February 2, 2016

Norway Pt 2: Ølnes

For part one of Norway click here.

At 9pm, under never ending daylight I docked in Sogndal. I'll go into Sogndal in a separate post, but let me tell you, it was such a cute and charmingly weird town! At the dock was a little cafe that sold ice cream and coffees and rented kayaks and paddle boards to Summertime touritsts, with a patio made out of pallet wood. Instantly I loved it.

The edge of the Fjord. This was a field we spent a whole helluvalot of time raking. You could almost ignore the aching muscles surrounded by this. 

Chiron and his scyth. There was a really hilarious inside joke that prompted this picture and involved ancient tool jokes, and finding the original scyth, so just trust me when I say it was hilarious. #justfarmjokes

Jana and one of the chickens.

In a boat on the fjord in a hat I literally found on the side of the road while hiking.

Gunvor, (not my grandma) and Sigurd. These people were so wonderful. They bought me peanut butter and coffee. (They apparently had to buy a stockpile of peanut butter when Americans came to stay, and I don't want to admit how many jars I went through.)

I had been told that my Host Mom would meet me at the docks, but I didn't really know what she looked like. I'd seen one picture of her on the farm's profile, but she was laughing and her head was thrown back, so I wasn't sure I'd recognize her. But as I made my way off the ferry I saw a woman who was a very scarily near twin of my Norwegian grandmother and just knew that had to be her. And it was! Gunvor, greeted me and introduced me to her companion Jana, a fellow WWOOFER and American. Jana and I spent the beautiful drive back to the Farm getting to know each other and told me there was one other WWOOFER, a guy named Chiron, who was from England, but had lived in Texas for the past five years. It took me all of 30 seconds to know this was going to be an amazing five weeks.

I mean, it was okay.

This was without a doubt my favourite spot in the whole area. A bridge over a rushing river leading to a waterfall. I walked here most days and it was just breathtaking and so damn peaceful.

The potatoe garden! 

The lambs Jana named Bradly and Bridget.

I would have been happy to build a hut and live here forever.

This was taken on July 4th. A little different from other July 4ths I've celebrated.

Walking through the wild woods of Norway really makes you understand the idea of trolls, dwarfs, and Huldra. There's a peacefulness that at first is wonderful, but after a few hours on your own, it becomes almost too peaceful. Beautiful, but also kinda creepy...

Flowers everywhere.

baby apples

This was taken at almost 2am.

My legs just do not take on any colour whatsoever.

We bought these flowers from the local nursery to plant at the headstones of my hosts family. This is apparently a big deal, at least in Sogndal. The cemetary was always full of people cleaning, planting, and tending to the headstones of their loved ones,even really old ones. It was kind of sweet. 

Ølnes is the name of the farm and my host's last name. They'd been there for I believe five generations and the only people in the world with that last name lived on either that hill (and had moved to Oslo), or lived in Minnesota. Talk about some stereotyping. The drive back along the Sognefjord was breathtaking and so calming. We passed little Cabins along the edge of the water, docks with small day use boats, and rolling hills of farmland. It was absolutely wonderful.

This hill a a lot steeper than it looks, and I hiked it every single bleeding day.

A Middag ice cream break.

Never ending piles of hay. Never. Ending.

And this is where I had my coffee every morning for two weeks. Not bad.

Our Chalet. Literally on the edge of the fjord.

Sleeping trolls under blankets of ferns.

This seemed like a good idea at the time, but oh my god so much dust. So much damn hay and dust.

A rare fancy day.

Waterfalls are my love language.

For some reason this is one of my favourite photos I took in Norway. That perfect glacial water.

The farm was made up of basically a mountain with a spattering of houses and cabins. My hosts farmed the land and lived there year round, while most of the other homes were their family's Summer houses, or rented out to people. So this meant that there was a very wide, varied cast of characters around all the time. There was an American man who'd relocated, a German couple and their daughters who'd relocated, a woman from Wales who'd relocated... Basically once you ended up there, you relocated.

This isn't a view you easily tire of.

Wild strawberries aka a treat to keep you going while endlessly raking. Fun Fact: I hate strawberries, but adored these little wild ones. So much sweetness in such a tiny bite. 

Just walking down the road and finding waterfalls. Funner Fact: This is what a Summer Drought looks like in Norway.

Hiding from trolls in weird lighting and realizing that 24 hours of sunlight does weird things to your hair.

Driving back from fields one afternoon and accidentally taking the most perfect picture ever.

This is a very steep hill. I raked it by myself. 

