Visiting our Norwegian grandma

The highlight of our  Røros visit was stay at Solheim Pensjonat. It is a boarding house from 1939, started by  a lady named Oline  Høsøien, but now owned by five girl friends (who all are craftsmen, which means almost everything done in the house is made by these ladies). From the moment we walked into the house, we understood that they have done everything to preserve the history which comes with the house. One can see old things with soul and stories everywhere, Oline’s photo is also hanging an the wall.
(I see Ida running towards the cupboards and I beg her not to touch and destroy anything. She is so curious. And clumsy.)
Saara welcomes us on the door and I feel I am visiting my Norwegian grandmother. Not that I know how the house of a Norwegian grandmother could look like and Saara doesn’t remind you of a grandmother either, she’s more like the cool girl next door (who welcomes us, because grandma has forgotten to tell us that she had to go away for a few days).
The boarding house/hotel is actually supposed to be closed today, but they have decided to have it open extra because of us. Saara breifly introduces us the 1st floor, shows us to our apartment on the top floor and leaves to the kitchen to prepare us lunch. “I will let you know when the lunch is ready,” she says and dissapears. I keep taking photos like a Japanese tourist. Everything is just so cool. I get a bit a Marty McFly feeling, travelling back in time.
For lunch we get a nice big bowl of hot cauliflower soup, it is one of my favorite foods from Norway (PS: Even Ida eats), we get to taste local beer (the dark one was really good!) and Røros butter (Please send me some kilos!). When we have finished lunch Saara asks what time we would like dinner. I feel bad that we are keeping them busy on a day off and tell that we do not need dinner. Saara says it is out of the question, “Johanna will prepare dinner for you, ” she says and I just have to agree (not that I minded too much).
Before heading for a walk on town, Saara introduces me the rest of the house. I am super excited. First I fell in love with the little bath room with a view to Røros church, then in the family room with retro bunkbeds, then in the small room where I find magazines for men ( I didn’t know this Cosmopolitan/Elle/… type of magazines for men even existed) and finally in the double room with the craziest retro wall cover from the 1950’s. And the small details in every room. Amazing.
When we come back from our walk, Johanna welcomes us with the biggest smile. The candles are lit everywhere (like when we arrived, but now it give a extra warm feeling as it has darkened outside), the sweetest smells come from the kitchen. Johanna apologizes that she may not be ready with dinner exactly at 7. Once again I feel bad that they have to work on a day off, but at the same time I am glad that they did. I ask if we can help somehow, but of course she answers that we just have to enjoy our mini-vacation and she will let us know when everything is ready. While waiting for dinner my husband played with Legos, my daughter rocked to Norwegian Olympic Games song “OL-floka” and I read old magazines. We were like a family from a 1950’s commercial. I don’t know why but I start to think about one of my favorite Norwegian movies called  “Søndags engler”.
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I am shocked when we enter the dining room. Johanna has prepared a real julebord (a traditional Norwegian feast before Christmas) for us. I am speechless. There are pølse and herring, almond potatoes, beetroot salad (with a dressing Ida insists to eat straight from the bowl with her spoon. Note to self: have to get the recipe), christmas ham. Everything from local food. I get such a warm home-feeling and think about Christmas in Haugen with Camilla and Britt-Ida. I smile inside when I hear that the potatoes are from local farmer from Tynset. Tynset so far has been to me a place “in the middle of nowhere” where we built Nord-østredals Videregaede Skole. I didn’t think I ever will hear about this place again and in a totally different context.
We have eaten way too much, but everything was so tasty and we just couldn’t resist. “Room for a dessert?” Johanna says from the kitchen and serves us bowls with ginger marinated pears and icecream.
My husband takes Ida to sleep and I stay for a while to talk to Johanna. We talked about the situation in Europe, the house history, Swedish, Estonian, Finnish and Norwegian cuisine.
“What time to you want breakfast?” she suddenly asks, “Saara told that you have to leave very early.” I shake my head. No, no, no – they do not have to wake up at 5 AM to make us breakfast. They have already been too kind and I cannot thank them for their hospitality. “Are you totally sure?” Johanna asks me three times before she agrees not to make breakfast. We hug and I really get the feeling like I have known her for ages. Like she really is the girl next door from my Norwegian grandma’s.
“If you need help in the summer time, give me a call. I would love to work here,” I tell her. “See you soon,” Johanna sends me good-bye when I head up from the stairs to our cozy little apartment for the night.
We leave at 6 AM next morning. The candles outside are lit (again). Go figure if these were candles from last night or one of the girls has been there to lit them. It snows. But maybe it has been the elves? One cannot exclude this possibility in Roros.
We sit in the car and start our fivehours drive back to Lillehammer. It has been so worth it. When you plan a trip to Røros now (an you do, right?), make sure to vist the grandma’s house with girls next door. They will prove timetravel is made possible. And you will experience hospitality you have not experienced before.

 

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