Trip from Sunday, May 16

Post by Jody for Sunday, May 16

Tour of Telemark Today we had the wonderful opportunity to drive north into the heart of Telemark. It was a rainy, foggy day but our hosts decided to go through with the tour anyway and we are very thankful that they did.

We drove through Porsgruun accompanied by Nils, Kjell, Jan Henrick, Ellen and our driver Jan. The first sight they pointed out was the porcelain factory which has ceased to produce porcelain because of the cost of the employee’s wages here in Norway. It was cheaper to move production out of the country but people feel that there will no longer be the quality of what they made here.

Next, we saw some locks connecting inland waterways that were built in 1892. There are 18 locks in the 105 km long system with a height difference of 72 meters.

Our hosts pointed out a church built in 1180 and told us a fairy tale about 3 girls who were too noisy during a sermon and so were banished by the priest. The girls turned to stone and there are 3 stones in the area which represent them. There is another story about a troll who put the cross on the peak of the church but then fell to his death. Where he is supposed to have fallen, no grass grows there.

We stopped in Morgdal at the Olav Bjaaland Museum. We watched a movie and went through the exhibit and learned about the history of skiing in Norway. We also watched an excellent video of two skiers going down a mountain. It was a truly beautiful thing to see. The skiers were so skilled it was like watching ballet.

Olav Bjaaland, for whom the museum was named, was born in 1873 and came from Morgedal. He won the Royal Cup in Holmenkollen in 1902. He also participated in the Polar expedition with Roald Amundsen as a supervisor of the expedition’s skis and sledges. He was appointed leader of the group during the last stretch to the geographical South Pole. After that, he founded his own ski factory.

From Morgendal we headed further up into the mountains. The higher we went, the more snow there was and the smaller the trees. In Vierle we stopped to take pictures of the still-frozen lake and we ended up going up to about 1260 meters at the highest point. We went through many switchbacks to get there! We met a couple out snowshoeing just before we hit the tree line. The snow banks were really, really big!

I’m sure the view from up there is normally fantastic but we didn’t see too much today because of the weather. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful restaurant up in the mountains.

Our next stop was to the old Vemork hydroelectric power station and the Norwegian Industrial Worker Museum. This is something that is very hard to describe with words as it was so impressive! To get there, we had to drive down the side of an enormous mountain and cross a gorge so deep that they bungee jump off the suspension bridge that crosses it. There are huge waterfalls down the mountain that are absolutely breathtaking! I have never seen anything like them. There isn’t just one either. There are waterfalls everywhere, cascading down the steep cliffs.

The powerhouse is impressive, to say the least. I have no idea how they could have gotten the supplies in to build the facility or the large turbines. It would have been quite a challenge. The facility is no longer in use but is open to go through. We watched a movie about heavy water and I learned something new about the events of the war.

Heavy water was first discovered in 1933 by the Americans. It looks and tastes like ordinary water but its boiling point is 1.4 degrees above ordinary water and it freezes at 4 degrees. They hydrogen element is different though and is of a special kind which is twice the weight of ordinary hydrogen. This makes heavy water have a 10% increase in weight over ordinary water. It is used like “brake fluid” in atomic fission and therefore needed to make atomic bombs.

All heavy water at the time was produced at Rjukan in German-occupied Norway. The Norwegians did not want the Germans to create an atomic bomb so they decided to sabotage the plant. With great difficulty and loss and a strenuous battle with the elements, the team destroyed the vital cell of heavy water. I had no idea that this event took place and I was very glad to learn about this piece of history.

After leaving the power plant, we proceeded to the Tuddal Heyfjellshotel, one of the oldest high-mountain hotels in Norway. It was certainly something to see. Inside, the hotel is beautifully decorated. I would love to be able to spend a night in such a place! Hanging from the ceiling is a boat estimated to be about 600 years old, that they found in the lake in front of the hotel.

Our last stop of the day was to the Heddal Stave Church, the largest one of its kind standing in Norway. We had only a few minutes to stop as our bus driver was running out of time he could log, but we were able to get a couple of pictures.

I am so thankful for this tour today! We visited some very special places. The landscape was completely different from what we had seen so far. A very big thank you to our thoughtful hosts!

Jody and Cindy

Post by Jody Houle

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2 Comments»

  Gunnar Gauslaa wrote @

Hi Jody,
We met breifly on 17th May at the Museum in Porsgrunn along with my daughter who had been Rotary exchange student in 2000.
I have a comment to your very interesting report from Telemark.
The boat that hung from the ceiling has been told to be around 2000 years, but they have now found a similar boat and that has been testet to come from 700 BC, so that makes the boat 1300 years old.

  Craig wrote @

One thing is clear; when you leave Norway, it will surely be a lesser place, missing your Canadian charm.
Have a wonderful time while you are there.
Craig


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