The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. Furthermore, a number of the sites have not yet confirmed their opening hours for 2023. Therefore the daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight/ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunch and evening meals as indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
Stockholm, Sweden - 3 nights
Day 1: Wednesday 19 July, Arrive Stockholm
- Introduction & Welcome Drinks
- Light Evening Meal at the hotel
“What other city in the world has a better prospect?” asked Danish Hans Christian Andersen of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital. Encompassing 14 islands and more than 50 bridges, the city is the cultural, media and economic centre of Sweden. We begin our tour with a welcome drink and a group dinner together. (Overnight Stockholm) D
Day 2: Thursday 20 July, Stockholm
- Vasa Museum
- Time at leisure in Stockholm
- August Strindberg Museum
- Astrid Lindgren Apartment with archivist Lena Törnqvist and Kjell Bohlund, former chairman of The Swedish Publishers’ Association and the Astrid Lindgren Society
- Welcome Dinner at Den Gyldene Freden
In 1628 a ship named the Vasa sank to the bottom of the waters off Stockholm. 333 years later it was raised from its watery bed and is now the only 17th-century ship on display in the world. We will visit the Vasa Museum and see why this ship has been so popular with authors, who have written essays, articles from marine archaeology to culinary history, and children’s books (such as The Vasa Saga, The Vasa Sets Sail and The Vasa Piglet) about it in many different languages.
Part of the morning will be free to explore Stockholm.
August Strindberg was a hugely prolific author, famed for plays such as Miss Julie and The Father, but also known as a novelist, essayist, poet and even as a painter. He spent the last four years of his life in a building he called The Blue Tower. We will visit his apartment which has been reconstructed as it was when he lived there, with rooms set up like sets from plays. His library holds 6800 books – we are lucky to see them, for he once had to redeem them all from a pawnbroker.
Lena Törnqvist, archivist of the Astrid Lindgren collection in the National Library and board member of the Astrid Lindgren Society, and Kjell Bohlund, former chairman of The Swedish Publishers’ Association and the Astrid Lindgren Society, will give us a personal tour of the Astrid Lindgren apartment at Dalagatan 46. Here Lindgren wrote such books as Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, The Brothers Lionheart and The Six Bullerby Children. It was these novels and others that have made Astrid Lindgren the world’s third most translated children’s author (after H.C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm). The apartment of four rooms was her home from 1941 to her death in 2002, and remains just as she knew it.
Our dinner tonight will be enjoyed at Den Gyldene Freden, a distinguished place because this is where the Nobel Prize for Literature Academy members meet for a weekly dinner every Thursday. It has been serving Swedish home cooking since 1722 and is in Stockholm’s Old Town. Poet/songwriter Carl Michael Bellman (18th century) helped to make it famous through his works, as did songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk (20th century). It is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world that still has almost unchanged surroundings. (Overnight Stockholm) BD
Day 3: Friday 21 July, Stockholm
- Guided tour of the Stockholm City Hall including the Blue Hall and Golden Hall – venue for the Nobel Banquet
- Nobel Museum Stockholm
- Lunch at the Bistro Nobel, including the famous Nobel Ice Cream
- Millennium Walking Tour: In the footsteps of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander
Stockholm’s City Hall is one of the city’s major tourist attractions because every year this is the venue for the presentation of the Nobel Prize. This prestigious set of international awards was established in 1895 through the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. It includes prizes in Literature, Peace, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Physiology, Medicine and so on. The Peace prize ceremony takes place in Oslo, but all the others are awarded at the Stockholm City Hall. Each laureate is required to give a lecture, then a banquet is held in the building’s Blue Hall, and a ball in the Golden Hall.
Nearby, we visit the Nobel Museum which provides information on the Nobel Prize, Nobel laureates from 1901 to present, and the life of the founder of the prize, Alfred Nobel. We will eat lunch at the museum’s Bistro Nobel and sample the famed Nobel ice cream which was served as a dessert for all banquets from 1976 to 1998. Each chair at the restaurant has been named for one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature – which author’s chair would you most like to sit on?
Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced the world to Lisbeth Salander, one of literature’s most unusual and intriguing heroines. She has been described as “Pippi Longstocking as an adult, but with a much harder life”. The novel was published posthumously, as were its two sequels, and became an international best-seller, with two separate film versions also being made of what became known as The Millennium Trilogy. Much of the story is set in Stockholm and this afternoon we will take a guided walk to see places connected with the novels. You will see where Lisbeth’s apartment is located (where she sits on her window seat “watching the water on Saltsjon”), see the coffee shop where Mikael meets his mistress Erika, and the area of Södermalm where Larsson himself lived until his sudden death in 2004. (Overnight Stockholm) BL
Ullinge, Lake Södra Wixen, Sweden - 1 night
Day 4: Saturday 22 July, Stockholm – Vimmerby – Pelarne – Sevedstorp – Ullinge
- Light Lunch at Astrid Lindgren’s Näs Café
- Astrid Lindgren’s Näs (Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home). Guided tour of the house, and free time to explore the exhibition and gardens
- Literary walking tour of Vimmerby visiting the settings that inspired Astrid: Kalle Blomkvist’s alleys, Emil’s market & the house with Pippi’s sweet shop
- Sevedstorp: the model for Astrid’s books about Bullerby
- Wooden church of Pelarne
- Buffet dinner at Hotel Ullinge, overlooking Lake Södra Wixen
This morning we drive to the city of Vimmerby, a town that received its charter as far back as the 14th century. Today it attracts tourists because it was the background for the stories about Emil of Lönneberga, the prankster who is the hero of 12 books by Astrid Lindgren. Emil looks angelic, but has an amazing knack for getting into trouble and he lives in a village just outside Vimmerby. Lindgren was born in Näs and it was here she experienced a childhood that was a “fairy tale without end”.
After a light lunch at the Näs Café, we will explore her childhood home and have time to walk in the gardens (where she climbed the lemonade tree and jumped in the hay). We will then take a guided walking tour of Vimmerby to see places associated with her life and fiction, such as Kalle Blomqvist’s alleys, Emil’s market and Pippi’s sweet shop.
We will then visit Sevedstorp, where three small farms were the model for Bullerby – this was where her grandparents lived.
It was at the intriguing old wooden church at Pelarne in 1905 that Astrid’s parents, Samuel and Hanna, were married. Their marriage, according to their daughter, was full of “more love than I’ve ever read about in books”. They gave Astrid the freedom and security to write.
Dinner will be at the Hotel Ullinge on the shores of Södra Wixen lake. (Overnight Ullinge, Lake Södra Wixen) BLD
Ystad, Sweden - 2 nights
Day 5: Sunday 23 July, Ullinge – Berg – Jämshög – Ystad
- Lilla Björka: Elin Wägner’s house in the village of Berg, Lahammult
- Light Lunch in the heritage building close to Lilla Björka
- Jämshög Hembygdsmuseum
Elin Wägner, teacher, journalist, pacifist and writer, was a pioneer feminist in Sweden and a member of the Swedish Academy. She was born in Lund, but her mother died when she was only 3. As an adult she was committed to getting women the vote, to civil rights, welfare reform and fighting environmental pollution. She founded the Swedish chapter of the International Save the Children Alliance, and she was married to literary critic John Lindqvist. We will visit her house in Berg where she wrote articles, letters, and novels such as The Wind Turned the Pages, Men and Other Misfortunes and The Penholder.
After a light lunch we will visit the Writers’ Museum of Jämshög Hembygdsmuseum, which is situated in a charming historical schoolhouse. Two former students of the school were Harry Martinson (1904-1978), who wrote award-winning Swedish literary history, and Sven Edvin Salje (1914-1998) and the writers’ museum focuses on these two authors. We can see Salje’s original study, where he wrote the novels On These Shoulders and Home to the Sea. (Overnight Ystad) BL
Day 6: Monday 24 July, Ystad
- Walking tour of Ystad: In the footsteps of Kurt Wallander
- Guided tour of the Ystad Studios Visitor Center
- Time at leisure in Ystad
- Ales Stenar
- Dinner at the Brasserie du Sud, one of Wallander’s favourite restaurants
Kurt Wallander, the detective created by Henning Mankell, is grumpy, divorced, troubled by his prostate and occasional drinking binges, lonely and disillusioned. He is based in the town of Ystad in the dozen or so novels in which he features. Today we will enjoy an Ystad walk in his footsteps to see the police station at Kristianstadsvagen, his home in Mariagatan and his favourite coffee shop of Fridoff’s konditori. The first novel in the series was published in 1991 and there have been more than 50 films featuring this memorable detective. To learn about some of those films (Wallander has been acted by Kenneth Branagh, Krister Henriksson and Rolf Lassgard) we will look around theYstad Studios Visitor Center, which displays costumes, sets and props not only from the Wallander films, but also from The Bridge.
Ales Stenar is a stunningly situated clifftop megalithic monument, shaped like a boat, perched above a little fishing village on the southern coast of Sweden. Irish poet Seamus Heaney visited the monument in 1990 and was inspired to write two poems about this special place:
In May, in sunlight
The stone boat lies becalmed.
Sing at the masthead
Anders Österling captures the spirit of this atmospheric place in one of his poems:
Where the coast plunges from sky to sea
Ale built a giant ship of stones,
stately resting where throngs of pale wheat
blend with the boulders´ dark immobility.
A tale hidden within the
murmur of the Baltic Sea,
which alone knows the ship´s meaning.
Grandiose resolve subdued the hill,
iron met bronze, when the adventure began.
The sea king´s ship, stuck to the ground,
is here making its journey to the end of time.
It just has stone for bow
and clouds for sails,
but is still the free ships’ equal.
