We look a bit like we are ready to work a construction project but in actuality
this is prior to our fjord safari

WHERE TO NEXT?

Dear Traveler,

We pulled up to the Voss train station at 10:40a last Sunday morning. A twinge of nervousness in my belly. Our family was about to meet 16 other travelers and 3 guides with whom we would spend the week.

We’ve never traveled like this before.

We were five minutes early, so I waited and watched from afar as the guides arrived and the families emerged from the station approaching our meeting spot.

Time to motivate.

I went outside and one by one introductions ensued. Big smiles, friendly faces, warm greetings.

Almost immediately the first of many small world connections were made.

The common denominator – Dartmouth College.

As many of you know we live in Hanover, NH where Dartmouth is located and my husband Jason is an alum.

In one of the other families the mom is also a Dartmouth alum and her 18 year old daughter will be a freshman there this fall. For another family, the dad is an alum, as are both of his adult sons on the trip.

We immediately bonded.

Backroads and other active group travel programs understandably attract a certain type of traveler – active, outdoorsy (your vibe attracts your tribe). Given Dartmouth’s location and vibe (“Welcome to the Woods” is proudly displayed on the football stadium) it tends to attract a similar group.

The other families we met were equally fun and over the last three days we’ve shared lots of adventures, laughs and for many of us sore muscles.

Our family chose Norway because we’d never been, it’s cooler than southern Europe in the summer, and we wanted a multi-adventure trip not just biking every day.

One of my favorite aspects of Backroads is that they stratify their trips based on age group – adults only (couples, solo) or family trips (for kids and young teens, older teens and 20s or young adults 20s and above).

As with my clients who take Backroads trips, I planned a couple of extra days on the front end and rounded our trip out with two more Nordic countries after our group adventure is over.

Norway is often a destination for people who have already been to most other western European countries.

But Norway is not for everyone.

The weather is very variable! In five minutes it could be sunny, cloudy and rainy and then cycle through again.  You’ll want to be open to the uncertainty.

NOTE: Norwegians coined the expression…

“Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!”
“There is no bad weather just bad clothing!”

A glimpse into two of our days on a Backroads trip:

Day 1
As soon as the introductions were done, the gondola whisked us up to the top of the mountain. Little bits of blue peaked through the cloudy sky. Visibility was quite good and the views over Voss were stunning.  We took advantage of the swing with a view…

In the distance we saw a paraglider floating back towards Vangsvatnet lake. Yesterday they were jumping out of helicopters. It’s Extreme Sports week in Voss, which is no big surprise as Voss shares the title of adventure capital of the world with Queensland, New Zealand.

Kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, skateboarding, skydiving, paragliding, hanggliding, climbing, BASE jumping and longboarding competitions have been going on all week.

If you or your kids are adventurous, but not quite that adventurous, Voss also has VossVind, indoor skydiving. We didn’t do it on this trip but our kids did indoor skydiving years ago and loved it! (It’s also a great option for a rainy day.)

I personally would always rather be outside, so I suggest hiking, biking, kayaking or paragliding – and yes that can be done in all types of weather.

Other than the above, does Voss sound familiar?

Think of…. water…

This premium water sold in the US is named after the town we are in, but we learned the water doesn’t come from here. Norway’s water is delicious wherever you are!

Day 3
Yesterday in Lofthus we had our choice between two hikes of varying lengths.  The weather was ‘ehhh’, so against my usual nature I opted for the shorter one (they call this the “normal” hike IMO so guests don’t feel badly for opting out of the bigger one).  The rest of my family did the steeper, longer Monk Steps hike.

My new friend and I came upon a cozy little cabin with a spectacular view.  Peering in we saw shelves lined with books, some blankets and a stove.  I wish Jessie was with us.  She is my kid who is always seeking out a cozy reading spot, and this one was perfect for her.

When we returned, we shared our fun find with the guides. They told us those are called “lottery cabins.”

???

Of course we asked what that meant and we learned they have been built in remote locations throughout Norway with the proceeds of money from the national lottery.

A brilliant use of funds!

Norway has some delightful surprises. There are public bathrooms scattered around the country that are destinations to themselves.

Why?

They are designed by well known or up and coming architects. We stopped by one next to a waterfall on our bike ride (it’s the first one shown in this video). The lines were 8+ people long – just to see the inside.

More fun facts….

This week I learned a new word – koselig.

Picture a January day, the mountains are blanketed in fluffy powdery snow. You take advantage of the conditions, outdoors downhill or cross country skiing all day.

You come upon a cabin with windows lit up by warm candlelight.

You’re curious.

You walk up to the window and peek in.

All of your favorite people are around table with one empty place setting. It turns out it is just for you.

Coziness, a warm welcome, simplicity in little things. That’s koselig. Norway’s version of the Danish hygge (pronounced hooggah).


We are currently on a ferry in the Hardangerfjorden, headed for Halhjem, where the fjord meets the North Sea. Once there we’ll shove off in kayaks to ply the waters of Bjørnafjorden.

We’ve just selected our lunches (so many delicious options – hake with sauteed leek, pine nuts and cauliflower puree, mussels with french fries and aioli, red lentil burgers, salad with garlic marinated shrimp, corn and pumpkin seeds plus three additional options) that will be waiting for us when we return from kayaking.

Backroads ensures you eat well and never go hungry.

Jason and our kids are happy because after four full days of strenuous activity, they have massage appointments later today.

Right now I’m watching my kids sitting at a table with four others ranging in age from 17-25+ happily playing cards. Jessie declared we may not be able to do another group travel trip, because the people on this one are so great that no future one will compare. 🙂

There have already been so many highlights in just three days. One below when we did the polar plunge. You can see the shock from the cold water in my expression (prepping for Antarctica where the water is even colder!).

In retrospect it is obvious that I need not have been nervous about our travel partners. After just three days we consider them all friends.

 


Last week’s most popular article was the Washington Post’s 27 little travel luxuries to make any trip feel first class.

This week’s inspirational articles include heading to Scandinavia and Scotland to keep cool this summer (✅), US National Parks, Catskills, Seychelles, French Riviera and more.

The informational articles include a teen grumpy about family travel plans (luckily not mine), traveling safely with food allergies and whether flying business class with kids is worth it (I have an opinion – it depends on the situation).

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the 4th of July!

Warmly,

 

 

P.S. a reminder through the month of July we are in “vacation mode.” The full length newsletter format will be back in August.

Extraordinary Experiences for
Adventurous Families

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