Chapter 3 - History, Culture, and Backcountry Skiing in Norway and Sweden - February 17-March 1, 2019
This is the third of a six part series on Adirondack Hamlets to Huts Senior Advisor Jack Drury's trip to Norway and Sweden this past winter.
Chapter 3 - The Røros experience
The Rørosmartnan has been celebrated since 1854 when vendors throughout the region brought their wares by horse drawn sleigh. The sleigh trips which take up to eleven days are still the means of getting vendors’ wares to the festival. We got up pretty early considering jet lag and all our travels and went into town and got some breakfast at a neat old restaurant. The restaurants typically are rambling old buildings, some with low ceilings and numerous rooms. Nothing modern, generally old in every way.
After breakfast we headed over to the opening ceremony which was outdoors. Spectators stood out in the snow throughout the surrounding hillsides. Given that my Norwegian is non existent I didn’t understand the opening ceremony welcome and narration but music reaches across all languages. There were a number of musical performers before the parade of horses pulling sleighs. The market festival takes part around two streets in the old portion of town. There were street vendors of antiques, cheese, sausage, clothing, reindeer burgers and vendors typical of a rural county fair in the states. In addition there are outdoor sports stores where we could get last minute items for our ski trip and clothing stores with lots of wool sweaters.
We met up with Bennett’s Swedish friend Beret Bertilsdotter at the dance hall where Edie and Bennett learned one of the traditional folk dances with Beret. She also provided invaluable advice as to what music performances we should attend. Each evening many of the bars and restaurants hosted performers and Beret was spot on in her advice. The first night we listened to a fiddle and accordion duo. The second night we listened to a duo with one gentleman playing the traditional Norwegian Hardanger fiddle with the other playing the Swedish Nyckelharpa. A great sound by great performers.
Each evening you could find Bennett in one of the bars, restaurants, or outdoor fire rings jamming traditional Norwegian fiddle tunes with other fiddlers. It was amazing to watch him join a group where they quickly found traditional tunes they all knew.
One day we got out for an 8 Km XC ski with Beret. We were told by our Airbnb host that we could ski from our door and he wasn’t kidding. Groomed trails wind throughout the area. You could ski for days on the available trails. The weather was mild for this time of year with day-time temperatures above freezing.
Our last night in Røros was another adventure. Bennett had met a couple of fiddlers during the day and they turned out to be traditional woodworkers and blacksmiths. They work in conjunction with the local museum to use traditional methods in maintaining the historical buildings within the community. They were having a special dinner that night to celebrate their work. They invited Bennett and when he said that his mom and I were traveling with them they invited us as well. It was a fun dinner with lots of fiddling. After dinner Edie went to folk dance more, Bennett found more fiddlers to jam with and I went to bed. We had to get up at 4:00 AM to catch our train to Sweden where we would start our ski trip.