Dinner will be enjoyed at the Brasserie du Sud, one of Wallander’s favourite restaurants. (Overnight Ystad) BD
Odense, Denmark - 2 nights
Day 7: Tuesday 25 July, Ystad – Torup Castle – Malmö – Odense
- 16th-century Torup Castle
- The Bridge: Guided tour of Malmö with Eva Roos Davidsson
- Cross the Øresund Bridge to Denmark
Selma Lagerlöf won the 1909 Nobel Prize for Literature for the “lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception” that characterise her writings. Today we visit 16th-century Torup Castle where she often stayed while visiting her friend Baronesse Henriette Coyet. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Sweden and it is easy to see why Lagerlöf loved to visit.
We leave Sweden this afternoon, taking the dramatic route of the Øresund Bridge, a combined motorway and rail bridge over the strait dividing Sweden and Denmark. It connects Copenhagen and Malmö and was the setting for the acclaimed Swedish/Danish TV crime drama The Bridge. (Overnight Odense) B
Day 8: Wednesday 26 July, Odense
- Walking tour of Odense: In the Footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen
- Hans Christian Andersen Museum (temporary exhibition)
- Hans Christian Andersen’s childhood home
- Funen Village: Guided tour with a focus on life during the times of Hans Christian Andersen
In 1805 a little boy was born in the Danish town of Odense. His father was a shoemaker, his mother a washerwoman, and the family was poor. But that ugly duckling would one day turn into a swan, and become famed around the world for his fairy stories. The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Tinderbox and The Emperor’s New Clothes have truly enriched children’s literature.
This morning we will explore Odense to see the City Hall, the cathedral where Andersen was confirmed, the Charity School, the castle where his mother worked, the place where she washed clothes in the icy Odense River, and the Hans Christian Andersen garden with statue of the author with a book in his hand. Around the city are statues of some of his characters.
At the museum are displayed examples of his incredible paper cut-outs. With a large pair of scissors in his big hands, Andersen could cut intricate scenes of dancers, soldiers and shoemakers from pieces of folded paper. He gave them as gifts to little children. We will also visit his childhood home where he lived from the age of 2 to the age of 14, when he left to seek his fortune in Copenhagen.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s work we find illuminating remarks on both Funen village life and the world of the 19th century. “It was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the green oats, and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful. The stork walking about on his long red legs chattered in the Egyptian language, which he had learnt from his mother. The corn-fields and meadows were surrounded by large forests, in the midst of which were deep pools. It was, indeed, delightful to walk about in the country.” The Ugly Duckling (1843). This afternoon we take a guided tour of Funen Village, a Danish open-air museum located in the Fruens Bøge district of Odense. It features 25 buildings from Funish villages, most of which date to the 18th and 19th century. Our visit will focus on village life during the times of H.C. Andersen. (Overnight Odense) B
Copenhagen, Denmark - 3 nights
Day 9: Thursday 27 July, Odense – Broholm Castle – Holsteinborg Castle – Copenhagen
- Guided tour of Broholm Castle & Buffet Lunch
- Holsteinborg Castle: Hans Christian Andersen rooms and Church
Hans Christian Andersen made his way to Broholm Castle in 1836. His 1837 novel Only a Fiddler records the experience: “Briskly they walked towards Broholm Estate. The leaves of the forest were transparent, the violets grew in bushes, the woodland fields were in full bloom, and between the trees they could look out across the water to Langeland, which rose high above the sea with its woods and windmills.” We will have a buffet lunch in this castle which dates back to the 12th century, and which has a park with moat and lake.
Nearby Holsteinborg Castle has rooms dedicated to Andersen, who was invited there by Count Ludvig Holstein. He first visited in 1855, but returned almost every year, making 35 visits. He felt wonderfully at home in its lovely rooms: “At Holsteinborg my sun-picture was created. For here sunshine in my heart was laid.” His rooms have been preserved, with the desk on which he wrote travelogues, essays, letters and some of his famous tales. The rooms lead to an upper floor of the church and according to tradition, Andersen sat on a chair in his doorway with his back to the pulpit because he so disliked the minister. The castle is straight out of a fairy tale, with its turrets and towers, lake and parkland but for the Father of Fairy Tales it was a “comfortable, old castle, surrounded by forest” where he could ride in a heated carriage and indulge himself in making paper cut-outs for the Count’s little daughter. (Overnight Copenhagen) BL
Day 10: Friday 28 July, Copenhagen
- Literary Walking Tour of Copenhagen with historian Christian Holm Donatzky: Hans Christian Andersen & other writers
- Royal Library
- Afternoon at leisure
Today we enjoy a guided literary walk of Copenhagen, following in the footsteps of Andersen and other Danish writers. Andersen was constantly on the move and there are many homes where he lived and wrote. At no. 67 Nyhavn he stayed for about 20 years – we will see that home and also the Royal Theatre which he frequented and where he hoped to either act or dance his way into fame.
Sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen actually collapsed and died in the Royal Theatre. He was a friend of Andersen’s and was celebrated for his sculptures around Europe. We will visit the Thorvaldsen Museum, continue on to Christiansborg Palace, the Parliament building so important in the TV series Borgen. We end the tour with a guided visit of the Royal Library and a private viewing of the Treasures exhibition – rare books, manuscripts, letters, a Gutenberg Bible, notes by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and Andersen’s diaries.
The afternoon is at leisure – you may wish to stroll in the Tivoli Gardens (Andersen was friendly with the founder of the gardens and he loved the Chinese style buildings there – these gardens inspired his story The Nightingale). There is a shop with merchandise devoted to his stories. Or you may prefer to stroll around Copenhagen, which began as a Viking fishing village and is now Denmark’s sophisticated and cultured capital. (Overnight Copenhagen) B
Day 11: Saturday 29 July, Copenhagen – Kronborg – Ryngsted Kyst – Copenhagen
- Guided tour of Kronborg (Elsinore Castle)
- Guided tour of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: The history, architecture and art collection of Louisiana
- Karen Blixen Museum, Ryngsted Kyst
- The Little Mermaid
It is estimated that every minute of the day Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is being performed somewhere in the world. And, of course, the setting of that play is Elsinore Castle (which Shakespeare never actually saw). Elsinore is actually the anglicised name of Helsingør, which is the town where Kronborg Castle is located. Hamlet was performed there for the first time on the 200th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with a cast drawn from the castle garrison. Today the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we will visit it and take the ‘In Hamlet’s Footsteps’ guided tour.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is located on Øresund Sound and holds an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum itself has been acknowledged as a milestone in modern Danish architecture and is today the most visited art museum in the country. The name comes from the first owner of the property, Alexander Brun, whose three wives were all called Louise. It hosts a Louisiana Literature Festival, has a sculpture garden, and hosts many exhibitions.
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills”, wrote Karen Blixen in her novel Out of Africa. But Karen Blixen, who also published under the name Isak Dinesen, also had a home in Rungstedlund in Denmark. This was her birthplace and the home to which she returned after her 17 years as a farmer in Kenya. This was where she wrote Out of Africa, Babette’s Feast and her essays and short stories. The rooms of her home are almost exactly as she left them and they give a vivid picture of her daily life. Furniture on display came from her Kenyan home (the favourite chair of Denys Finch Hatton, played by Robert Redford in the film version, is there, as well as the chest given her by her butler, Farah). Her artworks are also on display, some dating from her time as a student at the Danish Academy of Art. Near the house are Blixen’s grave, the bird sanctuary created according to her wishes, and an extensive park. Karen Blixen was considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature, but never won it. She was hard working and a true professional: “Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost!”
Before returning to our hotel we stop off to see one of the world’s most famous statues. Designed by Edvard Eriksen, it depicts Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, perched on a rock by the Copenhagen waterside. It was unveiled in 1913 and on several occasions has been vandalised, but each time restoration has been done. The Little Mermaid has been copied around the world and is an iconic figure. (Overnight Copenhagen) B
Grimstad, Norway - 3 nights
Day 12: Sunday 30 July, Copenhagen – Kristiansand – Grimstad
- Guided tour of Rosenborg Castle, including the Danish Crown Jewels
- Literary Walking Tour of Copenhagen with historian Christian Donatzky: In the Footsteps of Søren Kierkegaard
- Light Lunch at the Cultural Centre Assistens
- Guided tour of the Cultural Centre Assistens: Søren Kierkegaard, Hans Christian Andersen and other famous writers
- Fly from Copenhagen to Kristiansand, flight Widerøe WF 269
We begin this morning with a guided tour of the Renaissance Rosenberg Castle, used by Danish regents as a royal residence until 1720. Of special interest is the Great Hall with the coronation throne and the Schatzkammer displaying the Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia.
Historian Christian Donatzky will show us the Copenhagen of Søren Kierkegaard, philosopher, poet and theologian. After seeing a statue of Hans Christian Andersen in the Kings Garden of Rosenborg Castle, we go on to Kierkegaard’s house at Rosenborggade, where he wrote Sickness unto Death. At Kultorvet he lived as a student and wrote a review of one of Andersen’s novels. His Either Or was written when he lived in Nørregade, which we will see. Also included in the walk are the Church of our Lady, the University of Copenhagen, the Old Metropolitan School (which novelist Hans Scherfig describes in his novel Stolen Spring) and Kierkegaard’s last apartment and the memorial plaque. At Vandkunsten, a small square near Vartov Church, a man named Grundtvig, an opponent of Kierkegaard’s, was employed as priest.
The Cultural Centre Assistens is a combined museum, park and graveyard. The graveyard was founded in 1760 and is the last resting place of Andersen, Kierkegaard and other famous Danes. The Centre will give us a cultural insight into Copenhagen’s past.
