I came to Norway to see the famous Norwegian fjords. But before seeing the fjords, I traveled through the amazing landscape of Oppland county and saw spectacular scenery.
LillehammerI knew Lillehammer was the site of the Winter Olympics and have been once the center of the skiing world and still a skiing paradise in the winter season. So, I was not that excited at going to Lillehammer in the summer. But it was part of the itinerary of this trip. Obviously, the scenery was totally different from the winter season. Lillehammer was surrounded by mountains, forests, and lakes. It was a gorgeous scenery nonetheless.
One of Lillehammer’s most famous tourist attractions was the remnant of the 1994 Winter Olympic ski jump venue, officially known as the Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena. Our guide said that the Ski Jump can be called the "New Lysgårdsbakkene" because there was an old ski jump that was built there in 1903 and other ski jumps that collapse in the year 1966. The top of the hill was a great area for taking pictures and seeing the whole panorama of the mountains across, the lake and the village. I went to the top of the hill by bus and I ascended more than 950 steps. The hill was divided into three sections (k-90, K-120 in skiing term I believe). I stopped at the first section to take pictures of the mountains across, the lake and the city. It got windy and cold by the mid-section. So, I had to go back up to get my windbreaker from my backpack that I left at the top. So not only did I experience descending the 950 steps, but ascending as well. The third section was connected to a trail, but I ignored the trail and continued on taking pictures of the lake, the bridge and the city accented by a cathedral. It may have not looked like a winter wonderland, but with a bunch of daisies, the view looked like a pastoral wonderland. From there, the steps plummeted straight down. I had no choice but to continue because the bus was waiting below. Lillehammer may have been once the center of the skiing world and still a skiing paradise in the winter season, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth cherishing in the summer. It was a charming village with great restaurants and one of the best hotels we stayed in on the whole trip to Norway.
LomI never imagined the fairy-tale landscape I saw in Lom. We had the view of the mountains towering over a village of brown-painted houses. Then in the town center, the beautiful natural landscape was accented by a medieval-looking church overlooking the turquoise river. We had a formal visit to the famous stave church and listened to the local guide talked about its history. It was built in 1158 and was extended in1600s. There were paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries with religious motifs, a few Runic inscriptions, and woodcarvings like the acanthus scrolls adorning the pulpit.
SogndalNext, we traveled to Sogndal via Sognefjellet, the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe through the dramatic Norwegian countryside. The scenery was spectacular that I nearly died (an exaggeration) from taking too many pictures inside a moving vehicle. Thank God my camera lens hit the window and not my forehead. We stopped at Boverdalen to drink to the glacier. Well, our guide kept offering us ‘aquavit’, the famous Norwegian drink as we enjoyed looking at or taking photos of the glacier. The spectacular drive continued, stopping at a lookout for another photo op of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier in the Jostedalsbreen National park, the largest glacier and national park in Europe. I got drunk not from the ‘aquavit’ but from the spectacular scenery of Norway's highest mountain in the Jotunheimen National Park.
(To be continued)
Press play and enjoy the journey
NOTE: All photos and video by the author