Whenever you ask for a private site with e-mail addresses and other personal information, I'll create one for that purpose. Then we will need a password to allow our personal identities to be protected so that contact information can be made available on-line.
No, this is not a porn site, you will have to look elsewhere for that.
This is the earliest attempt to allow continuing contact between the 44 members of the Brekke Tour of Norway led by our marvelous guide Mari Anne and our driver, Mikjel. We all loved our tour, and many of us are married to spouses of Norwegian heritage, hence Norwegian Lovers. (What a surprise to learn that Brekke Tours is headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota.)
Thanks to Kim (email@example.com) for sending a copy of our itinerary so that we can know where we were supposed to be going on any given day. This will allow us to coordinate our pictures and accounts besides giving correct spelling of unpronounceable names. A textual version is included below, on this page, and the attached "doc" file has several pictures.
You can send me an e-mail to indicate your interest and to establish contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We've already heard from Vicki (of the Scrabble crew) and four others.We desperately need a group picture that can be posted here and labeled with first names (if desired).
Mari Anne and Cynthia both recommend reading the novel "Kristin Lavransdatter," a trilogy by Sigrid Undset, the first woman to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1928. You can purchase the novel using this link on Amazon.com:
Liv Ullman directed the movie Kristin Lavransdatter, and the film won the 1995 film festival award. Again, you can purchase the movie using this link on Amazon.com:
We built this site is to provide links such as this: Ron and Cynthia's blog at whereisronnow.blogspot.com and links to collections of photos from the trip (Cynthia and I use Picasa, a free Google product; see our Wedding Photos in the sidebar at left).
The Scrabble crew is marvelous; family Scrabble without rancor, a real treat to see.
Cynthia and I continued travelling to Stockholm and enjoying all-we-can-eat breakfasts similar to those that engorged us all on our tour (although we eat closer to 9AM now). If anyone can brag of not gaining weight on tour, please inform us.
Already this site needs another page for the Brekke tour schedule (at end of page) and another for my reminiscences (following immediately).
The food on this tour was wonderful. Marvelous buffet breakfasts with omelet chefs were always included, most dinners were included and outstanding. Lunches were usually "grab as you can" and difficult for Cynthia and I on our no fat, no sugar diet. Mari Anne was a veritable angel for us, always firmly insisting that we receive meals appropriate to our diet no matter what.
Cynthia and I arrived in Bergen, Norway on 24 July via train from Oslo. The train ride was quite pleasant and smooth, the scenery spectacular with lots of rocks, water, and greenery, punctuated by a few houses here, there, and everywhere. The train even climbed into an alpine area above snow line. There was a dirt track road alongside the train for miles and miles, a popular bicycling route, but one wonders, "How did those bicyclists get here?" since no other road was apparent. How does a country with only 5 million inhabitants afford so very many tunnels through solid rock?? The rail journey did not even come close to matching the hyperbole printed in the Bergen Guide, "one of the greatest train journeys in the world."
After meeting Mari Anne and our tour group and enjoying our first excellent group dinner at the Radison BLU Royal Hotel, Cynthia and I wandered out for a short walk, noticed the tall ships in the harbor, and were informed by a local cop that the old part of town was quite a long walk (which was a total lie). Since the room was warm and I had energy to burn, I promptly set out alone without a map and got happily lost. It was perhaps 10:30 and light was beginning to lessen, but it shouldn't be dark until nearly midnight, so I enjoyed walking steeply up hill towards Johanneskirken, a very impressive old church. After turning right, I found the ideal spot to watch the sunset colors, somewhat downhill from the summit. After 10 minutes sunset meditations, I continued down and leftwards until I found a marvelous wharfside restaurant with the best view across the water to the sunset. (Up that far north, sunset can last literally hours.) Thank goodness I finally asked a young passerby if I was headed toward the tall ships. No. The return trip via a slightly different route was quite quaint along narrow streets with tight turns and steep inclines. Arriving at the harbor, the broadside view of the largest (Russian) tall ship was IMPRESSIVE.