Later in the day we fly from Copenhagen to Kristiansand in southern Norway, and then continue by coach along the coast to the maritime town of Grimstad. Tonight we dine at our hotel. (Overnight Grimstad) BL
Day 13: Monday 31 July, Grimstad
- “Town of Poets”: Literary Walking Tour of Grimstad
- Henrik Ibsen Museum including the Pharmacy, Ibsen’s Room & Library of the former reading society
- Light lunch at the Café Ibsen
- Guided tour of Dømmesmoen: “Ibsen’s currant bushes and other bushes”
- Waffles at the Norwegian Museum of Horticulture Café
- The Old Hospital & readings from On Overgrown Paths
- Hamsun and the Nobel Prize: Talk and Banquet at Smag & Behag Restaurant
Grimstad is also known as ‘the town of the poets’ thanks to its associations with Henrik Ibsen, one of the founders of theatrical modernism, and Knut Hamsun, winner of the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature. These two renowned writers lived in Grimstad and we will take a guided walk to see where they lived and wrote. This will include the courtroom where Hamsun was tried in 1947, the pharmacy where Ibsen worked as an apothecary’s assistant, Ibsen’s library and Hamsun’s Postbox, described in On Overgrown Paths when he took a difficult walk from hospital in order to post a letter. Both men had difficult relationships with the town.
After a light lunch at Café Ibsen, we will tour more places connected with these two Norwegian authors. Hamsun supported the occupation forces during WWII and was detained and tried. On Overgrown Paths tells of this period of his life, when he was financially ruined and shamed. And yet in 1920 he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work Growth of the Soil.
On a visit to Dømmesmoen we learn more about the pharmaceutical apprentice Ibsen as we tour his herb garden. This will be followed by an afternoon snack of waffles at the Norwegian Museum of Horticulture Café, but appetites should be kept keen for the evening treat. A delicious 6-course banquet, a replica of that enjoyed by Hamsun in Stockholm when he won his Nobel Prize, will be served to us, as we discover the dramatic story behind the award and take a unique journey through words, food and drink during this very special evening. (Overnight Grimstad) BLD
Day 14: Tuesday 1 August, Grimstad – Tvedestrand – Austre Moland – Tromøy – Fevik – Grimstad
- Morning hosted by Jan Klovstad, who operates the Booktown in Tvedestrand, and has written a book in Norwegian about Henry Lawson
- The booktown of Tvedestrand
- Birthplace of Henry Lawson’s grandfather (Peder Larsen Fladen), Auster Moland (exterior only)
- Light Lunch at Bjellandstrand Gård
- Birthplace of Henry Lawson’s father (Niels Hertzberg Larsen) incl. relief of Henry Lawson & mini-museum, Tromøy
- Short talk in English about Henry Lawson and Norway by the Chairman of Tromøy – Jan A. Ommundsen
- ‘Henry Lawson and his critics’ by Kari Mentyjærvi
- Reading of Henry Lawson by Mr Tore Tunold
- ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ Afternoon tea inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Strand Hotel Fevik incl. stories of Roald Dahl’s times at the hotel and visit to his favourite room
Henry Lawson is familiar to us all as the Australian bush poet. Poems such as Up the Country and Freedom on the Wallaby capture the landscape and people of Australia. And yet Lawson has fascinating links with Norway. His father Niels Larsen was born in Norway, went to sea and arrived in Australia as part of the Gold Rush in 1855. Henry was born in 1867 and the surname was then anglicised to Lawson. We will spend the morning in Tvedestrand, hosted by Jan Klovstrad who operates the Booktown there, and who will show us sites associated with Niels Larsen. He was born in 1832 in Tromøy on the southern coast of Norway. The house is still there, and we will also look at the home of Lawson’s grandfather Peder, and a recently unveiled sculptural relief of Henry Lawson, based on a photo of a bust of Lawson now in Footscray Park, Melbourne. Niels Larsen died in 1888, after an unhappy marriage with Louisa. Even when in Australia he kept in touch with his sister Pedrine Mathilde, so never lost touch with his Norwegian roots.
The booktown of Tvedestrand is one of two booktowns in Norway. Its white wooden houses and pleasant harbour area make it a delightful place for a stroll. We will then listen to a short talk about Henry Lawson and Norway by the chairman of Tromøy, learn about Henry Lawson and his critics, and see just what sort of place this Australian writer has on the other side of the world.
