Of Stave Churches, Ibsen and Skis

Trip Start Jun 20, 2004
Trip End Jul 05, 2004

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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

We set off on Betsy, our coach (Amanda christened her so) to the town of Lom to see a stave church. Now, the people in this tour group were extremely punctual. No wait, in fact they were more often than not early. We routinely set off slightly earlier than scheduled.

Stave churches are essentially constructed of wood without the used of any nails. Each wooden part are interlocked ingeniously. The church is constructed without windows initially and was very dark. Modern restoration and upgrades made room for some small windows to let some light in but that doesn't help much in brightening the interior. They don't allow photography inside this particular one, instead they sell postcards and books. No doubt trying to generate revenue aside from the entrance fees to maintain the church. We were met by a beautiful young Norwegian guide dressed in traditional Norwegian costume. She took about 30 minutes explaining the details of the church and how service was conducted hundreds of years ago.

After the church, we proceeded to Lillehammer. Those of us who opt to do the Maihaugen and Ski jump tour disembarked at Maihaugen Museum (http://www.maihaugen.no). Now, this museum isn't the usual displays housed under one roof. Instead it is an open air area that has a collection of traditional houses that can be found in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley (inspiration for Ibsen's Peer Gynt) the last 300 years. The Sandvig collection was founded by a dentist called Anders Sandvig in 1887. He traveled quite a bit and sought to preserved the houses for all to see. The museum was relocated to Maihaigen in 1904. What's interesting is that they employed guides who are dressed according to the period of the houses and role-play the appropriate lifestyle. Bakeries in the early 1900's were run by bakers dressed accordingly and sold traditional fare. A guide in a general store in a similar period would sell and explained the goods from that period such as old wooden cloth pegs, wooden buckets and etc. Craftsmen made and sell their wares, children played traditional games. We explored the houses that poor farmers lived in to houses of merchants. Each house has a guide that will explained who lived there and dished out interesting facts about their lifestyle and the layout of the house.

We moved on to the Lillehammer 1984 Olympic ski jump. Of course the highlight of this optional wasn't the ski jump but rather the Maihaugen Museum. Nevertheless, one interesting point about this ski jump is how it was constructed. Rather than building one on the slope of the mountain, they blew up part of the slope to form a concave along the slope and constructed the jump so that it flushes with the slope instead of having it jutting out making the scenery and eyesore. You know the drill folks. Take the ski lift up and view Lillehammer from way up and taking the lift down again. It's just another Ski Jump. We departed around 4.30pm and make our way to Lillehammer.

While our hotel was a beautiful Radisson Chain, It was very far from the town center. A good old 30 minutes walk. We took a scenic route to the town via a forest trail passing through streams and Norwegian flora. The town was mostly closed for the day at about 6pm. We walked through the nearly deserted main street save for some cafes and spotted a relic from the 1984 Winter Olympics a 3m tall stone tablet with the '84 Winter Olympic Mascot hollowed out. The other interesting feature was a pizza shop that has a humongous chimney about 3 times the shop's height. With museums and shops closed there really wasn't anything else to do and we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner was at the charming restaurant in the hotel where a buffet feast was provided. Conversations lingered around how far the hotel was from town and shopping (I can't believe the amount of shopping those Americans did). A Kiwi couple asked us what to eat in Singapore as they were transiting in Singapore before heading back the New Zealand. Nat, the Australian teacher recommended Steamboat and we tried to give direction to a good restaurant that serve that. We retired to our rooms at about 9pm with nothing else much to do. Chris was craving for something spicy and we asked for hot water and made a cup of curry noodles back in our room.
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