Wednesday: another morning, another breakfast, another stab at reading the Norwegian news. Ironically, in the time zone confusion of travel I lost my duolingo streak, which was 70-something days. It’s well and truly lost now, as I feel like my language acquisition brain-power is better spent on human interaction and real-life reading while in Norway. I shudder to think how much work it will be to turn everything gold again when I go back to duolingo. I never did catch up from the last time the app updated and decided that I needed to relearn virtually everything.
And then it was onto a train to Lillehammer, where it’s even colder than in Oslo somehow, but not raining. Or not usually, anyway. I have been greeted by three amazing women here in the city of the ‘94 Olympics. Come to think of it, all the women I’ve dealt with this whole trip have been perfectly lovely, while the men have all been in their own way slightly off-putting. Hmm. Thankfully I am meeting with more women than men!
Anyway, this first of these here was Liv Gun, who showed me around the Hotel Mølla and told me about its history as a mill. This was followed by Cecile at the Art Museum, who showed me around with a passion that exceeded her English-language skills. Sidebar: I LOVE when Norwegians think they need to spell something for me and they struggle over how to explain å or ø. Or they think I need something like “finansavisen” defined. Easy-peasy.
Her tour took about an hour instead of the scheduled two, praise Jeebus, so I was able to wander the gågata of Lillehammer in the patchy sunlight, and eventually head back to the museum cafe for a coffee to wait for Camilla, with whom I will be spending a lot of time.
She took me up to the Olympic Park, where we rode the lift to the top of the ski jumps. She runs up to the park every Monday, and then walks up the 936 stairs to the top. And then dies, she promises. But I feel like even the run from the town would murder me. Still, something to aspire to. Like everything else built for the Olympics, it is still in constant use. Camilla said she was surprised that no one was jumping on the hills today. Because apparently that is a thing that can happen in summer.
After that we walked a bit more in the town before going to Lillehammer Bryggeri for dinner and a lot of beer and talk about beer. Wiggo, who told me endless stories about the property’s history, and everything else, was a total character. They make the beer there, using only the old method—only the three ingredients of barley, hops, and water. Quite different beers result, depending on method.
I napped a little while watching Lilyhammer in my hotel room (English subtitles not available in Norway on Netflix?) and then went up to Toppen for a drink. The bartender seemed surly. He carded me. Really?
On Thursday, of course, I had some more fish for breakfast. The restaurant of the Mølla Hotell is the old mill portion of the property (the rooms being silos, and Toppen, the bar, a thing added on). It has very thick walls and a nice atmosphere, for a chain.
Then I walked up to Maihaugen. The sun was out, and I cursed myself for wearing long sleeves as I sweated my way up the hill. In the end I think it was the right move. At Maihaugen I met Siv, who walked me through the (new and improved) Olympic Museum and the outdoor 1800s buildings that the place is known for. I actually couldn’t believe how many of them there were. There were also some re-enactors doing things like making grøt and playing a tricksy “gypsy” (cringe) who convinces people to give him food and things. There are two ponds, a small stave church, and so many brown buildings with grass roofs.
But the part of the museum that really sets it apart, in my opinion, is the collection of houses from the decades of the 20th century. There is no 90s house and no 30s house yet, though Queen Sonja’s childhood home has been promised. There isn’t even a clearing yet for the 90s house, though the house has also been promised (an old woman lives in it still). When the time comes, they will use modern methods to clear the plot.
The actor in the 80s house called herself Camilla, and was perfect. We chatted about Michael Jackson and TV shows while “I wanna dance with somebody” played in the background. Side note: one of the members of A-Ha is Norwegian? Having someone “at home” in the houses really literally brings them to life. What a trip!
Siv wanted me to have lunch in the cafe, but I felt I’d just eaten breakfast, and dinner was early on the schedule, so I just sampled their waffles. That meant that Camilla could pick me up earlier and we went to the Olympic luge track, which is used for tourist rides. Fun. Fast. Honestly not as much of a rush as I’d expected. But then I was bored by skydiving too, so take that with a grain of salt.