Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Memories - What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation - Part 3

I have found more of my memoirs that I wrote after some of our summer vacations, and many of them included genealogy highlights. So I'm going to share these memories in a series of posts.  Maybe I'll even find some photos to illustrate the posts.   

Mia and Anne were our foreign exchange students from Finland in 1994.  We had a marvelous time getting to know them and enjoying their company.  Our daughter Tami had a car and they were able to go all over San Diego (and we all went to Los Angeles one time) and enjoy a three-week summer vacation.  Mia's family in Tornio, and Anne's family in Kuopio, invited us to come visit them, so we did in the summer of 1999.  By this time, Mia and Anne were in college.  After visiting our Finnish families, we  flew off to Norway to sightsee, see one of Linda's ancestral towns, and meet some of her distant relatives.

I wrote Memories - What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation - Part 2 last week.  Here is Part 3.


What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation 
(29 July to 17 August 1999) - Part 3


We arrived at the new Gardermoen Airport outside Oslo around 11 a.m. We took the bus into the city, then a taxi to the Hotel Munch, which was just north of the central city. The room here was about the same size as the room in Stockholm. We gathered the maps and brochures at the hotel, then took off for the harbor area on the trolley. The bus stop was about 200 yards from the hotel, and was only another 200 yards from the central area near the National Theatre and Oslo University. We took a harbor tour to get some background.

In the evening, we met three genealogists from Oslo at a restaurant (I arranged it on the RootsWeb Norway Genealogy mailing list). We talked to Ole Kjolseth, Elin Galtung Lihaug and Odd Braathun about our trip, Linda’s Norway ancestry, and Oslo sightseeing over a pleasant dinner. They helped me with place names and advised Linda on troll books. Ole helped me with a genealogy mystery in Voss. We then took some pictures, walked around the central area, said goodbye to our new friends, and did some shopping before returning to the hotel.

On Thursday, we took the bus to the Bygdøy peninsula, where we visited the Norway Folk Museum and the Viking Ship museum. The Folk Museum is an outdoor museum with old buildings with docents to explain the lifestyles and customs. We stopped at the stave church, the Voss and Sogndal areas, and the two cooking huts where we sampled lefse and other Norwegian goodies. At the Viking ship museum, we saw the remnants of the ancient ships recovered from the Oslo fjord. We then walked to the pier at Dronningen and took the water taxi to Bygdøynes, where we visited the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Fram ship Museum and the Sjofarts Museum which houses the Roald Amundsen display and ship Gjøa. These places were interesting and educational. We returned to the harbor area, after an ice cream at the boat slip, on the water taxi. We had dinner in the downtown area, did some shopping, and went back to the hotel and packed.

As we left the hotel early on Friday 13 August, Linda fell down three steps in the hotel lobby and injured her lower legs - bruises and swelling, but no fractures. We spent most of that day on the train to Voss. The train made many stops, including one at the top of the Norwegian mountains at Finse, where it was cold with snow on the ground.


We got off the train in Voss, which is a small town (about 5,000 inhabitants) beside the Vangs Vatnet (lake) with snow capped mountain ranges circling the valley, with many streams, rivers, and small lakes feeding into the major lake. We had a bite to eat at the train station café, and then took a taxi to the Rondo Sport Hotell, which was on the east side of the river, about a kilometer from the center of Voss. The owner of the hotel was very helpful and gracious.

After checking into the hotel, Randy walked into town and checked out the information center, the graveyards, the bookstores, and the library. He found the Voss genealogy mystery in a genealogy book at the library, with the help of Ole Kjolseth’s note, and also got on the Internet at the information center.

We called Bjorg Liland that night, on the advice of Jeri Walker, another Norway researcher who had visited Voss and met Bjorg in 1998. She had her son visiting, and asked us to call her back later. When we did, she offered to drive us around the Vangs Vatnet and out to the Liland farm on Saturday.

Saturday came, and Bjorg arrived about 11 a.m., and we started on our tour around the lake in the rain. We stopped at the Gjelle ("yell-leh") farm on the south side of the lake with the "postcard" view of Voss. Gjelle happens to be one of Linda's ancestral farms, and can be seen from the north side of the lake since it is fairly high on the hillside and has a distinctive yellow farm house. 

