

Plus, there actually was a surprising number of things to do and see, once you decide to accept the slower pace and just wander. We spent a good hour following a mouthwatering smell of baking butter and cinnamon across town hoping it was coming from a shop from which we could purchase said tantalizing treat. But alas, we ended up pastry-less at a dead end. We concluded it was probably a sweet little Norwegian grandmother lovingly baking up an heirloom family recipe in her rustic home kitchen. Her grandchildren were lucky souls indeed.

We checked out an old church built in the 1100s. It was the oldest thing Cameron has seen to date.

We walked around the cemetary for a while as Mom and Dad picked their favorite Norwegian names for our future children off of the gravestones. Odd, Ingeborg, and Sven were some of the top contenders.
The Aurland Fjord Hotel where we stayed the night.
The kid in the middle spotted the camera around Chris’ neck and kept trying to ask in Norwegian if he would take a picture of him. When we finally figured out what he was asking he grabbed his friends for a “PHOTOSHOOT!!”
Getting an up-close look at the making of a beautiful blown-glass bowl at Merete Rein Glasblaseri & Galleri.
Did you know Aurland, Norway is apparently the histoic home of the penny loafer? How’s that for a random fact to stumble upon on your vacation! Originally called the Aurland Shoe, it is still handmade at the…you guessed it… Aurland Shoe Factory. Someday this will be the million-dollar question on Jeopardy.
I mean, for real guys. Does it get more beautiful than this?
I think my dad described it best the next morning when he told us how, after waking up for a bit in the middle of the night, he sat by the open window and just listened to the dark midnight silence. We don’t experience peace and quiet often enough in our daily lives I think.

 

Mini-Road Trip Weekend

We had a really nice weekend! I hope you guys did as well!

Friday night Kolie and Josh came over for dinner and Killer Bunnies. Kolie killed everyone else’s bunnies….so she won. Again…

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I didn’t have any cake orders this weekend so I wanted to make the most of Saturday. We had originally wanted to rent some kayaks or possibly go for a sail, but we woke up in the morning to pouring rain. Ah Norway.  I absolutely did not want to stay at home, so we decided to go for a drive out to the candle factory. Miraculously, it stopped raining and the sun peeked out a bit while we were there! We were even able to eat some ice cream and lefse (Norwegian cinnamon pancake-sort-of-things) out on the porch! I know…whoah.

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Since the weather was better and we didn’t really want to go home,  we decided to keep on driving east to possibly make it to Lysebotn, the tiny town at the very end of the Lysefjord. Julie and I had tried to make the trip when she visited back in May, but the road was completely blocked by snow. Yep…you read that right. Blocked by snow in May. Thankfully we were snow-free in August. If we weren’t I would immediately move to the Caribbean.

The most exciting thing to see/do in Lysebotn is to drive the Lysebotn Road AKA one of the most amazing roads in all of Europe. Seriously. Google “Amazing Roads Europe” and it’ll show up on almost every list.  It’s a narrow road climbing straight up the side of the fjord with 27 hairpin turns (plus 3 inside a tunnel!) and is the only way to drive into the town from the southern side of the fjord (there’s one other road going up the other side to the North). In the winter, the only way in or out of the town is by sea. Here’s a postcard with a picture from a better angle than we could get:

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It was pretty awesome, although for the sake of our plucky little station wagon I was glad we were going down, not up :)

We got to Lysebotn right as the last ferry of the day was loading up, so we decided to take the ferry through the Lysefjord instead of taking the 2.5 hour drive back. It was a fantastic choice! We saw Kjeragbolten and Preikistolen from below, some seals (well, Chris did…I was buying some hot dogs (pølser) for dinner. We didn’t realize we were going on a road trip when we left and came horribly unprepared), and got to admire the beauty of the fjords as the sun was setting.

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Not bad for a Saturday afternoon :)

 

Kayaking

Once we got bit by the sailing bug, we couldn’t wait to get back out in the fjords. Since we couldn’t take out the sailboat on our own, we opted to take up kayaking instead. Chris has been before, but this was my first time. We can’t wait to take what we learned and get back out as much as we can this summer!

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