We tend to think of Roald Dahl writing in a hut at the bottom of an English garden, but he’s another author with Norwegian heritage. He was born in Wales, but his parents were Norwegian, he was named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen, and he was christened in the Norwegian Church in Cardiff. As a boy Dahl enjoyed “idyllic times” on annual holidays in Norway – “going to Norway every summer was like going home”. For many years he was a regular guest at the Strand Hotel Fevik. We will visit this restored 1930s hotel on a private beach, see Dahl’s favourite room where he could look out over the sea and find inspiration for his stories. In the Roald Dahl Bar we will partake of a ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ afternoon tea inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
On the way back to the hotel we will visit the medieval Fjære Church, described by Henrik Ibsen in one of his poems, Terje Vigen. The poem narrates the dramatic saga of the Norse pilot from Grimstad, Terje Vigen, who tried to run through the English blockade of the Norwegian coats during the Napoleonic Wars in 1803-15, to smuggle food from Denmark back to his starving family. (Overnight Grimstad) BL
Oslo - 3 nights
Day 15: Wednesday 2 August, Grimstad – Hvalstad – Oslo
- Lunch at the Asker Museum: ‘Hulda-sodd’ (Hulda Garborg’s soup) & waffles
- The Asker Museum: the Valstad Collection and Labråten Museum – artist homes of Tilla and Otto Valstad, and Hulda and Arne Garborg
Today we travel from Grimstad to the Hvalstad Valley where we will visit the Asker Museum. This includes the home of artists Tilla and Otto Valstad, and also Labråten, home of writers Hulda and Arne Garborg. Hulda was a novelist, playwright, poet and folk dancer, a pioneer in the women’s rights movement and also an ardent supporter of Norwegian heritage and customs. She wrote many articles about traditional cooking and a cookbook called Heimstell – we will sample Hulda’s Soup (Hulda-sodd) and also waffles. Arne Gulborg was a social reformer, and together the couple were part of the European intellectual vanguard, enjoying a bohemian lifestyle and travelling widely. They embraced socialism, attacked the church, and were instrumental in promoting the nationalist movement and self-awareness of Norway. Hulda wished to encourage those living in rural areas to take pride in their traditions and local dishes. In 2007 Ruth Hege Holst published In Hulda’s Kitchen which updates and reinterprets her recipes.
We then travel on to Oslo, a capital city with ‘a village quality’ according to crime writer Jo Nesbø, who sets his Harry Hole novels there. Oslo will be our base for two nights. (Overnight Oslo) BL
Day 16: Thursday 3 August, Oslo
- Literary Walking Tour of Oslo
- Lunch at Restaurant Schrøder
- Vår Frelsers Gravlund Cemetery: the graves of Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch
- Edvard Munch Museum
This morning we set off with a guide to explore literary Oslo. Henrik Ibsen spent much of his life in Oslo and died there. It is said that when Nora walked out on her husband and slammed the door at the end of Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, the echoes of that sound were felt in homes around Europe. Ibsen was always a controversial playwright, tackling subjects such as public health, feminism, morality and propriety. He is the most frequently performed playwright in the world after Shakespeare and actually wrote his plays in Danish so he could reach a larger audience. Knut Hamsun, described by Thomas Mann as “a descendant of Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche” also lived in Oslo. Crime writer Karin Fossum sets her Detective Konrad Sejer series in and around Oslo, as does Anne Holt with her Hanne Wilhelmsen crime novels, and Jo Nesbø whose main character, Harry Hole, is a police officer with the Oslo Crime Squad.
Lunch will be served at the Restaurant Schrøder, frequented by Harry Hole, who lives just around the corner in a flay in Sofies Gate. This traditional restaurant which opened in 1925 has interiors covered with paintings of Oslo in the 1920s.
In the afternoon we visit the Edvard Munch Museum. Munch tried in his paintings to make a “study of the soul”, a goal he met with the creation of his most famous painting ‘The Scream’. That painting has attained iconic status in popular culture – it has appeared in anime books, on postage stamps, in novels, in cartoons and TV programs. (Overnight Oslo) BL
Day 17: Friday 4 August, Oslo
- The Viking Ship Museum
- Kon-Tiki Museum
- Afternoon at leisure
The Vikings, who were Norse seafarers, traded and raided across the seas from the 8th to the 11th century. Their longships took Norse stories, language and culture to Britain and Europe. Their myths and sagas, gods and heroes, have exerted a strong influence on popular culture and literature. This morning we visit the Viking Ship Museum to see the Oseberg ship, dug up from the largest ship burial in the world, the 9th-century Gokstad ship, the Tune ship, small boats, sledges, tools and archaeological finds that bear witness to the extraordinary trading voyages made by these intrepid travellers.
Our day continues on an ocean-going theme. Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer and enthnographer, set off in 1947 to sail 8000 kilometres in a hand-built balsawood raft. His aim was to demonstrate the possibility of contact between widely separated ancient peoples, but what he also got from the project was a best-selling book. The Kon-Tiki Expedition was published in 1948, has been made into a movie and is an acclaimed travel book. We will see the raft at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo and learn about Heyerdahl’s other expeditions to Easter Island, across the Atlantic to Morocco, and through the Persian Gulf. Heyerdahl’s library, including books, photos, maps and letters, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Memory of the World’ register and it is on display at the museum.
