Questions, questions, questions – that’s what life has been filled with lately. Everyone seems a little confused about what I’m doing in Rauland right now, and while I’m confused about pretty much every other aspect of my life at the moment, this is one question I am able to answer!
You see, Rauland is a small town of about 1,500 people, so a new face behind the local supermarket’s register wasn’t going to go unnoticed. Especially when you pair that face with an American accent – oh the confusion! But I was surprised to see that it’s not just the Rauland locals with questions about what I’m doing here. My last post raised all sorts of questions from you guys, and I realized that perhaps I’ve done a poor job of explaining exactly what I’m doing here in Middle of Nowhere, Foot of Hardangervidda, Norway.
It was the guys from Visit Rauland who brought me here, after I wrote this post about visiting my grandmother’s cabin in Rauland over the summer. And because Dan and I still have to pay rent on our apartment in Trondheim (though we’re going to try to sublet it) they helped set us up with jobs at the local SPAR supermarket.
I loved how many of you wanted to know more about work at the supermarket, and my favorite comment on my last post came from the person who said it sounds like the setting for an artsy European movie. Now, if it were a movie my life would have to be one of those dull ones with subtitles, but it would at least include some gorgeous views. A lot of gorgeous views.
Even at night it’s magical.
It would also be the sort of movie filled with quirky and lovable locals. Like the tall mountain men sporting large mustaches and hand knit Norwegian sweaters, with hands blackened hopefully from work and not frostbite. And the American guy who’s lived here for over 20 years and told me he had never been more surprised in his life than to see a fellow American sitting at the register. And then there are my favorite customers of all – sorry, Norwegians – the Polish workers who come in to buy tobacco and bottles of Coca Cola. I’ve said it before, but Polish people are just the nicest.
I love the small town feel of Rauland, where customers chat with each other in line at the supermarket, greet my clumsy checkout skills with patient smiles, and then hop back on their skis to head home, because Rauland is covered in networks of cross-country ski trails.
But the bizarre thing about Rauland is that it’s not just a small mountain town. It’s home to some of Norway’s best ski slopes, stunning views, countless winter activities, and oh so many cabins. Which means that every weekend the supermarket fills with people coming to spend some time at their cabin before returning to work on Monday. And in fact, during high times like winter break in February as well as Easter little old Rauland fills up with around 10,000 people. At least that’s what I’ve been told, though it’s hard to imagine this quiet town getting so busy.
Uh, speaking of tourists, remember how I said that the dialect up here was so hard for me to understand? It turns out Rauland gets lots of tourists from Denmark and that impossible dialect everyone was speaking was actually Danish! What a relief.
As for the second part of why I’m in Rauland, to work with Visit Rauland, you don’t need to worry that this blog is about to fill with boring promotional content. I’ve taken over their Instagram (you can follow along here!) and am in the process of setting up a Pinterest account for them, and otherwise they will simply be helping me to experience and share with you guys the best of what Rauland has to offer.
Like the dangerously steep ski slopes at Vierli.
Okay, I might not have made it to the “dangerously steep” ski level yet. But I’ve got all winter to get there!
And all winter to explore this real life winter wonderland.
And if you’re wondering why most of these pictures have been taken at sunset, they’ve actually been taken at sunrise. Dan and I usually work different shifts, yet we live a 15 minute drive away, which means that I’ll drive with him in the mornings and then back home (just in time for some early morning photos!) before returning to work from noon to nine.
You see, unlike a lot of European countries, Norway is a place where you really need a car if you don’t live in a big city. Well, either a car or a pair of skis.
I’m still working on this whole driving in the snow thing and yes, I did in fact already skid into a ditch so that the SPAR manager had to drive out to save me. Luckily these Norwegians know how to deal with #snowproblems.
But enough about me.
Today I have Elizabeth and Luke here to talk about their adorable and relatable blog Something Saturdays. I love reading about their weekend adventures, and if you are at all thinking about taking a trip to Canada you need to read this post.
What’s the idea behind “Something Saturdays?”
Our “official definition” is doing something new, going somewhere new, eating something new, or trying something new on a Saturday (or Sunday).We both enjoy exploring new places and travel whenever we can, but the main purpose of Something Saturdays is to make the extra effort to try new things and explore what’s in our own backyard, wherever that may be! So far we’ve been doing Something Saturdays every weekend for 3+ years and we don’t plan to slow down any time soon!
So you, Elizabeth, are from St. John’s in Canada, and Luke is from Bath in the UK. Can I be nosy and ask how you guys met, and how Luke ended up moving to Canada?
Everyone seems to ask us that question! We met in early 2012 when we were both living and working in The Netherlands. We hit it off right away. I was there on a work term and Luke was there on a 1 year contract. So after I went back to university for a term, I went back to The Netherlands for a second work term, and we both finished our contracts around the same time. We were both flexible about where we wanted to live, so Luke started looking for a job anywhere in Canada and ended up getting a job in St. John’s, my hometown! After living in Newfoundland for almost 3 years, we both made the big move to Toronto in November and have just started our next Canadian adventure.
The idea of Something Saturdays was actually born on a train in The Netherlands because we wanted to take advantage of our time abroad, and the idea just stuck!
Since I have two Newfoundland experts here, can you guys tell us why we all need to go to Newfoundland?
Newfoundland is a unique place, there are no two ways about it.
It is an isolated island in the Atlantic Ocean that has a fascinating past and only joined Canada in 1949, so the culture is unique, the accents are thick, and the pride is strong. It has a reputation for being a friendly place as well as a musical one; everyone I know who has visited the island raves about it, and everyone I know who hasn’t visited but has heard about it is dying to go!
It also has a stunning and varied natural landscape, countless picturesque fishing villages, hiking trails that take you along the rugged coastline, lots of whales, and giant icebergs every Spring – it is absolutely worth a visit!
For a detailed guide of things to see and do in Newfoundland, check out our Newfoundland Travel Guide (http://www.somethingsaturdays.com/newfoundland-travel-guide.html)!
What are three of your top Something Saturday adventures?
We usually have a great time on our Something Saturdays, so it’s hard to choose! But some of our top Something Saturday adventures include participating in the Newfoundland Christmas tradition of mummering at the Annual St. John’s Mummer’s Parade; spending a weekend in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French islands off the coast of Newfoundland that are a little piece of Europe; and visiting some impressive hidden waterfalls in Newfoundland that are off the beaten path, to say the least!
We also count our longer trips as extensions of our Something Saturday adventures, so our week-long trip to Cuba in 2014 and our road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico last May are some of our favourite bigger trips that we’ve done recently.
AND stay tuned for a weekend adventure at the end of January that we think is going to be one of our most fun and exciting ones yet!
You recently moved to Toronto! How are you enjoying the city?
Absolutely loving it! There is so much to do and we’re spoiled for choice for our Something Saturdays. We’re especially looking forward to exploring the city in the summer.
Head over to Something Saturdays to say hi to Elizabeth and Luke, and maybe get some inspiration for your own weekend adventures!