25 July: The next day our tour began in earnest, arising early at 7AM, packing by 7:30, and boarding the bus by 8:30, an ENTIRELY UNNATURAL behavior for Cynthia and I. Our tour began in old Bryggen (the wharfs) mere blocks from where Cynthia and I were told that it was too far to walk. At different times in the past, Bergen has been partially or totally destroyed by fires, a story we were to hear time and again about different cities in Norway and Sweden. The surviving old town buildings number only about 12 dating back to 1702 when German merchants ran the shipping and trading. This historic "old town," with cobbled streets and very narrow alleyways, has be re-purposed into a collection of shops for tourists including rustic or portside restaurants. Old town includes several historically accurate reconstructions in addition to the 12 ancient buildings. Throughout our tour, Mari Anne entrusted us to local guides. This delegation provided employment for locals as well as improving our education. If the local guide neglected anything Mari Anne felt to be important, she told us about it on the bus afterwards. When our Bryggen tour was finished, we were given a mere 45 minutes to find food, nearly impossible for our diet, but we walked past the tall ships and into a delightful restaurant, Bryggeloftet & Stuene, that fed us wonderfully and easily.
Next stop Troldhaugen, the home of composer Edvard Grieg was unexpectedly pleasing. The house and furnishings are old, dark and small, but entirely authentic. His "composer's cottage" was a delightful airy space with a great view of the lake. I found an obscure pathway to a lovely isolated spot on the shore. Grieg's tomb is down a different path to the lake, and he is entombed in the rock above the path. That path continues onto a tiny rock island, and several of our group ventured out.
We backtracked through Bergen en route to Voss because the usual route was closed for repair. As usual in Norway, our route passed through dozens of tunnels and always near rocks and water and forest. At Voss we all boarded a train for Myrdal, and Cynthia and I experienced deja vu, seeing the same sights as two days earlier, the same alpine meadows, sheep, bicyclists, and rocks (of course). At Myrdal we changed to the train to Flåm and descended down sheer cliffs and across several watercourses to the Songeford. The train stopped only once, at an impressive waterfall (Kjosfossen), and Mari Anne warned the women to hold tight to their men because at the far left of the platform men were known to be overcome by the call of the water nymphs and be forever lost. Once the train was emptied and I was situated at the far left (with Cynthia nowhere near), an alluring, dancing sprite appeared, gracefully keeping time to enchanting music. This was one of many times on the tour that Mari Anne exposed us to Norse mythology and pagan beliefs. Needless to say, I was not lost to the call of the Sirens. Continuing downhill, we pass another impressive waterfall, Rjoandefossen. We spent the night in Flåm at the Fretheim Hotel and enjoyed the second of many wonderful dining experiences.
"Tomorrow" has finally come. Cynthia found a copy of The Official Guide for Bergen and the Region entitled "Bergen, The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway." If you'd like me to send it to you for your collection, send me an e-mail asking for it. The Guide mentions several places that would have been great fun nearby and south: the Ulriken Cable Car, the Folgefonna National Park with glaciers, the Hurtigruten coastal express, the Fjell Fortress, the University Museum of Bergen, the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and the surrounding seven mountains with miles of trails[RSB URL]. It also advertizes the Chamber of Commerce which exchanges currency and sells a Bergen pass honored by most public transportation and many museums.
It was a surprise to see frequent bus stops along every highway in Norway. Obviously public transportation is well supported and well used.
It was also amusing to see many roofs growing grass; we were told that, properly installed, a grass roof is water tight and can last for 20 years. Proper installation requires 1st a layer of bark atop the roof, followed by sod laid grass down, completed by a second layer of sod laid grass up.
