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The Ancestral Trail

Finding Norway

By Carol EliassenPublished about a month ago 5 min read
Bergen, Norway

It all started with a phone call from one of our relatives in Norway inviting us to visit them in 2014. It ended up expanding to both sides of my husband's families located in Bergen and the other in Trondheim with a stay in between at the family home located centrally in the western fjords.

My husband had not visited Norway since he was a small child, so this was especially important to him. I personally had not visited any country outside of the United States, except for our North American neighbors, Canada, and Mexico.

We were both so excited and started planning our trip right away. Passports first, tickets second and then the fun began. What did we really know about Norway? The research was extensive (thanks to google), and by the time we finished, we felt we had already travelled there! With any local excursion in our country, we knew what clothes to wear, what to bring with us and didn't need to research much. This was so different.

Our relatives contacted us and said to leave it to them regarding our adventure in Norway. Norwegians are some of the kindest and most friendly people you will meet. Both sides of the family were going to make sure we saw the sights and tasted the hospitality of the Norwegian culture. We were stoked and couldn't wait for the time to arrive.

We boarded a 747 British Airways plane and deboarded in London due to an extra security check. There was a high terrorist alert in Norway, and I was picked to have a gun powder check on my hands. That was a first. Thank goodness I passed! Due to the extra security, we almost missed our connecting flight, but they waited for us, and the stewardess yelled out our names as she saw us running through Heathrow airport. We just made it, and they closed the door. It was now just over an hour's flight, and we would finally be in Bergen.

Coming down the airport ramp, the excitement surged with us seeing our Bergen family waiting. The day was just beginning even with jet lag. Our first stop, after dropping off our luggage at our cousin's home, was to head to the Bergen historic Bryggen Hanseatic wharf. The 2014 International Tall Ship Race Festival was in full swing with so many beautiful ships moored right at the historic wharf. We didn't plan or even expect this, so it was a wonderful surprise.

As we were walking around the docks and exploring all the ships, we were delighted to find a Starbucks in one of the old buildings to keep us awake until we could take a power nap later. Yes, we even bought Starbuck souvenir cups.

We packed a full day into visiting the sights of Bergen and for several days after we arrived. We bravely took the Ulriken cable car up to Mount Ulriken overlooking the beautiful city, with sights of the mountains and water. I must admit it was scary at first, but we loved the views after we landed on top of the mountain. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had their eyes closed going up.

Ulriken Cable Car

Another day trip had us take the Fløibanen funicular railway up to Mount Floyen that also overlooks the city of Bergen with spectacular views! Our family tour guides wanted to make sure we experienced everything Bergen while we were there. We crammed everything we could in two weeks!

Fløibanen funicular railway

After our initial stay in Bergen, we headed by car to the western fjords where my husband's mother grew up. It is a scenic area of a fjord village dotted with houses that are white, yellow, blue and red. The theme colors associated with the Scandanavian countryside. It was thrilling to stay in his mother's childhood home that his great grandfather had built in Gjerdsvika.

Ancestral Home in background

We immediately explored the countryside, took an enormous number of photographs by camera and with our mobile phones. We wanted to take back all the memories captured in pictures to remember the best trip ever.

Western Fjords

Before leaving, our last stop was a surprise trip around the fjord to view the midnight sun. We were told we could not leave the country without seeing it. Everyone said it was requirement to have at least one picture "holding" it in their hands. Of course, we were happy to comply.

Holding the Norwegian Midnight Sun

We sadly said goodbye and hopped on the Kong Harold ship headed to Trondheim. We would be staying with another relative on my husband's father's side of the family. We didn't think anything could top what we had seen so far. We were right because it was just as amazing as the first part of our trip.

Kong Harold Ship

While on the trip sailing the western shores of Norway, we captured pictures of waterfalls and high cliffs along the way. We now understand why many Norwegians, including my mother-in-law and father-in-law, chose Seattle to settle in because it was also surrounded by the ocean and mountains. As I like to say, the same but different. Could it have reminded them of their ancestral home? I would like to think so.

Waterfall in Norway

Trondheim was amazing as well. After leaving the ship we explored the city with our cousin as our guide, and then the next day we were on our own. Could there be anything we wouldn't like? No, not at all. Everything was exceeding all expectations.

Trondheim waterfront view

Nidaros Cathedral is in Trondheim and was built over a 230-year period. It was so enormous with so many architectural sculptures that were adorned to it. We were so overwhelmed from seeing it and after climbing the narrow, internal stairs to the top that we forgot to go to the tour below the main floor.

Nidaros Cathedral

We found our new Norwegian troll friend in front of one of the shops located in the town of Trondheim. He was the second one we encountered on our trip. One in Bergen and another one up the mountain overlooking Bergen.

Trondheim Norwegian Troll

The final week of our trip we did so much. We took an excursion down to the border of Norway and Sweden spending the night enjoying our cousin's cabin. We then ventured back to Trondheim to catch our plane back to Bergen. Our trip was ending, and we were flying home the next day.

Our adventure was filled with lots of fish and potatoes, meeting up with many different relatives to get a glimpse of the family and culture. We also met relatives from Askøy and took a tour of the old homestead of my father-in-law's childhood home as well as the school he attended, local shops, and the graveyard where ancestral relatives were buried. We even took a trip to see the King's castle! If we only had more time we would have ventured to Oslo. That trip is listed on our bucket list!

King's Castle

This was a vacation of our lifetime that we will treasure forever in our words and pictures. We connected with our northern European family. We made the right decision by travelling Norway and experiencing it. The only regret we have is not spending more time while we were there. Things have changed a lot since 2014. The Askøy homestead no longer exists, and the Gjerdsvika family home has been sold. Time changes things. We were lucky to go when we did, otherwise, waiting we would not have seen with our own eyes as much of the family history.

Where is your ancestral trail? We found ours in Norway!

travel photography

About the Creator

Carol Eliassen

I love writing, photography, painting, & crafts. I see myself being the "jack of all trades but a master of none!"

I may not be the best or have total perfection at everything I do, but I give it a good try no matter what and you can too!

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    Carol EliassenWritten by Carol Eliassen

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