Rick Steves, the travel author and TV personality, wrote "Frankly, if you go to Oslo and don't get out to the fjords, you should have your passport revoked." Well, it's a good thing Mr. Steves is not in charge of US passports, because our passports would be gone. We didn't get out to Norway's famous fjords to which he was referring this trip. Instead, we choose to drive around and see the sights of Telemark county in southeastern Norway. And we were sure glad of our decision. Below, I'll share a few of our highlights and also a few surprises we saw along the way.
The main draw to this county for me was to see the Telemark Canal in southeastern Norway. When it was completed in 1892, it was called the eighth wonder of the world in Europe. Even after all this time, it still impresses. The Telemark Canal took five hundred men, 5 years to dynamite through. It runs from Skien to Dalen, has 18 lock chambers and rises 72 meters. The stone walls of the locks, the gates and the opening and closing mechanism are authentic. Because of limited time, we chose to drive and hike parts of the canal, rather than take the ferry. It also gave us the freedom to check out nearby towns.
The scenery along the roads is spectacular. We ran into a Cruise-In also and saw the rare Troll mobile in Lunde, Norway. Near Skien, we even saw a former car of John Wayne's and other classics at a antique store that were part the owner's personal collection.
The small town of KragerØ is where Norwegians go to vacation. It's population quadruples in the summer. The town is surrounded by islands and skerries. The water, views, boats, and hiking were amazing. And it's such a neat town too.
Heddal Stave Church
The church is a triple nave stave church and is Norway's largest stave church. It was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century. Not only is it a cool church, it's got a legend of how the church was built by a troll in three days.
We really did enjoy our short stay in Norway. A couple of notes about Norway. The country is shockingly expensive, so it's best to plan ahead if you're on a tight budget. Also, traffic fines are very high and some traffic offenses even include jail time. This is not the country to speed in, because they clock whole sections of highway in certain places.