Norway travel news
New attractions from storms to Vikings
Cynthia Elyce Rubin
The Norwegian American
A new attraction in Voss opens in the summer of 2019. The new gondola replaces the Hangursbanen gondola that has been out of service since 2015. The lower station of the new gondola will be at the new hub at Voss railway station. From there, you can walk directly from the train or the bus into the gondola and be on the top of Mount Hanguren in seven short minutes. At the top you will enjoy the beautiful panorama landscape and good food in the new restaurant. Perhaps paragliding will be a possibility?
The Haugesund, Ryfylke, and Stavanger regions have gathered forces to showcase products and activities in the entire region under the concept “It’s Waterful” (itswaterful.com). In the south of Norway, you find short distances between contrasting nature experiences, delicious food, and Norwegian culture and history, all year round. The intention is to subsequently add on more products and activities into the same concept. For the first time, there will be a joint travel brochure for the south of Fjord Norway.
Go Fjords offers storm-watching tours from Bergen to the Fjord Coast from October to March. The region is the stormiest part of western Norway, offering an outstanding setting for storm watching. Storm watching is as much about the fascinating weather as it is about indoor fireplace snuggles and delicious food. The four tours are offered to Sognefjord, Knutholmen, Værlandet Havhotell, and Solund Leilighetshotell.
One example of a storm-watching trip with one night’s accommodation (NOK 2630):
Day 1: Travel like local commuters with the express boat that leaves Bergen in the morning, passing many attractive small villages on its way up the Atlantic coast before arriving at Smørhamn. The local bus takes you on the last leg of the journey to Kalvåg, where a hot lunch awaits you in Knutholmen Hotel’s pleasant restaurant. After lunch, it’s time for your storm-watching trip. Your guide knows all the best places to experience the best of the stark landscape and the best vantage points to see the waves crashing dramatically ashore. Feel your hair blowing around as you listen to the guide’s stories. In the evening, enjoy an excellent dinner in the restaurant. The package includes accommodation in a double room with sea views. On Day 2, after breakfast, head back to Bergen.
Kalvåg, once a busy center for herring fishing with several thousand fishermen, is now an idyllic fisherman’s village famous for its unbeatable seafood. But that’s not to say the place is entirely drama free. During the winter, storms roll in off the Norwegian Sea, hitting land hard. This means Kalvåg is a place where you can truly enjoy the sensation of rosy cheeks and the wind in your hair. Or, become acquainted with “real weather.”
A hike along the cliffs with a storm guide provides the experience of weathering a storm. Feel the wind on your body and experience the seething sea and thundering waves while keeping a safe distance from the impressive forces of nature.
Kalvåg is at its most romantic in winter, and the whole experience is topped off by fantastic food and boathouse accommodation at Knutholmen that blends the historical with the contemporary.
Sagastad Viking Center
The enormous Myklebust Viking ship will be launched on the Eids Fjord on April 27. This historic event happens almost 1,150 years after the original Myklebust ship last sailed the fjords. It began when archaeologist Anders Lorange arrived at Nordfjordeid to excavate a large burial mound called Rundehogjen, located on the Myklebust farm, near several other burial mounds. However, this particular mound proved to be special. It contained the remains of an amazing Viking ship and a number of high-status objects from the end of the 9th century. The lavish contents of the burial mound and the traces of the mystical rituals performed during the burial ceremony provide a fascinating insight into the way of life and worldview of Norse society in the Nordfjordeid over 1,000 years ago.
The ship in the burial mound was named the Myklebust, after the name of the farm. It was, however, overshadowed by the Gokstad ship, found in 1880, and the Oseberg ship, found in 1904. Both those ships were found intact as opposed to the Myklebust, which had been burned during the burial ceremony.
The size of the ship is known based on different findings: the first is the number (750) and size of nails. The size varied according to the placement on the ship and the length tells us how thick the planks would have been. The second is the large amount of ashes in the mound. The layer of ashes reached to the edges of the mound and in the middle there was a double layer. The third is the number of shields. In total, 44 shields were found, and it is believed they represent the number of the ship’s crew. Each shield would have been placed alongside the railing of the ship, giving an indication of the length of the ship. Based on these details, the estimated length of the ship is 30 meters or about 100 ft. This is larger than both the Oseberg and the Gokstad ships.
In the Viking Age, there were many ways to bury a person, but to be buried in a ship grave covered by a mound was a custom reserved for the powerful and wealthy. The objects found in the grave confirm this. The dead had a full set of weapons, jewelry, and gaming pieces. The most spectacular item was a Celtic bronze bowl that contained cremated human bones. All of this indicates that the buried person was a rich man, a central figure in the society, probably a Viking king. The Myklebust ship is therefore the ship of a king, a ship worthy of the last voyage to Valhalla.
In the autumn of 2016, new Viking history was written in Nordfjordeid and Bjørkedalen. After planning began in the early 1990s, the Sagastad Viking Center will showcase the findings and the history of the Viking Age in Nordfjordeid. Skilled and experienced boatbuilders from Bjørkedalen, a place with strong traditions in boat building, have reconstructed the Myklebust to its former glory. This will be the crown jewel at Sagastad Viking Center.
Cynthia Elyce Rubin, Ph.D., is a visual culture specialist, travel writer, and author of articles and books on decorative arts, folk art, and postcard history, who collects postcards, ephemera, and early photography. See www.cynthiaelycerubin.com.
This article originally appeared in the March 22, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.