A burning desire to see newborn lambs and experience the Scenic Route Sognefjellet resulted in a perfect weekend road trip in Norway. Here's why you should seriously consider travelling in the low season (plus a tip for the perfect weekend road trip).
1) No traffic
We head out of Oslo at midday on Friday, and enjoy practically empty roads until we reach our first stop just as the sun is about to set. Goosebumps rise as we turn off to the idyllic village Solvorn; a picturesque valley covered in fruit trees and berry bushes, and where the cottages are as charming and well kept as in a fairy tale.
At the family run Walaker Hotel we were met with hospitality at a level rarely found in this rustic countryside. Fresh coffee is poured with elegance, and a request for beer is met with several options from the local microbrewery, served (naturally) in a matching glass. We watch the sunset from the porch overlooking the fjord and mountainscape, with vibrant tulips in full bloom. We stroll up to Eplet Bed & Breakfast and meet the owner, who cheerfully breaks off his football game to sell us some delicious juices made from blueberries he picked himself last autumn. An hour later we have reached Marifjøra, yet another idyllic fjord village. A bottle of excellent French wine is shared over friendly conversation with the only two other guests who have found their way to the historic Tørvis Hotell the same evening.
2) No rush, no crowds, no queues
We're woken by a ray of sunlight, and from our balcony we espy a farm high up on the hills just across the fjord. Let’s go! We ramble leisurely among grazing sheep and stop to chat to villagers out for their weekend exercise. We continue towards Nigardsbreen, where rumour has it you can find the country’s most delicious meatballs. Chef Laila at Jostedalen Hotel is flattered, and prepares the biggest lunch portions we have ever seen, with extra gravy of course. At the end of the valley, we leave the car behind and walk up to the base of Nigardsbreen glacier. This gigantic mass of blue and white ice is incredibly impressive – and can be admired from a safe distance. There's no one else in sight, just the two of us, the glacier, and time for reflection.
3) People have time for you
At Nes Gård, we are greeted with enthusiasm by the new young couple who have just arrived for the season. The guest house has a warm personality and despite its traditional style, the guests are all young ski mountaineers who have spent the whole day outside in perfect conditions. The warm atmosphere and community feeling is contagious, and we don’t want to leave.
The next morning we enjoy breakfast in the Tørvis saloon. Poets, philosophers, mountaineers and hunters have set foot here over the decades, and we pick out the few songs we know on the piano, before our Finnish hosts joins us for coffee.
4) Mind-blowing contrasts
We drive along the fjord on Scenic Route Sognefjellet and are amazed by how the scenery changes from verdant green to harsh white within minutes. The road across the mountain has only just opened after the winter, and we drive between towering cliffs of snow. At the top, we know that sculptor Knut Wold has placed an art piece – a square stone which is supposed to frame the landscape – and eventually we find it. Passing tourists take pictures through the stone in summer; we decide to be the first to enter it this season, so we dig a tunnel through it and document it with a picture. Time to move on.
5) Cute spring lambs everywhere
On the other side of the mountain, we reach my favourite village, Lom, where no one is ever in a rush and the dialect is so charming it doesn’t really matter what the locals tell you – you just want to listen anyway. Famous for its bakery and local food traditions, surrounded by hills scattered with timber farms, this is really worth a stop. We continue to the farm Nordigard Blessom, where the village vet and his wife run a bed and breakfast. We are invited in for local 'lefsekling' and brown cheese, coffee and – most importantly – to see the day-old lambs which we get to feed from the bottle.
From here, we cruise back home to Oslo, happy and content, ready for yet another week.
Norway – it’s just cooler!