Thursday, January 20, 2011


We had a pretty easy time of it this time with airport security.  We both agree that Schipol is the nicest airport we've been in.  It's a vast place that has a huge indoor shopping mall and train station.  The signage is clearly marked and after just a bit of window shopping we found the checkin counter...decided to use the self serve option and headed to security.  No big deal here, no special procedures or being on American sovereign soil. Just remove metal from person, empty bag of laptop and liquids and pass through the metal detector. After passing through security and meeting up with Liz, we found a quiet corner, grabbed a beer and some chocolate and sat down to relax.

Next stop Norway.

Day 0: Flight.

View from Train
We landed late at Gardermoen airport 46km outside of Oslo, at midnight. The airport was mostly closed. We found information, figured out which bus we were to take and headed to the platform.  Late night comic moment: the driver of bus 44 told us to take 55, and then  the 55 driver told us to take 44. We got to the motel, through a combination of bussing and walking, only to find that we got two single unmade beds.  We made both and slept in one.  Brings att back to the days he spent in college dorms when in highschool. (I'm sure your parents really want to know - Liz.)

Day 1: Travel.
We woke up at 0830h hopped the bus and headed back to the airport. It doubles as the train station.  Grabbed a croissant and a coffee and hopped on the train to Lillehammer. The scenery on the 2 hour train ride was amazing. The tracks pace this long lake, on either side are tall hills covered in evergreens that are caked with snow.  Small outcroppings of houses dot the horizon.  For the most part the lake is frozen over, undisturbed but for tracks in snow (animal, ski, fishing).  One place had what looked like a race track cleared out, more research needs to be done about this...snow racing anyone?

House/Apartment/Ski Route
We arrived in Lillehammer and had just missed the bus to the hill. This seems to be Norwegian scheduling stupidity.  No big deal:  coffee and a hotdog wrapped with bacon wasted time. The bus ride was cheap and comfortable. We found our hotel in town... well we found the hotel, we apparently had booked a place on the skihill.   After checking in, we said thanks and that we'd be walking there. The receptionist flat out refused this: the hotel manager got his coat on, put us in his car and drove us the 10min, Liz sandwiched in the back between 2 car seats.  We were driven because it was -25C - ridiculously cold even for Norway (which is generally mild and precipitous, but that's another story). We had to walk the last bit of the trip as a van had blocked the roadway.  No problem as it was only 200m or so.

We found the apartment that we'd rented. One enters the apartment via a "snowroom" (complete with boot heater), from there into the living room through a door.  The living room is modest with a small couch and gas fire.  Attached is the kitchen/dining area.  The kitchen is superb, while it cannot be more than 5x6' it packs integrated dishwasher, fridge and freezer, microwave/convection oven, oven, gas stove, invisible range fan and ample counter and cupboard space.  Next is the "kids" room with bunkbeds.  Across the way is the bathroom, complete with sauna.  The master bedroom is a bit small but it does the job with 2 small closests and a double bed.

After settling in, we headed down the hill (at a running pace).  Off to find the grocery store. This took us ironically far past the hotel office we were at before.   Groceries done, we headed to the Hafjell Alpinesenter to see about rentals.  With the light failing already (at 1530h) and finding out that rentals and lift tickets for the remainder of the day weren't worth it, we headed back to the apartment.  Liz had a nap, Matt had a couple beers, made dinner and relaxed. Our first night at the hill was finished up with a sauna and some handball. On the telly.

Day 2: Beginner.
So we're a lazy bunch, and got up at about 0900h. That's ok as the hill doesn't open until 0930h. We grabbed our lift tickets, which were cheaper than the equivalent tickets in Canada regardless of resort. Then went into the sport store because finally Matt realized that he needed long johns. Also got his helmet a goggle holder for cheap. After, we headed across the road to the cheaper ski rental and got two sets of snowboard/boots. Basically, we spent less on our flight, rental, tix and accommodations here than we would have for Canada or the Alps. And we get to go to an Olympic venue in Norway.