26 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that we rode the bus Flåm to Loen, Norway. En route we took a ferry ride across the Sognefjord, lunched at Skei, visited the Jolster Glacier Museum and the Jostedal Glacier, the largest glacier in the European continent. Seeing the glacier up close and personal was amazing. Pictures don't really capture the magnificent color of the Norwegian countryside nor its rich red buildings against many shades of green. The waterfalls today were splendid. We passed by vistas of the lush Gudbrandsdal Valley, the setting of Ibsen’s drama Peer Gynt, and some of the oldest farms in Norway. We arrived early at the Hotel Loenfjord and opted to take a walk. The heat was stifling, so we cut the walk short at the Loen Church, a tiny church with history dating to early Christianity and a unique carved pulpit that dates to 1640. In the forefront of the church yard cemetery is a 1000-year-old cross. Loen is a fascinating little community with Europe's longest suspension bridge The rapids on the river are near enough to provide a continual background susuresence. The windows of our room opened wide, and we were cool at night for the first time in Norway.
27 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that we rode the bus from Loen to Molde, Norway, then transferred to a cruise ship up the Geiranger Fjord, during which time we sat spellbound watching the waterfalls and seagulls, re-boarded the bus to another ferry and on to the Trolls Road, climbing high above the tree line on hairpin curves. On the Trolls Road, at a hairpin turn, a Russian truck pulling a camper provided some excitement by first failing to stop short enough to allow our bus to complete the turn, then attempting to pass on the left until nearly striking the bus mirror, then jack-knifing while backing up, and finally narrowly passing on the inside right. The waterfalls were in abundance. Two more ferries, and we arrived at Molde, Norway (city of Roses) for dinner and the evening. The view from our room is spectacular, like floating on the water.
28 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that the Norwegian Alps of Molde to Bud, were spectacular, and we were awed by the historicity of the German bunker from WWII in this tiny, remote fishing village. The lunch of delicious fresh Atlantic salmon filled us completely. We drove to an interesting island over a very unique bridge before returning to the highway through Eide towards Trondheim and our Radison BLU Royal Garden Hotel, again a VERY nice hotel. As in Bergen, Cynthia collected a tourist brochure from Trondheim which also tells of many interesting things thereabouts.
29 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that we enjoyed a Trondheim Tour in the morning including panoramic views from Kristiansten Fortress (did we visit the Trøndelag Folk Museum?) and ending at Nidros Cathedral, where we found services in progress with marvelous choral music. For lunch we crossed over the Nidelven River on a pedestrian bridge to the Solsiden district and found marvelous food at Cafe Nyfiken. We next walked to Avis to arrange car rental for the drive to Stiklestad, and the clerk parked the car across the street so that we could retrieve it in the evening. When we realized that the car had room for more people, we soon talked Linda, Anne and Barbara into buying tickets and joining us. Soon after, Ron went for a walk to exchange dollars for Norwegian Kroner, and was sent several blocks to one bank and from that several blocks to the next bank ... until a mile or more later, the fourth bank told him that "no bank in Trondheim will exchange money because there is no money to be made in the exchange." His reply - "then I just won't spend anything here." Cynthia left Ron to wait for the girls while she retrieved the rental car. Imagine her dismay to discover a manual shift! DISASTER loomed. Cynthia raced across the street to Avis only to discover they were closed for the day. She raced to towards the hotel and encountered Ron who said he could not remember the last time he drove a stick shift but he would try. Ron, the HERO, soon arrived at the hotel with the car to pick up four lovely, happy women waiting. His requested payment was a kiss from his beloved wee-fee. We arrived in Stiklestad hours before the ticket office opened for the famous outdoor drama and musical presentation of the Martyrdom of St. Olaf, so we ate dinner and enjoyed a three hour wait to watch the drama in Norwegian. Volunteers from the best of Norway's musicians and singers volunteer for the event which is heralded as the finest and proudest accomplishment for Norwegians. The colorful and masterful event ended at one PM with none of us the wiser except we knew King Olav Tryggveson was martyred. A year after martyrdom, he was named a saint. Our drive home was not eventful, arriving at 3:30 AM!