The afternoon is free to explore Oslo. You might like to visit the Fram Polar Ship Museum, visit the National Gallery, stroll in the parks, or sample Norwegian culinary delicacies such as reindeer, wild moose or salmon. (Overnight Oslo) B
Vinstra, Norway - 1 night
Day 18: Saturday 5 August, Oslo – Lillehammer – Follebu – Gudbrandsdalen Valley – Vinstra
- Morning drive from Oslo to Lillehammer
- Bjerkebaek: The home of Sigrid Undset, Lillehammer
- Light Lunch at the Bjerkebaek Café including Sigrid Undset’s fyrstekake
- Aulestad Farm: writer’s house museum of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
- Buffet dinner at Hotel Fefor Høifjellshotell & Hytter
- Evening theatre production of Peer Gynt by Lake Gålåvatnet
We depart from Oslo early to make the scenic drive to Lillehammer. Our route takes us past the village of Hamer, visited often by Sigrid Undset and used by her as one of the settings of her acclaimed saga Kristin Lavransdatter. Knut Hamsun also knew this part of the country – he recovered at Lillehammer in 1895 after completing his first five important novels.
At Lillehammer we visit Bjerkebaek, the home of Sigrid Undset. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 and was at that time living in the small timber-clad house that she furnished with great style. It was here she wrote Kristin Lavransdatter, her trilogy about Norwegian life in the Middle Ages, and Olav Audunsson, a tetralogy about the Master of Hestviken, also set in medieval times. She loved this home in the beautiful Gudbrand Valley. We will also enjoy a poetic walking tour of her garden after visiting the house.
Lunch will include her Fyrstekake, a classic Norwegian tart flavoured with almonds, which she cooked according to a family recipe.
We go on to Aulestad Farm, writers museum for Bjørnsterne Bjørnson (1832-1910). His Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded in 1903 “as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and rare purity of its spirit”. He is considered to be one of 4 greats amongst Norwegian writers (the others being Ibsen, Jonas Lie and Alexander Kielland), and he wrote the lyrics of the Norwegian National Anthem. He lived at Aulestad Farm with his wife Katherine for 35 years, drawing inspiration for his writings and deepening his political commitment. Together they created their own European-style townhouse in the country. The farm is still owned by the family.
After a buffet dinner at the hotel, we set off for a very special theatrical event – an evening theatre performance of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. Ibsen travelled from Oslo to the west of Norway to collect folk tales and it was in the Gudbrand Valley that he found the fairy tale on which he based his 5-act verse play. The play is a satire on Norwegian egotism and narrowness. It was Ibsen’s last play written in verse, and is modernistic in ignoring boundaries of time and space. Today it is one of Norway’s most frequently performed plays. We will see the play outdoors, amidst the breathtaking scenery of Lake Gålåvatnet, with Grieg’s lovely music accompanying the script. With English audioguides, we will follow the adventures of Peer Gynt – wild and drunk, forever shirking his responsibilities, he turns to the world of trolls and myths, before finally returning to his own community. He is a universal character and the play evokes existential questions. The evening will give us a unique glimpse into Norwegian history and culture. (Overnight Vinstra) BLD
Geiranger - 1 night
Day 19: Sunday 6 August, Vinstra – Garmo – Lom – Geiranger
- Guided tour of Garmo & Lom with Torunn Kjøk, President of the Knut Hamsun Society, Lom, including Knut Hamsun’s birthplace
- Lom Stave Church & Memorial to poet Olav Aukrust
- Cottage of Tor Jonsson
- Lunch at Nordgard Aukrust Farm and introduction to Olav Aukrust
- Scenic drive to Geiranger
The village of Lom lies amongst some of the highest mountains of Northern Europe. Nearby Garmo was the birthplace of Knut Hamsun, born there in 1859 – that house is a museum, which we will visit. We will also see Garmo Stave Church where he was baptised, the Uppigard Garmo mentioned in his novel Growth of the Soil, and the farm where he lived for a year in his teens. The birthplace was moved from its original position, used as a forge, then dismantled and reconstructed a few metres from its original site.
Lom Church is a triple-nave stave church dating from the 12th century, although considerably changed in the 17th century. It still has its original medieval crest with a dragon-head.
Another local writer is Olav Aukrust (1883-1939), a poet who used this stunning region as inspiration for his poems. There is a memorial to him near the church, erected in 1955.
Tor Jonsson (1916-1951) is another poet from Lom. His childhood cottage, which we view, is part of the Lom District Museum. He lived a life of poverty and suffered deep loneliness.
Lunch will be eaten at Nordgard Farm, where Olav Aukrust lived most of his life. He was born in Lom and wrote poems in a renewed national romantic style. His use of the local dialect contributed to the growth of Nynorsk as a literary language. In spite of poor health, he became a teacher and received a stipend to study Gudbrandsdalen dialects. He drew great inspiration from the local folk tales and celebrated the traditions and peasant life of this area. His mystical poem Cairn of Heaven is considered his finest work.
