I wrote this like two weeks ago but never got around to posting it. Here it is!
This past weekend, I spent time in a mountainous area of Norway called Telemark.
We started our trip with a tour of the largest Stave Church in Norway, the Heddal Stave Church. This extremely large church was built in the 1200s and is STILL in use today (but only in the summer because they don’t have heating). The church had some amazing history which I nerded out about. I also noticed (and loved) how proud Norwegians are of their history. They don their brunad and proudly describe the culture and history of the area miles around.
My favorite part of the Telemark trip was actually all of the time we spent in the bus. I had so much time to watch the scenery and just think. And the scenery in Telemark allows one to think about a lot-how big this world is, how small I am-it was existential.
After the Stave church we went to the Vrangfoss locks. This was the part of the trip I was most skeptical of. I kept saying to my friends…are you kidding me? My excursion includes boat watching-how lame! And while the locks were not my favorite part of the trip, I realized they weren’t that bad. They too held lots of history as they are one of the oldest sets of locks in Norway. They are still man run without the help of machinery.
We drove more after the locks and headed up in the mountains to our overnight accommodations. Our night at the lodge was probably my favorite part. We had a great dinner, then hiked, canoed and sat around a fire. I was one of the only people on the excursion who has canoed or built a fire so I got to use ALL of my camp counseling skills (shout out to Sugar Creek!!). It was such a relaxing night and made me miss my nights on Riverboats last summer.
On Sunday of our trip we headed to the town of Rjukan. This town is unique in that September-March, they are so far down in the valley that they do not see the sun. The locals have came up with so ways to deal with this. Including a cable car, the Krossobanen that goes to the top of the nearest mountain. At the top there is all sorts of hiking trails. We spent over an hour explore and found a beautiful waterfall that we could drink from. We had plenty of time to take adventure selfies.
After that we went to the Vemork museum. This museum was added to the UNESCO world heritage list last year. It has interesting history rooted in WWII and the occupation of the Nazis. As a WWII history buff I really enjoyed myself.
So that was my trip to Telemark! Before I left, I had a bit of a bad attitude about the trip, I even considered skipping it to stay in Oslo with friends. But, I am so happy that I forced myself to go and to be positive about the experience because it turned out to be an amazing weekend exploring a part of Norway that I wouldn’t have otherwise. So lesson learned: stop complaining.
Now, I am headed into my long weekend. I am spending five days in Berlin with three other Peace Scholars and two of our friends that we have met at ISS. Look out next week for highlights from our trip! (This blog will be up at some point…I still have to write it).