30 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that the WORST part of today was the wakeup call at 7 AM at the Radisson Blu Royal Garden. We enjoyed breakfast with Lars S., a Forest Finn descendant Cynthia met through the Swedish Colonial Society, whose business is library design. At 9AM almost promptly, except for Ron two minutes late, we departed for Stiklestad to learn what actually happened during the drama last night; we toured recently built look-alike Viking buildings and learned about the Viking age. Imagine our chagrin upon arriving in Hell; Cynthia could not get in and they kicked Ron out. Somewhat awakened we arrived at three PM in Selbu, a romantic, historic hotel in the mountains with cool breezes blowing, rain falling, but not so much we could not take a short promenade to the Grillplasse. The photos below are from St. Olav's Drama, Nidadros Cathedral (we entered the morning service as the liturgy was being chanted), tour of Stiklestad, Ron in his Long House. The wealthy farms are breathtaking palettes of gold, green, red, brown.
31 July: Cynthia's blog entry relates that Selbu, (http://www.dehistoriske.com/hotel/selbusjoen-hotell/) Norway- Røros, Norway. The hosts at the Selbu Hotel surprised us with a large tray of fat free bread hand made by the owner's wife. How nice is that!!! We will add links to the hotel later. The first stop was a farm museum for immigration. The farmer owner impressed everyone with his craftsmanship and humor as he pointed to a glass wall with curtain panels of Norwegian handwork saying, "The men will push the curtains aside to look outside while the ladies close the panels to admire the handwork." We drove through Tydalen, above the tree line, saw three reindeer. We arrived in historic Røros. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Røros), the old wooden mining town, founded in 1644, has recently won UNESCO's World Heritage list with it's well preserved buildings begun when copper and zinc ore were discovered. The first stop was the bakery which surprisingly had fat free bread. After checking into the Roros Hotel, we had a walking tour through the beautiful old church, the downtown, and past centuries old homes. We are being well fed!! SELBU, NORWAY, FARMER'S IMMIGRATION MUSEUM:
1 August: Cynthia's blog entry is Røros to Lillehammer, Norway. The fresh, cool mountain air made a splendid night's sleep. Our first stop was to take photos high above the tree line where a neighbor Isn't. Ron was surprised to see Cynthia follow him across the boulders to the overlook for photos. Our lunch stop was breathtaking in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley at the centuries old Sygard Grytting Hotel. The hotel has been famous since the 13th century (and in the family since that time) for worshippers making pilgrimages to Trondheim's famous Nidadros Cathedral. Finally, our arrival in Lillehammer, the site of the Olympics some years ago. The pictures don't begin to tell today's story.
2 August: Cynthia's blog entry is The drive from Lillehammer to Hamer to Oslo was breathtaking. The first stop in Hamer at Norway's Crystal Cathedral was incomparable and inspirational because of the young guide's delightful personality and marvelous voice. She sang two songs using a difficult vibratto style traditionally used in Hamar and Telemark. We were not surprised to learn she has been accepted at the music conservatory. We were very surprised to learn Norwegian women wore silk dresses (on rare occasions - very rare). They washed the silk and dried it on their bodies so it would show off their figures. And the wealthiest class liked transparent fabrics. The class system was very much alive in Norway with farmers being the first class. Yet, Cynthia cannot imagine her ancestors wearing low-cut empire style dresses even if the boobs were not important. The pictures will tell the story of an amazing glass structure that houses the ruins of a 1200 AD cathedral destroyed by the Swedes (the guide said, "We know they did it! We have the proof!") We toured houses dating to 1600 up to 1800 AD before traveling on to Eidsvoll to Norway's Constitution Hall - and Carsten Ankers home , the pride and joy of the Norwegian people. The guide gave us a tour of Anker's Romanesque style house where symmetry reigns supreme; representatives from all of Norway met there for six weeks in 1814 to draw up and to sign the Articles of the Constitution 17 May 1814 declaring Norway's independence. So proud are they of their country they willingly pay about 50% income tax; or so we are told. We arrived in Oslo about 4:00 PM and had to bid adieu to Mickel, our skillful, cheerful and handsome bus driver. (He has to go home to prepare for a visit by his sister and two nieces ages 4 and 7. He will be a busy uncle for a bit.) Ron greeted several of the new best friends at the Grand Hotel, bellboys, desk clerks, waitresses and the Maitre D'. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Grand Cafe with Ann and Linda before Ron walked with them to the bus station. Despite the cost of hotel laundry service our clothes are being laundered. Good night from the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway; Cynthia recorded video: a You Tube presentation from the cathedral: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS-YAKgMo70:
3 August: Cynthia's blog entry is Another lovely morning in Norway! Wonderful that we did not have to pack up by 8am, although we still had to breakfast early to catch the 9am bus. We all miss Mickel, the BEST bus driver! Our Oslo tour was excellent. We stopped at the Vigeland Sculpture Park, Norway's most popular tourist attraction, followed by most interesting visits to the Norsk Folkemuseum, and then the Viking Ship Museum. Pictures will be posted. Cynthia was greatly excited to see the stave church that was moved to Oslo from Hallingdal, Cynthia's ancestral home; here is a link to that image: http://gilbertgarage.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/stave-church.jpg. Without a doubt, Mari Anne, our tour guide has been the best part of the trip. Today we celebrated her 70th birthday along with her daughter and two beautiful and delightful grandchildren who joined us for today's tour and this evening's Last Dinner.
4 August; Cynthia's blog entry is The Last Breakfast, Good-Byes with Hugs! Some of our new friends are departing for the US today; some are extending their stay to meet with Norwegian relatives. At 2 PM if it is not pouring rain, we will walk about 5 miles RT to visit Thomas, Ron's Norwegian friend from Santa Fe many years ago; Ron and Google searched the net to discover his whereabouts in Oslo.
More to come "soon."
Norway: Scenic & Historic
July 23 – August 4
A scenic and historic journey encompassing Oslo, Lillehammer, Trondheim, Voss, Bergen, the Atlantic Ocean Road and Norway’s awesome fjords.
DAY 1 WEDNESDAY, JULY 23
Mpls/St. Paul—Bergen: Depart the USA on your transatlantic flight. To request alternate dates or for estimated airfare supplements from other US cities, please note on application.
DAY 2 THURSDAY, JULY 24 [D]
Bergen: Arrive at Flesland Airport Bergen. Transfer to hotel in city center. Balance of day free to relax and adjust to time change. Welcome dinner and overnight at the Radisson BLU Royal Hotel.
DAY 3 FRIDAY, JULY 25 [B,D]
Bergen—Voss—Flåm: Morning sightseeing tour includes a visit to Troldhaugen, the home of Norway’s internationally-known musician, the late Edvard Grieg and a walk through the historic Hanseatic Wharf (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Drive to Voss. Transfer to the Oslo/Bergen Railway and continue to Myrdal and board the famous Flåm Railway, ranked as one of the top 20 train rides in the world. Enjoy breathtaking views and the thundering sound of waterfalls as we descend 2800 feet within 13 miles from Myrdal to the Flåm Valley. Arrive in Flåm for dinner and overnight at the Fretheim Hotel.
DAY 4 SATURDAY, JULY 26 [B,D]
Flåm—Loen: Drive through the world’s 2nd longest tunnel (15.22 miles) from Aurland to Lærdal. Ferry across the mighty Sognefjord from Fodnes to Mannheller. Opportunity to purchase quality crafts and woven products at Audhild Viken’s Weaving Workshop in Skei. Dinner and overnight at the Loenfjord Hotel.
DAY 5 SUNDAY, JULY 27 [B,D]
Loen—Geiranger—Molde: Cruise the Geiranger Fjord from Hellesylt to Geiranger. Travel the “Golden Route,” ascending the Eagle Road and continue to the famous Troll’s Path with its steep and narrow hairpin bends. Proceed to Molde, the “City of Roses.” Dinner and overnight at the stunning Rica Seilet Hotel.
