‘Norway in a Nutshell?’ You betcha!

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I’m going to Norway in September with my adventure-seeking daughter (the one who currently is on a 1,000-mile road trip to the Arctic Ocean through the Northwest Territories) and I’ve been trying to put myself in a Norske state of mind.

The trip to Europe was a surprise gift from my daughters for my 60th birthday three years ago, but it didn’t materialize then because my younger daughter had a baby, then my older daughter got married last year on a glacier in Alaska.

So when this year rolled around it was decided our “girls’ trip” would be reduced to just me and older daughter Heather.

We’re doing a “Norway in a Nutshell” excursion that includes a mix of fjord tours and cross-country train travel.

Most of my ancestry is Norwegian, as many of you know, and it’s a huge thrill to be going to the place of my roots. We’re not doing any genealogy sleuthing, per se, although a couple of the towns on our route are places where my descendants lived.

I’ve been bouncing around online in preparation, tapping into Facebook pages such as Visit Norway and Love Norway. What I’ve mostly found are photographs of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen.

I’ve picked up various bits of mostly useless information. For example, the world’s first salmon fillet ATM is in Norway, for consumers who need a fish fix but don’t want to stand in line at the grocery store.

I also know the history of ale bowls now.

Norway created the sport of ski-jumping in 1808 because they needed something else to do during those long winters. Fun fact, Norway has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other country, with 329 to date.

Since I’ve “liked” all of the Norway-related Facebook pages, I’ve been bombarded with offers of T-shirts for sale with catchy sayings such as “I may not be perfect, but I’m Norwegian and that’s kind of the same thing,” “You’d pillage too if all you had was lutefisk,” and “I make lefse disappear. What’s your superpower.”

I’ve also been trying to learn simple phrases in Norwegian, though I’m sure most of the tour guides and visitor-services people in Norway are proficient in English. Still, I think it’s respectful to at least know the basics in Norwegian — please and thank-you, and where’s the bathroom?

One blogger (self-described as one of Norway’s coolest bloggers) drew me in with an article, “What is ‘friluftsliv’ and where to find it?” The answer: friluftsliv means “out in the wild nature,” or “life in fresh air.” I believe I could easily get into friluftsliv.

Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers left Norway in the early 1900s for a better life in America, just like so many other thousands of Norwegians. I’m going there to see for myself what they left behind. My mom’s father died years before I was born, but I knew my paternal grandfather well because he lived with us on the farm in Minnesota. He bragged about his country, its extraordinary landscapes, superb craftsmen and its musicians. He returned just once, in 1963, to visit his siblings and other relatives.

I can still hear him singing “Kan du gleme gammel Norge?” as he sat in his rocking chair during his final years on our farm. Translated, it means “Can you forget old Norway?” The song was sung at his funeral.

He never forgot Norway, and now I’m feeling fortunate to be able to go there and make some memories of my own.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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