I arrived in Lillehammer from Oslo after a short 2 and 1/2 hour train ride in what had to be one of the cleanest and most modern trains I have been on yet . Although not a high speed train it was complete with comfortable seating, well designed and clean bathrooms , coffee machines and free wifi.
I am staying with my aunt Ase in a small town about a 45 minute drive from Lillehammer. She is kind enough to pick me up from the train station on this zero degree Fahrenheit blustery day.
Lillehammer was home to the 1994 Winter Olympics yet only has a population of about 26,000. Although many events took place outside of Lillehammer, you feel a sense of pride of being a host city. I am also told that many of the cities Christmas decorations are still in place because they are currently filming episodes of the series “Lilyhammer” for Netflix, within the city. Never seen it, but I think I will next time I am back home.
My first view of life in Lillehammer is a teenager skateboarding down the sidewalk. Only, it is not a skateboard . It looks much like a skateboard but no wheels and he is skating down the snow covered sidewalk ( not to be confused with a snowboard either, much smaller and no bindings ) I also see elderly people using what we commonly call walkers , but these have sled blades on them and they use these to steady themselves along the snow and ice covered sidewalks. It is getting colder and now -4 degrees Fahrenheit outside but the sidewalks are bustling with shoppers and students.
After a quick stop to warm up and have a cup of coffee my Aunt drove me up to where the ski jumping was held in 94. Still active and used as a training center today , these insane gigantic “slides” or whatever the technical name is, that launch jumpers in the air for distances over 100 meters are mind boggling . I have only seen ski jumping on television before and it has in no way given me a true sense of how high, steep and all around nuts these jumps actually are. I assume jumpers must start at an early age and have adapted and purged the primal fear of this type of competition. Unfortunately nobody was practicing this day but we were able to walk up to the ” start house ” and have a look down . Still, my pictures will not do it justice . I am ok with heights but this gave me a sense of vertigo knowing people will be sending themselves off and down to the frozen slopes far below. We passed a young girl running stairs and I couldn’t help but wonder if this young , cute and “sane ” looking teenage girl would be hurling herself off this jump in the near future?
As we head back to the car to drive back down we pass a few cabins dating back to the 1800’s with racks from, I assume, elk and reindeer mounted on the outside walls from hunters of yesteryear. After a while the cold has numbed my toes and we headed home .
Here I got word that one of my cousins teenaged daughters, whom was visiting her aunt on the west coast of Norway had “gone for a quick swim” ! Ok, more like a jump in and jump out, but it’s below zero and the thought of doing a penguin plunge in these temperatures makes me wonder if my heart could withstand such a shock…. Crazy.
If you ever come to Lillehammer I would highly recommend taking a drive up to see the jump regardless of the season. Seeing this as well as the views from atop the mountain we’re the highlight of my day in Lillehammer.