One of the hallmarks of Norwegian culture is the time spent away from it all in a cozy cabin in the woods. If you are lucky enough, you might enjoy this kind of escape with friends and family. It is a Norwegian ritual to unplug, pack it up, and head for that great expanse of nature that awaits you in this beautiful country. Cabin time is about family, reflection, relaxation (…take a good book and prepare to play board & card games). And most certainly, cabin time is about the celebration and exhilaration of nature.
We have been lucky enough to discover the wonders and restorative power of cabin time. Our first taste was in a town called Ustaoset, where the University of Bergen has a cabin set aside for faculty and staff. You can acquire the cabin by making a request through a university-based lottery system. It is a bit of chance, but if you come up lucky, do not miss the opportunity. We braved the ice covered mountain terrain taking family walks in the snowy tundra, we zipped around on crazy snow mobile excursions, stared out the window at the whirling snowfall while warming up by our cozy cabin fire.
An even more special cabin experience was our visit to family friends over Påske week (Easter week or Holy Week). This is a unique time in which many Norwegian families head to their cabins for an extended magical cabin-time-out. We we very lucky to have received an invitation to join cherished friends in Finse (famed for the filming of the planet “Hoth” in the first Star Wars film). We arrived to a brilliant sun, crisp cold air, and a shimmering snow covered landscape. The cabin was truly perfect, the skiing was so much fun, and the time spent together was unforgettable.
Our best memory was our day-long cross country skiing expedition to another mountain cabin in the middle of what seemed like nowhere (#Klemsbu). We skied for the first half of the day, crossing a great frozen expanse of mountains. The vast crystal landscape was challenging, otherworldly, and strikingly beautiful. When we finally arrived at at the mountain top, we discovered a small fire-stoked cabin/hut (with warm waffle-making and hot drinks inside).
After some nourishment and recuperation time in that mysterious waffle-cabin-of-nowhere, we faced the arduous return journey of return, making it back to the family cabin in Finse by dusk. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from the exhaustion of skiing all day with friends through a winter wonderland (a wonderland that leaps right out of the pages of your own imagination). Sitting down to a hearty warm dinner at the big family table, reveling in the accomplishment of an expedition together, I knew I had discovered that secret formula to cabin life that is so precious to Norwegians.
And we are so grateful to have been included.