 We drove slowly along the lake and passed through a number of other ancestral farms like Glimme, Midtun and Eimstad.  We got to Liland farm at the west end of the lake. Bjorg had arranged a meeting with Inge Liland (age 90, who had the Voss bygdebok, and was sharp as a tack!) and her daughter Guri Liland. Bjorg is a 4th cousin-in-law of Guri's. We did not go to the working farm, since the workers were away, but went to the new house next to the working farm - it was a beautiful home! We had a very pleasant visit with them including a lunch.

I got out the Voss ancestry list and Inge looked carefully through the Liland section of the bygdebok. She could not find a direct tie to the ancestry list, which was not surprising. I offered my conclusion that Ivar Torgerson (brother of Sjur Torgerson) married Kari Larsdatter of Liland farm, and that the extended family adopted the Leland name in America. She seemed to accept that, and noted that there were always farm workers who were not part of the direct family. I elicited some genealogy information from her about the Liland family history after the bygdebok entries to try to understand the line better. When Inge read further in the ancestry list, she got excited when she saw mention of some of the other farms and we concluded that Linda was probably a distant cousin to Inge and the Liland farm people after all. We took some pictures with the "cousins" and thanked them for their hospitality.

Then we stopped next door to what used to be the Liland Hotel, and talked to Alf Ringheim, Bjorg's former brother-in-law. The hotel is now an apartment building, filled to the brim with Kosovo refugee families. He showed us around the public parts of the hotel and his own apartment. Alf had a genealogy chart that showed his ancestry back to Roman times.

We left Alf and drove along the north side of the lake through central Voss and up to the Mølstertunet Museum, which is composed of 15 buildings from the 19th century. Mølster is another of the ancestral farms, where Sjur Torgerson lived at the time he married in 1850. A docent explained each room of the main farm house, the clothing, the food, the working farm. There was also a museum with farm artifacts and cultural history of the Voss area. Fascinating stuff!

After all of that, we took Bjorg out to dinner that night at the Park Hotel. She invited us over to her apartment the next night for dessert. What a beautiful, spirited, and knowledgable woman. We parted with hugs and kisses, and promises to send her pictures of our time together.

We also had a short meeting at the hotel with Svein Ulvund, who has a great Voss web site with digital pictures of Voss farms and sights. He knew where all the farms were!

The next day we took a great tour out of Voss - Norway in a Nutshell. This is highly recommended! Our tour went by bus to Vik, up through Vossestrand and the Myrkdalen valley, past snow capped mountains and rushing waters. Then we caught an express fjord boat to Balestrand and Vangsnes, and transferred in mid-fjord to a ferry boat to Gudvangen. The fjord arm into Gudvangen is spectacular, with mountains plunging into the fjord, and small farms lying at the base of cliffs and streams. After a short bus trip through a long tunnel to Flåm, we caught the Flåm railway to Myrdal. This 20 km trip rises over 800 meters, through the Flåm valley and past several spectacular waterfalls. The trip concluded with a short train trip from Myrdal down to Voss.

On Monday, we packed our bags, checked out, took a taxi and stored the bags at the train station. We then took the cable car lift (over 800 meters high) up the mountain overlooking Voss and had lunch at the small restaurant there. In the winter time, Voss is a ski resort. The view was fantastic, and the fish and chips were excellent (and cheap)! I went again to the Voss library and found more genealogy research data. I also bought the Vossestrand Ættebok and several topographical maps with Voss area farm names. We walked around the town a bit, and waited for the train to Bergen.


We took the train to Bergen (where Linda's ancestors sailed from in the 1850s) on Monday evening, and stayed at the Hotel Park Pension, which was up a hill south of the main part of town. It was the nicest hotel we stayed in, but we had to use taxis because of Linda's leg injuries. Dinner that night was a snack in the hotel dining room.

On Tuesday, we took a taxi down to the harbor area and walked through the market place, visited the Bryggen Museum (with artifacts and history of Bergen), and then took the tram to the top of Fløyen hill, overlooking the town. We had lunch, then waited out a rain shower under our umbrella near the marketplace, and then took the water taxi to the aquarium. We returned to the central area, did some shopping and had dinner at the Lido restaurant before returning to the hotel.

We packed on Wednesday, checked out of the hotel, and took a taxi to the bus/train station to store the bags. Linda did some shopping, and Randy found an Internet connection at the Bergen library nearby. We took the bus to the airport and flew out of Bergen back to Arlanda Airport near Stockholm that night. We stayed at the Good Morning Hotel and had dinner there.

We took a hotel bus to the airport on Thursday, August 19, and returned to San Diego through Chicago, tired but happy we had such a wonderful vacation.

I have many more photographs from the entire trip, but can only post so many.  


Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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