Walking in a Winter Wonderland (Lillehammer)

Between the intense darkness and overpriced food, I’m sure you can tell I’ve recently found myself somewhat disenchanted by the place I’m to call home until July. But a day trip outside of Oslo for the first time fixed all of that, and I am once again in love with this Nordic beauty.

A two hour train ride can take you north to Lillehammer, a lovely little town known for hosting the 1994 winter olympics and being the setting of Netflix original Lilyhammer. If you’ve never seen or heard of the show, the premise is essentially that a mobster moves under the witness protection program to Lillehammer because, well, no one’s going to recognize him in this small town in Norway. I can say it really is that small.

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My friends and I had no real plans for the day, we just took the earliest train, got there at quarter till noon, and walked around for a couple of hours. It snowed all day, and I have to say, Lillehammer looked lovely covered in white. Whereas Oslo is dark and often rainy, what little overcast light there may have been was magnified intensely by the snow, which in turn made me feel lighter.

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This old church was in essentially the center of town, and it made for a lovely sight. I just loved how the snow looked on top of the old gravestones. Our walking around also led us to the Olympic museum and ski jump. The museum is the only one in northern Europe to chronicle the Olympics from their start to present, and I want to see it some day, but at $15 admission we weren’t really feeling it was necessary.

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The real benefit of walking all the way up to the ski jump was the satisfaction and view we got from the top – although it would have been significantly better if it weren’t for all that fog

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(yes, we walked all the way up that hill in the snow) After a couple hours of walking, we were starving, so we went back into town and had lunch at an Italian restaurant. A little pricey for what you get (even by Norwegian standards), but we were hungry and it was food.

If all of the walking around in a snowy small town where they were hanging up Christmas decorations hadn’t put me in the holiday spirit, the end of our day sure would have. A friend from nearby Gjøvik came to pick up my friend and I, and not only did I have my first car ride (excluding a couple of short cab trips) since leaving the US, but I got to see inside of a Norwegian house for the first time, AND play with her dog. I know, these are all normal things, and it’s not even like the dinner was a culture shock – we had tacos with her siblings. But it was so incredibly refreshing to do something so…normal. I feel like most of my exchange has been about being a deer in headlights, and this was comfortingly simple familiar.

Now that I’ve spent time in a winter wonderland, I really can’t wait until exams are over so I can really feel the holiday spirit and travel some more. For those of you who are American, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family and merriment. I know I’ll be having my own little celebration with some Americans here.

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