Following in the footprints of emigrants

Fotefar Temareiser takes Norwegians all over Europe, Russia, and the United States

Photo: Espen Mills / / Leikanger, where the company is located, is a very beautiful place to visit—but Fotefar Temareiser brings groups to other exotic destinations, such a Brooklyn, New York.

Photo: Espen Mills / /
Leikanger, where the company is located, is a very beautiful place to visit—but Fotefar Temareiser brings groups to other exotic destinations, such a Brooklyn, New York.

Lagertha Aslaug
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Fotefar Temareiser, a Norwegian travel agency, is spreading its wings and hosting its first tour to New York. The business is owned and operated by a father and son team, Rasmus and Yngve Sunde, and their office is located in Leikanger in the beautiful Sognefjord area.

I asked Rasmus about how the company started: “Our first trip was to the Midwest. I have a PhD in emigration history and many friends in the Midwest. Our first trip was to Moorhead, where a person had built a replica of a Norwegian stave church. This was in 1998 and we have arranged trips to the Midwest every year after.”

I was also curious about the company name. Rasmus said, “Fotefar means that we are traveling in the footprints of the emigrants, the Vikings, and so on.”

Office manager Toril Partenyi elaborated and explained the company’s focus. “We arrange tours in the footprints of historical Norwegians all over Europe, Russia, and the U.S. In 2015 we will arrange 20 tours.”

This March the group took its first tour in New York. Toril led the group. Prior to the trip, Toril described their itinerary as follows: “This particular tour to New York is a music and literature tour. We have hired Ragnar Hovland, a well-known Norwegian author, to go with us, and he will have daily lectures about New York authors and literature. We will also visit Harlem for gospel concerts and soul food, Greenwich Village to visit several jazz clubs, and we will experience shows and musicals at Broadway scenes. The people attending this tour are particularly interested in jazz, soul, and literature. Meeting Siri Hustvedt at the Danish club is a highlight at our trip, and takes us back to our main theme, walking in Norwegians’ footprints, as Siri has Norwegian ancestors.”

The group will also be having a half-day tour of Norwegian Brooklyn, led by tour guide Victoria Hofmo, President of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. Hofmo said that the group came by bus, which allowed them to see a broad sweep of what Norwegians have contributed to this area of Brooklyn. She added, “I plan to have them visit three social institutions/organizations that exemplify the Norwegian value of social responsibility; each institution/organization is going strong and has been serving the community for over 100 years.”

Hofmo also plans to have them visit the Brooklyn waterfront and Leif Ericsson Park. The tour will end at the Danish Athletic Club, where Brooklyn resident and author, Siri Hustvedt, will be interviewed, and the audience will have a chance to ask her questions about her probing work. This will be followed by lunch and then they head back to Manhattan. Local Brooklyn Norwegians were also invited to greet, meet, and lunch with the travelers.

I asked Rasmus what makes Fotefar Temareiser tours unique. “We are a small company and try to give good service to all participants. Also, history telling is important in our tours.” I concur. If you can take a trip whose itinerary encompasses your passion and puts it in a historical context for you, what could be better? So, hats off to Rasmus, Yngve, and Toril for the wonderful gift they have created for Norwegian travelers.

If you want to go off the beaten path, don’t choose any port in a storm or you’ll miss the boat and could even be taken for a ride. Travel with Fotefar Temareiser, for they will go the extra mile and you will be ensured smooth sailing. They will have you flying high into the wild blue yonder.

This article originally appeared in the April 17, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.