The main niches of this farm were the orchard (Apple, Cherry, Plum, and Pear), and the Sheep. They also had dairy cows. They also rented out the little 1-2 bedroom "chalet's" to tourists and hikers. I spent my time here raking hay in fields and cleaning chalets, baking cakes and picking berries and apples, playing with lambs and swimming in fjords. You guys, it was just so magical. Jana and I shared the basement of one of the other houses for a while, but moved into a Chalet once a family friend came to stay (another wonderful character from Germany), and got to spend a week and a half living literally on the edge of the Fjord. I had my morning coffee and toast covered in peanut butter and mashed up fresh raspberries (like, ones I picked that morning) on a bench outside watching the water mirror the mountains and sky around. It. was. magical.

At the top of the mountains. Halfso lake below and the little cabin with no modern amenities.

I do not lie when I say I ate like a king. Fresh fish, potaotes, veggies, sauteed leeks... I could do a whole post on the foods I fell deeply in love with.

Eggs, lox, shrimps, fruit, cucumbers, and lemon raspberry cake. I actually lost about 30lbs here so...

How much brunost does one fridge need? There is never enough brunost. (and I bye it at IKEA here.)

Mayo comes in these squeezable packets and it's not weird...

Raspberries the size of my thumb and sweeter than you can imagine.

Seriously, these were just perfection. Part of my job was to pick raspberries and make freezer jam. NBD.

Also, Vanilla Sauce, Cornflakes, mashed up raspberries = a magical delight

This was a care package from my Ma after my backpack broke. And also she sent me life essentials ie tortillas.

Back to those Raspberry patches.

This was the first time I'd seen the moon in two months. It did get a little bit darker than this.

Village below and Halfso Lake.

A late night cup of coffee. No, really. This was at like, 9:30pm or something.

I PAINTED THAT FENCE! And got massively sunburned in the process. But this magnificent meal after made it well worth it!

Apples in the rain

More gargantuan raspberries on what is actually the best carrot cake of my life. there were flakes of dark chocolate in it. I'm kind of a aficionado, and let me tell you, this ruined me for all other carrot cakes.

I made tacos (because duh) as a farewell to everyone and in case you were wondering cilantro is not called cilantro in Norway, it is coriander and took me three grocery stores to figure that out. Also, this incredibly tame Mexican food was too much for my Northern European companions.

Fyrstekake "Prince Cake." It's made with almond flour and filled with reduced prunes (I literally love prunes you guys). Jana and I made this and then I destroyed a part of it. But guys, it was so damn good. I dream about this stupid cake.

Okay, Before I go on with this, I was at the home of a couple mega environmentalists and they fed this to me, and it's a different culture and surrounded by sea. With that said, here's a whale steak. It tastes like beef with a lot of salt. It's delicious. 

I'm still pale after multiple sunburns and 24 hours of sunshine. 


Just a hop and skip from the farm were all kinds of hiking trails, including one that was from the Viking Age that local farmers made to escape Viking raids (this was before the Vikings discovered how much better it was to raid England). At the top of the Ølnes property was a Chalet with no running water, electricity or bathroom. There was an outhouse. surrounded by wild rhubarb... I did not trust that rhubarb. We (my host family, all the families that rented from them, some family members, and my fellow WWOOFers got to spend Midsommer up there grilling sausages and pork steaks (like omg, they were my favourite!), eating lefsa, and drinking Norwegian beer. The mountain overlooked Halfso Lake and we watched the bonfires around the lake's edge blaze into the never ending sunshine. Heaven.

Just wild giant raspberries and waterfalls

Songefjord boat rides.

Just little viking symbols

Farm Traffic Jam

Lichen on my favourite bridge

Remember this is a summer drought...

I genuinely have never been in a more beautiful place. 

Summer Tart Cherries.

This is Ølnes. My wonderful home for five weeks.

Fjord swimming after a day of hard work is actually pretty perfect.

This is the only surviving photo of this cool bed sheet swimsuit I made. 

Midsommer Bon Fires

This is an exorbitant amount of photos, but you guys, I constantly wish I'd taken more. So much of this trip is still so fresh and alive in my mind, even going on two years.  Ølnes was truly a place of magic. And not all the days were good. I ended up in tears several times, ached, burnt, was so exhausted, but I also looked forward to each new day. I don't think I will ever have adequate words to express how much I loved this little slice of perfection.


  1. Love reading these recaps, lady! I think you've sold me on adding Norway to our travel to-do list :)

  2. Hi, can I contact you through your email? I've something to share that might interest you.

    aarongrey112 gmail.com