Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Our family spent a memorable 12 days in Norway in August. Norway is a beautiful, large and varied country and there was no possibility to see it all in the time we had. Thankfully, we had Torunn on our side! She listened and delivered on our request for an active, adventurous vacation with our kids (17 & 19 years old), mixed in with some downtime. Our trip did not disappoint.

Torunn suggested a loop that included mountains, forest and the coast, as well as varied transportation (train, car, boat and ferry), so that we could experience a wide range of what Norway offers. The lodging were all boutique hotels and while they may not have had typical luxury amenities, they were full of charm, local food and character, and really lovely people.

After exploring Oslo, we took the scenic Rauma Railway from Oslo to Lillehammer, followed by a bus to Andalsnes where we climbed the via ferrata (a real highlight!) and e-biked up the switchbacks of Trollstigen Road. The train was supposed to go all the way to Andalsnes but recent rains had flooded the tracks, which required us to switch to a bus midway. Torunn’s office seamlessly took care of switching our train tickets before we even knew there was an issue.

Next we drove The Geiranger-Trollstigen Scenic Route to Valldal, where we stayed in the most beautiful chalet at Juvet. We enjoyed the quiet scenery but balanced it with a canyoning adventure. Don’t miss the cinnamon rolls at the cafe at the waterfall across the street!

We continued along the Scenic Route Geiranger-Trollstigen towards the town of Geiranger. Once there we caught the ferry through the Geiranger Fjord. The drive and the ferry allowed us to see a wide range of Norwegian landscapes. On the way to our next stop, we went horseback riding on Norwegian Fjord horses, one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.

Our last stop was the fishing village of Kalvag, where Torunn’s team arranged for a typical Norwegian shrimp dinner to be in our apartment at the Knutholmen Hotel for our late arrival. We went out on a fishing boat with a local fisherman, eating our catch for lunch on an island that is no longer inhabited (unless you count sheep!). We also tried the (very hot) sauna on the pier, interspersed with (very cold) dips in the water, and went on a scenic hike.

We truly enjoyed the beautiful landscapes, unique lodging and warm, welcoming people. Our itinerary was well-designed; Torunn and her team made sure we had a smooth trip that encompassed all of our requests covering every detail, including reservations at fantastic restaurants in Oslo. We hope to return to Norway to explore the parts we didn’t get to on this trip!!

A small group of longtime friends planned an Arctic Expedition trip close to 2 years ago. As we approached the time of the trip it turned out that we had more time and could spend a week in Norway. We considered planning this extra time ourselves and actually renting a car and driving from Bergen to Oslo. When that plan was discarded we looked for help in putting together a cross-country travel plan. Family members who had lived in Norway for a long time offered some suggestions to get us started. It wasn’t until we hooked up with Torunn that the plan took shape. The only requests we made in the beginning was to do “Norway in a Nutshell” from Oslo to Bergen. Two of our group of 6 were continuing on another cruise up the western coast of Norway starting in Bergen, so we already knew that Norway in a Nutshell was the only way for our friends to see more of the interior of Norway. Norway in a Nutshell was delightful. It was easy to move from one form of transportation to the next — 3 trains, a ferry, and a bus — and 12 hours later we were in Bergen.

Torunn’s office made arrangements for porter service to pick up our luggage in Oslo and deliver to the hotel we had booked Bergen — THAT was a fantastic idea. We had an app that laid out the whole trip — from June 30th – July 5th. The app contained the schedules, descriptions of what we would see, all tickets, contact information for Torunn’s team in case we needed to contact them, and contact names for outings and activities pre-booked for us. Everything about this trip was easy. We were comfortable, we were confident, and we were ready to continue our trip.

We spent a few days in Bergen sightseeing, eating and got ready to leave again. The ferry dock was around the corner from our hotel, which was very convenient. It was close to 4 very scenic hours from Bergen to Balustrade. Upon disembarking from the ferry we were met by our booked driver, who took our luggage for us as we walked the short distance to the historic Kviknes Hotel. Family owned since 1752, it is charming with beautiful views of Sognefjord, and an extensive collection of artwork and antiques. Our time there included a private cider tasting and lunch before Gunnar brought the car around and we headed to Fjærland to via Gaularfjellet — the Norwegian Scenic Route. This route was established in the 1930’s as a transportation route over the the mountains. Now it is a scenic alternative to the main roads. Stunning waterfalls, wild rapids, peaks and valleys.

We arrived at Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel in the late afternoon — another charming historic property from the 1930’s. This is where Sognefjord meets the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. The hotel is small, 15 rooms, committed to sustainability, supporting local farmers to supply the restaurant, with amazing views of the fjords. The hotel manager enjoys conversing with guests, telling the history of the hotel, and information about the local community. Dinner was included with our stay and it was delicious. The next day we were booked for a guided hike to Besshovden, where we would have a picnic lunch and view of Fjærlandsfjorden. The morning was pouring rain and we decided to pass on the hike. Instead we walked to the Norwegian Glacier Museum. The hotel manager had talked about the museum during pre-dinner drinks the night before — how it started, why it was established, what it means to the community. It was a fascinating experience, then we walked back to Fjærland for lunch. Later we were booked for a session in a floating sauna down the street from the hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow views of mountains, the lake, and glaciers (and a take-your-breath-away cold plunge into the lake).

In the morning, Gunnar gathered us up and drove us from the fjord to the mountains, to Geilo. Another scenic drive to a mountain resort and checked into Geilo Mountain Lodge.