So now we've got our RFID tickets (very cool) and we're in line for the gondola. Up we go. Stupidly (or smartly) we got out of the gondola at the halfway point and took a smooth route down. Matt is improving greatly. Even his first run after away for a year was good. A few spills and a lot of swearing got him to the bottom of the hill. The next run we took the gondola to it's end, which wasnt even the top of the mountain. Down we went, and then we skied into homebase. Had a lunch of tomato soup and coffee. Cleared our goggles from the fog, and our helmets of the snow and damp. Headed back out for another couple runs. Matty sat on his butt a bit hard, and on ice, so he was sent in at 1445h. Liz took one more run before the lift closed (1515h). We chilled: watching extremely fit people ski and shoot (and puke). Matt is complaining about his bottom.

My arse hurts.

Day 3: Intermediate.
The following day was much of the same. The weather was cloudy (at the top), foggy (at the bottom) and snowing (pretty much everywhere). This was great, as the slopes became covered in fresh, clean powder snow. Many of the runs had "Closed" signs - which the previous skiers/riders had dutifully ignored. Matt got his first taste of calf burn from trying to surf over the powder. Unfortunately, he has now been spoiled for Ontario.

Day 4: Advanced.
This day was glorious. Liz switched up the snowboard for skis. This meant that both of us were at the same skill level. Matt was now making it down the hill without falling at all. We made it to the top of the last chair, and were greeted with a beautiful view of the interior mountains of Norway, as the weather had finally cleared. The wonderful thing was that the last night's snow was untouched. The day was filled with both of us happily falling into layers of powder: up to 3 feet deep on the edges, deeperin the wooded sections....Liz face planted a few times, or "yard sale" as she called it. She blames the too large boots. Matt made a few snow clouds too. He blames inattention.

Way up high
Day 5: Exhaustion.
Who were we kidding, 4 days straight of snow activities. Owie.  The day started like all the others:  strap into snow device on feet, slide down from the cottage to chair lift, go up chair lift.  After the first full-length run, we were pooched.  We made it 2 hours, falling all over the place, and decided to take a break for lunch.  Lunch turned into 1500h, we raced back to chairlift.  Luckily we caught the last lifts to the top and started our way down.  We decided to try some wooded runs.... Matt was not exactly ready for it, he faceplanted and spent a bunch of time on his arse. Liz tried turning in the powder, instead of using speed, and fell on her butt.  With the runs getting busier by the minute (it was open past 1515h that day) we made our way down to the bottom of the hill.  Liz ran back to the cottage to get our boots and we went to return out was closed.  So exhausted and feet killing, we made the hike all the way back up the hill to the cottage.

Day 6: Home.
Read Day 1 and 0 and reverse.  Walked to hotel to check out. We hopped on a bus to Lillehammer,  walked through the town for a while. Made our way back to the bus satiation and caught the train. We arrived at the airport 5 hours early for our flight.  Hungry and irritated we ordered a deep dish pizza. 2 hours later we breezed through customs... Matt later remarked that nobody had asked to see a boarding pass or passport. Went on a "small" duty free spree (dirty flea).  Flew home. Ate bad food. Slept.

More on Hafjell:

Hafjell was the site of the 1994 Lillehammer Alpine events. It now hosts World Cup events in both skiing, snowboarding and downhill cycling. The resort has 4 types of runs: green, blue, red, black. There are variety of slopes: groomed, moguled, wooded, park, etc. The usual ski school, rental facilities, spa, store and crap food abound.

Ski Patrol Hut after My Heart. 


  1. omg, your new helmet is so cute! with it's little designs and stuff.
    i'm gonna go read the whole email now instead of just looking at the pictures.
    this is tara

  2. can ski helmet be used as bike helmet? matt's is pretty cool.

    pretty epic tails the two of you are writing--love it!

  3. Philip,

    My helmet is actually a dual purpose bicycle/ski helmet. It's made by Bern and actually has a winterliner (it arrived the day after we left for norway).

    MEC sells them.

  4. Mine is just a ski helmet. but i already own 2 bike helmets

  5. next stop:

    2 Slopes; 40 metre drop; 19€/hr; indoor skiing!

  6. Please post pictures of what you eat. It will enhance my experience of living vicariously through you (lizzypoo). What are you (lizzypoo) eating now? Another croissant? Mmm croissant.