Hygge at Hardangerfjord

hardanger22There are some holidays that just linger in your memory as a great experience. Our stay in Ringroy, a small Norwegian town in Hardangerfjord in Norway last year was one even though it rained all the time we were there.

But as the locals say “There is no such thing as bad weather in Norway, only bad clothes!”

Our cosy apartment in Ringroy was in the basement of an old farmhouse which overlooked the fjord and had been in the family for generations. On arrival we found a welcome note from our hostess Irene to say she was sorry she would not be there to welcome us .She was sleeping in as she had had to get up at 4am that morning to deliver some of her pigs for slaughter!

On the table she had left a delicious tasting platter of local Norwegian food (smoked salmon, smoked ham, smoked pork, reindeer and brown Norwegian cheese) for us to try.

Next door was a small apple orchard laden with apples. Apple trees were planted in this area by English monks thirteen centuries ago and the strong local cider is famous.

In the late afternoon Iren, a lovely bubbly lady brought us some of her home smoked bacon to fry up for breakfast and filled us in on some of the local history and the best sights. We fried it up the next morning and inadvertently set off the smoke alarm. She dropped in again another day with some reindeer meat and stayed for a drink and a chat.

One of the biggest changes in this area has been the new Hardanger suspension bridge, the largest of its kind in Norway, which opened in 2014. The locals don’t mind paying the hefty toll (about $20) each time they cross it as it has made their life so much easier. Previous to that they had to catch a ferry which only went every 45 minutes and stopped at midnight.

It was raining the next morning but we enjoyed the view out of our window of heaps of porpoises cavorting in the fjord.

We had crossed over the Hardanger suspension bridge the previous day in the car but decided to do it again on foot. To access the walkway on the bridge we first had to walk through a small tunnel. From a distance the bridge looked misty and fragile suspended high above the fjord but this engineering marvel is solidly built and has a 1.3 km span with a tunnel at each end. It is one of the longest in the world.

Then on to the Hardangervidda Nature Centre in Eidfjord which was well was worth seeing. Here we watched a twenty minute panoramic movie of a helicopter flight through the fjords, between high mountains and canyons and over mighty waterfalls. Then we perused 3 floors of exhibits about the natural environment of this area.

Opposite the Nature Centre was a restaurant with a couple of goats grazing on its grass covered roof. (Hundertwasser would have approved!).We were told that the previous week one of the goats had leapt off it and run amok in the restaurant.

We went on to explore some of the local environment by car including the Verigsfossen waterfall. To reach it we drove up to the Fossli hotel .From there we walked along a short path with several viewing platforms to see the water cascading over the rocks far below.

The next morning it was raining again. But this did not deter us from exploring much of the local environment including a power station where power is generated by a huge waterfall.

The roads were narrow and winding so Neil and John did well to reach all these local landmarks.

We finished our sightseeing for the day with a 3km scenic river walk river in drizzly rain togged out in our merinos and raincoats.

Before dinner we headed over the road from our apartment to Irene’s boatshed carrying firewood and firelighters and built a fire in the open fireplace she had built in the adjoining shelter. She often comes down here to brew a cup of tea and relax,

We snuggled into the comfy old armchairs to enjoy some hygge, a genuine Norwegian good time, as we watched the wild weather on the fjord from our warm and cosy shelter until it was time for dinner.

We have enjoyed cooking our own meals in our apartment which has been much less expensive than eating out. There is plenty of fresh food in the local supermarkets and the bread especially is delicious with some great wholemeal loaves.

On our last morning we again awoke to the sound of the shower laden wind beating against the windows of our basement apartment and whipping the chilly waters of the fjord into a seething mass of whitecaps. It was an early start and by 8am we were on the road back to Bergen airport. We travelled via Voss and Anna on excellent roads almost half of which were in tunnels up to 7 km in length to reach the airport in good time to board our plane for the short hop to Copenhagen.

By Lyn Potter. Read more here.