This property was built in 1917, a private English home in the mountains. The lodge has an interesting history and the current owner and host, Jan, loves to share the story. Another fabulous dinner in a beautiful dining room with authentic English appointments. In the morning we were served a great breakfast, we walked around the area and village before Jan drove us to the train station to go to Oslo Airport. Another scenic train ride — terminated at the airport. We were booked into the Radisson Blu Hotel at the airport, which was so convenient for our morning flights the next day.

The trip that Torunn’s team planned and booked for us exceeded all expectations. More importantly, we never would have found any of those places ourselves. We are experienced travellers and most of the time we plan and book everything on our own. The decision that we made to engage Torunn’s office was so smart. We had one minor glitch — they were easy to get ahold of and they cleared it up immediately!!

Torunn quickly grasped our interests, desires, travel style, and preferences. She promised to connect us to the “real Norway.” This came to mean experiencing the spectacular environment, meeting people of all kinds, and learning about the Norwegian way of life. Our trip accomplished these goals in ways far beyond our expectations.

Norway is profoundly beautiful. The scope and diversity of our itinerary proved valuable. We could not stop taking pictures of the majestic fjords, omnipresent waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, the troll wall, and charming fishing villages. We also enjoyed cruise ports like Bergen, Alesund, and Oslo with their varied attractions and vibrant harbors.

Our interaction with the natural beauty of Norway was enhanced by Torunn’s clever use of variable forms of transportation. Targeted for just the right places, they included ferries, cars/drivers, fjord shuttles, buses, rental cars, and trains. Highlights were time spent on the water in fjords and the breathtaking Rauma train ride along the troll wall toward Dombas.

Weatherwise, we were lucky. No one could believe it but mid-June 2023 was unexpectedly sunny and warm. The hats, gloves, sweaters, jackets, and raingear Torunn had thoughtfully recommended packing remained in our suitcases the whole trip.

The people Torunn arranged for us to meet at various venues are special and memorable. They were warm, welcoming, informative, and above all, interesting. Among them is Sven, the entrepreneurial owner of Knutholmen in Kalvag who works harder to please his clients than anyone we have met. He became an instant friend. Fjord skipper Roy taught us about commercial fishing and graciously shared much of his life story, helping us learn what growing up in remote Norway is all about. Driver Per delighted in taking us to see a replica Viking ship. Dinner with Edith and Jon at their hilltop “summer pasture” cabin near Oye was a memorable experience filled with stories about Jon’s longtime mink business and special Norwegian delicacies to try, topped off with Edith’s handmade chocolates. Fjord skipper Daniel took us to his family guest house at Trandal where we were thrilled by the famous swing and braved deer-burgers and brown cheese ice cream, both delicious. Guide Britt, also an osteopath, was unusually informative and interesting. She took us on a delightful hike, showed us around the Tafjord village where she grew up, described her annual reindeer hunt, and escorted us to a friend’s guest house for a delicious lunch of deer lasagna.

Introductions to persons like these added immeasurable pleasure to our trip. But we also met many wonderful Norwegians while traveling, in shops, and even just seeking directions in the street.

Our hotels were superb and often historical. Without exception, they were situated in gorgeous surroundings and well managed with great service. The room types Torunn chose for us were perfect. Breakfast buffets were exquisite, and our included welcome dinners were delicious. Remarkable hotel staffers came from all over Norway and beyond. Each hotel was unique and memorable but our favorites were Knutholmen in Kalvag, Hotel Union Oye, and the amazing Storfjord Hotel.

The new-to-us comprehensive Trip Planner web app used by Torunn’s office made managing trip logistics remarkably simple. All the details and tickets were in one place. Thanks to Torunn’s colleagues Anja, Karin, and Mari, the chat feature made it easy to get questions answered and quickly resolve several minor hiccups.

As is evident, Torunn did indeed connect us to the “real Norway.” We will long remember this spectacular trip and the special people we met.

Torunn and her team planned a wonderful 3-week trip to Norway for us that we finished in June. We traveled from Oslo to Nesseby, which is past the Arctic Circle near the Russian border, spending 3 nights each in 7 venues. Torunn tailored the trip to our preferences which lean towards a bit of adventure and agri-tourism, and she provided some memorable experiences. In the north we stayed at a 2-room lodge run by a Sami fisherman and spent a morning crab fishing on his boat and an afternoon on an archaeological walk with his wife. He was an excellent cook and served foods he and his wife had caught, shot, or foraged from the landscape. He served the crab we caught in 3 different preparations, each of which was excellent. The next day we toured the area with a Sami reindeer herder. We also spent time on a small island well out in the Atlantic where we kayaked along the seashore to a lighthouse; foraged in Trondheim with a professional forager picking plants for our lunch; visited a dairy near Oslo producing a unique cheese product and advocating a more humane way to treat dairy cattle; and spent 3 nights at a farm with a gourmet chef specializing in dishes featuring fruit and vegetables from the farm.
We received very personal treatment from the hosts at our smaller venues and each of them indicated how much they valued their relationship with Torunn. There is no way we could have found these experiences on our own. The hotel and apartment selection in Trondeim, Inderoy, and Oslo was nicely curated as well.

Our wedding anniversary occurred during the trip and Torunn arranged a WOW Moment for us that was great fun. We were in Aurland at a farm set in a stunningly beautiful valley with steep mountainsides and many waterfalls. We were serenaded for our anniversary by a musician playing a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, a type of double-strung violin. The venue was a small shelter with a magnificent view, and we toasted ourselves and the trip with homemade pear Kombucha made by the chef. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Norway is a long country; it is farther to Nesseby from Oslo than it is from Oslo to Paris. Because we travelled as far north and to as many places as we did, we had several long travel days, mostly by train or ferry. Both modes of transportation travel through beautiful landscapes.

We recommend both Norway and Torunn’s team.

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