DAY 6 MONDAY, JULY 28 [B,D]
Molde—Trondheim: Drive the Atlantic Ocean Road with the vast and boundless ocean on one side and majestic snow-clad mountain peaks on the other. Proceed to the fishing village of Bud. Tour Ergan Kystfort, a defensive bunker built by the Germans during the occupation of Norway during WWII. Continue to Trondheim. Dinner and overnight at the Radisson BLU Royal Garden Hotel.
DAY 7 TUESDAY, JULY 29 [B]
Trondheim: Morning sightseeing tour of Trondheim includes a visit to the Nidaros Cathedral, one of the most splendid cathedrals in Scandinavia. Afternoon free to enjoy the St. Olav Festival, Trondheim’s largest festival commemorating the death of of Olaf II Haraldsson, King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. Overnight at hotel.
DAY 8 WEDNESDAY, JULY 30 [B,D]
Trondheim—Stiklestad—Selbu: Depart for Stiklestad, site of the famous battle of 1030 which led to the death of St. Olav and the acceptance of Christianity in Norway. Learn about life of the Vikings in this region during that time period. Drive to Selbu for dinner and overnight at the Selbusjøen Hotel & Gjestegård.
DAY 9 THURSDAY, JULY 31 [B,D]
Selbu—Røros: Drive through Tydalen with glimpses of the high mountains. Arrive in historic Røros. The old wooden mining town, founded in 1644, has recently won a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list with its well-preserved buildings. Sightseeing tour with local guide. Dinner and overnight at the Røros Hotel.
DAY 10 FRIDAY, AUGUST 1 [B]
Røros—Lillehammer: Drive to Lillehammer. View the sites of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Dinner on own. Overnight at the Rica Victoria.
DAY 11 SATURDAY, AUGUST 2 [B]
Lillehammer—Oslo: Drive to Hamar. Tour the unique Glass Cathedral. With its special construction of glass and steel, the structure is an architectural and technological masterpiece to protect the cathedral ruins, which are considered to be one of Norway’s foremost cultural landmarks from the Middle Ages. Continue to Eidsvoll, site of the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814. Proceed to Oslo. Dinner on own. Overnight at the Grand Hotel.
DAY 12 SUNDAY, AUGUST 3 [B,D]
Oslo: Morning sightseeing tour includes a visit to Vigeland Sculpture Park and the Viking Ship Museum. Afternoon free for shopping and independent explorations. Farewell dinner and overnight at hotel.
DAY 13 MONDAY, AUGUST 4 [B]
Oslo—USA: Tour ends following breakfast. Transfer to Gardermoen Airport for return flight. Longer stays may be requested upon registration for a minimum charge of $50.
· Roundtrip airfare from Mpls / St. Paul, including taxes, fees & fuel surcharge
· 11 nights accommodations, 1st class/superior tourist class, double occupancy
· Daily breakfast [B] and 8 dinners [D]
· 1st-class touring coach
· City sightseeing in Bergen, Trondheim, Røros and Oslo
· Train Voss to Flåm, 2nd Class
· Fjord cruise Hellesylt to Geiranger
· Visits to Troldhaugen, Ergan Kystfort, Nidaros Cathedral, Stiklestad, Hamar Glass Cathedral, Eidsvoll Manor House and Viking Ship Museum
· Ferries and entrance fees to all sites & museums outlined in itinerary
· Luggage handling at hotels for 1 suitcase
· Tour Director for Days 2—13
· Tour information kit
Brekke Tours & Travel
802 North 43rd Street
Grand Forks, ND 58203
Pages of personal interest: Ron Beatty's home page, Rambo family genealogy, Bankston & Bankson family genealogy, the Camblin family genealogy, the Dorsey Overturff family, cousin Jean's Schenck and Hageman genealogy, Eric's RPM coins, Eve's Garden Organic Bed and Breakfast, Janie's Santa Fe Guest Rentals in New Mexico, and Partly Dave's Neighbourhood Garage in Vernon, BC. This is the newest page: Mari Annes Norwegian Lovers