Our afternoon drive is spectacularly scenic. As we make our way to Geiranger, we tackle hair-pin bends over mountains, see fjords, mountains rising from sheer channels cut deep in the ancient rock, glaciers and hillside farms. This is another UNSECO protected area and it is easy to see why it has inspired writers. Ibsen travelled through this region in 1862, seeking myths and legends he could turn into poems or plays. Our three day journey from Oslo to Balestrand takes us along some of his route. Often his writings describe local festivities – fiddle music, moonlight on the fjords, folk dance and so on. Ibsen stayed at Lom Rectory, now rebuilt as a school. (Overnight Geiranger) BL
Balestrand, Norway - 1 night
Day 20: Monday 7 August, Geiranger – Hellesylt – Olden – Fjaerland – Balestrand
- The spectacular Geirangerfjord: 1-hour cruise from Geiranger to Hellesylt
- Troll Car excursion to Briksdal Glacier & Lunch
- Afternoon drive to Balestrand via Fjaerland
- Buffet dinner at Hotel Kviknes
Today we cruise the stunning Geiranger Fjord, passing by impressive waterfalls such as the Bridal Veil and the Seven Sisters. We disembark at the picturesque village of Hellesylt, once an important and well-protected Viking port. Ibsen used the Sunnylven Church there as a setting for his play Brand, which he wrote while staying there. Knut Hamsun also visited and described the mountains as “breathing from the granite vaults of their lungs”. The fjord is very narrow, surrounded by some of the steepest mountains on the west coast. A very few mountain farms can be reached by hazardous paths and bridges – humans have had to be hardy to live and build in such a spot!
From the village of Olden we make a detour to visit the world-famous Briksdal Glacier. The journey up to the glacier will be made in open Troll Cars to give you the best views. Afterwards a typical Norwegian lunch will be served in sight of the glacier.
The afternoon provides more stunning landscapes, as we drive to Balestrand via Fjaerland, passing under the Jostedal Glacier (the largest in Europe) to Sogndal on the northern side of Sognefjord. A ferry will take us from Hella to Dragsvik from where we continue to Balestrand. These are the landscapes where you can easily picture the god Thor chasing trolls with his thunder, hammer-wielding Norse gods, lindworms (Scandinavian dragons) lurking in caves, and the permanently damp Fossegrimen (harmless spirits who live in waterfalls). (Overnight Balestrand) BLD
Bergen, Norway - 2 nights
Day 21: Tuesday 8 August, Balestrand – Vangsnes – Stalheim – Bergen
- Coach from Balestrand to Dragsvik
- Ferry Dragsvik to Vangsnes; continue by coach to Stalheim
- Buffet lunch at Stalheim Hotel
- Afternoon drive to Bergen
This is another day of superb scenery as we travel from Balestrand to Vangsnes, via the Vika Mountains and Stalheim Canyon. Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl, founder of the Golden Age of Norwegian painting, painted the view from Stalheim in 1842.
We will eat lunch at the Stalheim Hotel, overlooking the majestic Nærøy Valley. One of the best-known visitors to the fjords of Western Norway, Kaiser Wilhelm II, stayed at Stalheim many times, and a memorial stone was erected to mark a visit in the 1890s.
From Stalheim, on our way to Bergen, we will drive through Stalheimskleiva. This 1.5-kilometre long road is the steepest in Norway and is known for its 13 hairpin bends and view of two scenic waterfalls, Stalheim (126 m) and the Sivle (142 m).
In the afternoon we will arrive in Bergen. (Overnight Bergen) BL
Day 22: Wednesday 9 August, Bergen
- Walking tour of Bergen: In the footsteps of Varg Veum – The Private Detective, led by author Gunnar Staalesen
- Edvard Grieg’s Home at Troldhaugen: Guided tour of villa and short piano recital
- Lunch at the Troldhaugen Café
- Time at leisure
- Farewell dinner at a local restaurant
Varg Veum, the detective created in the popular novels of crime writer Gunnar Staalesen, lives in Bergen, as does his creator. We have the great privilege of being joined by Gunnar Staalesen so that he can show us places in the town associated with his fictional character’s crime-solving adventures. Staaleson is one of the founders of Nordic Noir – he made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and is the author of more than 20 titles which have been published in 24 countries and have sold more than 4 million copies. There have also been film adaptations of the books, starring Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, who also lives in Bergen.
Composer Edvard Grieg lived at Troldhaugen. We will visit his home and listen to a short piano recital, learning about Grieg’s life and music and his role in developing national identity. Grieg was much influenced by literature and set to music poems by Heine, Goethe, Ibsen, Kipling, Bjørnson and others.
Our last lunch of the tour will be at the Troldhaugen café, then there will be time at leisure to explore the colourful wooden houses at Bergen’s wharf, shop in the old city square, or take a funicular up Mt Floyen for yet more spectacular views.
Our farewell tour dinner will be at a local restaurant, before we return to the hotel to say goodbye and pack our bags. (Overnight Bergen) BLD
Day 23: Thursday 10 August, Depart Bergen
- Departure transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
Our tour ends today in Bergen. Participants on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport to take their flight to Australia. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Norway. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B